Monday, 2 July 2012

Brasher and Linden 2nd at Spa.

Post-race top three line-up. 1st Dholda Honda, 2nd Sweatshop Phase One P&M Kawasaki,3rd Team Taurus Moto Guzzi.

Sweatshop Phase One regulars Peter Linden and Hugh Brasher secured a fine 2nd place at the 4hrs event over the weekend of 30th June. Linden dominated with an excellent display of night racing, posting faster times than in daylight and with metronomic consistency. Linden remains as fit as ever, even after retiring from active service earlier this year and he pushed as if he was still racing in the WEC. Brasher by his own admission could not live with the display, but then only a few could, notably Stephane Mertens and Patrick Orban on the Dholda RCB,  Manfred Kaiser and Toni Heiler on a Nico Bakker  Kawasaki and the very fast Moto Bel Guzzi of Charles-Artigues and Laurent Sleurs. It was not all Linden though; with the race proportions working out at 60% for Linden and  40%for Brasher. Hugh certainly played his part, staying consistent and out of trouble and was amongst the very best of the British riders present.

Phil Haynes and Keith Marchent push Hugh Brasher away during teh start procedure.

Qualifying was eventful, with Linden's first session being curtailed to just 4 laps by a huge oil slick  laid on 25%  of the circuit. Later he tried to kill an owl with his arm at 130 MPH. His arm was bruised but the owls plight was unknown. It is worth saying that since Peter Linden has had his eyes lasered over the winter he has definately gone better. Brasher had a less eventful qualifying ending a respectable 10th in his group. His big event of the meeting occurred during warm up, when he achieved only half a lap, due to the ignition rotor trigger magnet becoming detached and causing total ignition loss and a ride back to the pits in the pick-up truck. Hugh remained unflapped and was ready for the start procedure just 30 mins later.  The team qualified 9th.

Peter Linden, en - route to 2nd place.

Peter Linden again !!

So the race; 70 teams started the race, (the maximum allowed) from the 80 entrants. The race was held between 20.30 hrs Saturday night through to 00.30 hrs Sunday morning.
It wa s cloudy, dry and about 18 degrees C. Brasher made a fine getaway from the back of the grid (all non-starter motor bikes start from the back, irrespective of qualifying positionj) and worked his way past over 40 bikes in the first 45 minutes, when the safety car emerged, seperating the first three from the rest of the field. When the safety car withdrew on the hour, the team were holding 13th position. Brasher pitted after 63 minutes. Linden resumed and quickly continued progress ,closing the second hour in 4th position. Brasher held this and pitted for the second time at 23.03 hrs, as planned to hand over to Linden for his  one and a half hour double stint to the flag.

The drama of the race occurred in the final 10 minutes. Phase One were holding 4th (which had been the case for the whole of second half of the race), Kaiser was 2nd, MotoBel 3rd and Dholda led. At about 00.15 hrs, Mertens had stopped for the final splash, but the team had failed to close the fuel cap properly, necessitating a further unplanned stop to mop up Mertens leathers and to close the cap. This gifted the amazed Kaiser a crack at the top spot ( they were within 0.2 secs of each other). Mertens pushed and Kaiser responded, but fell, handing second spot to MotoBel with only 2 laps remaining. This they grabbed , but it was not to be for long ; they had been pushing hard and something had to give....on the last lap MotoBel were forced to pit having spluttered around the penultimate lap. The timing was all wrong for them, and so was their decision. the flag fell whilst they were in the pitlane, the pitlane duely closed and that prevented them taking the flag...and second place. So, that was ours, accepted gratefully, !!

People; What a pleasure to see ex-Phase One 1989 rider Dale Robinson and his partner Jo, only for the second time in 23 years.! Also, out of the blue, came ex-racer Peter Mathews, who owned the bike being raced, ( frame 17 ) for over 12 years, mainly in the 1990s, and glad to see it back on track.

Finally, there was a great British turnout at the event with notable performances from the SCERT team of Boam/Clark, who secured 8th place and Marlin Elf racing (Mark George and Steve Dobbie) who finished 10th. Regrettebly, Bob Collins and James Clark suffered a broken ignition circuit which forced retirement and the Neate/Neate Honda went out with engine problems, after a meeting long battle to build one.

Finally, thanks to all our sponsors for there unceasing support , and special congratulations to Peter Ziegler at Continental Tyres for achieving a Conti 1 -2 and for producing such a fantastic new profile front !! Well done.!

Oschersleben is next; a 4hrs race on the Friday evening  of  Speedweek, (10th August), the day before the WEC 8hrs. Hope to see you there.    RB

Photographs by Jacco Dijkhuizen.

The following is the official Spa report as shown on

4 Hours of Spa Classics

Stéphane Mertens and Patrick Orban win with their Dholda after an exciting finale.
Saturday June 30th at 20h30 the 4th edition of the 4 Hours of Spa Classic took off on the perfectly dry track of Francorchamps. The typical Le Mans start went well for all 75 participating teams, even though Stéphane Mertens, one of the favourites, had troubles getting his Dholda started. The ex-world champion endurance found himself at the end of the peloton, with the Kawasaki of Hacquin- de Dieuleveut at the lead. Unfortunately, the green monster, that had already blown up an engine during practice, and was riding with a stock engine, encountered fuel supply problems at the Combes. They entered a few times and eventually had to quit, while Mertens was busy climbing up.
The duo Hubin-Siméon didn’t have a lot of luck either.

