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Neil Hudson dominates 1976 International Motocross Tour in Australia

Neil Hudson dominates 1976 International Motocross Tour in Australia

Hudson dominates Australian International MX Tour

1976 Gaston Rahier Tour - Neil Hudson Wonthaggi 7 November - Photo by Greg Gibson
1976 Neil Hudson at Wanthaggi, Victoria - with insert

Photos:  Young British Maico rider Neil Hudson on his way to winning the International Motocross event at Wonthaggi , Victoria in 1976 (by Greg Gibson)

Young British motocross rider Neil Hudson upstages World Champion down under

Teenage sensation Neil Hudson (who was born on 24 January 1957 in Pennsford near Bristol in the United Kingdom), was the standout rider during the 1976 International Motocross series in Australia aboard a Maico – up against two-times and reigning 125cc World Motocross Champion, Belgium Suzuki works rider Gaston Rahier.

After winning Suzuki’s first world championship in 1975, Rahier embarked on a major promotional tour down under with a troupe of international riders, including three fellow Belgium Suzuki Works rider Gerard Camal and Japanese development rider Masanori Ozeki.

After the success of the 1975 Suzuki International Motocross promotional tour – where Rahier cleaned up, starting with three titles at the Australian Motocross Championships in Tasmania and Suzuki bike sales exploded across the country – he returned the following year after winning his second world 125cc championship. 

This time he was joined by Suzuki Works riders Frenchman Frank Logney and New Zealand legend Ivan Miller, as well as up and coming British Maico rider Neil Hudson.

But on the 1976 tour, Rahier rode under duress with a wrist injury and 19-year-old Neil Hudson emerged victorious, cleaning up in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales.

At the time, Hudson was in his first season at the British Championship level – having been placed fourth in the support class in 1975 where he finished second to fellow Maico rider, Graham Noyce.

Not yet being graded for world championship points, Hudson only had one opportunity to ride in the 1976 series at the British Grand Prix round where he finished in the top 10, a startling performance for a teenager.

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Neil Hudson dominates down under on his 250 Maico

Down under in 1976, during October and November Hudson and Rahier competed at Wonthaggi (VIC), Tivoli (QLD), Jilliby Park (NSW) and Noble Falls (WA).

With Rahier unable to ride at Wonthaggi on 7 November 1976, Hudson – riding a Works 250cc Maico – shot to an early lead in each race and convincingly won from start to finish.  He even rode his 250 in the Unlimited class, winning against Mike Landman (Works Yamaha YZM400), Jack Pengally (490 Maico) and Lester Rowley, who was aboard a 500 CCM thumper.

A week later, Rahier started at the International Motocross at Tivoli in Queensland, but pulled out with pain with Hudson undefeated and the overall winner ahead of Suzuki riders Peter Boyle (NZ) and Geoff Worrell (NSW).

Hudson also won the International Motocross at Jilliby Park (NSW) on 28 November 1976 with Rahier pushing him early in the day, but again unable to complete the full race meeting.

1976 Gaston Rahier battling Neil Hudson at Tivoli on 14 November

Photo: Reigning World 125cc Motocross Gaston Rahier (Belgium Suzuki) leads Neil Hudson (UK, Maico) at Tivoli in Queensland on 14 November 1976.

Hudson contests the 250cc World Motocross Championship on a Maico

British Motocross Champion Neil Hudson

Supported by Maico UK importer, Bryan Goss, Hudson was targeted by many manufacturers to race the 1977 250cc World Motocross Championship, but he stayed loyal to Maico through to 1980.

After representing Great Britain in the 1977 Motocross of Nations, where his country came third, the German Maico manufacturer upped its support and Hudson finished fifth in the 250cc World Championship that year.

In 1979, Hudson finished second to Håkan Carlquist in the 1979 250cc World Motocross Championship. 

But in 1980, after winning the 1980 250cc Italian Grand Prix, he broke his leg at the next round and was forced to miss the rest of the season.

Photo:  British Motocross Champion Neil Hudson rode a Maico in the World 250cc Motocross Championships between 1977 to 1980, finishing second in 1979.

Hudson becomes Great Britain’s first 250cc World Motocross Champion

1981 would be his year when rode for the Yamaha factory racing team and became the 250cc Motocross World Champion. 

He fought Georges Jobé (Belgium) with the battle for the world championship not decided until the final round with Hudson beating Jobé by 2 points in the final overall standings.

Hudson created history that day becoming the first British rider to win a 250cc World Motocross Championship.

Hudson moved up to the premier 500cc class in 1982 and, was tied with American Brad Lackey for the championship lead after the first four rounds but, finished the season in third place behind Lackey and André Vromas.

After a disappointing 1983 season in the 500cc World Motocross Championship, Hudson retired from professional motocross competition at the age of 25.

After a break from racing, years later Hudson would come back to the sport and compete in the World Veterans Motocross of Nations.

1981 Neil Hudson (GB, Yamaha)- World 250cc Champion
2010 Vets MXdN Neil Hudson, George Jobe, Jeff Leisk and Dave Thorpe - By Olivier de Vaulx

Photos: [Top]  In 1981 Neil Hudson created history becoming  Great Britain’s first World 250cc Motocross Champion, riding for the Yamaha Factory Team;  and [Bottom] Hudson at the 2010 Vets MXdN’s  at Farleigh Castle (GB) with George Jobe (Belgium), Jeff Leisk  (Australia) and Dave Thorpe  (GB) – By Olivier de Vaulx

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