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Motocross Legend Klitland

Motocross Legend Klitland

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Australian Motocross Legend Per Klitland

1975 Mr Motocross - Per Klitland (4) leads Gary Flood (2) and Mike Landman (45)
1973 Per Klitland's Works 400cc Maico from West Germany
Dane Per Klitland, winner of Victorian Grand National aboard a Maico in 1974 (with insert from 1975 Mr Motocross series)

Photos: [Left] In 1975, Dane Per Klitland leading eventual  1975 Mr. Motocross series winner Gary Flood (VIC, 2 Bultaco) & Mike Landman (VIC, Yamaha) at Amaroo Park ; [Top right] Klitland’s works Maico; and [Bottom right]  Aboard the Maico, he won the 1974 Victorian Grand National at Christmas Hills and (insert) receiving his prize from Molly Blue promotional girl in Mr. MX  Round  2.

Klitland: The popular Danish Australian Motocross Champion in the 1970s

Danish expatriate Per Klitland was one of Australia’s fastest motocross riders in the 1970s. 

The popular Dane first came to the notice of the Australian public in the 1972 International Motocross series up against reigning world champions Joel Robert and Roger de Coster, Suzuki riders, from Belgium and a host of other riders from overseas.

Riding a Maico, Klitland scored the highest points among the Australian riders over the three rounds in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney, held in December.

Klitland raced down under between 1972 to 1977.  He won several New South Wales State Motocross Championships and the Australian 250cc Motocross Championship at Mulbring (NSW) in 1973, finishing on the podium four times in the National titles.

In 1974, Klitland won the prestigious Victorian Grand National Championship at Christmas Hills on his Works Maico, with the final contested over 30 gruelling laps.

For three years, between 1974-76, he was a contender for the prestigious Mr. Motocross Series title, going into the inaugural year as the hot favourite to win.

Klitland finished fourth on a Maico in 1974, which was won by Trevor Flood, then in 1975 he finished a close second to another Flood – Trevor’s older brother Gary. 

Switching to a 360 Yamaha that year, the golden haired boy from Denmark looked set to make a clean sweep of the series – winning the opening two rounds and leading the points right up until the final race of the series, with all rounds held at Amaroo Park (NSW).

Unfortunately for Klitland, Gary Flood dominated that day on a Bultaco Pursang – narrowly beating him on points for the overall series in a thrilling finish at Amaroon Park, much to the disappointment of the thousands of fans.

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Klitland migrates from Denmark to Australia

1974 Per Klitland (Maico) Danish expatriate finished fourth in Mr MX series
Danish Motocross Champion Per Klitland

In 1971, at 25 years of age, Dane Per Klitland came to Australia for a holiday and decided to stay.  Het set up home in Sydney, New South Wales, and went on to win many motocross events at State and National level.

After topping the points scored among Australian riders on a Maico against the world champions who visited Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney in 1972, Klitland ordered a works 400cc Maico from the West German factory for the 1973 season.

West German rider Willie Bauer won the second round of the 1972 International Motocross series on an earlier works machine at the Calder Park Raceway, west of Melbourne in Victoria.

1973 was highly significant in the history of motocross as it marked the beginnings of the suspension war.  Yamaha debuted its Lucien Tilkens – designed monocross rear suspension system that year on Hakan Andersson’s works 250, and by the end of the year, Yamaha had deposed the Robert/Suzuki combination as world champions.

Equally significant was Bauer’s works Maico, which went within two points of dethroning Roger de Coster in the 500cc class.  Bauer’s Maico had the rear shock absorbers moved further up the swing arm to increase rear wheel travel.  After initial problems with damping rates, Bauer’s improvement was obvious and many riders took notice.

Per Klitland and Jack Pengelly were two of the first in Australia to modify their Maicos, then followed by Trevor Flood.

Danish expatriate Per Klitland in action on his Maico, imported a works 400cc Maico from West Germany for the 1973 motocross season.

