TT CHAL­LENGE

Classic Racer - - PEOPLE -

It was agreed that the TT was too much to ask of the teenager, so Jock ap­proached Kenny Arthur. Kenny, a 33-year-old Liver­pudlian, was a very ex­pe­ri­enced TT pas­sen­ger go­ing back to Char­lie Free­man in 1968. He had rid­den to victory with Ge­orge O’dell in 1977 and had been in the chair with Bill Cur­rie in 1975 and Bill Crook in 76. At first he told Jock that he was go­ing to the TT for a hol­i­day and would not race with him, be­liev­ing him to be too young and in­ex­pe­ri­enced for the event. Jock asked him again and this time Kenny re­lented. They had no prac­tice prior to ar­riv­ing in the Is­land. Kenny worked out a sig­nalling sys­tem to as­sist Jock, for in­stance not lean­ing out of the chair if the next cor­ner was quicker than it looked. Jock treated the event se­ri­ously, putting in 36 laps on a road bike be­fore the start of ac­tiv­i­ties. They swiftly turned into a good team, qual­i­fy­ing sec­ond fastest in prac­tice, just over five sec­onds slower than pole set­ters, Rolf Bi­land and Kenny Wil­liams. Mon­day’s three-lap race was won by Dick Greasley and Gor­don Rus­sell, af­ter Bi­land and Wil­liams had gone out on the last lap at Alpine Cottage, with a bro­ken chain. Tay­lor and Arthur were sixth on lap one, fourth on lap two and fi­nally sec­ond, just over 20 sec­onds be­hind the win­ners, af­ter run­ning short of fuel on the Moun­tain on the last lap. Two days later Jock and Kenny were third home in the sec­ond side­car leg, run in wet con­di­tions af­ter a long de­lay, giv­ing them over­all victory in the event. The win­ner was Rolf Stein­hausen, with Wolf­gang Kalauch in the chair. It was Stein­hausen’s third TT victory in four years. Jock led on the first lap, nearly 13 sec­onds ahead of Stein­hausen. But a spin at Brad­dan Bridge on lap two, al­most ended with the Scot nearly run­ning back­wards into the wall. Jock’s re­quest for an en­try at the Dutch TT was turned down, so next was the Bel­gian GP, where they qual­i­fied out­side of the top 10. They dis­cov­ered that the front tyre was too wide, so they bor­rowed a smaller Dun­lop and that worked per­fectly on the new, wide Win­dle out­fit. They fin­ished sixth in the race, pick­ing up five cham­pi­onship points. At the Bri­tish GP at Sil­ver­stone they were fifth quick­est in prac­tice and went on to be third home, adding an­other 10 points to their sea­son’s tally. From there they went to the Ul­ster Grand Prix. In sec­ond place on the last lap a gear­box prob­lem caused them to spin at the hair­pin, then ap­proach­ing the start and fin­ish line, a brand new TZ750 en­gine de­stroyed it­self, putting them out. Af­ter that it was off to the Nur­bur­gring for the Ger­man GP. They qual­i­fied fourth fastest, de­spite prob­lems with the car­bu­ret­tors. Dur­ing prac­tice Jock went for a walk and came back with a set of Lec­tron carbs, given to him, he ex­plained, by his new friend, Kenny Roberts. On the warm-up lap an ex­pan­sion cham­ber fell off, forc­ing them into the pits. The race started and ev­ery­one had gone when Jock got out on to the track. In a foul mood, swear­ing at James, Jock set off af­ter the pack. He picked off the op­po­si­tion one by one. He was up to sixth, with the front run­ners in sight, when the che­quered flag went out. An­other lap, they might have won. The Czech GP wrapped up the world cham­pi­onship. The Brno race did not add any points to the sea­son’s tally. A suc­ces­sion of bro­ken chains was fol­lowed by a crash when they were in the top half dozen. Head­ing to Hol­land, James was in the car­a­van his par­ents had let them have, try­ing to grab some sleep. Jock and Peter, the me­chanic, were in the van. Sud­denly James started to feel the car­a­van sway­ing and smell burning rub­ber. He had no way of warn­ing the oth­ers. He lay on the floor, cow­er­ing and wait­ing for the car­a­van to over­turn and him to die! The con­tents of the cup­boards and fridge be­gan to fall out. There was flour, rice, milk, eggs and tinned stuff all over. A can of beans hit him on the head and there was blood ev­ery­where. It was a night­mare. Then Jock pulled to the side of the road, got out and opened the door. He sur­veyed the chaos. “What are you do­ing? Mak­ing a f*****g cake?”

“TAY­LOR RODE THE OUT­FIT ROUND A HOUS­ING ES­TATE, AND AGREED TO BUY IT FOR £230.”

