Formula 750cc, from creation to disappearance!



The YAMAHA TZ 750 F (1979), the last version of the model that marked this class


In the period between the 1950s and the end of the 1960s, the evolution of motorcycles was dormant, the production of large-capacity models was punctual and did not have a large percentage expression in the market. In 1969, HONDA introduced the iconic CB 750 Four, 4-cylinder, air-cooled, 4T, 68 HP, the impact of this model on sales and brand image was huge, this caused the appearance of other brands in this segment, at the time , exclusive. In 1971, KAWASAKI with the 750 H2, 3-cylinder, air-cooled, 2T, 74 HP and also SUZUKI with the GT 750, 3-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 2T, 67 HP, institutionalized the 750cc. At this time, the British industry was still active and produced some motorcycles of great capacity while in Italy, with few exceptions, motorcycles equipped with small-cylinder engines were produced. In competition, at the international level, the FIM institutionalized the 500cc as the premier class of Road Racing, while in the Endurtance, 750cc engines were allowed, at the beginning, and, later, 1,000cc. However, in the USA there was already the habit of competing with motorcycles of greater capacity in the Dirt Track and Short Track events. In 1971, the AMA (American Motorcycling Federation) finally became part of the FIM (International Federation) and together with the ACU (the English Federation) they regulated the Formula 750. The rules imposed a minimum number for homologation of 200 units, a small amount in order to allow the adhesion of European brands, in the sense of admitting only motorcycles derived from series models, despite this, the rules were quite liberal with regard to preparation allowed, both in terms of engine, chassis and silhouette. By not specifying that the motorcycles authorized to participate would have to derive from a homologated model for riding on the road, relying only on the minimum amount of homologation as a deterrent, it left a gap that YAMAHA later knew how to use to impose itself in an overwhelming way in this class. Interestingly, also, by not instituting a minimum cylinder capacity limit, it opened participation to YAMAHA's customer competition, the iconic TZ.


The iconic Japanese superbikes: HONDA CB 750 Four, KAWASAKI 750 H2 e SUZUKI GT 750


The FIM Formula 750cc Trophy


1973


Barry Sheene, 1973, at the controls of the SEELEY SUZUKI that earned the nickname "water buffalo"


In 1973, the first FIM trophy for this class was disputed, the race initially planned for the USA was canceled and, thus, the first race was held in Imola.


The winners of the competitions that scored for the trophy were as follows:


  • Imola (Italy) – Jarno Saarinen - YAMAHA 350cc (it was the only event in which he participated as he died shortly after in a 250cc World Championship event at Monza)

  • Paul Ricard (France) – Barry Sheene – SEELEY SUZUKI 750cc

  • Anderstorp (Sweden) – Jack Findlay – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Ahvenisto (Finland) – Teuvo Lansivuori – YAMAHA 350cc

  • Mosport (Canada) – Paul Smart – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – Stanley Woods – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Jarama (Spain) – John Dodds – YAMAHA 350cc


Images of NORTON that participated in the first edition of the trophy


Thanks to the regulatory imprecision, the YAMAHA TZ 350 was considered fit to participate in this class and curiously won 3 of the 6 races disputed and, if it were not for the premature and tragic disappearance of Jarno Saarinen, the story could be different, under these circumstances, Barry Sheene at the controls of a SUZUKI, derived from the GT 750, with a SEELEY frame, was the first champion of this class, the following positions were respectively occupied by John Dodds in the YAMAHA TZ 350cc and Jack Findlay in the SUZUKI 750cc. Among the manufacturers, a great variety of brands present in the final classification – including several European ones –, SUZUKI won, and in the following positions were, respectively, YAMAHA, TRIUMPH, HONDA, DUCATI, NORTON, HARLEY DAVIDSON, KAWASAKI, YAMSEL (SEELEY with YAMAHA engine), MOTO GUZZI and, finally, BSA.


