Donald stars in Kiwi classic
2014 NZCMRR Classic Festival
7-9 Feb, 2014 – Hampton Downs, NZ
This year’s event was supported by Triumph and originally billed to include multi IoM TT winner, New Zealander, Bruce Anstey. Due to health issues Anstey had to pull out and was replaced with another multi IoM TT winner, Aussie, Cam Donald riding Ken McIntosh’s bikes once again. For the 2014 running of the “Festival” the organisers had a philosophical change of heart and incorporated races for the New Zealand Post Classic Racing Association (NZPCRA) machines so this year saw Japanese machines running in competitive races for the very first time in “Festival” history. Previously they had run as demonstrations only. Saturday opened to a damp track and a few light showers but these cleared and the track dried as practice finished and the racing proper got underway. It seemed that the classic fields were down on previous years but with the 60 odd NZPCRA bikes it was hard to tell from the number of races and the level of competition.
There was a flurry of activity in the McIntosh garage as they endeavoured to rectify an issue that plagued them during the wet Friday and Saturday’s practice. A flooding carburettor, on the 500 Manx, diluting the engine oil with methanol. A quick change of carb and oil saw Donald back to running at the pointy end of qualifying and this continued over the length of the weekend with him winning every event he started on both the 500 Manx Norton and the 1982 Bathurst Replica Suzuki. Another very busy rider was once again Chris Swallow riding just about every class in the “classics” apart from the 350’s. Cloud Craig-Smith (Saxon Ducati), won all of the 350 Classic events but was hard pushed by Neville Bull (Manx Norton). These races culminated with a close 0.31 seconds gap over the line in the final race. As usual the sidecars provided extremely close racing, albeit with a small field, but in all races the lead swapped multiple times over the course of the race with the eventual winner not being able to be predicted until the flag dropped. The spoils were split between Robert Hood (Norton Commando), Bryan Stent (Triumph Trident) and Mark Smith (Triumph T140) keeping them honest. In the final sidecar race for the weekend, the margin across the finish line was a mere 0.29 seconds reflecting the intensity of the whole race. The NZPCRA Junior races were won by Jason Hulme (Honda VFR NC30) with quite large margins to Greg Smith (Ducati TT2) in second for each. With fields of 28 or so machines including many Yamaha TZ350’s, they were extremely entertaining for the spectators.
Steve Bridge was once again campaigning the very fast Norton Commando in the Unlimited Classic races with these coming down to a one two affair between Bridge and Terry Martin (Rob North Trident). With over 20 machines facing the starter in each race, there was some excellent racing further back in the pack.
The races that seemed to pull more spectators to the fences were the NZPCRA Senior events. These were a walk away for Cam Donald (McIntosh Suzuki) and an abject lesson in high speed consistent lapping. Eddie Kattenberg (Yamaha FZR1000) gave Donald a run for his money but once Donald was in front he was hard to beat. Third place was split between Vince Sharpe (Vince & Hyde Honda CB9)