Thursday, 3 November 2016

Team Force dominate at Aragon

Greg Fastré and Richard Hubin led from the early stages, only interrupted once, for a short time, by Mertens and Simpson, to score their second win of the 2016 series.

Sweatshop Phase One entered two teams: Mertens/Simpson on bike no 1, and Brasher/Lindén on the no 4 bike.
The no 1 bike retired whilst 2nd with 28 minutes of the four hour race remaining -having fought off challenges from the whole field and tucked in about 100 seconds behind Force at the head.

A rider error, passing under a yellow flag, resulting in a "drive through" penalty did not help the team's progress!

The no 4 bike had a steady trouble free run to fourth position.

Qualifying was topped by the new Edge Racing Team (formerly Monex Europe) with Sweatshop no 1 in second, Force in third and Sweatshop no 4 in fourth.

The surprise of the meeting was a second team bike no 50 of Team Force, raced by none other than Mathieu Lagrive and Bruno Lebihan! Regrettable they retired with machine failure in the early stages, as did Team Edge Racing.

Neate no 17/19 were second, Taurus were third, Alf was fifth and Roadrunner sixth.

Congratulations to all on a good meeting.

Season Summary:

During the season it was a hard slog keeping the Suzuki engines together, but it was worth it. With six wins, and a new Oschersleben race and lap record it proved there was still life in the old dogs!

Winter development will centre upon engines this time, plus beefing up the stock of rolling chassis spares to give more depth. And also of course the new bike... more on that later!

Personnel wise, it was another supreme effort by the core of this fantastic team -  some of the challenges thrown at it seemed insurmountable at the time, but all were overcome.
I will never forget nursing that leaking and cracked P&M Suzuki on to its Mettet win, nor for that matter, Ian pushing over the line at Osch for that one!

Peter Lindén, once again the backbone of the team, has performed on and off track superbly, and has been central to all six wins. It's been our pleasure to have him in the team. Congratulations to Hugh Brasher, Mike Dickinson, Ian Simpson and Stéphane Mertens, who have all raced with us this season and are now well established team members as well as friends.

And finally, a big thank you to our sponsors; the main men being Hugh Brasher, Ray and Lee Marchant, Graham Matcham and Maurice Waldock. Without you all it just would not have been possible - you have brought a lot of people a lot of pleasure.

Postscript to the ECS points controversy

The teams forced an FIM meeting at Aragon, where a carefully scripted back fitting exercise was delivered by the FIM.
In the absence of ECS rules, the FIM representative carefully selected extracts from the EWC non-permanent team rules (despite the teams concerned doing all races) to come to the bizarre conclusion that any team could adopt any number and even select which of its bikes could carry the points!
It fooled nobody, and even the ECS, after admitting their error, will consider changing the rules for next year. Apparently, Force and Roadrunner simply turned their backs and exited from the circus.
Hugh Brasher established that the teams had no route of appeal.

Monday, 24 October 2016

DG Sport press 'self destruct' button on ECS championship.

Taurus, Team Force and Roadrunner have all been ejected from their top 3 positions following a behind closed doors decision by DG Sport. 
The controversy follows the disqualification of Team Neate 17 for ineligible rider combination at Spa. The second Team Neate (19) scored a fine fifth position. DG Sport stated that 'we thought it would be all right' to combine the results of Team 17 from Paul Ricard and Team 19 from Spa to create a new total if 31 points, rather than the 20 points for team 17 at Paul Ricard and the 11 points for team 19 at Spa. 
For those that know endurance, this is a team championship and the rider lineups on a team's bike have no relevance.  
The team is designated by it's team bike number. 
If the proposal holds Team Neate (17/19) would 'overtake' second place Taurus and joint third placed Roadrunner and Team Force. 
Sweatshop Phase One, no 1, are unaffected with 32 points at the head of the championship. 
Russell Benney commented that it is unfortunate that the actions of DG Sports have already disrupted the harmony in what was a great series. 
If this controversy continues into Aragon it is difficult to imagine how a creditable championship result can emerge. 
Three of the top teams: Force, Roadrunner and Sweatshop Phase One have invited the FIM to investigate the manipulation of the Paul Ricard and Spa results that give the DG Sport their proposed outcome, and await their report. 