1974


John Dodds, riding a YAMAHA TZ 350 in 1974


Making use of the regulatory “lapse” that allowed the entry of the TZ 350, in 1974 YAMAHA tried to homologate, in this class, the TZ 750 which, in its initial version, was in fact a 700cc that used two thermal groups of TZ 350 in a 4 cylinders in line. Although, to the letter, the bike complies with the regulatory requirements, the FIM felt that it did not correspond to the spirit of the class and hesitated when it came to homologation. As a result of this impasse, the trophy unfolded with the controversy installed and only 3 of the 7 tests initially planned were held. Thus, in the second year in which the trophy was disputed, the following were the winners:


  • Jarama (Spain) – John Dodds – YAMAHA 350cc

  • Hameenlinna (Finland) – Pentti Korhonen – YAMAHA 350cc

  • Silverstone (United Kingdon) – Paul Smart – SUZUKI 750cc


The trophy winner was John Dodds riding a YAMAHA TZ 350cc, in the following positions were Patrick Pons also riding a TZ 350cc and Jack Findlay a SUZUKI 750cc, which made it clear, if there were any doubts, that something was wrong in this class . Meanwhile, extra-trophy events were held, where the 750cc TZ was admitted, the bike's performances made clear the need to, against winds and tides, fit in in order to popularize a class that was in agony.


1975


Jack Findlay, 1975, riding his TZ 750


Finally, in 1975, the FIM allowed the homologation of the YAMAHA TZ 750 and, simultaneously, approved a KAWASAKI engine with the H2 block and liquid cooling, accepting, in the latter case, the production of only 25 units, the motorcycle with this kit started to be called H3!


KAWASAKI 750


This measure gave new impetus to this formula, the trophy was disputed in nine events with a minimum distance of 200 miles, normally, except, for reasons of tradition, in Daytona, disputed in two heats, a measure that was justified by the consumption problems and tire durability. YAMAHA's dominance was overwhelming, in the first race, in Daytona, the first 19 classified crewed the dominant TZ 750. The winners were:


  • Daytona (USA) – Gene Romero – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Imola (Italy) – 1ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Imola (Italy) – 2ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mettet (Belgium) – 1ª M – Patrick Pons – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mettet (Belgium) – 2ª M – Dave Potter – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Magny-Cours (France) – 1ª M – Barry Sheene – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Magny-Cours (France) – 2ª M – Barry Sheene – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Anderstorp (Sweden) – 1ª M – Barry Sheene – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Anderstorp (Sweden) – 2ª M – Barry Ditchburn – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Hameenlinna (Finland) – 1ª M – Tapio Virtanen – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hameenlinna (Finland) – 2ª M – Tapio Virtanen – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Silverstone (United Kingdom) – 1ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Silverstone (United Kingdom) – 2ª M – Barry Sheene – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 1ª M – Yvon Duhamel – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 2ª M – Yvon Duhamel – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 1ª M – Patrick Pons – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 2ª M – Patrick Pons – YAMAHA 750cc


At the end of the season, Jack Findlay, riding a YAMAHA TZ 750cc, won the FIM 750cc Trophy, without having won any race, proving, even so, that this was a customer competition at the controls of which a private rider could aspire to victory! In the following positions were, respectively, Barry Sheene in SUZUKI 750cc and Patrick Pons with another YAMAHA TZ 750cc. Among the constructors, 3 brands scored, YAMAHA won followed by SUZUKI and KAWASAKI.


1976


Although this class was becoming popular with riders, the FIM continued to treat it as a poor relative and impose more lenient criteria on event organisers. As a result of this relaxation, in 1976, the races in Finland and Sweden were canceled at the last minute and the race in Venezuela had an error in the lap count, which is why the FIM decided not to consider the results of the same final classification effect as, still trophy. At Daytona, the first race, the only race held only in a 200-mile race, tire durability was the main protagonist and despite Kenny Roberts' favoritism, the winner was Johnny Cecotto who opted for an engine set-up with a delivery of smoother power, which allowed him to do the whole race without having to change tyres. This season's winners were:


  • Daytona (USA) – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • San Carlos (Venezuela) – 1ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • San Carlos (Venezuela) – 2ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Imola (Italy) – 1ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Imola (Italy) – 2ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Jarama (Spain) – 1ª M – Michel Rougerie – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Jarama (Spain) – 2ª M – Michel Rougerie – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Nivelles (Belgium) – 1ª M – Gary Nixon – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Nivelles (Belgium) – 2ª M – Mick Grant – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Nogaro (France) – 1ª M – Christian Estrosi – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Nogaro (France) – 2ª M – Christian Estrosi – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Silverstone (United Kingdom) – 1ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Silverstone (United Kingdom) – 2ª M – Mick Grant – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 1ª M – Phil Read – BAKKER YAMAHA 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 2ª M – Giacomo Agostini – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 1ª M – John Newbold – SUZUKI 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 2ª M – Gary Nixon – KAWASAKI 750cc


