Classic Racer - - PADDOCK GOSSIP -

For rac­ing en­thu­si­asts from across Europe, the first week­end in July means only one thing and all roads lead to Spa Fran­cor­champs for the Bik­ers’ Clas­sics, the three-day ex­trav­a­ganza that has evolved into one of Europe’s largest gath­er­ings of clas­sic mo­tor­cy­cles. The weather forecast was de­cid­edly omi­nous with plenty of the in­fa­mous Ar­dennes rain threat­en­ing to dampen en­thu­si­asm. As it turned out Fri­day only suf­fered a cou­ple of light show­ers, but Satur­day was a dif­fer­ent story ,with wet con­di­tions from start to fin­ish. The Le Mans start of the Euro­pean Clas­sic Se­ries Four Hour En­durance race, one of the week­end’s high­lights, drew even larger crowds this year, partly due to the in­clu­sion of Guy Martin who, with team-mate Peter Boast, man­aged a very re­spectable sev­enth place over­all. How­ever, it was fa­ther and son Steven and John Neate, to­gether with Robert Collins, that were to take the hon­ours af­ter 58 gru­elling laps, a full lap ahead of sec­ond-placed Team Taurus, with Sweat­shop Phase One’s Peter Lin­den and Ian Simp­son tak­ing third. A to­tal of 64 riders qual­i­fied for the two IHRO/BCGP races on Sun­day af­ter­noon, in which Pa­ton-mounted Dario Tosolini proved in­vin­ci­ble in IHRO2. In the 500cc Group 1 there were wins for Dutch riders Mark Belt­man and Tom Groot. Lo­cal rider Her­man Ver­bouen won both 500cc Group 2 races and in the 350cc Group 1 it was Aer­ma­c­chi-mounted Chris Turner who was the vic­tor in race one and fel­low Brit Pete Boast on a Bul­taco TSS won race two. Ger­man rider Thomas Ruck­riegel took a pair of wins in the Clas­sic Su­per­bike Masters Se­ries in the Open Ex­treme class on a Yamaha XS1100, while Man­fred Goe­bert took both AMA Leg­ends classes. The GP Pa­rades are al­ways huge crowd-pullers at the Bik­ers’ Clas­sics and this year was no ex­cep­tion, with a mouth-wa­ter­ing ar­ray of for­mer Mo­togp and WSB ma­chin­ery on dis­play. This year the event was split into two classes; GP ma­chines from 19601985 and from 1986 through to to­day. The free ac­cess to the pit lane drew spec­ta­tors in their droves. This year’s stars in­cluded Phil Read, rid­ing a Mk.1 RG500; Wayne Gar­dener, cel­e­brat­ing the 30th an­niver­sary of his world ti­tle with a run on the ex-ian Lougher Suter MMX500 and Guy Martin on the Kevin Sch­wantz 1994 RGV 500. Riders got the op­por­tu­nity to com­plete two com­par­i­son laps of the two Spa cir­cuits in a pa­rade, one lap on the cur­rent 7km track and the sec­ond lap on the ‘old Fran­cor­champs’ which was 14km long. Other at­trac­tions in­cluded a drag rac­ing dis­play and a Life­style Vil­lage, which took up the en­tire area un­der­neath the F1 pits and had on dis­play cus­tom bikes and chop­pers, in­clud­ing a wicker bas­ket Du­cati Mon­ster and also the much her­alded Fred Krug­ger Du­cati X Di­avel.

Words and pho­to­graphs: Mark Mc­closkey

The start of the Four Hour En­durance Race.

Bul­taco Tss-mounted Peter Boast (UK) se­cures the win in the 350cc Group1 BCGP race 2.

Phil Read al­ways draws a crowd.

Pa­trick Ban­field pushes team-mate Cor­mac Con­roy at the start of the Four Hour En­durance Race.

No.1team Neate: Af­ter 58 gru­elling laps, Robert Collins with John and Steven Neate, won the Four Hours En­durance Race.

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