Gor­don Clark took his GSX-R750 rac­ing, went on a 2500 mile hol­i­day, then took it rac­ing again

Racer Gor­don Clark did ex­actly what you’re sup­posed to do with a Su­per­stock bike. He took it on his hol­i­days to Spain – and then raced it at Oul­ton Park as soon as he got back

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents - Words: Jim Moore & Gor­don Clark Pic­tures: Gor­don Clark & Rus­sell Lee

A CRMC Su­per­stock race bike isn’t just for track com­pe­ti­tion, it’s for life. That’s clearly the case for 2018 Su­per­stock new­comer, Gor­don Clark. As if rac­ing in one of the Clas­sic Club’s most com­pet­i­tive classes wasn’t chal­lenge enough, Gor­don de­cided that he’d squeeze in an epic 2500 mile blast to the sun be­tween rounds two (Snet­ter­ton) and three (Oul­ton) of the se­ries – on the very same GSX-R that he’s us­ing week-in, week-out in the cham­pi­onship.

“I like a chal­lenge,” says Gor­don wryly of his ad­ven­ture. “It all came about be­cause a friend of mine from the Isle of Man, John ‘But­ters’ But­tery, who al­ways lets us stay at his place when we go over to the is­land, had wanted to do a big con­ti­nen­tal trip and I said I’d go with him. Orig­i­nally, I was go­ing to do it on some­thing mod­ern, and then I thought, ‘no, sod it, I’ll use the GSX-R’.YEARS back me and my mates used to do crazy trips to the Bol d’or at Ri­card on old in­ap­pro­pri­ate stuff and sleep rough on the way so it wasn’t as if I didn’t know what I was let­ting my­self in for…”

Hav­ing fin­ished all four races at a wet, windy and de­cid­edly Siberian Snett (fifth, sev­enth, tenth and sixth), Gor­don headed home to prep his ’85 GSX-R750F for the trip. “I’d orig­i­nally bought the Suzuki three and a bit years ago to use on the road, but af­ter hav­ing a go at Brands at the last round of last year’s cham­pi­onship [Gor­don last raced 30 years pre­vi­ously – JM] I de­cided to do the whole sea­son this year. I had planned to use an­other race-prepped GSX-R I’ve got for Su­per­stock but I’m still wait­ing for the en­gine to be fin­ished, so that’s how I’ve ended up us­ing this one in­stead. I’ve kept all the road stuff for the bike, so that all had to go back on af­ter Snet­ter­ton, plus I had to sort the loom to get the lights op­er­a­tional again, then get it Mot’d and taxed.”

With Yamaha Tracer-mounted But­ters hav­ing al­ready trav­elled from Manx­land to Gor­don’s fa­ther-in-law’s place near Ayles­bury, the pair set off from Hert­ford­shire to Portsmouth to catch the overnight ferry to Bilbao in Spain. “The GSX-R was run­ning per­fectly un­til I turned off the M27.the carbs must have sucked

“I HOPPED OFF THE GSX-R, NIPPED ACROSS THE ROAD, BUT WHILE I WAS DO­ING THAT THE TAR­MAC UN­DER­NEATH THE SIDESTAND GAVE WAY AND THE BIKE TOP­PLED OVER”

some crap through from the tank and that blocked the pi­lot jets, so af­ter that it ran like a bag of nails low­down with no tick­over for the rest of the trip. Strip­ping the carbs is a four-to-five hour job to do prop­erly, so it wasn’t pos­si­ble to do it on the trip with the tight sched­ule we had, so I just had to ride around the rough run­ning.”

The pair docked at Bilbao mid-af­ter­noon the fol­low­ing day. Ahead lay a four hour ride through the Pi­cos Europas moun­tains. “But­ters had worked out our route and the plan was to ride across the Pi­cos on the first day, get to Leon and stay the night there, but we only made it as far as Potes. A rock­slide had blocked part of the route on the N621 so we had to make a long loop back to Un­quera and an even longer loop to Potes. The roads though were fan­tas­tic – a mix of fast sweep­ers and su­per-tight moun­tain hair­pins and val­leys.”

A long trip just wouldn’t be a l-o-n-g trip with­out a calamity or two, and the Pi­cos moun­tains de­liv­ered their own curve­ball on only the sec­ond day. “When John and I got to the high­est summit of the Pi­cos moun­tains, some 10,000ft up, we stopped to take a pic­ture. I hopped off the GSX-R, nipped across the road, but while I was do­ing that the tar­mac un­der­neath the sidestand gave way and the bike top­pled over. It broke the top fair­ing and screen, so I had to lash it all back to­gether with cable ties be­fore we could move on.”