Sweatshop Phase One look forward to running Ian Simpson and Stephane Mertens on the number 1 team bike, and Pete Linden and Hugh Brasher on the number 4 team bike. 

See you there. 


Thursday, 29 September 2016

A tough 8th at the Classic Bol!

All was going so well; second in qualifying; Hugh on form; Peter going like a 25 year old, fastest race lap and the bike on song.... but it couldn't last, and it didn't.

In  leg one, on Friday night (16th September) Peter came crashing down on oil. And, he was leading by a couple of seconds, from one of the many post classic bikes. (actually, not post-classic at all; more like anything old ish...up to about 2000 we reckon - certainly not limited to 1991). That being bad enough, he was then skittled back to the ground by two other bikes crashing on the same oil.
Manfully and typically, he got the bike back (without LH handlebar) and the team fixed it and returned in 7 minutes. We had dropped to 32nd, but fought back to 8th by the end.

It could have been a great race, with over 50 starters; but on this occasion it was a bit of a struggle. Roadrunner Suzuki scored another superb first leg win, back to back with their Spa win two months earlier.They were on a roll, and well deserved!

In the second round on Saturday morning, it was much the same from the off. An ignition problem meant starting from the pitlane (tent-lane actually, as fifty tents had been erected to replace the pits occupied of course by the EWC teams) and a resultant stop and go, plus an oil leak, all led towards a decidedly average final 8th position. The overall race was won, for the second year running, by a post classic bike, firmly spelling the end of the "classic" bol as we knew it. Roadrunner were first classic bike in the overall result, in 3rd position.
Hugh Brasher at qualifying

This year the grid was split exactly 75% post classic and 25% classic.  we accept that classic is now finished. If only the organisers would get a grip and hold to their own regulations of the 1991 post classic cut off, it would have a future on its own, but I fear the worst...

What a negative end to a fantastic event... in just 3 years; a credible race with a full grid and the "main event" at Magny Cours, with its own support races, to a support race itself, with two unpoliced and meaningless classes. Shame.
Beringer products in the main paddock

As  a footnote; I hope that the organisers of next year's Donington 4 hours (6th/7th of May) have noted the demise of the Classic Bol (as a credible event) and the relative success of the ECS series; the former being a properly policed true classic event, rather than an unstructured free for all...

So, foreward to Aragon, we currently lead the championship, with 32 points, with our No. 1 bike, and our No. 4 bike is on 13 points in 8th place. Second is Taurus and tying for third are Force and Roadrunner, each on 25 points. For Aragon, Greg Fastré and Richard Hubin will both be fit.  Let battle commence!

Thanks to all for their invaluable support. Sorry to be negative earlier, its certainly not that way right now; Aragon is there to be won !!


Sunday, 11 September 2016

Classic Bol d'Or, Fri/Sat 17th /18th Sept

We leave today, Sunday and are on track first thing Thursday AM. Peter Linden and Hugh Brasher will defend the team's 2015 win (Linden/Dickinson) using the ex-Oschersleben bike. Post Oschersleben the detonation damage was repaired and the engine freshened ready for the back end of the season.

There are some great aspects of this event; notably the circuit and the world championship status of the main 24hrs race. But there are some negatives too; like being in an unsecured paddock with very poor facilities which is also a good distance from the pits!. Anyway, these trials are there there to be overcome - I am sure that we can lock all the valuables in the truck each time we go on track and we can always use the R2CL toilets... and anyway the pushing will do us good..

Another great thing about the Bol d'Or is that it attracts back lots of the old stalwarts, both racers and spectators, so I am looking forward to seeing many old faces again.

