If you’ve never heard the name ‘Anthony Gobert’ then you are in for a treat. We’ll come to why it is that you possibly haven’t heard of him shortly, but be assured that once you’ve seen what the man was capable of you’ll remember the name and forever associate his racing antics with this year’s Festival of Speed theme ‘Flat-Out and Fearless: Racing on the Edge.’
Gobert is considered by some to be one of – possibly the – most naturally talented riders ever to go racing. Tales of his exploits on such dramatically unfancied machinery bring to mind the likes of the very finest racers on two or, for that matter, four wheels. Ultimately, off-track distractions meant that he was never to fulfil his awesome potential, but be in no doubt that this kid was the real deal.
On the face of it, the footage shows a man on a green bike generally getting the better of men on red bikes, but there’s a lot more to it than that. In the mid-Nineties the regulations favoured the 1000cc twin cylinder Ducatis, with the four cylinder bikes being restricted to 750cc. The Ducatis were works efforts ridden by the likes of Troy Corser and Carl Fogarty (who’ll be at FoS this year, by the way), while the four-pot Kawasaki was run by Muzzy Kawasaki with rookie Gobert on board. Genius tuner that Rob Muzzy is, the overall performance of the Kawasaki was such that there was simply no way that his bikes could compete with the Ducatis. Think of this year’s Force India dicing at the front with a Mercedes-AMG in Formula One and you get the picture.
Gobert, known as ‘The Go Show’, turned up in World Superbikes in 1994 as a wild card entry in his home race at Philip Island. He took pole position, won one race and came home third in the other. This kind of feat alone is the stuff of legend, but the following year he produced the action you see in the clip here which had jaws slamming hard against the polished ceramic-tiled floors at Ducati’s HQ in Bologna. The man was nothing short of an enigma. Imagine how the great Troy Corser must have felt at the 18 second mark in the video when Gobert rides around the outside of him at Rainey corner at Laguna Seca. The outside for crying out loud! Simply unheard of …
I had the pleasure of meeting a member of his Muzzy Kawasaki crew a few years ago who told me that Gobert would turn up for a practice session, do a couple of laps, then come in and say ‘yeah, it’s fine’ without making any alterations at all, then go home, turn up the next day and do things with a motorcycle that nobody had seen done before.
Sadly though, The Go Show entered World Superbikes at the end of an era where behind-the-scenes it was more ‘strippers and beer’ than ‘dieticians and mineral water’. This, allied with the Australian’s love of partying meant that a career in motorcycle racing just wasn’t going to happen and off-track distractions ultimately robbed us of one of motorcycling’s greatest ever talents. Had he come into racing just a few years later and taken a more professional approach in a more disciplined environment, who knows what he could have achieved … Could he have become the Aussie Rossi, perhaps?
As it is, all we have to remember the majesty of his talent by are a few clips on YouTube and the reverential testimony of those who worked with him and who saw him extract performance from lesser machinery like nobody else before or since.
Additional material: Griff Woolley from Aprilia Performance