STILL GASS­ING

Trial Magazine - - GAS GAS MOTO CELEBRATIO­N - Words: Yoomee with John Shirt Snr and Jnr Pic­tures: Yoomee Ar­chive – Barry Robin­son

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

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