Back in Eng­land it was the Bri­tish cham­pi­onship rounds. At Oliver’s Mount, Scarborough a spin, af­ter hit­ting wa­ter, put them out. They won at Don­ing­ton af­ter a great battle with Michel, out­brak­ing him on the last lap. At Mal­lory Park, they were go­ing well, un­til a breather pipe came off, spray­ing oil all over James and the chair. At one stage Jock had to grab him and pull him back into the chair. Michel won, with Jock sec­ond. Af­ter the race James col­lapsed and needed treat­ment. They ended the sea­son at Brands Hatch. James was strug­gling with a bad case of flu, but Jock still won the race, beat­ing Michel and fin­ish­ing sec­ond in the Bri­tish cham­pi­onship. In the win­ter long-time me­chanic, Char­lie Swan­son, left the team and was re­placed by Peter Brown. Sadly, Char­lie, who went briefly to work for Alain Michel in France, but was due to re­turn to Jock’s team, was killed in a road ac­ci­dent rid­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle just a mile from East For­tune on June 23, 1979. The 1979 sea­son started well, but quickly went down­hill. They won at Don­ing­ton, us­ing the old Win­dle out­fit. Then James broke his wrist at Brands Hatch on Good Fri­day af­ter Jock spun the new £8500 Sey­maz built by Eric Vanier. Three days later stand-in pas­sen­ger, Dave Pow­ell, was killed in a crash dur­ing prac­tice at Oul­ton Park on Easter Mon­day. The new out­fit was a write-off. New me­chanic Peter Brown had to work long and hard to get the 1978 Win­dle out­fit ready for the Aus­trian GP. With James still in­jured, Jimmy Law was drafted in for the Salzbur­gring race. Un­for­tu­nately they failed to fin­ish when the rear hub broke up. Law was in the chair for the Ger­man GP at Hock­en­heim, but again, when ly­ing fifth, the en­gine broke again. Jock was un­able to have Kenny Arthur with him again for the 1979 TT, be­cause he was con­tracted for the whole sea­son, in the GPS and the Isle of Man, with the Ger­man, Rolf Stein­hausen. In­stead Jock per­suaded an­other, highly ex­pe­ri­enced Bri­tish pas­sen­ger, Gor­don Rus­sell, a TT win­ner, to step into the chair. They had prob­lems through­out prac­tice with the car­bu­ret­tors, wreck­ing two en­gines. De­spite that they were fifth fastest in prac­tice. A mis­fire plagued them on the open­ing lap of the first race and Jock stopped to change spark plugs. On the way to Quar­ter Bridge the mis­fire con­tin­ued and they pulled off. For the rest of the race a large Scot­tish con­tin­gent plied them both with Pernod. Things were not much bet­ter in race two, where they fin­ished down in 16th place. Gor­don was pas­sen­ger for the Post TT meet­ing at Mal­lory Park where they fin­ished sec­ond to Dick Greasley.

“TO EV­ERY­ONE’S AS­TON­ISH­MENT DEN­NIS WENT BE­HIND THE COUNTER AND HANDED OVER A WHOLE LOAD OF EN­GINE PARTS, IN­CLUD­ING A COM­PLETE 500 TOP-END.”

For the Dutch TT, James Neil was back in ac­tion. They fin­ished third. Eight days later the en­gine seized up on the warm up lap at the Bel­gian GP. Back in Bri­tain the pair took victory at an in­ter­na­tional meet­ing at Don­ing­ton Park. Af­ter­wards James Neil told Jock he was quit­ting. The events of the past 12 months had had a ma­jor ef­fect on Neil’s con­fi­dence. Putting not too fine a point on it, James be­lieved if he car­ried on, he would die and he was too young for that. The pre­vi­ous sea­son, at the Nur­burg­ing I had in­tro­duced Jock to a 20-year-old Swedish 125cc racer, Bengt-go­ran Jo­hans­son. They be­came friends. Jock first asked Jimmy Law to crew for him. He could not, be­cause of fam­ily com­mit­ments, so Jock then ap­proached the Swede. Benga, as he was known, had been rac­ing in the 125cc world cham­pi­onship on a Mor­bidelli since the start of 1977. His last ride on the lit­tle Ital­ian ma­chine was at Cad­well in an In­ter­na­tional meet­ing in May, where he made his de­but as a pas­sen­ger with Jock. The Swedish GP at Karl­skoga in Au­gust marked Benga’s de­but as a GP pas­sen­ger af­ter just two race meet­ings. They won! There was no side­car race in Fin­land, so the next race was the Bri­tish GP at Sil­ver­stone. Bi­land was the win­ner, with Jock sec­ond. The Czech GP wrapped up the new B2A world cham­pi­onship, but Jock crashed out when run­ning in the top five. Bi­land and Waltisperg were world cham­pi­ons, notch­ing up 67 points in the seven rounds. Jock and Benga were sixth, on 43. Jock and Benga started the 1980 sea­son with victory at the Paul Ri­card cir­cuit in the French GP, ahead of Bi­land. From there they trav­elled on to the Yu­gosla­vian GP at Rieka, grab­bing third place be­hind Bi­land and Michel. Back in the UK, Benga Jo­hans­son made his Isle of Man TT de­but. De­spite the Swede’s lack of ex­pe­ri­ence on the Is­land, the pair qual­i­fied well and went on to take sec­ond place in race one. With the track dry­ing out, they cut a 30 sec­ond deficit to just six sec­onds be­hind win­ners Trevor Ire­son and Clive Polling­ton, set­ting the fastest lap at 100.64mph on the third and fi­nal lap, the only 100mph plus lap of the race Jock se­cured his first-ever TT victory in race two, break­ing the record from a stand­ing start, un­til Benga spot­ted a bro­ken ra­di­a­tor bracket and they had to slow. In the closing stages Benga had to pump the fuel. On the last lap they ran short of fuel eight miles from home. Just 200 yards from home, they ran out of fuel com­pletely. De­spite all that they had set the fastest lap at 106.09mph, beat­ing Rolf Bi­land’s old record by 18 sec­onds. Their win­ning mar­gin over Trevor Ire­son was a com­fort­able 65 sec­onds. Victory at Assen, where Bi­land re­tired, lifted Jock into the World Cham­pi­onship lead, Michel was sec­ond home and Derek ‘Crazy Horse’ Jones and Brian Ayres third, af­ter qual­i­fy­ing on pole. Me­chanic Pete No­vac fit­ted a new, powervalve TZ500 Yamaha mo­tor for the race, one that had been used by Gra­ham Wood on his solo ma­chine and re­built by Den­nis Trol­lope. At Zolder, in the Bel­gian GP, Jock won again, fol­lowed home by Michel and Bi­land. Jock and Benga had event­ful prac­tice ses­sions. The first in­ci­dent when they went straight on at the chi­cane, the sec­ond when the side­car wheel sheared leav­ing the out­fit spin­ning in the mid­dle of the road, fi­nally the en­gine nipped up in the fi­nal ses­sion. The team worked till af­ter mid­night chang­ing the crankshafts. Jock took victory at Ima­tra, tak­ing the max­i­mum 15 points, with Bi­land fourth home,

