New Zealand got in early to host the first cel­e­bra­tion of 30 years of the World Su­per­bike Cham­pi­onship, when the Pukekohe cir­cuit brought the bikes and some lo­cal le­gends to­gether.


The coun­try that hosted the fi­nal round of the first two years of the cham­pi­onship did it in style, with one of the orig­i­nal pro­tag­o­nists, Gary Good­fel­low, not only parad­ing but re­turn­ing to the track for the first time since the early 1990s. Good­fel­low was joined at the New Zealand Clas­sic Mo­tor­cy­cle Rac­ing Reg­is­ter’s an­nual fes­ti­val by Aussie Du­cati SBK world cham­pion Troy Bayliss and Kiwi SBK Kawasaki and Honda rider Aaron Slight. Also present were An­drew Stroud and Stephen Briggs, who both fea­tured in in­ter­na­tional rac­ing at that time, in­clud­ing on the Brit­ten V1000. New Zealand’s most fa­mous GP racer Hugh Anderson was on hand to con­grat­u­late this band of broth­ers. New Zealand’s Man­field cir­cuit hosted two ex­cit­ing fi­nal show­downs to the first two years of the cham­pi­onship be­fore the se­ries was re­or­gan­ised and by­passed the coun­try. Good­fel­low holds an of­ten for­got­ten place in Su­per­bike his­tory. As well as be­ing the first Kiwi to win an SBK race he also gave Suzuki its first win in the se­ries, at Sugo in Ja­pan in 1988. At Pukekohe, Good­fel­low quickly showed why he was one of the world’s most un­der­rated rid­ers, de­spite rep­re­sent­ing North Amer­ica in the Trans-at­lantic Tro­phy races of the 1980s. Af­ter just a few laps of prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing on a rain-slick track, he rode a bor­rowed Du­cati 900SS to fifth place against some of New Zealand’s best vin­tage rac­ers. “I need some­one like An­drew Stroud to show me around,” he laughed af­ter­wards. “Those six laps felt like the en­tire Suzuka Eight Hours,” he added, re­fer­ring to some great rides he had had at that fa­mous race. Good­fel­low’s ef­forts weren’t lost on Troy Bayliss, who took time out from fo­cus­ing on his bid to win the Aus­tralian Su­per­bike ti­tle this year. “Is the brake on that side of the bike?” he asked, point­ing to the 1970s Du­cati. “You wouldn’t get me rid­ing that.” Mean­while Aaron Slight, with a beard

