Title-winning Godier Genoud racer
The 1975 Bol d’or-winning Godier Genoud Kawasaki 1000 established a new world order for high performance four-stroke motorcycles
Before it evolved into today’s long-distance version of Superstock, Endurance racing showcased the most consistently innovative motorcycles on the planet, encompassing truly bizarre, avant-garde and excellent machinery. There’s no better example of this free-thinking genius than the Godier & Genoud Kawasaki 1000, which won the 1975 Bol d’or 24-Hours in the hands of its creators, Frenchmen Georges Godier and Alain Genoud.
The bike didn’t just win their third FIM Endurance title, it established the future direction of modern two-wheeled chassis design, as well as cementing Kawasaki’s prized reputation in European markets for producing fast but reliable four-stroke sports bikes. A milestone motorcycle in every way.
The partnership had won the first FIM Endurance title with an Egli-honda in 1972 – but the pressure of them both having fulltime jobs led to a series of retirements in ’73 due to inadequate preparation, and Godier failed to persuade his Honda bosses to be more supportive for 1974. Instead the duo cut a deal with French Kawasaki importer SIDEMM’S boss Xavier Maugendre, who gave them the budget to go racing full-time – and build fast green bikes that would win races. The first FIM Endurance title-winning Godier & Genoud Kawasaki (still with an Egli chassis) in 1974 wasn’t green, though – it was yellow, in deference to Michelin which picked up their tyre budget. For 1975 SIDEMM underwrote the construction of an all-new machine for a three-bike Kawasaki France team run by G&G out of the Kawasaki dealership they’d established just over the French border from Geneva. The first 100% Godier & Genoud Kawasaki Endurance racer was designed in the winter of 1974/75 by Georges Godier’s mate and former riding partner Pierre Doncque, by now a professor at the Amiens Technical University in France. “We asked Doncque to design us a frame which embodied all the ideas for improvement we’d gathered in three years of racing the Egli-framed bikes,” says Alain Genoud today. “Our fundamental aims were to prolong each session between pitstops, and make everything more accessible, so as to reduce time refuelling or for repairs after an accident. So, for example, just by releasing the two rubber handles on either side and disconnecting the fuel, you can lift off the aluminium shell comprising the fuel tank, and get immediate access to the carburettors and cylinder head. You can even remove the head with the engine still in the frame. Doncque’s chassis design was very advanced for the time, and it repaid by making the bike easier to ride and to work on.”
The Bol d’or-winning Kawasaki’s completely original monoshock perimeter-frame set a new standard for modern motorcycles – it’s essentially a 25CD4S tubular-steel prototype in 70mm-diameter tubing of the aluminium twin-spar frames commonplace in Superbike/grand Prix racing today. It comes complete with a rising-rate progressive link for the monoshock rear suspension, via a bell-crank design which Yamaha would replicate on Kenny Roberts’ Yamaha 500GP bike six years later. Employing many Endurance racing innovations introduced by G&G, including quick-change wheels allowing 50sec tyre swaps,
‘THE BIKE ESTABLISHED THE FUTURE DIRECTION OF MODERN TWO-WHEELED CHASSIS’
a Us-style quick-filler via a membrane seal in the right flank of the fuel tank, and the facility to use a syringe to top up the oil level, Doncque’s bike was also designed to allow ease of maintenance and quick replacement of accident-damaged parts . The ’bars are detachable from the clips attached to the forks, and the footrests mounted on plates that can be quickly unbolted if bent.
The 24-litre fuel load is positioned above the gearbox, as on a modern Motogp bike and for the same reason – to compact the bike’s mass in pursuit of more stable handling which is also more predictable as the level goes down. This leaves space in the front of the tank for the battery to be externally positioned, but dictates use of an electric fuel pump and header tank to feed the bank of four 31mm Keihin CR carbs fitted with long velocity stacks. Kawasaki 38mm forks are at a 28° head angle in a 1480mm wheelbase, contributing towards conservative chassis geometry even for the time, aimed at delivering stable handling for long hauls.
Originally fitted with a special Decarbon shock (now replaced due to lack of parts by a fully-adjustable modern Koni mounted vertically low down) the monoshock rear end consists of thin tubes comprising a spaceframe-style swingarm weighing just 5kg in all. This works the shock via a bell-crank linkage delivering a 5.25:1 rising rate to the long-travel rear suspension, with 140mm of wheel movement to enhance rider comfort and give better grip.