The race itself is a hotch -potch of classes, basically anything goes now, up to about 1995, and any capacity. It puts us at a bit of a disadvantage with such an old girl (1981), up against the GSXR1100s of 1990 and the 916s of later, It really is a post classic race with a classic support class.

But, as always we shall do our best and see what comes...

See you there.  RB

Monday, 29 August 2016

A lucky win at Osch

It was a great weekend with a superb outcome, but there was more to it than that. Frankly, the field was thin: not weak, just thin.

Qualifying for instance was fairly hard, with ACR Wobker and Motul Endurance both within 0.9 sec of fastest man Lindén.   Ian Simpson trailed slightly all meeting due to him suffering from a cracked rib following a mountain bike incident.
Qualifying ended with Sweatshop Phase One on pole with 1.39.62. Motul Endurance on 1.40.28 and ACR Wobker on 1.40.47. But there were not many other competitors close to this.
[It was interesting to note that some of the factory EWC bikes were only 11secs faster, with the latest young guns on board!].
The whole meeting was blisteringly hot, with air temperatures between 33-35 C and track temperatures in the 46-48 C region.

Sweatshop Phase One led from the flag, pulling a lead of approx 1 lap per hour over second place finisher Team Segale Classic (Dario Tosselini and Roberto Germann).
The Team's race was trouble free, with some great pitstops, even one at 18.17 secs, which resulted in the team being 5 laps ahead with 10 minutes to run (the race was between 16.00 - 20.00).
That hard earned margin proved invaluable as Ian Simpson stopped, with 10 minutes to go, at the beginning of the start/finish straight, apparently with a serious top end rattle.
The Team, in consultation with Ian, decided to sit the last 10 minutes out, just before the line, sapping up the margin, and to push over, at 20.00hrs.

The plan worked! The Team won, with just 100 sec to spare!!
It was a close thing, but well deserved after a great effort by all the Team.
Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters. Classic Bol d'Or next, September 18/19.

NB The engine fault was detonation eating a plug thread and loss of a plug

Pictures by Dave Martin

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Oschersleben 4hrs, Friday 26th August

Ochersleben has been a firm favourite with the team since the mid-1990s when the 24hrs race was conceived. Battle after battle was fought there, some absolute epics. Like in 1999, when we broke a cam chain whilst in the top three; pushed in, stripped it, got a new chain from the spare engine, retimed and fitted it, and carried on to a top ten finish. Those were the days; Rees, Bonhuil, Linden. And the marvellous 24hrs race win in 2001, a true race long battle with Zongshens, Jerman, Mertens and Nowland, which we won....true payback for Zongshen buying most of the 2000 Phase One rider line-up after we won the world championship the year before. That was Peter Linden's last world endurance race too... what a way to bow out of the WEC.... a 24hrs race win.

Anyhow, enough of that.... This weekend's race will be held at 16.00 on Friday PM. Peter Linden and Ian Simpson will be aboard, supported by a tight little team of five of us. We will be taking all three bikes; overkill really, but one is there just to run-in, and the other as a spare. We are learning all the time about these particular engines, and all are fresh for this latter part of the season.

Next will be the Classic Bol in mid-September (Linden/Brasher); an event that really should be renamed- post classic bol, with some classic bikes in support ! We go there to defend our 2015 classic bike win, in a field that will probably be around 50/50 with post classic....should be interesting....   Despite the absolutely rubbish facilities, remote paddock (no more than a field actually) and tented pits, its difficult to stay away....its still Paul Ricard after all, its still the south of France in September and above all its still the
Bol d Ór.....

Our last race will be the final EWC round at Aragon. We go there as absolute series leaders, but with only a slender margin ahead of Taurus, with Roadrunner and of course Team Force all within striking distance....