re­plac­ing the fa­mous mo­hawk hair­cut of his Su­per­bike days, was also en­joy­ing his trip down mem­ory lane. Slight has a unique bond with Honda’s fa­mous RC45 Su­per­bike. He played a cru­cial role in its de­vel­op­ment, rac­ing it from its in­tro­duc­tion in 1994 to its fi­nal race in 1999. Slight took it to sec­ond place in its first World Su­per­bike race. In its last sea­son he took it to 12 podium fin­ishes. He raced Honda’s RC45 to top-four cham­pi­onship fin­ishes six years in a row. This was the golden Su­per­bike era of spec­tac­u­lar “freight-train” rac­ing and an ex­plo­sion in spec­ta­tor view­ing world­wide. It was also a time when rules favoured Italy’s V-twin. In the end Honda cre­ated its own V-twin to win the world ti­tle in 2000. Slight nom­i­nated 1998 as his best in the se­ries. “That year I was by far the fastest rider out there,” he says. “I won five races. Carl Fog­a­rty won three and the cham­pi­onship.” As well as rac­ing, Good­fel­low also demon­strated the very first ver­sion of John Brit­ten’s ground-break­ing se­ries of V-twins. This was the Du­cati-based Aero-d-zero, orig­i­nally in­tended as a road­bike. Good­fel­low play a cru­cial role in the early his­tory of the Brit­ten mo­tor­cy­cles. He was the rider who first gave the project cred­i­bil­ity. Gary started out rac­ing Aero-d-one, pow­ered by an air-cooled Denco V-twin speed­way en­gine. Then he moved onto the Pre­cur­sor, pow­ered by a liq­uid-cooled 60-de­gree V-twin en­gine built by John and his friends in Christchurch. Now based in Canada he took it back there with Brit­ten tech­ni­cian Colin Dodge to de­velop. “I did the de­vel­op­ment rid­ing and then raced it in Ja­pan, Canada, USA, NZ, Europe, all around the world re­ally,” he says. “It han­dled amaz­ingly well. I can com­pare it to a pe­riod Su­per­bike, like an RC30 and GSXR750. It was a lit­tle bit more nim­ble, it had lots of power and good grunt, and han­dled fan­tas­tic with White Power sus­pen­sion.” Over at Day­tona, Gary led the pack into the first cor­ner, out-ac­cel­er­at­ing fac­tory-sup­ported Du­catis. Then the bike’s ig­ni­tion cut out. Two Pre­cur­sors went to the 1990 Day­tona meet­ing with Gary and Robert Holden fin­ish­ing strongly in the top 10. Af­ter a year of de­vel­op­ment Steve Cre­vier and Paul Lewis rode the bikes at Day­tona in 1991 with Lewis com­ing sec­ond to Du­cati ace Doug Polen. The true po­ten­tial of this Brit­ten de­sign was still com­ing to fruition when its cre­ator moved to the ul­ti­mate Brit­ten de­sign, the V1000. “John was a fun-lov­ing guy, he was 100mph, he only had 45 years of his life but he fit­ted 90 years into those 45,” says Gary. Along with sev­eral mem­bers of the orig­i­nal team, Gary still be­lieves the pre­cu­sor would have been rel­a­tively easy to put into lim­ited pro­duc­tion, such as Bi­mota was do­ing at the time. Aero-d-zero, an im­por­tant part of New Zealand’s rac­ing his­tory, is now owned by Kevin Grant, who has the 1995 An­drew Stroud BEARS World Se­ries win­ner Brit­ten V1000. To see it run­ning at this an­nual fes­ti­val con­firms this event re­mains one of the world’s best cel­e­bra­tions of vin­tage rac­ing ma­chin­ery, from the 1920s right up to the 1990s. Next year the New Zealand Clas­sic Mo­tor­cy­cle Rac­ing Reg­is­ter hosts its 40th an­niver­sary.

Young guns

There was plenty of rac­ing at Pukekohe with one of the most fas­ci­nat­ing races be­ing the duel be­tween Chris Swal­low and Daniel Met­tam. Swal­low was on Neville Wood­er­son’s Gold Star, which he rode into the his­tory books at last year’s Manx Clas­sictt as the first BSA sin­gle to achieve a 100mph lap. Met­tam was a late in­clu­sion, stand­ing in for the in­jured owner of a 1962 Nor­ton Domiracer 500cc. Met­tam beat Swal­low to win the Neville Wood­er­son­tro­phy and won the Pre-63 500cc Mod­i­fied class. He will be rac­ing in Ire­land and the Isle of Man this sum­mer.

Fire en­gine

Tony Sk­le­nars races a very un­usual side­car, a 1967 850cc Coven­try Cli­max. Hill­man Imp en­gines are banned from side­car rac­ing in New Zealand un­der the ‘no car en­gine’ rules but sta­tion­ary en­gines aren’t in­cluded. First de­signed dur­ing the Korean War as a UK Min­istry of De­fence fire-pump, the light­weight Coven­try Cli­max en­gine soon found its way into open-wheeler cars. Fans have been very im­pressed with Sk­le­nars’ project. Re­cently one spec­ta­tor even do­nated him a com­plete and orig­i­nal fire pump, with all its con­trols and fit­tings at­tached.

Barnes doin’ it down un­der

Tim Barnes will be a fa­mil­iar name to long-time ob­servers of UK clas­sic rac­ing. Now liv­ing in New Zealand, he was rac­ing two very dif­fer­ent Du­catis at Pukekohe. One was a beau­ti­ful lit­tle 1963 350cc and the other a 1988TT1 750 built by Sports Mo­tor­cy­cles’ Glyn Robin­son. Barnes’ best re­sult was third in thetro­phy Race and fourth over­all in the Pre-1989 F2 class.

From the right: Slight, Bayliss, then it’s over to you – names of the rest to Malc if you can please.

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