That sec­ond day was a big­gie – 466 miles and 12 hours in the sad­dle, from north­ern Spain to Cac­eres in the coun­try’s cen­tral belt, via a 200-ish mile stretch across the bor­der in Por­tu­gal. “We’d de­lib­er­ately cho­sen to stay off the au­toroutes and dual car­riage­ways so it was scratch­ing roads all the way. It was re­ally ob­vi­ous once we crossed the bor­der be­cause com­pared to Spain the roads in Por­tu­gal were crap. It also chucked it down for the last 20 min­utes of that day’s ride and we got soaked.”

De­spite the an­noy­ance of blocked pi­lot jets and jammed ac­cel­er­a­tor pumps on the GSX-R, Gor­don and John made day three an­other big­gie; al­though at ‘only’ 342 miles and al­most eight hours on the road it was a mere sprint com­pared to the pre­vi­ous day. “We were head­ing for But­ters’ place in Estepona near Mar­bella on the Mediter­ranean coast. It was a great ride

through coun­try parks and even the oc­ca­sional goat track.we made Ronda by mid-af­ter­noon and hid out from a belt of thun­der storms, be­fore rip­ping down to the coast near Mar­bella, stop­ping off at the in­fa­mous Venta El Mon­droño bike cafe, sit­u­ated on the out­side of a big wide, fast bend. Then back to But­ters’ place to sleep and rest the fol­low­ing day (Mo­togp on Sun­day).”

Day five was a loop for Gor­don and But­ters to Cádiz on the At­lantic coast via a look around Gi­bral­tar, then back to John’s place. “We could see the north African coast from ‘the rock’, which was nice, but we still got robbed by a group of macaques, then got stuck in a long jam get­ting back into Spain.” The loop up to Cádiz added a further 206 miles to the to­tal.

The fol­low­ing day was the start of the re­turn leg, hug­ging the Mediter­ranean coast from Manilva past Mar­bella and Málaga to Al­muñé­car, then north to Gor­don’s par­ents’ place in the moun­tains west of Granada. “Re­cent earth­quakes and tremors had ripped the roads apart in places, and I nearly stacked the GSX-R on a down­hill right han­der. Luckily the roads were pretty empty so I had the space to pull it back. That was the only ‘crapped my­self’ mo­ment on the whole trip, in­clud­ing rac­ing at Oul­ton at the end.”

Rid­ing back to the port at Bilbao was a two day grind, the GSX-R get­ting more and more grumpy as the miles piled on. “It hadn’t been able to hold an idle since Portsmouth. By the time we got 50 miles from Bilbao and back onto the twisties for that last sec­tion the Suzuki was stalling into ev­ery turn.the odd­est thing, though, was when we were parked up at the port. We were to­tally blanked by all the ‘ad­ven­ture bik­ers’ there, all fully laden sky-high with kitchen sinks. They just gave dirty looks to the Slab­bie with my kit bag bungeed on and back tyre run to the edges.”

Once back in Blighty at 3.30pm lo­cal time, the race was on to get to Oul­ton for the Su­per­stock races. Gor­don had or­dered some new ac­cel­er­a­tor pumps for the GSX-R while in Spain, so he raced through rush-hour traf­fic to get to Suzuki dealer Ford & El­lis in Che­sham. “I made it min­utes be­fore clos­ing…”

Back home shortly af­ter there was just enough time to walk the dog and bolt down a curry be­fore switch­ing the GSX-R back to race trim. “The bike was filthy from the trip and it took un­til mid­night to get it ready and loaded. I grabbed three hours kip on the sofa (But­ters nicked my bed) be­fore set­ting off for Oul­ton and scru­ti­neer­ing at 7.30am. The bike failed the noise test so I had to bor­row a db killer.

“I had 10 min­utes to learn the track and qual­ify; man­aged 15th out of 29.The bike was run­ning ter­ri­bly be­cause I still hadn’t

Be­low: at Snet­ter­ton round two, be­fore the Slab­bie went on its hol­i­days (above)

Old school all the way, piled high with gear and still hav­ing it large in the moun­tain turns That’s what you call a nice round trip (with­out the Gi­bral­tar loop) Left: sidestand in­ci­dent led to a few more run­ning re­pairs. No big deal

Ar­rived at Granada, but only just, af­ter earth­quakes had ripped up the roads The Venta El Mon­drono bike cafe – top spot Prac­ti­cal Sports­bikes 29

Macaque in Gi­bral­tar – thiev­ing bas­tard

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