Classic Racer - - PEOPLE -

This race was the most thrilling of the day with Bob, Jack and John bat­tling it out for 17 of the 20 laps. In the fi­nal few laps Brett pulled away by 20 yards to take vic­tory, while Bob just edged Har­tle out by half a length. In the 500cc BMCRC Cham­pi­onship race Bob fin­ished sec­ond be­hind Har­tle. The rac­ing at Sil­ver­stone had been thrilling and even de­scribed as “to­tal war”. Bob was given the Car­burol Cup (for best Bri­tish 250cc bike) for his per­for­mance on the Potts 250. At Brands Hatch, Bob got four sec­ond places in a day on the Potts ma­chines. Mick O’rourke won the 250cc class on an MV, while Alan Trow won the other classes on his Nor­tons. The fol­low­ing week­end Bob en­joyed a very suc­cess­ful day at Aber­dare Park, win­ning all four classes on his ma­chines; 250cc, 350cc, 500cc and 1000cc. It was at this meet­ing that John Sur­tees and Bill Web­ster would ap­proach him to try to get him to agree to ride for MV Agusta for the 1957 sea­son. In early Oc­to­ber Bob would keep up the pre­vi­ous week­end’s good form by dom­i­nat­ing the BMCRC Met­ro­pol­i­tan Road Races at Crys­tal Palace. In the 250cc Cham­pi­onship he won at 70.20mph on the Potts 250 from Ge­off Monty (GMS). On his larger Potts ma­chines, Bob won the 350cc and Se­nior Cham­pi­onship, the 350cc race be­ing a real thriller, as Bob just got the bet­ter of Terry Shep­herd, Alan Trow and Alas­tair King (all Nor­ton-mounted). And so an­other sea­son came to an end. Bob had been the most suc­cess­ful rider in the 250cc, 350cc and 500cc classes at Bri­tish meet­ings. The Potts team had won both the 250cc and 500cc Bri­tish cham­pi­onships. Bob and Joe dis­cussed the of­fers from MV and Gil­era for Bob to ride for them in 1957. Joe told Bob that if he wanted to win Clas­sic races that he needed to ride one of the multi-cylin­der Ital­ian fliers. Bob flew to Ar­core on the out­skirts of Mi­lan to have a dis­cus­sion with Giuseppe Gil­era about rid­ing his bikes. Gil­era also flew to Bell­shill to stay with Joe for a few days. When stay­ing at Joe’s house dur­ing a din­ner party, Gil­era loved it that the son of one of Joe’s guests was wear­ing a kilt. Gil­era in­sisted on try­ing the boy’s kilt on as he found it so amus­ing! One of the most im­por­tant things to Bob was that when Gil­era did not need his ser­vices, he had to be free to con­tinue rid­ing Joe’s bikes. Gil­era were not keen on this idea, but Bob said that he would not sign for them un­derer any other cir­cum­stances cir cum stances.Gil era agreed to sign Bob with­out a test ride and the deal was an­nounced in The Mo­tor Cy­cle on Oc­to­ber 11. Bob’s first ride on the Gil­era was later that month at a wet and windy Monza. And so was to start an­other very happy re­la­tion­ship be­tween Bob, Joe and the Gil­era team; one that went on for much longer than the one sea­son Bob ac­tu­ally rode for them. For 1957 Bob was still plan­ning on rid­ing the Potts 250cc, 350cc and 500cc ma­chines, but due to Gil­era com­mit­ments he would not be able to do many meet­ings. For this rea­son Joe wanted to spon­sor an­other rider. The de­ci­sion was easy – he chose Alas­tair King, who was Bob’s best friend and had been rid­ing well and de­vel­op­ing into a top rider.

Be­low: A man at one with his ma­chine; Joe Potts with one of his bikes.

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