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Bike racing's 'Iron Duke' dies at 92

2015-05-04 07:13

ANOTHER RACE, ANOTHER WIN: Geoff Duke takes the trophy at Assen in 1951. Image: Wikipedia / Harry Pot / Anefo

LONDON, England - British motorcycle great Geoff Duke has died at the age of 92 on the Isle of Man, the sport's spiritual home where the six-times champion raced to six TT victories in the 1950's.

The man known as 'The Duke' in an era when British motorcycles and their riders led the world, retired from the championship in 1959 after 33 GP wins. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

He was one of Britain's top sports personalities in the post-Second World War period, was voted Sportsman of the Year in 1951 and entered motorcycling legend as the first rider to compete in one-piece leathers.

OTHER RACERS MOURN

British MotoGP rider Cal Crutchlow, a fellow Manx resident, said on Twitter as news of his death in Douglas on Friday became known: "Really sad to hear the passing of Geoff Duke. A true hero in our sport."

Duke's son Peter told bikesportnews.com that his father died peacefully after a long illness.

Italy's 15-times motorcycling champion Giacomo Agostini was saddened at the passing of one of his boyhood idols. He told BT Sport at the 2015 Spanish GP in Jerez: "He was a very good rider. I started to race after he had already stopped but I read about him, his victories.

"People called him 'the Iron Duke'. I met him sometimes at some circuits... he did a lot for motorcycling."

THREE CHAMPIONSHIPS - THEN GILERA

Geoff Duke was born in St Helens in north-west England and served as a motorcycle despatch rider during the Second World War. He later started road-racing.

He won the 1950 Senior TT on a Norton, setting records along the way, and took three World championships before switching to the Italian Gilera factory and winning three more.

Duke won two 350cc titles for Norton in 1951 and 1952 while his other four were in 500cc - one with Norton in 1951 and the rest with Gilera in 1953, 1954 and 1955.

Read more about Geoff Duke.


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