Leisk wins Finnish Grand Prix to create Aussie history

Leisk wins Finnish Grand Prix to create Aussie history

Runner-up World Motocross Champion Jeff Leisk

1989 Jeff Leisk winner of the World 500cc Motocross Grand Prix in Finland
1989 Jeff Leisk's Honda and Trophies - Winning Finnish Grand Prix

Photos:  On 29 May 1989, Western Australian Jeff Leisk finally clinched that elusive motocross Grand Prix win in Finland;  his winning CR Honda 500cc  bike.

Leisk wins elusive Motocross Grand Prix in Ruskeasanta, Finland to create Aussie history

On 29 May 1989, Jeff Leisk became the first Australian to win a Motocross Grand Prix, etching his name in Australian sports records as our most successful motocross rider at the time.

Leisk, from Perth in Western Australia, finally clinched that elusive Grand Prix win in Ruskeasanta, Finland, coming close several times before, but let down with bad luck.  The Team Honda rider won Round 5 of the World 500cc Championship aboard his Honda, ahead of world champions George Jobes (Belgium, Honda) 33 pts and Kees Van der Ven (Netherlands, KTM) 30 pts – with the Grand Prix contested over two 45 minute motos.

In Moto 1, Leisk finished third behind Jobes and Van der Ven – in that order, then convincingly won the second moto from start to finish – having won the holeshot on the sandy circuit in warm and dusty conditions that suited him, similar to circuits back at home.  The Dutch too love the sand and performed really well in Finland with Leo Combe (Honda) winning the holeshot and leading the early stages of the fist moto, which Van der Ven went onto win ahead of Jobes and Leisk.

Leisk got off to a good start in the first race and was in second close behind Combe on the opening lap, but Van der Ven snuck underneath him on the first lap to take second, passing Combe soon after and was never headed. Combe held second for the first half of the race ahead of Leisk, with Jobe passing the pair at the end.  Leisk also got past Combee for third, who dropped out of the top 10 at the end.

In Moto 2 Leisk won the holeshot and was able to open up a commanding lead early ahead of Jacky Martens (Belgium, KTM) and American Billy Liles (Kawasaki), who was riding under a Luxemburg license.  By the half-way mark of the 45-minute race, Leisk was still in command ahead of home-town rider Leif Persson and Eric Geboers – the only rider to win World Motocross Championships in all classes – who was storming through the field.  

With two laps remaining, Geboers got within reach of Leisk, who stepped up the gas after cruising way out in front for so long.  But Geboers was unable to get past the Australian and had to settle for second in this moto, as well as the overall points on the day.  Fellow Belgium and multiple World Champion George Jobes (Honda) finished third ahead of English rider Kurt Nicholl (Kawasaki).  

Another English rider and Leisk’s Honda Team mate David Thorpe was uncomfortable in the sand. The World Championship points leader heading into the Finnish Grand Prix could only manage two seventh placings to finish fifth overall, allowing Geboers to take the lead by two points, on 140.

Leisk’s win escalated him to fourth in the World Championship on 111 points, just two points behind Nicol on 113.  As the season progressed, Leisk was able to challenge Geboers for the overall lead, but Thorpe would go on to have an incredible finish to the season – winning the last four rounds convincingly to win the 1989 World 500cc Motocross Championship.   In his first full season, Leisk finished second to Thorpe and ahead of Geboers – making it a 1-2-3 finish for Honda.

SBS Special – Jeff Leisk in Europe

MOTO 1 – Finnish Grand Prix (In Finnish)

MOTO 2 – Finnish Grand Prix (In Finnish)

1989 World 500cc Motocross Grand Prix Results Round 4 - Ruskeasanta, Finland

Overall Round
1. Jeff Leisk (Australia, Honda) 35
2. George Jobes (Belgium, Honda) 33
3. Kees Van der Ven (NL, KTM) 30
4. Kurt Nicholl (UK, Kawasaki) 22
5. David Thorpe (UK, Honda) 18

Moto 1
1. Kees Van der Ven (NL, KTM)
2. George Jobes (Belgium, Honda)
3. Jeff Leisk (Australia, Honda)
4. Jacky Martens (Belgium, KTM)
5. Kurt Nicholl (UK, Kawasaki)

Moto 2
1. Jeff Leisk (Australia, Honda)
2. Eric Geboers (Belgium, Honda)
3. George Jobes (Belgium, Honda)
4. Billy Liles (LUX/US, Kawasaki)
5. Kurt Nicholl (UK, Kawasaki)

Overall Championship Points
1. Eric Geboers (Belgium, Honda) 140
2. Dave Thorpe (UK, Honda) 138
3. Kurt Nicholl (UK, Kawasaki) 113
4. Jeff Leisk (Australia, Honda) 111
5. Jacky Martens (Belgium, KTM) 96

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