A stalwart of Tasmanian motorcycling, ROBIN FRANCIS YATES died 8th February 2018, aged 80. Robin started making a name for himself in motorcycle racing in the early 1960s along with younger brothers Stuart and Martin. The three came up with many innovative ideas to support their club, the Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club, and their own racing, and Robin was usually at the forefront of the ideas. They were running Autoland Cars in Launceston and decided to branch out into motor cycles, forming Yates Bros. Motor Cycles. The dealership was a mixed bag with Norton, Ducati, Bultaco, BMW, Bridgestone and Yamaha. A Dunstall Norton was imported for Stuart, quickly followed by one of only three Yamaha TD1-Bs to come to Australia. The three of them used Bultaco Camperas in trials events and imported the only 350 Ducati race bike seen outside Europe at that time. Robin was a good Clubman racer who often stepped in to race whatever Stuart was not racing on any particular day. After retiring from racing he became a very strong and active committee man taking on many and varied positions, such as president and commentator, on the committee and at race meetings. When racing was at a very low ebb in the state he came up with the idea of taking up the government initiative of sponsoring an English family out to Australia. He organised for five English racers to come to Tasmania with their families with the promise of a job and the chance to continue their racing. His early work in the rural supply industry allowed him to use his knowledge of the back roads of the state to organise some quality road trials for a number of years. During the 1970s he brought two top clubmen back to the sport when he convinced former Yates Brothers mechanic George Gibbons to slot a Suzuki T500 road bike motor into the ex-Bill McBride 350 Aermacchi, and convinced Laurie O’Shea to come out of retirement to race it. They quickly became a force in local racing. After a trip to the Isle of Man he became a strong advocate for historic racing and purchased a Yamaha SRX600 and dressed it up to look like a Manx Norton. Life long friend Ian Tilley was the mechanic and Robin’s son Craig was to race it. His work was recognised in 2005 with Life Membership of the Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club.
Robin Yates (centre), Laurie O’Shea and George Gibbons with the Gibbons Suzuki 500 twin in 1972.