Thank you all for your continued support..... More after Osch ...RB

Bill Simpson
I am delighted to say that I visited Bill last week, the day after he was discharged from Dumfries Royal Infirmary and over two months after his horrific accident at East Fortune. I found him in good spirits, very thankfull to still be here and looking forward to getting back to fitness. I was so worried that after such a lengthy time in a coma he may have lost some of his wit; but no, Bill was back to full strength mentally.....but there is going to be some hard word ahead physically - he does however expect to make a full recovery...
Bill Simpson in South Africa earlier this year

Monday, 4 July 2016

Sweatshop Phase One grab series lead at Spa !

A top performance after a difficult build up gave the team a five point advantage after last weekend's Spa race. Stéphane Mertens and Mike Dickinson scored a solid third place behind winners Roadrunner Suzuki and second placed Taurus Suzuki. Peter Lindén and Hugh Brasher on the team's second entry took fourth position.

The Roadrunner Suzuki win was much celebrated as it was the team's first win in the series, with Henk van der Mark and Dirk Brand having tried for four seasons.

The Sweatshop Phase One meeting started well with a largely successful test day on Thursday, however right at the end of the day a starter motor clutch disintegrated sending debris around the engine. This necessitated a double engine change and an overnight strip to swap gearboxes.!

Qualifying went reasonably well with Mertens/Dickinson ending fastest for the team in third overall, with Lindén/Brasher in eleventh out of the sixty entrants.

During warm up a mysterious power loss occurred, which robbed the Mertens/Dickinson bike of perhaps 25 BHP. As warm up was only 15 mins before the race the team had no option but to start the race in that condition. Because of this lap times were some seven seconds slower than expected. !! Dogged determination and great riding allowed the Teams to hold third and fourth position for much of the latter half of the race. Pits tops were far from pretty at this event, much due to the overcrowding of the pit lane (60 teams using only half the garages) and the lack of light, making an already dangerous area even worse. Despite that, to their credit, the pit crew produced two 100% reliable machines to take them to the top of the table.......  

Early leaders Team Force DNFed due to Richard Hubin crashing heavily after mid distance. He broke a shoulder and ribs in the fall.

Ian Simpson and team mechanic Phill Haynes could not be at the event due to family medical issues.

John McGuinness and Steven Neate rode their MOTUL/Neate entered Harris Honda at this event bringing great publicity to the series and which received popular support. Their result was not classified.

Oschersleben next in August.

Series standings;

Sweatshop Phase One 32pts
Taurus Suzuki  27pts
Team Force  25pts
Roadrunner Suzuki 25pts
Team Neate 20pts
Team Nocki  20pts

Race resuls and more later, ......RB

Pictures by Jonathan Godin, more to follow.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Two Bike Assault at Spa

Peter Lindén and Ian Simpson at Paul Ricard

The most competitive race of the FIM European Classic Series is the Spa 4hrs. This year will be no exception with 60 entries lining up to take their chances. Favourites must be Kaiser Kawasaki, who were last year's winners and who also won in 2013. The on-form Neates, this time entering two teams, one including top TT star John McGuinness, must also be up there. And yet Team Force, with Richard Hubin and Greg Fastré must consider themselves top dogs at their home circuit. Not to mention Alf's Kawasaki, with Mike Edwards and Roadrunner Suzuki - honestly, any one of seven or eight teams could win.

Sweatshop Phase One finished second in 2015, (Lindén /Brasher) and is determined to go one step higher this year. The two bike entry for the Saturday night race this weekend will be Stéphane Mertens / Mike Dickinson (last years Classic Bol and Misano winner), plus Peter Linden / Hugh Brasher.

Currently, the team lie in third position in the championship but have their tails very much up after last months Mettet ( non-championship) win.

Free practice is Friday AM, Qualifying and night practice Friday PM and the race starts at 20.00 on Saturday night.

All the team wish Bill Simpson ( Ian's father) a swift and complete recovery after his horrific crash at East Fortune ten days ago. Ian is understandably sitting out of Spa this year.

