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The triumph at Dourdan: Laurin & Klement won the motorcycle world championship 115 years ago

Laurin & Klement’s motorcycles soon ranked among the favourites in hill climbs and circuit races, too, and achieved numerous successes at home and abroad. In 1903, for example, all but one of the bikes crossed the finish line out of 87 starts in 34 races and achieved a total of 32 victories.

For the peak of the motorcycle racing season at the time, the organisers had mapped a 54-kilometre circuit which had to be completed five times. In the hopes of representing Austria-Hungary, two riders with motorcycles from Laurin & Klement, František Toman and Václav Vondřich, had entered themselves into a qualifying race in Pacov, Czech Republic. Tyres only lasted for short distances at that time, and the riders themselves were responsible for repairing them.

The Laurin & Klement team arrived well prepared: in trials the year before, they had covered the challenging track with nails, which made tyre failures even more likely. And so Vondřich started the race with a heavy leather bag strapped to his back. As a result, František Toman moved up one place to make a perfect double victory for Laurin & Klement.

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Jun 29, 2020 at 05:27

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