At the end of the season, Victor Palomo, riding a BAKKER YAMAHA 750cc, became champion in this category, despite not having won any race, the Spaniard made regularity his great weapon, also benefiting from the fact that the top riders dedicate themselves primarily to the World Championship to the detriment of this trophy. Gary Nixon in KAWASAKI 750cc and John Newbold in SUZUKI 750cc took the next positions. With more than twice as many points as the second brand, YAMAHA prevailed among the manufacturers, followed by KAWASAKI, SUZUKI and, finally, DUCATI.


The Formula 750cc World Championship


1977


Steve Baker, 1977, o primeiro Campão do Mundo de 750cc


Finally, in 1977, Formula 750 gained World Championship status. In pre-season some technical solutions were discussed in order to reduce the performance in order to adjust them to the available tyres, however, everything remained the same. In order to normalize the structure of the races, it was imposed on the Daytona organizers that this race should also be held in 2 heats of 100 miles each. The race winners were:


  • Daytona (USA) – 1ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Daytona (USA) – 2ª M – anulada devido a fortes chuvas

  • Imola (Italy) – 1ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Imola (Italy) – 2ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Jarama (Spain) – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Dijon-Prenois (France) – 1ª M – Christian Estrosi – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Dijon-Prenois (France) – 2ª M – Christian Estrosi – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) – 1ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) – 2ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Salzburgring (Austria) – 1ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Salzburgring (Austria) – 2ª M – anulada devido a fortes chuvas

  • Zolder (Belgium) – 1ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Zolder (Belgium) – 2ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 1ª M – Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 2ª M – Marco Lucchinelli – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Laguna Seca (USA) – 1ª M – Skip Aksland – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Laguna Seca (USA) – 2ª M - Steve Baker – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mosport (Canada) – 1ª M – Gregg Hansford – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Mosport (Canada) – 2ª M – Gregg Hansford – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 1ª M – Giacomo Agostini – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 2ª M – Giacomo Agostini – YAMAHA 750cc


At the end of the season, Steve Baker became the first World Champion in this class, as a result of his performances and, once again, benefiting from the fact that top riders continue to give more importance to the World Road Racing ​​Championship to the detriment of this formula, actually only participated significantly in the two events that were considered most important. In second and third positions were respectively Christian Sarron and Giacomo Agostini. The top three riders naturally crewed the YAMAHA TZ 750cc! Among the builders, the hegemony of the YAMAHA model granted the title to this brand that, when it got 160 points, surpassed KAWASAKI with 33 points and SUZUKI with 10 points! Among the 50 riders who scored, 47 crewed the YAMAHA TZ 750cc!


PUB



1978


The YAMAHA YZR 750 (OW31), the factory version with which Johnny Cecotto became champion in 1978


In 1978, only KAWASAKI tried to counter YAMAHA's hegemony in this class, even so, it only appeared in the fifth test. It was also clear that the scoring system in force was not ideal or even the fairest, the sum of the two heats gave rise to a final classification of the event for the purpose of points, therefore, when a pilot withdrew in the In the 1st sleeve, he was no longer interested in the second, with this the show was resented and the sporting truth was defrauded. 10 events made up this championship and the winners were:


  • Imola (Italy) – 1ª M – Christian Sarron – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Imola (Italy) – 2ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Le Castellet (France) – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) – 1ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) – 2ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Osterreichring/A1-Ring (Austria) – 1ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Osterreichring/A1-Ring (Austria) – 2ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Jarama (Spain) – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 1ª M – Christian Sarron – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 2ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Nivelles (Belgium) – 1ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Nivelles (Belgium) – 2ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 1ª M – Gregg Hansford – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 2ª M – Takazumi Katayama – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Laguna Seca (USA) – 1ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Laguna Seca (USA) – 2ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mosport (Canada) – 1ª M – Mike Baldwin – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mosport (Canada) – 2ª M – Mike Baldwin – YAMAHA 750cc


This time, with more top riders really interested, Johnny Cecotto was the champion by a short margin of 2 points, ahead of Kenny Roberts, with Christian Sarron taking the third position of the championship. The hegemony of the YAMAHA TZ 750cc remained, 43 of the 45 riders who scored were riding this bike. Naturally, YAMAHA (150 points) was crowned champion among the constructors ahead of KAWASAKI (30 points).