Lets do it for Bill !

See you there.


Monday, 30 May 2016

Bank Holiday Blitz at Mettet

Peter Lindén and Stéphane Mertens scored a convincing win at the Mettet 4 hrs last weekend. For the first time the race had a classic and a hybrid post-classic class, attracting 34 starters. Sweatshop Phase One won the classic class and the race overall. On Saturday, leg one of the race went exactly to plan. Fastest man Mertens ( pole 1.11.7 secs) started and finished, with Lindén completing the long mid-stint. The team led the race from start to finish. The 118 Senechal Suzuki pushed hard but were still four laps behind at the flag. Michel Siméon/Fred Tacheny won the post classic class (5th overall) and Team Force (Greg Fastré/Richard Hubin) went out early with a big oil mess on their new post classic Harris Suzuki.

The Sunday afternoon leg was not quite so straightforward. Mertens again started , this time in wet and raining conditions. Stop one went to plan, but as Mertens relaxed he noticed oil on his left boot.
Consequently the team pulled Peter Linden in early and changed to a three stop strategy. Stop two meant losing over half of the teams race one winning margin of four laps, by bringing the bike into the pitbox for a clean up and initial diagnosis. Nothing was obvious, so the team used instant-seal on all left side gasketted joints and pushed on with Mertens aboard. Post stop discussion and analysis revealed more. Team members had spotted the starter motor move when the start button was pushed. All was clear. the starter had either come loose or broken. The next stop proved the latter to be true, a palliative repair was applied and Lindén cruised gingerly to the flag for the overall and class win with a two lap margin.

Britain's Steve Clark and Steve Boam scored an excellent 3rd place, in class, on their SCERT Harris Suzuki 1230 after a trouble free race - albeit after changing engines on the Saturday after a crankshaft failure.

Roger Ruiz, one of the five world champions present at Mettet, had a fantastic weekend, coming back from a light crash on lap two of leg one and then going on to finish second on Sunday - and all from a guy who is 70 in September.

Fastest lap; Stéphane Mertens 1.10.9 secs

Top Ten Results Overall

1  Peter Lindén /Stéphane Mertens.  
    Sweatshop Phase One Suzuki      171 laps   Classic
2  Nicholas Senechal / Lionel Frerad
    Baugy Motos Suzuki                   169 laps    Classic
3  Michel Simeon  / Fred Tacheny    
    Tacheny Suzuki                           164 laps   Post Classic          
4  Steve Clark / Steve Boam              
    Team SCERT Suzuki                   162 laps    Classic
5  Rob Morlon / Pedro Hernandez    
    BMW R1000RS                           161 laps   Classic
6  Bernard and Gaspard Demelenne  
    Yamaha FZR 1000                       160  laps   Post Classic
7  Bruno Weyland / Jerome Feyen    
    Moto-Martin Suzuki                    159 laps   Classic
8  Bert Goorts / Roland Lissens        
    BMW R1000 RS                          159 laps   Classic
9  Jean and Ronan Le Folch              
    Suzuki GSXR 750 Suzuki            158 Laps  Post Classic
10 Oliver Delagneau / Freddy Font    
     Kawasaki ZXR 750                      156 laps   Post Classic

It was great to be at the top of the podium again. Thanks to all team and sponsors for making that possible.

The seasons highlight, the Spa 4hrs, will be held over the weekend of 2nd/3rd July. We hope to see you all there, newly freed from the shackles of the European Superstate.  RB

Photographs by Kick47

Monday, 23 May 2016

Mettet 4 hrs: Mertens and Lindén

It's always lovely to get those two riding with each other again!
That 2000 WEC winning year was really something special; teamed with Warwick Nowland they scored six finishes from six starts and were rarely off the rostrum. Great memories.
Mertens and Haynes (Mettet 2015)

The Mettet 4 hrs will be run in two legs of 2 hrs, one on Saturday afternoon (not into the night) and the other on Sunday afternoon,
28/29 May.

