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racerxonline.com

On This Day in Moto: April 4

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French rider Jean-Michel Bayle began his quest to win the 1988 FIM 125cc Motocross World Championship with a 1-1 at the series opener in Italy. Dutchman Davey Strijbos finished second, with American ex-pat Bob Moore third on a KTM. Another American rider from California, Mike Healey, was riding a Yamaha but had problems all day long and did not score any points.

1976

Bob "Hurricane" Hannah shocked the motocross world and announced his arrival as a top contender by blitzing the thought-to-be-unbeatable Marty Smith at the Hangtown Classic in Plymouth, California, the opening round of the 1976 AMA 125 Pro Motocross Championship. Hannah, in his first National start as a Yamaha factory rider, came from behind in one moto to run Smith into the ground. Smith, the two-time 125 Pro Motocross Champion, had a lousy day as he struggled to keep his factory Honda running. Hannah would go on to become the AMA 125 Pro Motocross Champion and take over as the dominant rider in American motocross.

Bob Hannah's bike.
Bob Hannah's bike.

In the 250 Class, Can-Am rider Jimmy Ellis took the win over Kawasaki's Jimmy Weinert and reigning 250 AMA Pro Motocross Champion Tony DiStefano of Team Suzuki. 

1977

A very dark day for American motorcycling took place in Imola, Italy. As top American road racer Kenny Roberts was winning the 750 World Championship round on the famous Italian course, another U.S. rider named Pat Evans, who was just 21 years old, was killed after crashing at approximately 165 mph. After the race, Randy Creek, the 1976 U.S. Road Racing Champion, was killed in a fiery automobile crash that took the lives of four others, including Bel-Ray's general manager Kurt Kiefer, who was extremely popular in all U.S. racing circles, including motocross and supercross. 

Bel-Ray's Kurt Kiefer with Roger DeCoster.
Bel-Ray's Kurt Kiefer with Roger DeCoster.

In one of the most dramatic moments of their long rivalry, James Stewart and Chad Reed got into it a little bit in practice and then again on the podium at the Jacksonville round. It was Yamaha-mounted Stewart's win on the way to the 2009 AMA Supercross Championship while Suzuki-mounted Reed would have to settle for that summer's AMA Pro Motocross Championship. 

The Lites Class win went to Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Christophe Pourcel, with KTM-mounted Wil Hahn second and Pourcel's teammate Austin Stroupe third.