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Top 50 Riders of the 1980s – The Other Belgians

As many may guess, if asked which country won the most Grands Prix in the 1980s, riders from Belgium took victory at World Championship events more than any other country, winning just over 31% of the 356 GPs held between 1980 & 1989. From their 112 GP wins, however, 85 were won by the “big three” – Eric Geboers, Georges Jobe, and Andre Malherbe. Their other World Champion, Harry Everts, as well as Marc Velkeneers and our recently-listed rider Andre Vromans won another 19 between them.

Words: Ben Rumbold | Images: Jack Burnicle

The remaining 8 GPs were won by seven different riders, none of whom will make our Top 50 list, so here’s a run-down of those one-hit wonders, and the rider who won two!

Raymond Boven on his Husqvarna in 1980. This is from the Spanish GP at Sabadell, where he won in 1977. His only 1980s success was at Holice in what was then Czechoslovakia.

1980, 11th May – Czechoslovakian 250cc GP at Holice – Raymond Boven – his 2nd career win, after winning in Spain for Montesa in 1977, taken with a 2-2 card on his Husqvarna around the grassy slopes of the wondrous Czechoslovakian countryside.

1980, 18th May – Yugoslavian 125cc GP at Trzic – Gaston Rahier – the 30th and final career win for the three-time 125 World Champion with a 2-1 card on his Gilera.

Gaston Rahier powers his little Gilera around the sandy berms of Norg in the Netherlands in 1980.

1980, 10th August – Luxembourg 500cc GP at Ettelbruck – Roger DeCoster – The Man claimed his one and only win for Honda to bow out in style with a double moto maximum in his last race. It was the 36th GP win for the five-time World Champion, at the time second only to Joel Robert in all-time wins.

Roger DeCoster, with the grinning crowd urging him on, powerslides the big Honda to a double moto victory in his last ever Grand Prix at Ettelbruck, Luxembourg, 1980.

1980, 24th August – Swedish 250cc GP at Uplands Vasby – Jean-Paul Mingels – the son of the original Belgian superstar , 1950s legend Auguste Mingels, had won a European 125 round in 1973. For his only success at World level he went 1-3 on his Yamaha and won on a tiebreak with West German Rolf Dieffenbach.

Jean-Paul Mingels rails his Yamaha round a berm on the way to his only GP victory at Uplands Vasby in Sweden.

Jo Martens looking pristine on his Husqvarna during the 1984 season, when he would take his only Grand Prix victory in what was then Yugoslavia.

1984, 6th May – Yugoslavian 250cc GP at Maribor – Jo Martens – The only overall win for the Husqvarna man who went 6-1, and was the last Husky winner of the decade.

1984, 24th June – West German 250cc GP at Bielstein – Jacky Martens – No relation to Jo, Jacky took the first of 17 career wins, his only one on a 250, with a 3-1 card on his KTM.

Jacky Martens was a long lanky figure on a 250, but won the West German GP at the glorious Bielstein circuit.

1987, 17th May – Swedish 500cc GP at Kristianstad – Jacky Martens – his second overall victory, but the first of 16 GP wins in the 500cc class with a 1-2 win on his KTM in the Swedish sand.

Jacky Martens steers his KTM around the beautiful Farleigh Castle circuit in 1987. He won the Swedish GP, his second overall victory, on his way to 8th in the series that year.

1989, 2nd April – Dutch 500cc GP at Lichtenvoorde – Dirk Geukens – the first of just two overall wins for the strong moustachioed Honda rider, going 1-4 after Jeff Leisk ran out of fuel in race one!

Dirk Geukens was a traditionally strong Belgian sand rider, and took a surprise GP win at the season-opening Dutch GP at Valkenswaard in 1989 to lead the Championship.