This year, for the first time, the organisers have elected to run a class for later machines. It seems the later class is a "catch all" to enable anyone, with anything up to 1991 to ride.
It should be interesting, but effectively ends this race as a classic endurance event, which is a real pity as it was a useful race to keep the ECS honest. €550 entry fee at Mettet, €1450 entry fee at Spa!!

My feeling is that if a "post classic", 750cc up to 1991 had been adopted, it would have been true to the endurance classes at the time and would have been a great venue to bring out genuine endurance machines from the period.
Anyway, we shall do our best; despite being in the "support race". Sour grapes? A little.

In 2015 we were beaten into 2nd place by Team Force, and we really don't want that to happen again.

See you there!


Mettet 2013 (archive picture made by Jacco Dijkhuizen)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

3rd at Paul Ricard - a great start!

Ian Simpson and Peter Lindén made a great start on the job of defending the Team's European Classic Championship. After qualifying second against notably stronger competition they raced to a very hard fought third place in the 4hrs race. Team Force won and Neate Racing were second.

Against my expectation, the competition, in both depth and strength was up. Forty teams were on the line, many now with the security of two bikes, and almost all from the top ten had well known national champions, or ex- world champions aboard.

At the top, Greg Fastre was as fast as ever, fresh from his second place at last weekend's Le Mans 24hrs race. Sam and Steven Neate raced at a pace better than ever before. Mike Edwards and Mick Godfrey went superbly on Alf’s Kawasaki, Roadrunner (Dirk Brand and Henk van der Mark) and Taurus was very fast too.
The fifth to fifteenth region was stacked with talent as well… Cormac Conroy came back with a bang, joining Patrick Banfield on a pair of Kawasakis to finish a very creditable 7th, plus the Team Monex entry qualifying well in 6th and finished in 12th .

In the race, Lindén started well and settled in fourth for most of the first 40 minutes. The Neates led, followed by Force and Taurus. Monex lay fifth, until a stop and go ended their challenge.

There was excitement right from the warm-up, with team Force pitting after the sighting lap for adjustments and Cormac pitting with a slipping clutch.
After stop one, Sweatshop Phase One were in third, with Simpson pushing hard. Force were leading the Neates.

After stop two Sweatshop slotted into second place behind Force.

During rota three the pace car arrived in response to Mick Godfrey crashing Alf’s Kawasaki and the detached tank catching fire. The pace car intervention resulted in the top three closing on track to 8 seconds separation; Force, Neates and Sweatshop.

The latter part of the race was uneventful; with good pit work and faultless riding the team were able to secure third, some minute or so behind the fast charging Neates and two laps ahead of Nocki Classic Team in fourth.
Steve Boam and Steve Clarke had an awful race, chasing what turned out to be a dropped carb needle for at least half the race distance.

The sweatshop Phase One Team were content with getting points on the board (the team’s fourth consecutive ECS rostrum position) but will be working hard to be even more competitive at Spa.

Mettet 4 hrs next,  27th - 29th May…….RB


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Valencia - good, Vallelunga - bad

Following an excellent two day test at Valencia, where all objectives were achieved and which involved Peter Lindén, Hugh Brasher and Ian Simpson, it all came to nought at Vallelunga!

Serious deliberations

Peter Lindén and Hugh Brasher qualified in third spot behind Team Taurus (44), with Giorgio Cantalupo and Sandro Caprara and the fast charging Team Scuderia Officine (333) with Samuele Sardi and Emiliano Bellucci.

Long queues for the scrutineering

After 25 minutes Peter Lindén led and built a 4 second lead by stop 1, at 43 minutes. Hugh Brasher returned to the track in an even better position, leading by 18 seconds.

At stop 2 and stop 3 the team held a steady 3rd position, well in touch with Scuderia Officine, who led.

