The history of the Swedes

Swedish motocross has always had a special history. It was many years ago that the Swedish riders dominated the sport of motocross. All the way back to 1957 when Bill Nilsson collected the FIM World 500cc Championship until 1994 when Marcus Hansson won the FIM World 500cc Championship, Swedes were on top of the world or close to it.

Now in 2013 it’s been nearly two decades that a rider from Sweden has stood on top of the podium at the end of the season.

Swedish greats such as Bill Nilsson, Sten Lundin, Torsten Hallman, Bengt Aberg, Hakan Andersson, Hakan Carlqvist and Marcus Hansson can enjoy knowing that they held world motocross in the palm of their hand, yet recent years haven’t been so kind to the riders from Sweden.

The greatest of all Torsten Hallman won four FIM World Motocross Championship Titles and took 37 Grand Prix victories. He was also one of the first European riders to head to America to race and win in the 1960’s and 70’s.

While Hallman is known for his pioneering of the sport in America, Sten Lundin and Rolf Tibblin created their own piece of history by winning FIM World Motocross Championships in the 500cc class in 1959, 1962 and 1962. They also scored 22 GP victories apiece. Like Nilsson, they were the heroes of their time and helped to start the great Swedish domination of the sport in the early days of the FIM World Motocross Championships.

Tall good looking Bengt Aberg, who rode for the Husqvarna factory, won two 500cc  World Championships in 1969 and 1970 and like Hallman he travelled the world spreading the word about Grand Prix motocross. He also scored 12 GP wins.

Another Swedish World Champion didn’t come along until 1973 when Hakan Andersson shocked the world by winning the FIM World 250cc Championship. Anderson has been only the fourth rider in ten years to win the 250cc title, (Joel Robert and Hallman won all the 250cc titles from 1962 until 1972, apart from Russian Victor Arbekov who won in 1965). Andersson would win nine Grand Prix’ in his career.

After Andersson, Hakan Carlqvist became the FIM World Motocross Champion in the 250cc class in 1979 and in the 500cc class in 1983. Carlqvist won 20 GPs. The only other Swedish rider to win a FIM Motocross World Championship was Marcus Hansson in 1994.  Like Andersson’s victory, this was a shock to the sport, as many expected the young Belgian Joel Smets to win the title. Of course Smets would have to wait a year, as he picked up his first of five World titles in 1995. Hansson won five Grand Prix’.

Since that 1994 championship victory by Hansson, Swedish riders have struggled to be competitive and even GP wins have been difficult to find for the Swedes.

Author: 
Geoff Meyer

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