Team Glam's Bob Collins seeks track advice from Peter Linden and Hugh Brasher during qualifying.

As from the third lap, Richard Hubin, our other world champion endurance who won the 24 Hours of Liège 25 years earlier aboard a Suzuki along with Michel Siméon and Michel Simul, signalled a problem at the rear wheel. A few laps later they changed the wheel and the troubles were gone.
During the first hour of the race, lots of machines had to make pit stops : the Suzuki of Hate-Bonvicini (ignition) ; the Kawasaki of Mosbeux-Mizera (slight oil loss) ; the Martin of Hofmann-Schuler (worn front tyre) ; the Pem Honda of Atisy-Jouret and the Suzuki of Hudson-Pietro (clutch) and the Kawasaki of Denis-Lutard-Audebert (battery).
The Dholda of Gian Mertens-Cremer lost a few precious seconds during a pit stop caused by a blocked fuel valve, while the Bimota of Seelmann-Ludwig (external help on track) and the Pecket of Clarck-Collins, who already had troubles with the throttle cable, abandoned. After half an hour, the Safety Car went on the circuit to allow the commissioners to clean the track, the Laverda of Jansen-Van de Leek had left a long trail of oil at the top of the Raidillon at post 11.
This intervention came in handy for Stéphane Mertens, who caught up with the Moto Guzzi of Charles-Artigues/Sleurs, a winner in the past.
After an hour, when Chris Cremer took over from Gian Mertens, the 2nd Dholda team was 12 seconds behind the French Moto Guzzi.

Hugh Brasher prepares for the warm-up lap.
Patrick Orban, who was called in last minute to ride along with Stéphane Mertens (he heard on Friday that he would be participating, merely two hours before the test sessions), was at the third place, but a minute behind the two leaders. Meanwhile, the other teams were already an entire lap behind.
The second hour of the race was also very eventful.
The main fuse of Chris Cremer’s Dholda burned forcing the rider to push the bike back to the pit making him lose four laps. The Godier-Genoud of d’Imbleval-Weber had to quit due to a broken fuse. The Suzuki of Pendelbury-Body entered with starter motor troubles ; the engine of the Honda of Dumont-Duvernay quit working : the Suzuki of Lambrecht-Lambrecht, who were in for the top 10, started using a lot of oil and the Laverda of Collonge-Collonge had to enter unexpectedly to adjust the lights.

Bike 17 technician Layne Wilson records the bike's settings during qualifying
The duo Hubin-Siméon was working on a comeback from the 48th place after having had troubles with a broken bulb, Siméon under the watchful eye of this son Xavier, who had hurried to return from Assen to support his dad. But a bit later, the engine of the Suzuki started to vibrate and to lose oil. Our two country fellowmen decided to call it a day, satisfied however with the results they had achieved : the same lap times as the ones from Stéphane and Gian Mertens.
So it was Stéphane Mertens who set the fastest lap times, he was facing the Moto Guzzi of Charles-Artigues/Sleurs. This became a little easier when the Italian machine had to enter the pit due to a false contact at the battery. This to the benefit of the Nico Bakker of Kaiser/Heiler. The Germans had been in the top 5 since the start and now they got to the second position, nevertheless a round behind Mertens-Orban.
On the 11th position, after one hour of racing, was the Kawasaki of Linden-Brasher, who were riding very regular laps and were in the running for the 4th place, along with the two Moto Guzzi’s of Sardi-Zaccarelli and Aue-Hofman. All three teams were three rounds behind the leaders.
Former endurance star, the Frenchman Roger Ruiz, was accompanied by his son Laurent. They were aiming for a place in the top 5.

Peter Linden during warm up.
At thirty minutes from the finish, Mertens and Oban increased their lead with almost two laps. The battle for the second place was still a harsh one, between Kaiser-Heiler and Charles-Artigues/Sleurs, who were at merely a minute from each other.
At that time, the Safety Car got on track due to a crash – with not much consequences – of the Ducati of Steenhaut-Verhegge.

More of Peter Linden during warm up.
This incident however caused an complete new start.
At the same time, Stéphane Mertens had to make a double pit stop, first to refuel and once again to close the badly closed fuel cap properly. They really had to speed up to catch up with Kaiser-Heiler, who had taken a nice advance. At ten minutes from the finish both teams were riding wheel to wheel. Suspense all over. But a lap later, the suspense turned into a spectacle. The Kawasaki rider, eager to keep up the pace of the Belgian, crashed and had to throw in the towel.
This cleared the road for the Dholda, while the rain made its appearance. Mertens could finish the last minutes at ease, but behind him, another spectacle was taking place. The Kawasaki of Linden-Brasher overtook the Moto Guzzi of Charles-Artigues/Sleurs and took the second place. But the Guzzi rider, who suffered from ignition troubles in the last round, and had managed to come back, made a huge mistake by entering the pit before passing the chequered flag. As the rules stipulate, he was disqualified which cost him his third podium place, in favour of the Italians Sardi-Zaccarelli.

 Pictures by Pascal (Stephane's mate)

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