A mid-race stoppage, due to a bike fire on track, turned into an Italian farce. No pace car, nor parc fermé were available and all bikes returned to their pits awaiting instructions.
These can in town crier fashion with the organisers making the rules up on the hoof, contradicting each other and making no coherent sense... poor Segale suffered a 1 minute penalty for wiping the screen!

Anyway, farce over, our race resumed... but not for long. Hugh Brasher pitted with 45 minutes remaining with a broken gearbox! It was a real shame, as Peter Lindén had scored the race fastest lap and absolute class record whilst chasing for the lead after the race stoppage and Hugh Brasher had delivered a 1 min. 54 sec lap and was displaying top form!

Fastest lap trophee

Next week off to Paul Ricard for round one of the FIM European Classic Series.

Ian Simpson and Peter Lindén will join forces on the Sweatshop Phase One bike... and this one really does count!

See you in the Provence next week.


Golden memories, James Ellison on the No 3 Phase One bike

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Valencia and on to Vallelunga

Testing this year will be at Valencia. The team will have two days on track over the Easter Monday and Tuesday, 28th/29th March. Technically, there is only a modest amount  to do, but for the riders it will be very important to get up to speed before the 1st round of the Italian championship the following weekend.

Probably the biggest change to the bikes is the new fairing and headlight set up. Last years lamps have been brought inside the fairing in order to try to give a better aerodynamic presentation and possibly improve top speed, which was down by some 8/9kms against the competition at the end of 2015.  a new replacement for the gas discharge light will also be tried. The team will also need to put some hours on the new tanks and mounting system, which is as yet untested.

After the test, the truck will travel to Vallelunga via the Mediterranean ferry which crosses from Barcelona to within 40kms of the circuit on the Italian coast. Practice is on Friday 1st April and the 4hrs race is during Saturday evening.

Peter Lindén and Hugh Brasher will ride at this event.

Just two weeks later the team are out again at Paul Ricard for round one of the European Classic Series. Riders at that race will be Peter Lindén and Ian Simpson. Last year the event attracted crowds of over 25,000, with the 4hrs classic endurance as the headline event.

Ian Simpson leads Peter Lindén during the SA TT Classic Series at Zwartkops

See you at Vallelunga

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Peter Lindén - South African Classic TT Champion.!

Peter Lindén scored four straight wins in the SA Classic TT series held over the last two weekends at Zwartkops and Killarney. Linden fought off challenges from Graeme Van Breda and Rod Gray at both events to come out on top of the 33 bike field. This was Peter Lindén's first visit to South Africa, and riding the same Sweatshop Phase One Suzuki GSX1230 on which he finished the ECS Aragon 4 hrs race, he mastered the conditions quickly and matched the pace of the locals at both circuits.

In each of the races there were two classes; the pre-1983 and the pre-1989. The series champion was determined by the rider achieving most points, irrespective of which class he competed in.

Races one and two which were at Zwartkops, on the outskirts of Pretoria and were not easy affairs, with local star Rod Gray making forceful challenges, finishing within a couple of seconds behind Lindén in each.  They finished one and two in both pre-1983 races. Bill Simpson scored creditable thirds.

In the pre 1989 races, circuit specialist Noel Haarhoff and Graeme Van Breda made it a one-two in each leg , with Gavin Ramsey holding off Ian Simpson, on John Wheatman's XR69, for a pair of thirds. Ian finished fourth with Ian MacPherson in fifth.

At Killarney the battles resumed, this time with Linden being pushed all he way by Rod Gray, who finished just two second down in race one.  In race two the challenge was weaker after Gray crashed on the slowing down lap of the first race.

In the second pair of pre-1989 races Ian Simpson and Graeme Van Breda scrapped tooth and nail right to the line, with Van Breda taking the honours on both occasions.

Peter Linden received his trophy from outgoing champion ( and Phase One team mate ) Ian Simpson at the post race prize giving, which coincidentally was on Lindén's Birthday ... a great present after a faultless performance.

