Red­fox Grinta: Rac­ing Retro

Awe­some Du­cati from Dutch wiz­ard Jan De Vos.

Motorcycle Monthly - - Under The Skin - Words: Tony Carter Pho­tos: Gary ‘De­clan’ Chap­man

Red­fox Grinta is well known in clas­sic rac­ing cir­cles for a heady com­bi­na­tion of top-level ma­chin­ing skill and the dark art of putting to­gether sorted and quick bikes. Most no­table, and prob­a­bly most mem­o­rable, is this bike which is the 750 short stroke race bike con­tested by Michael Rut­ter at last year’s Clas­sic TT.

The head man at Red­fox, Jan De Vos, tells the story of how the part­ner­ship of Rut­ter and his tun­ing shop came about: “In 2013 I had a tele­phone call from Dave Burr (Tony Rut­ter’s team man­ager) and he asked if we could do some­thing with a Du­cati TT1 for Michael, ready for him to ride in the Clas­sic TT.

“And that was it for a while. Af­ter that first ques­tion, which we said yes to, we didn’t hear any­thing else. At least, not for a while. It wasn’t un­til 2014 when Dave even­tu­ally called back and he said: ’Okay guys, now it’s for real. Let’s get started on a bike’.

“So it was at that point that we trav­elled to the UK to visit Michael, to speak to him in per­son, and it was then that we came to an agree­ment about what we would build and how it would come to­gether.”

That first bike set the tem­plate for the race bikes that Rut­ter was to get to grips with, but for that first out­ing ev­ery­one in­volved wanted a big mo­tor to race around The Moun­tain Course on.

De Vos: “So it was that we made the first bike and that was a TT1 with an 1170cc en­gine so that it could go out and race against the other mo­tor­cy­cles in the Clas­sic TT Su­per­bike class.”

It wasn’t a straight fight though, the big four-cylin­der mo­tor­cy­cles that the Du­cati was tak­ing on were run­ning up to 1300cc in size.

De Vos: “Michael did a fab­u­lous job and ended up 10th over­all among the fin­ish­ers. He bagged a fastest lap of 120.474mph which meant that – at that mo­ment in time – he was the fastest twin two-valve ever on The Is­land.”

It was a fine start for Rut­ter and the bike and while there was an­other tempt­ing out­ing on the shelves as a pos­si­bil­ity for 2016, the plan­ets couldn’t quite line up in time.

De Vos: “That year Michael wanted to ride on our bike again, but, in all hon­esty, he just called us too late and even though we would have re­ally en­joyed hav­ing Michael on the ma­chine again, we couldn’t get it ready in time.

“So the next chance for us to get to­gether was in 2017 and that was when we de­cided to take on The Is­land with our come­back on two bikes – a 750 short stro­ker for the Light­weight cat­e­gory and an up­dated 1170 for the Su­per­bikes.”

Michael ended up 13th in the Su­per­bike race and run­ner-up in the Light­weight race – a fine re­sult for the Red­fox short stro­ker, but things didn’t re­main as rosy for very long.

Tech­ni­cal in­fringe­ment

Dur­ing post-race scru­ti­neer­ing, the Red­fox bike was found to fall foul of a tech­ni­cal in­fringe­ment and Rut­ter and the squad were re­moved from the re­sult.

De Vos ex­plains what hap­pened: “Our fuel tank was too big, it was as sim­ple as that. I could have sworn that it was a 24 litre tank, which would have been okay, but the re­al­ity was that it was big­ger.

“But it wasn’t as if the big­ger tank ac­tu­ally gave us an ad­van­tage be­cause we could prove that we used only nine litres a lap and be­cause of that the bike was filled up with 22 litres of fuel and no more.”

Protes­ta­tions fell on deaf ears af­ter the race and Red­fox was told that de­spite what the fu­elling may have showed or not, the tank was still too big and the rul­ing stuck. The podium fin­ish was taken away. No re­sult would stand for the 750.

De Vos: “So there was no dis­cus­sion and this was a big dis­as­ter for us. At the end of the day I have to hold my hands up and say that it was a gen­uine mis­take and it was my mis­take. But there was no way back and we lost the re­sult.”

So, re­sult stand­ing or not, with the 2017 Clas­sic TT not ex­actly bub­bling over with cham­pagne and plau­dits there were sil­ver lin­ings to take away from the post-race storm. And that was hugely pos­i­tive for this year’s event.

“It was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to put up with but that’s rac­ing. What we know from this race is that our bike was again the fastest 750 twin two-valve mo­tor­cy­cle ever on The Is­land (Rut­ter fin­ished the race with an av­er­age speed of 115.723mph / 1 hour 18m 14.929s – Ed), and that is very en­cour­ag­ing for where we go with this mo­tor­cy­cle and the work we have done so far.”

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