ALL THIS FOR £1300 INCLUDING BIKE
Hondavfr750 runner Brian Hopwood is hoping for better things in ’18 after his debut ended prematurely in a big off last year. “I only rode it a couple of times and crashed at Croft,” the Londoner recalls. “So it wasn’t fantastic, to be honest.
“It’s an ’86VFR750 – the first model. I’d used it to do the first classic endurance race at Snetterton in the rain a couple of years ago and it was still on the same tyres. I was just finally getting used to it, lost the back end and then basically smashed it to bits.”
Not that it’s put him off. “I’ve rebuilt it all ready for this season, put some new Metzeler rubber on and it’s ready to go.
“I’m going to try to do the full series. I’ve got a littletz250 I’m trying to put together as well and also my Ducati Paso for the Production Class so it’s going to be busy.
“Last year was my first with thevfr and I went in just to see if it was going to be competitive and how I got on with it because I’ve only really raced smaller stuff before.
“But it’s not down on power at all. I thought it would be compared to the EBC brake pads in stock calipers GSX-RS but it doesn’t seem to be. Most of the bikes – and it’s mostly FZS, GSX-RS and VFRS – seem fairly level on performance.
As for ambitions and targets… “I just want to try and push it hard and get up the sharp end if I can. I haven’t done a full season on any of the bigger bikes. Last year I was on my air-cooled Honda 500 and I got third in that championship so all being well I should be in the top 10 in all the results and hopefully get a few in the top three, but we’ll see how it goes...
Any changes with the bike? “The plan was to put in beefier forks ’coz everyone else Standard VFR discs VFRS are the cheapest way into Superstock – and competitive too
“I WAS JUST FINALLY GETTING USED TO IT, LOST THE BACK END AND THEN BASICALLY SMASHED IT TO BITS”
No, it’s not the prettiest machine you’ve ever seen, but it’s a racebike, and as race tackle goes, the VFR is plenty strong and quick enough to win
seems to – off the CBR600 I think. But I just haven’t got round to it.the season comes up so fast.you have an idea to do something in the winter and then before you know it it’s time to race. Instead all I’ve been doing really is repairing the bodywork from where it got smashed up at Croft. I’ve done all the repairs but no real performance improvements, just putting it back to shiny.
And the chassis? “Handling-wise it’s got a Hagon shock at the rear and Hagon springs in the front. But it hasn’t got Maxton internals or anything fancy. It’s still pretty basic so there’s still room for improvement. So if I get on with the bike and it does start to progress there’s definitely still room for improvement.
So tell us exactly what happened at Croft.
“It was between Sunny-in and Sunny-out – I think it was Sunny-in. It’s a sort of righthander and I just touched the throttle when leant right over. On the last lap I think it was. I just lost the back-end, but it went over the rumble strip so hard it really smacked the tank and clip-on, twisted the forks a bit and the fairing was ruined. It was a real mess, really. I was OK – just bumps and bruises. But it was frustrating because I was just getting up to the sort of lap time I felt I should be at after progressing through the weekend. It was definitely the tyres’ fault, fair and square.they were a few years old and past their best. I’ve changed them. That’s definitely not happening again!”
So did it go back together OK? “The repairs weren’t too bad – I managed to pretty much fix everything. I got a secondhand sidepanel for the fairing ’coz that was in loads of pieces and everything else I just repaired, really. It’s not immaculate, but it’s a race bike. It’s going to to get scuffs and scrapes. I think I paid 30 quid for the side panel and already had the other bits I needed laying around, and that was it. Oh, and half a tub of filler. I did the paintwork – I do a bit of paint – it’s in the sameamerican red/white/blue Interceptor colours…
And what’s he looking forward to most? “The Donington round inaugust I think. The Classic weekend at Donington. It’s the best round of the season really. But I haven’t got a particular target in mind or someone I’m going to try and beat.
“Really I’m just looking forward to riding the bike again.when thevfr’s working correctly it’s got good linear power – it’s not peaky or anything like that. It’s a good bike. I just need to get used to it, a case of me getting up to speed.”
17-inch CBR600 wheels front and rear
New Metzeler M7RRS front and rear £30 for secondhand sidepanel after Pembrey get-off. All paint by Brian Secondhand stainless steel exhaust system and end can off ebay for £30 Hagon shock and Hagon fork springs, otherwise standard suspension
That unmistakeable square early VFR tacho surround, a contemplative man at peace in his man hovel, and HRC backing for this season – no pressure thenmfy seat