BIKERS’ CLASSICS BEAT THE RAIN
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.