The frame and its slab-sided bodywork give low frontal area with good rider protection, plus the much-needed extra ground clearance the wide Z-1 engine needs – although only with the bike lifted on the suspension from 1976 onwards, as here, with 40mm longer fork stanchions at the front, and raised 35mm at the rear. The hefty air-cooled motor weighs 95kg, but the G&G Kawasaki’s forward-looking chassis design delivered a low 175kg dry weight (with oil but no fuel) in 1000km ‘sprint’ guise, rising to 190kg with a starter motor, twin Marchal headlamps and the generator to power them, for the 24-hour marathons. With a full 24-litre fuel load aboard, this increases to 212kg, split 51/49% for an ideal weight distribution aimed at delivering balanced handling. Campagnolo cast magnesium wheels shod with a Dunlop
‘STOCK Z-1 MOTOR WAS OVERBORED TO 998cc AND YOSHIMURA-KITTED’
KR124A front tyre and Avon AM23 rear, replace the period JPX equivalents which Genoud deems too fragile for use on the track today – the same reason that twin 300mm Brembo stainless steel front brakes supersede the cast iron JPX discs of the era, though the two-pot Brembo calipers are original.
This bike’s dohc air-cooled engine – an overbored 998cc version of the stock 903cc Z-1 motor with a Yoshimura kit – exploited the 1000cc permitted by the rules. The 69.8mm-bore pistons on stock conrods are mounted on a standard crankshaft; 1mm oversize 37mm inlet and 31mm exhaust valves are fitted with stiffer springs and operated by racing camshafts driven by a centrally-mounted competition chain. The reworked cylinder head with 10.5:1 compression was originally bored and flowed by Godier. A Dyna CDI provides the sparks, while a five-speed close-ratio Kawasaki race kit gearbox with a longer top gear is fitted, matched to a standard wet clutch with heavyduty springs, and there’s a specially-developed Devil 4-1 exhaust with no silencer.
Originally producing 106bhp at the rear wheel at 9000rpm, with a top speed of 158mph, the bike in its current restored guise has been massaged a little to deliver 125bhp at the crank (around 112bhp at the rear wheel) and extra torque as well as a little more top end performance.
After pre-season testing at Clermont-ferrand, the green G&G Kawasaki was a hot favourite to retain the title in 1975 from the moment it appeared there in March for testing during the run-up to the Le Mans 1000km race which opened the season. Godier suffered a rare lapse of attention at Le Mans, taking too big a handful of throttle after running across the track to leap on the bike, and highsided off the Kawasaki right at the start of the race.
Retiring from the Barcelona race in July with a broken main bearing didn’t help their title chances, but at Paul Ricard in September it all came right, with the duo scoring a decisive victory at the Bol d’or at record-smashing pace, with team-mates Yvon Duhamel and Jean-francois Baldé third. Two weeks later, Godier and Genoud converted this second Bol victory in successive years to a third FIM Endurance title, by finishing third in the Thruxton 400-mile sprint race behind their victorious teammates Alain Vial and Jean Luc on an identical bike – and then promptly retired from racing, right at the top!
The duo then concentrated on preparing race bikes for customers. When Kawasaki Europe tentatively entered World Superbike racing in 1989, it was Godier and Genoud who prepared and entered the ZXR750S for them. Meantime, the partners had become manufacturers in their own right, building more than 500 beautifully-engineered Kawasaki-powered 998-1135cc Godier & Genoud road bikes from 1979 on, before Georges Godier was tragically killed in a road accident testing a customer’s machine in March 1993, close to their Geneva area dealership.
Alain Genoud struggled for a while to carry on without his long-time technical guru by his side, but then caught the wave of worldwide interest in big-bore Post-classic Historic racing very successfully. Founding a new company, AG Diffusion, he has become France’s number one preparer of four-cylinder Japanese bikes of any marque – but especially Kawasakis – as well as restoring many of the Godier & Genoud street bikes, and improving them where necessary. He also restarted racing again, winning the 2003 French Proclassic title on his 1135cc G&G, and taking two victories at the Classic Bol d’or run each year at Magny-cours. History repeats itself!
Genoud depicted at the Bol on a period promotional celebration of G&G’S victory
Battery is in front of fuel tank to allow easy substitution
In case of accidents, ’bars are detachable
The makers’ mark graces cover plate
ABOVE: Alain Genoud with the 1975 Bol d’orwinning machine
LEFT: Monoshock rear end was revolutionary for the time
In 1975 French bike mags had something to shout about – G&G and their Kawasaki