Patrick Pons – he would be 63 years old today
French rider Patrick Pons would be 63 years old today 24th December. He was born in Paris that day in 1952. As a teenager, living in the Alps he quickly felt attracted by speed while skiing down the hills and mountains. He then learned to ride mopeds and motorcycles, from a 125cc up to a 500cc when 18 years. In 1972 he took part in the Coupe Kawasaki Moto Revue and won it. He was hired by Sonauto-Yamaha boss Jean-Claude Olivier and started his career in the 250cc, 350cc and then in the 500cc Grand Prix classes, frequently obtaining 2nd and 3rd places in each of the three classes in 1974.
In 1975 he decided to enter the Formula 750 and achieved his first victory in Germany. Always fighting in front of the pack he ended taking the Formula 750 World title in its last year of existence – 1979, with wins in France, Canada and Germany. He became the first French rider to be World Champion in motor sports. It was a great year for him, and 1980 started even better when he brilliantly won the Daytona 200 Miles ahead of Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer. He was clearly one of the favourite riders for the Grand Prix season, but constant mechanical problems did not allow him to classify according to his potential in neither of the classes he entered. On Sunday 10 August at the British Grand Prix, on the very fast track of Silverstone, he was racing in the 500cc class with various other riders when he suddenly crashed at very high speed in a long right curve, being hit by a motorcycle (probably his own). Taken to the Northampton hospital, he passed away two days later.