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Johnny Cecotto

Johnny Cecotto
Motorcycle Grand Prix Career
Nationality Venezuelan
Active years 1975 - 1980
Team(s) Yamaha
Grands Prix 48
Championships 1975 - 350cc, 1978 - Formula 750.
Wins 14
Podium finishes    26
Pole positions 22
Fastest laps 7
First Grand Prix 1975 250cc French Grand Prix
First win 1975 250cc French Grand Prix
Last win 1980 350cc Nations Grand Prix
Last Grand Prix 1980 500cc West German Grand Prix


Alberto "Johnny" Cecotto (born January 25, 1956 in Caracas, Venezuela) is a former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and Formula One driver. The son of Italian immigrants, he was one of the few people to have competed in both, motorcycle and Formula One Grand Prix.

Motorcycle Racing History

Cecotto had won the Venezuelan National Championship in 1973 and 1974 when he rose to international prominence at the 1975 Daytona 200 motorcycle race by rendering one of the most storied performances in the history of the event. Competing as a virtual unknown aboard an unmodified Yamaha TZ 700 sponsored by Yamaha's Venezuelan importer, and starting from last place on the grid, Cecotto showed impressive riding ability by passing almost the entire field while working his way up to third place, relegating the 15 time World Champion Giacomo Agostini to fourth place in the process.

Following Daytona, Cecotto arrived in Europe to compete in the Grand Prix series, where he continued his meteoric rise by winning the 250cc and 350cc races in his first ever Grand Prix at the season opening round in France. He went on to become the youngest World Champion ever at nineteen years of age when he again defeated the defending champion, Giacomo Agostini for the 1975 350cc World Championship. Cecotto returned home to Venezuela to a hero's welcome as thousands of adoring fans lined the route from the airport to Caracas.

In 1976, Cecotto returned to Daytona, now with full support from the Yamaha factory racing team. This time, he was victorious, coming out on top after a race-long battle with American Champion Kenny Roberts. In the 1976 Grand Prix season, he lost his 350cc crown in a tight battle with Harley-Davidson mounted Walter Villa. At the beginning of the 1977 season, he was badly injured in a deadly four rider accident at the Austrian Grand Prix that claimed the life of Swiss rider Hans Stadelmann. Cecotto never seemed to come to grips with the 500cc Yamaha, having had a series of crashes which hindered his progress. Cecotto finished third in the 1978 500cc title chase and added the Formula 750 World Championship to his titles. He suffered a badly broken kneecap at the 1979 Austrian Grand Prix at the Salzburgring and missed half the season. Cecotto soldiered on through the 1980 Grand Prix season but his numerous injuries curtailed his motorcycle racing career. After the 1980 season, he decided to quit motorcycling to pursue an auto racing career. He retired with twelve 500cc pole positions in 27 starts, giving him one of the highest pole position per start ratios in motorcycle Grand Prix history.[1]

Automobile Racing History

Cecotto made his four wheeled debut with Minardi in the 1980 Formula Two Championship. In the 1982 Formula Two season, driving for the March-BMW team, he won three races and finished the season tied for first place with his team-mate Corrado Fabi but, was relegated to runner up by the tie breaker system. Nevertheless, his performance garnered enough attention that he was offered a seat in Formula One.

In Formula One, Cecotto participated in 23 races, debuting on March 13, 1983 for the Theodore Racing team. He had a promising start as he scored a sixth place in only his second race, however, the team suffered from lack of funding and he was forced to sit out the final two rounds. For the 1984 season, he joined the Toleman racing team with Ayrton Senna as his team mate. While qualifying for the British Grand Prix, he crashed heavily, breaking both of his legs which effectively ended his Formula One career.

After recovering from his injuries, Cecotto returned to competition in the flourishing Touring Car category, winning the 1989 Italian Touring Car Championship. From 1988 to 1992 Cecotto competed in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft (DTM, German Touring Car Championship). Driving a Schnitzer Motorsport BMW M3, he finished as runner up in the 1990 season. In 1994 and 1998 he won the German STW Supertouring Championship for BMW. In 1995 he raced in the BTCC for BMW. In 2001 and 2002, he switched to the Irmscher Opel Omega and won the German V8 Star Championship two years running.

Cecotto currently devotes most of his time to supporting the racing career of his son, Johnny Cecotto Jr.

Motorcycle Grand Prix Results

Year Class Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Points Rank Wins
1975 250cc Yamaha FRA
15
ESP
DNF
W.GER
DNF
NAT
12
IOM
DNS
NED
DNF
BEL
15
SWE
DNF
FIN
12
CZE
DNF
YUG
DNF
54 4th 2
1975 350cc Yamaha FRA
15
ESP
12
AUT
DNF
W.GER
15
NAT
15
IOM
DNS
NED
6
FIN
15
CZE
DNF
YUG
DNF
78 1st 4
1976 350cc Yamaha YUG
DNF
FRA
12
AUT
15
NAT
15
IOM
DNS
NED
3
FIN
DNF
CZE
DNF
W.GER
12
ESP
8
65 2nd 2
1977 350cc Yamaha VEN
15
W.GER
DNS
NAT
DNS
ESP
DNS
FRA
DNS
YUG
DNS
NED
DNS
SWE
DNS
FIN
DNS
CZE
15
GBR
DNF
30 9th 2
1977 500cc Yamaha VEN
8
AUT
DNF
W.GER
DNF
NAT
DNF
FRA
DNF
NED
DNF
BEL
DNF
SWE
12
FIN
15
CZE
15
GBR
DNF
50 4th 2
1978 500cc Yamaha VEN
DNS
ESP
8
AUT
12
FRA
DNF
NAT
DNF
NED
15
BEL
DNF
SWE
5
FIN
10
GBR
4
W.GER
12
66 3rd 1
1979 500cc Yamaha VEN
DNS
AUT
DNF
W.GER
DNS
NAT
DNS
ESP
DNS
YUG
DNS
NED
DNS
BEL
DNS
SWE
DNS
FIN
4
GBR
DNS
FRA
6
10 20th 0
1980 350cc Yamaha NAT
15
FRA
12
NED
DNF
GBR
DNF
CZE
DNF
W.GER
10
37 4th 1
1980 500cc Yamaha NAT
8
ESP
5
FRA
0
NED
5
BEL
DNF
FIN
DNF
GBR
7
W.GER
5
31 7th 0

Complete Formula One Results

(Races in bold indicate pole position)

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Team WDC Points
1983 Theodore BRA
14
USAW
6
FRA
11
SMR
Ret
MON
DNPQ
BEL
10
USAE
Ret
CAN
Ret
GBR
DNQ
GER
11
AUT
DNQ
DUT
DNQ
ITA
12
EUR
RSA
Theodore 19th 1
1984 Toleman BRA
Ret
RSA
Ret
BEL
Ret
SMR
NC
FRA
Ret
MON
Ret
CAN
9
USAE
Ret
USA
Ret
GBR
DNQ
GER
AUT
DUT
ITA
EUR
POR
Toleman - 0

References