It is said that Jesus of Nazareth was born 2022 years ago. On December 24, 1952, the successful French motorcycle GP rider Patrick Pons was born. He too died an atrocious death.
Patrick Pons’ birthday is dated December 24, 1952. To improve his average academic performance, his wealthy family later sent him from his native and native city of Paris to various boarding schools in southern France. There he was also trained to be a very good ski racer.
However, it didn’t last very long before the young man developed a strong affinity for motorcycle racing. In 1969, at the age of 16, Patrick Pons bought his first 125cc motorcycle. In 1972, he won the Coupe de France Kawasaki then joined the Sonauto-Yamaha team of Jean-Claude Olivier as the new number 2 alongside his compatriot Christian Bourgeois.
In addition to the French championship, the 1973 World Cup was also on the program. In the World Championship season opener at his home GP at Le Castellet, Patrick Pons immediately scored his first two World Championship points (and then as far as 10th place) in ninth place in the race of the 250cc class. With four more trips in the points, the best result was 5th in Brno, he ended the 250cc World Championship season in 11th place, tied with Italian Silvio Grassetti, who had scored his points on Yamaha and MZ.
Jarama 1973: The first GP podium
At the World Championship season finale in Jarama, Spain in 1973, Pons finished third in the 350cc World Championship race and earned his first World Championship podium. However, the World Championships had already been decided in Giacomo Agostini’s favor by this point and the race was no longer top class.
1974 was Patrick Pons’ most successful year in Grand Prix racing. In the quarter liter category as well as in the 350, he shone with a third place in the world championship. In the up to 250cc class, this was helped by two third places in Imola, Italy and Anderstorp in Sweden, as well as a second place in Opatija, Yugoslavia. In the 350cc class, the aggressive, angelic-faced Frenchman took second in the Dutch TT in Assen and third in Anderstorp. Additionally, Pons, who proved to be a strong opponent to Dieter Braun, conceded his first world championship points in the premier class in fourth place in his first and initially only 500cc GP appearance at Spa-Francorchamps. in Belgium. At that time Yamaha riders would sometimes race boring 352cc twins in the 500cc World Championship when the 250cc or 350cc class was not on the agenda.
In 1975, Patrick Pons, as a privateer, was able to confirm these exploits halfway with his fifth place in the 250 and 350 series. At the start of the World Championships and during the finals at Le Castellet and Opatija, he was third on the 250m podium, which he also did twice in the 350m (Imola and Imatra in Finland).
With only a second place finish in the under 350cc race at Assen, 1976 was a rather lean GP year for Patrick Pons. It was the same for the following, who were marked by a serious injury to the leg and have a permanent impairment. At the same time, the daredevil had gradually gained a foothold in the young international Formula 750 class. In 1975, for example, he won the German race at Hockenheim and Mettet in Belgium and finished third in this FIM 750 Cup.
In 1977 Formula 750 (with two-stroke engines) received official FIM World Championship status and was often used by seasoned Grand Prix riders including Giacomo Agostini. Aces like Kenny Roberts, Johnny Cecotto, Gregg Hansford (he battled against Yamaha’s supremacy of the water-cooled four-cylinder over the Kawasaki air-cooled three-cylinder two-stroke) as well as Steve Baker and Christian Sarron caused a stir in this category. , which participated in the weekend without GP took place and also stopped at Laguna Seca.
Formula 750 held two races per event, but with only one overall winner. The first world champion in 1977 was American Steve Baker on Yamaha, replaced in 1978 by Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto.
In 1979 Patrick Pons won one race each at Nogaro, France, and Mosport, Canada, and both at Hockenheim. At the end of the year, he was the third and last world champion in the 750 cc class, which was later abandoned, a series from which emerged a decade later the Superbike World Championship, then reserved for gasoline engines. four times.
Patrick Pons: first French world champion
At the same time, Patrick Pons is the first French motorcycle world champion. In Grand Prix, Jean-Louis Tournadre on Yamaha did not succeed until 1982 in the category up to 250 cm3 with only one victory of the season.
In 1980, Patrick Pons mainly competed in the premier class of the world championship up to 500 cc. After winning the famous Daytona 200 mile race after several attempts at the start of the season as the third European after Giacomo Agostini and Jarno Saarinen, he struggled to build momentum in the Grand Prix. The many falls and injuries have now taken their toll. After two tenth places at Le Castellet and Assen, he improved to 8th place at Spa-Francorchamps and 6th place at Imatra.
At the ensuing British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Pons crashed heavily at around 150mph on Sunday August 10 and was hit by a motorbike. Whether it was his own or that of his compatriot immediately successor Michel Rougerie, it could never be definitively clarified.
In fact, Patrick Pons’ injuries were so severe that he was pronounced dead at Northampton Hospital at 10pm two days later. Patrick Pons was only 27 years old.
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