1979


Patrick Pons in 1979


The coincidence or proximity of dates of some events of this championship with the World Road Racing ​​Championship limited, once again, the participation of some top riders. This was the main reason Johnny Cecotto couldn't argue for the title in this class. The interpretation of the technical regulations continued very liberal, SUZUKI managed to homologate the RG 500 with the cylinder capacity increased to 652cc and with the designation of XR23, KAWASAKI participated alternately with the H2 (3 cylinders of liquid cooling) in alternation with the KR (4 cylinders). The FIM, by allowing KAWASAKI to participate with the liquid-cooled H2, significantly lowered the minimum quantity requirement produced, if initially the YAMAHA TZ 350cc and later the 750cc met the regulatory requirements of 200 units produced and sold on the retail, the opening to SUZUKI and KAWASAKI with a much smaller quantity produced, was the final ax to the spirit that originated this class! Once again, 10 events made up the calendar and the winners were:


  • Mugello (Italy) – 1ª M – Christian Sarron – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mugello (Italy) – 2ª M – Virginio Ferrari – SUZUKI 500cc

  • Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) – 1ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Brands Hatch (United Kingdom) – 2ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Nogaro (France) – 1ª M – Patrick Pons – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Nogaro (France) – 2ª M – Gregg Hansford – KAWASAKI 750cc

  • Le Castellet (Switzerland) – 1ª M – Michel Frutschi – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Le Castellet (Switzerland) – 2ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Osterreichring/A1-Ring (Austria) – 1ª M – Werner Nenning – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Osterreichring/A1-Ring (Austria) – 2ª M – Werner Nenning – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mosport (Canada) – 1ª M – Patrick Pons – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Mosport (Canada) – 2ª M – Michel Frutschi – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Laguna Seca (USA) – 1ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Laguna Seca (USA) – 2ª M – Kenny Roberts – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 1ª M – Boet van Dulmen – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Assen (Netherlands) – 2ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 1ª M – Patrick Pons – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Hockenheim (Germany) – 2ª M – Patrick Pons – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Rijeka (Yugoslavia) – 1ª M – Michel Frutschi – YAMAHA 750cc

  • Rijeka (Yugoslavia) – 2ª M – Johnny Cecotto – YAMAHA 750cc


At the end of the season, Patrick Pons won the title ahead of Michel Frutschi and a frustrated Johnny Cecotto, all three of them riding a YAMAHA TZ 750cc, who was prevented from properly defending the title of the previous season due to the conflict of interests between the World Road Racing ​​Championship and this formula. Of the 60 pilots who scored, 56 did so under the command of YAMAHA. The Swiss GP was held in France, due to the ban, in force until today, of sprint events in that country.


SUZUKI XR23

SUZUKI XR23 used by Virginio Ferrari in 1979


This was the last year in which the championship was disputed, several were the causes that can be pointed out for the disappearance of a class that, despite everything, was spectacular:


  • some regulatory uncertainty led to the appearance of the YAMAHA TZ 750 OW31, in essence, the brand tried the same path that it had traced in the 250cc and 350cc of the CMV, by providing a customer competition of great performance and reduced cost, only, in this case, the other brands did not follow in his footsteps, which made the championship uninteresting from the point of view of dispute between different technological options;

  • the fact that the tire technology that was available at the time was not the most suitable for the performance of the motorcycles;

  • the speed on the track is often less than that of the 500cc, few riders were able to get the most out of this engine;

  • the lower visibility of the championship compared to the GPs;

  • the strength of the English federation that it wanted to impose and a championship with series-derived motorcycles, the Formula TT (Tourist Trophy);

  • a trend that was taking place and that intended to create a Superbike class that ideologically returned to the genesis of the 750cc, specifying, this time, in addition to the larger quantities needed for homologation, the need for the motorcycles to be homologated to circulate on public roads.