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

Classic Bike (UK) - - Contents -

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,


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


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

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