The saying ‘as one door closes another opens’ is very true but could you imagine after the huge worldwide success of the Yamaha Majesty and Mono-shock trials machines what to do next? John Shirt Snr has always been a ‘grafter’ having worked hard to build up his business with the support of his late wife Margaret, who was taken ill in 1994 and who died in 2004, and then with his son, John Shirt Jnr. Having started with his Yamaha TY twin-shock machine conversions which gave us the Majesty, he had his own vision of the trials machine and the result of the Majesty was the Mono-shock Yamaha. Always proud to be self-employed and doing his own thing he started to look for something new which he believed would mature into a new success story and secure his, and his son’s future, in trials. He first witnessed the arrival of the Gas Gas trials machine at the Scottish Six Days trial in 1987 and as they say, the rest is history.
Towards the end of 1987 John Shirt Snr wanted to look for a new trials machine to import, a new brand which he could be involved with from the start. Around this time many ‘cottage’ industry motorcycle manufacturers had begun to appear in Europe and he started to notice the new Gas Gas trials machines. His son, John Shirt Jnr, was fresh out of the Youth Championships having achieved much success and he made his World Trials Championship debut in Spain at the opening round in March 1988, having just taken the bold move to ride the ex-Eddy Lejeune four-stroke Honda machines on a semi ‘works’ supported deal. Eating in a restaurant at the event he and his father noticed the staff from Gas Gas for the first time and made polite conversation, the new machines were also on display at the event. With the initial contact made it went a step further when the Spanish company announced plans to produce around one thousand machines during the year with the Shirt family becoming the sole UK importer. Despite the language barrier John formed a friendship with the co-owners Josep Pibernat and Narciso Casas which lasts to this very day. In early June John spoke to his good friend Keith Blair who was an agent importing goods from Europe and he arranged for a machine to be flown into the UK to East Midlands airport. The machine arrived and it was a 327cc model with the frame number 231 stamped on it. John took it to a local trial, a Twin-Shock SEBAC British Championship round at Potts Shrigley. Many local riders tried the machine including Dave