Golden hair Dane wins Australian 250 MX title

Klitland first rode his works Maico in the Australian Motocross Championships at Foster Park, Mulbring in New South Wales on 24 June 1973 – which was his second Championship after shattering a brake backing plate, locking the wheel on his previous Maico at the previous National titles at Wallan in Victoria.

The black-finished radial works 400cc Maico featured the 250cc gearbox (to reduce engine width), a special quick action throttle, a light alloy petrol tank, a reinforced chain guard and an extra thick padded seat.

A fitness man, totally dedicated to motocross riding, Klitland would ride both the 250 and 500cc classes on the same weekend. He won the Australian 250cc Motocross Championship after swapping the lead for several laps with Trevor Flood, before Flood crashed.

Klitland’s Maico consequently took the title from South Australian Dave Basham (CZ) and Western Australian Graeme Smythe (Husqvarna).

After winning the 250cc title, Klitland looked set to add the Unlimited title to his booty – his first race on the new Works Maico.  But a fall dropped him to second place behind Basham.  Then in haste to make up for his mistake, another fall dropped him further back in the field and he reinjured his right thumb, which had been gashed and stitched just prior to the meeting.   He hung on though to finish on the podium – in third, behind David Basham (SA, CZ) and Gary Adams (VIC, AJS).

Per Klitland - Sketch by Mark Standen

In 1973, Dane Per Klitland won the Australian 250cc Motocross Championship at Foster Park, Mulbring (NSW) on a 250cc Maico and came third in the Unlimited class in his first ride aboard a brand new works Maico 400cc bike

Klitland favourite to win inaugural Mr. MX series

1975 Rev's cover Mr Motocross Per Klitland

Klitland (insert) and Gary Flood on the cover of Revs magazine

With his outstanding achievements and his new works Maico on order from Germany, Klitland was the hot favourite to win the inaugural Mr. Motocross Series in 1974.  Things, however, didn’t go to plan for him!

With Gary Flood returning to Australia after racing Speedway solos in England, he and his younger brother Trevor would dominate all major events that year.

At the Australian Motocross Championships at Manjimup in WA on 2 June 1974, Klitland was unable to retain his National 250cc crown, having to settle for third behind Gary and Trevor Flood.  Gary also won the 500cc title with Trevor winning the Unlimited, with Klitland unplaced in these classes.

The following weekend, Trevor won the opening round of the Mr. Motocross at Amaroo Park on 9 June and would go on to lead the series from start to finish riding a Yamaha 360, becoming the first to win the Mr. MX crown on 69 points.

British rider Malcom Dearn (Husqvarna) finished second (57 pts), with Jack Pengelly filling the final podium spot (37 pts).  Klitland finished fourth on 25 points, one point ahead of Gary Flood (Bultaco).

Another Flood wins, but Klitland wins the crowd

Switching from his Maico to a 360 Yamaha in 1975, like Trevor Flood,  the golden haired boy and very popular Klitland looked set to make a clean sweep of the series up until five weeks before the final.  An injured shoulder hampered his chances, but he declared himself fit for this ride, which Gary Flood dominated on a Bultaco Pursang – beating Klitland for the overall series in a thrilling finish.

Winning the opening Mr. Motocross round in convincing fashion at Amaroo Park on 8 June 1975 ahead of Gary Flood and Kiwi Peter Ploen (Suzuki 400), Klitland got off to a great start.  His outstanding form continued in round 2 on 13 July, scoring 66 points and easily accounting for Gary Flood who finished in third place (52) behind young Victorian Star Mike Landman in second (54) on a Yamaha.  After two rounds, the overall Top 3 positions remained the same with Klitland increasing his lead on 142 points, 24 points ahead of Flood (118) and 50 ahead of Ploen (92).

Heading into the third and final round at Amaroo Park on 31 August, it was pretty obvious that something drastic would have to happen to stop the popular Dane Per Klitland from winning the series.  His shoulder had healed more or less completely after he wrenched it five weeks earlier, so there was no problem there.  And although Gary Flood has been riding well, he was no match for Klitland at Amaroo Park in the opening two rounds.

