Category Archives: Yamaha

Bill Ivy – 125cc Champion – Yamaha

William David Ivy better known as Bill Ivy (27 August 1942–12 July 1969) was a British Grand Prix motorcycle road racer from Maidstone, Kent. Ivy started racing motorbikes at Brands Hatch, Kent, UK in 1959. His first race bike was a 50cc Itom.

Entering his first TT race in 1962 on a Chisholm Itom, he later progressed to ride a variety of machinery on UK short circuits including Honda, Bultaco, Yamaha, Norton, Cotton, and Matchless machines. He joined the Tom Kirby racing team in May, 1965.

Ivy raced in the Grand Prix motorcycle racing championship towards the end of 1965, where he finished fourth in two 125 cc races and third in a 250 cc race. In 1966, he won his first race as a regular rider for the works Yamaha team in the first race of the year, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Montjuic Park Circuit, Barcelona in Spain, and took three more wins—not enough, however, to beat Swiss rider Luigi Taveri, who beat Ivy to the title by six points.

In 1967, Ivy dominated the 125 cc championship: he won eight out of twelve races to claim the World Championship by 16 points over Phil Read. On top of this, he won two 250 cc races in France and Belgium.

In 1968, Ivy and teammate Phil Read controlled both the 125 and 250 cc championships. In the process Ivy also became the first 125cc rider to lap the famous Isle Of Man TT Mountain Course at over 100 mph. As the season progressed, Yamaha ordered them to win one title each, with Ivy scheduled to win the 250 cc championship and Read the 125 cc championship. After securing the 125 cc title, Read ignored Yamaha’s orders to tie with Ivy on points. The tie break was decided on overall race times, and Read took the title. Ivy announced his retirement from motorcycle racing, stating he would race Formula Two cars during the next season.

Despite showing some impressive results in Formula Two, he was enticed back to motorcycling by an offer from Jawa in 1969 to race their 350 cc motorcycle. The season started promising, as he took two second places behind Giacomo Agostini. However, during practice for the fifth race, on the Sachsenring in East Germany, Ivy was touring back to the paddock with his helmet resting on the tank when his motorcycle’s engine seized. He was thrown from the bike, sustained massive head injuries, and died in hospital.

He was brought back to Ditton, near Maidstone, Kent where a service took place at St.Peter’s Church, followed by a private service and cremation at Medway Crematorium, in Blue Bell Hill Village, Kent.