WHATEVER HAPPENED TO Ôcaptainõ Mark Phillips THEN Visit Call the hotline NOW
51 issues for £85 when you pay by direct debit or 51 issues for £97 when you pay by credit / debit card / Paypal FACT FILE Lincoln, 14 December 1963 Winning 1986 British TTF1 title Retired: At the end of 1999 (for the second time) 51 issues for £67 when
Mark Phillips was one of Britain’s top racers of the late 1980s. He won the 1986 British TTF1 title on a bike powered by an RG500 street engine, which had been hugely breathed on by Padgett’s Motorcycles. Two years later that success got him a ride with the highly regarded Loctite Yamaha squad, but the dream nearly turned to tragedy when his brakes failed at Donington in September 1988. Phillips actually died by the side of the racetrack before medical intervention brought him back.
Phillips made a successful return the following year but lost his Loctite ride at the end of the season. He made a comeback in 1995 to win the Triumph Street Triple series, finally hanging up his racing leathers at the end of 1999.
How come Phillips won the 1986 British TT F1 on a Suzuki RG500? Wasn’t it a series for four-strokes? Yes, the idea of TTF1 was to give four- strokes a chance outside GP racing, where two-strokes reigned supreme. The regulations allowed 750cc fourstroke street engines, but whoever wrote the rules also allowed 500 twostrokes, presuming that no-one would build a 500 two-stroke to challenge the 750s. When Suzuki launched its RG500 road bike in 1985 Padgett’s converted the road engine into a full Gp-spec RG and Phillips thrashed the heavier fourstrokes. “The bike handled so well and was so light,” says Phillips. “In fact the TTF1 RG was lighter than the GP bike, because the road engine was based on the smaller factory XR45 engine.”
Why did he give up on the strokers? After he won the 1986 British TT F1 title he set his eyes on the F1 world championship, but the RG was no good for that series because it couldn’t do full race distance without a fuel stop. In 1988 he signed with Loctite Yamaha, which was running Bimota YB1S, powered by F750 engines. He says: “Virginio Ferrari had won the world F1 title in 1987, so we thought that was the way to go. But our engines were pretty much standard, so we didn’t have a chance against Honda’s RC30.”
Why did the Captain’s brakes fail at Donington Park? “A mechanic left the brake pins out. I was going into Melbourne hairpin when the pads shot out. I just missed Ron Haslam on his RC30 and thought