But when the two Flood brothers positioned themselves on either side of Klitland on the start line for the race, he must have sensed that he would be in for a battle!  As soon as the rubber bands were released to start the race, Klitland got himself out of shape and went sideways into Trevor Flood.  They didn’t crash, but Gary won the holeshot and would go on to win this and the  first three races, whittling down Klitland’s lead to just eight points.

After 11 races, the final would be the decider, although Klitland only need to finish in the top placings to win.  Just seconds from the start, the race result became evident.  Klitland was brought down in a first-lap pile-up, with Gary Flood at the front of the field avoiding the mayhem.  Klitland restarted the race in 17th place and stormed through the field, but could only manage 11th – just outside the points. 

Flood finished on 194 points, Klitland on 186, Landman on 140 in third, with Ploen (122), and Worrel (85) rounding out the top 5.  But, despite the loss, Klitland was the crowd favourite and when he returned to the pits, he received the biggest ovation.  Maybe because he was the underdog, but many fans left the track that day disappointed with the final result even though Gary Flood was a deserved winner.

1975 Round 1 winner Per Klitland with Molly Blue promotional girl
1975 Round 2 Mr Motocross winner Per Klitland with Molly Blue promotional girl
1975 Mr MX start - Amaroo Park - John Kittle, Peter Ploen, Gary Flood, Graeme Smythe, Klitland and Landman

Photos: [Top and centre] Per Klitland with Molly Blue products promotional girl after winning Mr. Motocross rounds 1 and 2 at Amaroo Park; and [bottom] Mike Landman (45) wins the start  ahead of John Kittle (8), Peter Ploen (13), Graeme Smythe (109), Gary Flood (2) and Klitland (4) (by Peter Kitchinghman)

Danish expatriate Per Klitland’s last hurrah

Amaroo Park (NSW): During 1976, Mr Motocross saw the emergence  of new champions, including the series winner Anthony Gunter (3), Stephen Gall (23) and Geoff Worrell (35). 

1976 would see a changing of the guard with emerging champions Anthony Gunter and Stephen Gall, both from New South Wales, set to complete their first full season in the Mr. Motocross series.

That year, the series would become truly national with five rounds to be held over three States – at Amaroo Park (NSW) 11 April, Wallan (VIC) 23 May, Curroo (NSW) 27 June, Clarendon (SA) 1 August, and Amaroo (NSW) 12 September.

Suzuki riders Anthony Gunter (201 points) and Geoff Worrell (Suzuki, 182) finished 1-2, with Stephen Gall in third (Yamaha, 153). In what would be his final major achievement, Per Klitland finished fourth (Yamaha, 105) ahead of Mike Landman (VIC, Yamaha, 90) in fifth.

Klitland's key career highlights

1975 Per Klitland on Yamaha at Oran Park in Mr Motocross

Photo:  In 1975, Per Klitland  switched from a works Maico to a works Yamaha

1972
Australian top points scorer in the 1972 International Motocross Series

1973
Australian 250cc Motocross Champion, Foster Park (NSW, Maico)
3rd Australian Unlimited Motocross Championship, Foster Park (NSW, Maico)

 1974
Victorian Grand National Champion
3rd Australian 250cc Motocross Championship, Cosy Creek, Manjmup (WA, Maico)
4th Mr Motocross Series (Maico)

1975

2nd Australian 500cc Motocross Championship, South Arms Road (TAS, Yamaha)

2nd Mr Motocross Series (Yamaha)

1976
4th Mr Motocross Series (Maico)

Per was also a multiple New South Wales State motocross champion

Australian Championship results and photos

Click on the links below to view Australian Motocross Championship results back to 1953, event photos or rider profiles.
Australian Motocross Champions 250cc
Australian Motocross Champions List (All classes)
Australian Motocross Legends

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