Corners of the paddock and global events scoured and reported on by our Malcolm as he continues to deliver the news that matters about the people who live motorcycles.
Two legends of GP racing stole the limelight at the International Festival of Speed at Sydney Motorsport Park, Australia. One was the most winning racer in GP history and the other the most winning crew chief. Everyone expected to see Giacomo Agostini and his outrageously loud MV but few expected to see Jeremy Burgess spannering all weekend on a collection of RG500 Suzukis. ‘Ago’ has 15 world titles while Burgess is the brains behind 14 world titles. This contrast summed up a special weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park. It also underlined how this annual event has been transformed from just classic racing into a classic spectacle that salutes great eras of endeavour. Last year, the focus was two-strokes, this year it was a weekend of Italian four-stroke exotica from the 1960s and 70s, mixed in with a couple of spicy Cagiva two-strokes from the following decades. There were plenty of RG500 Suzukis for the racing legends provided by Steve Wheatman, Stu Avant, Tom Dermody and Paul Edwards. Ago was joined by a squadron of riders and their old bikes: Pierfrancesco Chili, ex-barry Sheene GP team-mate Steve Parrish and Jeremy Mcwilliams were backed up by local heroes Graeme Crosby, Kevin Magee and Troy Bayliss.
Organisers pulled off a coup by bringing over Piero Laverda and his family company’s amazing V6 endurance racer. This weirdo design blew its rivals into the weeds at practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1978. Top speed was 174mph, nearly 18.6mph ahead of the pack. Although it failed in the actual race, the V6 design was directly responsible for authorities banning more than four-cylinders in endurance racing. Piero Laverda was only too happy to demonstrate the V6 at speed with several magnificently raucous runs each day. But the backbone of this meeting still remains the classic racing, with 54 events covering classes from 1920 to 1990. Most grids were 40 plus. Main event organiser Peter Macmillan explained how racer involvement has stayed steadfast, despite the focus moving to the historic parades. “As far as the number of entries and races go we are maxed out, which is why we have turned it into a four-day meeting,” he said.
Macmillan put his hand up in 2011 to co-ordinate the event for the Post Classic Racing Association of NSW. He worked with Kiwi Peter Lodge to get the Trans-tasman Challenge up and running. Since then big name sponsors, such as QBE Insurance, have joined the party to provide a secure platform for future growth. What’s on the agenda for next year? A celebration of
World Superbikes... Lodge, a big part of the Kiwi team which won the first event in 2011, praised the efforts of Macmillan and his team of organisers. “To get people through the gate you have to provide more than just a motorcycle race, it has to be entertainment,” he said. “This event is a perfect example of that.”
Kevin Magee Beau Beaton The man in the orange shirt is Piero Laverda, son of the founder of Laverda.
Left: Mcwilliams (34) and Chili (7) on their ‘demo lap’.
Far left: Steve Wheatman warms up Schwantz’s #34.
Below left: Ago’s jump start. Below: Croz (left) hard at work.
Bottom: Jerry Burgess warms up an RG500 for Steve Parrish.
Jeremy Mcwilliams Peter Lodge