Final Championship positions

Peter Lindén             P&M Suzuki    GSX1230             56 points
Graeme Van Breda   Suzuki              GSXR                  52
Rodney Gray            Suzuki Katana  GSX1100             48
Ian Simpson             Suzuki XR69    Bandit 1100         42
Noel Haarhoff          Suzuki               GSXR750            36
Gavin Ramsey          Suzuki              GSXR                  36
Bill Simpson             Suzuki              GSX EFE 1100   30
Alan Duffus             Yamaha             TZ750                  27
Fergal McAdam       Suzuki Katana  GSX 1100            26
Ian Mac Pherson      Suzki                 GSXR                  22

Snippets -

Oil - anyone who imagines that classic bikes are bad for oiling circuits really should have seen some of the many classic car races held over each weekend. With no sump catchtanks and hard racing it really was bad.

Austin Healey- Anyone interested in 3-litre Healeys would be interested to know that there were at least four of the Chatham family at Killarney, including old man John, of DD300 fame. Those who remember John Chatham cars on Pigsty Hill in Bristol will probably be aware of DD300, the Healey that John Chatham campaigned for decades from the early 1960s until it was sold just five years ago. It was THE most famous racing 3000.

Temperature - both races were held during the current South African drought and heatwave, which saw race day temperatures in the low to mid 30 degree Cs.

Marchant Engineering - Ray Marchant performed excellent mechanic duties alongside Russell at both meetings

Meercats - running across the circuit at Zwartkops - a genuine hazard

Continental -  Big thanks to Graeme Matcham for the supply of the tyres which astounded the local racers who had not seen grip like this before

Next - Valencia test 28/29th March

Sunday, 24 January 2016

South Africa next

Next weekend the team will race in  South Africa for the first time, competing in the first two rounds of the South African three event Classic Series.

The first two races are at Zwartkops and Killarney over the weekends of 30/31st of January and 6/7th of February. It's not endurance, but it will be great to see Peter Lindén up against similar machines in the pre 1983 category.
Competition will come from a host of local stars, plus Ian McPherson and Ian Simpson, last year's series winner.The event is organised in the UK by Mick Grant, who has shipped a dozen or so bikes from the UK.
TT star Bill Simpson will also be racing an XR69 Suzuki.

Interest in the races started when Bill Simpson spoke of what good events they were during last season. The team had been looking at competing again outside Europe for a while and these events fitted the bill perfectly. As an aside we had considered Philip Island but dismissed it as our bikes were out of class (the organisers allow 17" wheels , slicks and post 82 engines), New Zealand, but our timing seemed wrong and Japan, where we could be in class, but emails were never replied to. 
So, South Africa it is. Ian Simpson built on what his father had told us and speaking to others it seemed pretty irresistible. The bike and spares were transported by sea from some Hull based shippers in early December and are due back in mid-March

Zwartkops is effectively in a suburb of Pretoria, which in turn is very close to Johannesburg. The whole area is high and at this time of year is warm, Race day is forecast to be 36 deg C although the build up week will be in the high 20 deg Cs. So the height and climate will bring some carburation challenges. We believe that the races are very short, like the circuits, so being spot on ready and getting a cracking start will be crucial. I can only wonder about how Lindén will handle going from minus 17 deg C today, in Sweden, to plus 36 deg C next Sat. ! 

Killarney is likely to be easier technically. The circuit is at sea level in a northern suburb of Cape Town, with Table Mountain clearly visible to the south. This time it is a longer circuit, at 3.267 km which should give Peter more of a chance to settle down.

Whilst in South Africa the 'tour' is being organised by promoter Clive Strugnell, who,with Mick Grant, has organised the road transport for the bikes between port and circuits and back to port. With just two events in the 14 day period away, there will be plenty of time for recreation, and what better place to spend that time. 

More to report from South Africa in the coming days.