The fiercest rivalries in motorcycle racing back in the 1960s were not just between the riders but also the manufacturers, like Suzuki, Yamaha and Honda. Our Japanese masters kept the pressure on us. Those bikes were devilishly difficult to ride – we used to say they knew it would be easier to change the rider than change the bike. They reckoned, ‘If he’s not brave enough, we’ll find another one!’
My greatest rival was probably Phil Read who, with Mike Hailwood and Giacomo Agostini, was a leading light of that era.
A race that stands out is the great battle between us for victory in the Lightweight 125 race at the Isle of Man TT in 1967. This was only my second grand prix season. I’d learnt a lot from Hailwood at Honda the previous year, then at Suzuki in 1967 our big rivals were Yamaha with Phil Read and Bill Ivy. They were the ones to beat.