Video: Bayle v Strijbos for 125 world title glory in 1988

There is a lot less coverage about Jean Michel Bayle’s GP days compared with his historic AMA accomplishments but the 1988 125 world title battle was one of the most closely fought titles in history.

Out of his five major titles, the 1988 125 world championship was maybe the toughest to win. Bayle and Dutch ace, the 1986 125 world champ, Dave Strijbos, went into the final round with Strijbos leading by seven points. The Cagiva rider just needed to finish second behind Bayle in both motos but Strijbos could only manage fourth in the first moto putting them level on points and setting up a winner takes all scenario for the final race of the year!

And it was the Frenchman, Bayle, who got the decisive win under huge pressure with Strijbos second, giving Bayle the title by just three points despite the fact it was Strijbos going into the final round with the points lead and ending the year with the most GP wins – seven to Bayle’s five!

Bayle then went on to dominate the 250 world championship in 89 before going to America in 1990 and winning the 250 supercross, 250 outdoor and 500 outdoor in 1991, the only man evert to win all three in a single season’s much to America’s disdain!

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Strijbos could easily have been a multi-time world champion like Bayle but just came up short a number of times. Having won his first GP at 16 in 84 becoming the youngest GP winner until Ken Roczen and Jeffrey Herlings won at 15, Strijbos then won the 125 world championship at 18 in 86. The Dutch talent had arrived as the sport’s next big superstar but he frustratingly finished runner-up in the championship four times in his 125 GP career; 85, 87, 88 and 92. He also finished third in 93 and then fourth in the 94 125 GP series, with injury ruining his 1989 chances despite a flying start to the year.

A brief liaison in the 250 world championship netted Strijbos a fifth and seventh overall respectively in 90/91 before coming back to the 125 machine he clearly excelled on but he could never quite accomplish that another world title that his raw talent probably deserved, and the 1988 125 championship really was the one that got away.

The nerve-wrecking final round of the 1988 125 world championship below:

Article: Jonathan McCready