UP THE CREEK!
Our Anitpodean Project ZXR wins at Eastern Creek!
our aussie arm has only gone and blinking won something! Webby and the Wilkos win the Barry sheene Festival of speed. report in their own inimitable words...
Are we up a certain creek without a certain paddle? Nah, far from it! sure, we were racing the Project CMM prepared by John Wilkinson and piloted by his very talented son, Mark, at eastern Creek but the sewage treatment plant was a mile-and-ahalf away and a paddle wasn’t required to propel this 25-year-old, 87,000km green canoe. after some more great preparation by John and Mark leading up to this very prestigious post-classic motorcycling event, the old boiler performed like it had an extra outboard motor strapped to its backside. We started this Classic Motorcycle Mechanics project ZXR more than 18 months ago as we wanted to prove you don’t need to keep spending endless amounts of money to buy, build, and successfully compete in what is one of the fastest-growing and most popular disciplines in motorcycle road racing. Why is it popular? The bikes and people make it so.
You may have owned a cam-chewing VF or a headshaking Gsx-r slabby or a screaming killa rg or rz500, or maybe the very popular Z900 a CB750: they’re all out there. and then there are the people involved. Hearts of gold, willing to lend a hand – even if you kick their butts out on track. anyway, back to the guts of this read. We’ve just returned from the Barry sheene Festival of speed held annually at sydney’s Eastern Creek circuit. It’s a track you can see so much of when perched up high. This is a huge event that attracts people from all over (see boxout) and the amazing Freddie spencer was among the crowd. I was fortunate enough to attend saturday night’s dinner to hear Freddie tell his truly enlightening story about how he started out as a kid racer and what happened afterwards (yeah, we know…) Back to us, John and Mark did everything they could to get the most out of this ZXR with brakes and handling and general set-up after phillip Island, in which the only thing between Mark and the silverware was a few extra horses. so, a decision was made to leave early and spend a day in sydney making some ignition adjustments and a proper dyno session to finally see what horsepower this thing still made and finally jet it to get the best we could. We shared a shed at phillip Island with a guy who’s been around a while named Craig Haradine of C&M Motorcycles who also races and builds classic bikes of very high quality and is also a competitor in our class. Craig was blown away by Mark’s ability and performance on such a low-budget machine. anyhow, on the run-up to the event, John, Mark and Craig were busier than a three-legged cat trying to bury a turd on a marble staircase. What more do you expect from get the best out of this dinosaur. By the time we got to the track on Friday the place was buzzing as people excitedly looked towards the races and frantically got their bikes ready. This was the time we had waited for – to try to deliver to you dear readers of CMM – the win in the period 6 pre-1990 750 class. We wanted to win it outright and to do that we had to compete against the best in the big-bore class. The pit garage was set up as per usual by John and Mark the day before, so the bike was on its stands and tyre warmers fitted. With everything set, I took a look around at the competition – there were some lovely bikes out there. soon it was our turn to hit the track. John sent Mark on his way with his final words of wisdom. He pats him on the back and simply says: “Have fun son!” Even with 44 bikes out there you could see Mark had the speed on worn tyres. at the end of the session Mark was half a second quicker than anyone in our class and even near the pointy end of the 1300 class. Qualifying saw Mark as the fastest period 6 750 and on the front row of the grid. We were second behind a rapid 750 two-stroke with a handy rider on board. In race one when the green light came on our green bike shot off. Mark and the TZ750 swapped places
but Mark was slipstreamed over the line in an oh-soclose finish. No matter, he had done the business and won the P6 class outright. Mark and the big TZ had basically broken clear of the pack and Mark’s laptime was a 1m 44.2. To be honest I can’t describe how we all felt at that result. I mean, this is the first win for Project CMM ZXR and the bike has 87,000km on the clock. Mark being the battler he is wanted to go out in the bigbore class, so we shod the bike with new rubber and rubbed shoulders with Steve Martin, Rob Phillis, Shawn Giles and Mal and Scott Campbell. In this big-name and big-bore field he came home ninth. From then on Mark and the old ZXR kept on delivering the goods. Next he beat the TZ and got another class win. The second big-bore race he came home third with a 1m 44 flat. Then it was the 25 best qualifiers to take to the Tarmac for the Barry Sheene memorial race. There were plenty of big-buck bikes out there in the big-bore class, but Mark was doing the business and eventually running 1m 42.1 second laps. I had a plane to catch before the final Barry Sheene race, but I was stoked at his performances so far and knew we had the outright 750 class win in the bag, but better was to come. John texted to tell me that his boy had come second outright in the Open-class Barry Sheene Memorial race and that we would have the silverware to prove it: all done on a knackered old Kwak with bugger all for a budget. Hell, if most CMM readers saw this bike they’d say it was a resto project not a racer… With second in the main race and the overall win in our class we’d gotten the job done. Mark really does deserve a factory ride. I bet Barry would be proud of this event and what goes on in his name. One person sums up the spirit of the great man himself. Alan Kempster is 52 and lost his right arm and leg in a hit-and-run accident five years ago. He hadn’t raced a bike since the mid-1980s and here he was at the Creek showing just how rapid he was on a Kawasaki ZXR400. Meeting Alan was a real honour and made my weekend all the sweeter. Good on ya mate. So what next for the CMM Project ZXR? We’d love to find a sponsor who can help us build a motor that could help us lift a few Aussie titles. Or maybe race at the Classic TT on the Isle of Man? If anyone fancies contributing to our little adventure we’d give you full coverage on the fairing of the old girl. C’mon people – contact Bertie and let’s get the CMM ZXR in the northern hemisphere I reckon it would be a ripper of a riot!
Above: The sights and sounds of the festival are intoxicating. Barry would have loved it.
Mark Wilkinson did good with the old CMM Project ZXR.
Wilko Junior heads out to kick some butt. Above: Some amazing machines at the event. And men – Alan Kempster – respect to you mate! below: Webby meets his hero Freddie Spencer.