giv­ing the Scot a 19 point lead. Us­ing a new, wider Win­dle chas­sis, Jock and Benga clinched the side­car world ti­tle by fin­ish­ing sec­ond to Jones and Ayres at the Bri­tish GP at Sil­ver­stone. They were lucky to fin­ish. A slow punc­ture left the rear tyre in shreds at the end of the race, on top of which Jock was suf­fer­ing from chicken pox! It was the first time since Ge­orge O’dell’s suc­cess in 1977 that a Bri­tish driver had taken the crown. Bi­land failed to fin­ish and with only two rounds to go, Jock could not now be caught. The pair ended the GP sea­son on a high note win­ning at the Nur­bur­gring. At that point the team had had 23 starts, win­ning 15 in­ter­na­tional events, in­clud­ing four GPS, four sec­onds, two thirds, a fourth and just one re­tire­ment. Suc­cess in the end-of-sea­son Bri­tish Cham­pi­onship rounds earned them the ti­tle and they also notched up the first ever 100mph side­car lap at Mal­lory Park. To cap a great year Jock was voted the MCN Man of the Year. Victory in the Aus­trian GP, ahead of Bi­land started the 1981 sea­son well. Michel was vic­to­ri­ous at Hock­en­heim, with Jock sec­ond and Bi­land re­tir­ing. Bi­land bounced back with victory at Paul Ri­card, with Tay­lor sec­ond and Michel third. En­gine prob­lems ended with Jock only 14th in the Span­ish GP. Bi­land was the win­ner, ahead of Michel. Jock and Benga broke race and lap records as they notched a dou­ble win in the 1981 TT. Benga’s mem­o­ries, though, are not of the suc­cesses, but from be­ing bat­tered black and blue from new plas­tic cones on the Moun­tain sec­tion. Tay­lor and Michel had an­other fair­ing-bash­ing race at the Dutch TT. Michel nar­rowly won, with Jock sec­ond and Bi­land third. With five rounds to go Michel was on 62 points, Jock 53 and Bi­land 52. Bi­land took victory at Spa, with Tay­lor sec­ond and Michel third. Jock’s hopes of re­tain­ing the ti­tle took a knock at Sil­ver­stone when the gear-shifter broke putting him out. Bi­land won again, from Michel. Jock blew up three en­gines at the Finnish GP, but still fin­ished sec­ond in the race to Bi­land. Tay­lor was third at An­der­storp, with Bi­land win­ning again, chased home by Michel. Jock’s Brno curse struck again. He failed to fin­ish the race. Bi­land made it five wins in suc­ces­sion to win the ti­tle on a mas­sive to­tal of 127 points. Michel was run­ner-up on 106 and Jock third with 87. Back home in Bri­tain Jock and Benga won the Bri­tish cham­pi­onship again. Life, as usual was busy, but Jock found time to marry his girl­friend, Kate at the end of the year.

Left:tack­ling tricky Manx con­di­tions;tay­lor was grate­ful for Arthur’s knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. Be­low:the ul­ti­mate three-wheel dream team, Jock­tay­lor and Benga

Jock­tay­lor and Gor­don Rus­sell,tt 1979.

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