Many think Carbon Fibre chassis are relatively new to motorcycle racing but I can lay claim to having been there and done that almost thirty years ago.
I first rode a Carbon/Kevlar 250cc Armstrong in 1983 before going on to grab four British titles and pretty much every national lap record over the next three years. I also had some top ten 250cc Grand Prix finishes although I was totally gutted when my team mate Donnie McLeod topped me by finishing 2nd in the Belgian GP at Spa.
The frames and swinging arms were manufactured by car racing specialists Reynard and we used tandem twin Rotax engines. The rear shock was mounted under the engine with the swinging arm ‘pulling it back' as the rear end squatted, with conventional Italian F.I. forks up front. Although our team was based at Silverstone, the bikes were designed and built by the brilliant Mike Eatough and Barry Hart at the Jubilee Works in Bury, where utility bikes were also built for the British and Jordanian Armies. Our biggest advantage was our race bikes were bang on the 250cc 90kg weight limit and as no one had any idea back then on chassis flex it was a simple case of full gas on every outing.
My 1985 bike (pictured) is particularly special as apart from winning the 250cc British title; I also had a great battle with Joey at the NW200 and took International race wins in Holland, France, Austria and Australia.
And a mention has to go to young Taz Mackenzie for putting a 125cc KTM on the podium for the first time in the Motostar BSB Championship. Ok, a few fell down but you always have to be on board at the flag to get rewarded.
His team took a calculated gamble on running the Redline KTM RC125 but it has turned out to be a little gem. This ex-Red Bull Rookie Cup bike has been easy to work on, totally reliable (touch wood) and fast. I’ve just heard the Rookies will be using new KTM Moto3 kit next year so there will be lots more RC125s for sale very soon.
And finally it was quite surreal watching Nori Haga race at Knockhill last weekend. It was almost like the good old days of the Match races when ‘A’ list riders came to the UK to race at the likes of Mallory and Oulton. He hasn’t looked at his happiest this year but I applaud him for still giving his all in BSB.
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