2016 Australian Historic Road Racing Championships – Part One
Words: Mark Bracks – Images by Colin Rosewarne
It’s always better to be late than never. Keeping that in mind, here is a belated report of what went down at the 2016 Australian Historic Road Racing Championships that were held at Symmons Plains in Tasmania on November 18-20.
As there is so much to comprehend over that massive weekend of historic racing, MCNews.com.au will run Bracksy’s in-depth report in two parts, attempting to give the event somewhat sufficient coverage.
The Australian Historic Championships for 2016 went ‘overseas’ to the Apple Isle, marking a return to the popular racetrack outside of Launceston for the first time since 2011 and the third this century with a previous championship weekend in 2005.
The event was presented by the Tasmanian Motor Cycle Club and Scott’s Motorcycles that is run by ex-Superbike privateer, Scott Honeychurch and his wife Tina, and all concerned put on an extremely well run event with limited on-track incidents to baulk proceedings with an early finish every day.
It wasn’t only the event itself as the Tassie locals went out of their way to make everyone feel welcome with a good group of mainlanders staying on to compete at the Baskerville Historic meeting a week later.
Including a raft of cross entries, there were a total of 225 entries in the 27 classes (including three classes for the outfits), combined into 14 races for each of the four legs, with a massive 56 races, of between four to six laps, plus a day for practice and qualifying.
In fact Saturday went so well that organisers added a lap to every race on Sunday. This was met with grins and frowns, some loved the extra laps, but others were a bit worried about finishing the weekend with enough fuel!
To be fair, in a few of the classes there were only a couple of entries, but that is the nature of historic racing these days and it also demonstrates what many utter, “If it is in the shed get it out and have a blast, no matter what it is.”
As such, besides the purebred race machines, there were a multitude of Yamaha RDLC 350s and Honda CBR250 road bikes as well as a few examples of the belligerent Yamaha XS650, grey import 400s and even a Laverda Endurance Replica!
Apart from the eye candy of the historic bikes in the pits, there was plenty of trade displays as well as the regular Show and Shine for folk to bring along their pride and joy to display to the healthy crowd.
It may not have been the biggest entry list seen at an historic championship event, but considering the expense and time involved for the majority of the competitors traveling over to Tassie, it was a very impressive turnout, with all the garages packed.
The level of presentation of these old machines was exceptional and a credit to all involved. It is also very good for the patrons that attend, as they can wander in and out of the pit garages with the owners and riders always ready to answer any questions and allow folk to get a happy snap.
The classes of Historic racing spread over the capacities from 125cc up to 1300cc and also Sidecars, that raced at the meeting, are as follows:
- Period 2 Vintage January 1920 – December 1945
- Period 3 Classic January 1946 – December 1962
- Period 4 Post Classic January 1963 – December 1972
- Period 5 Forgotten Era January 1973 – December 1982
- Period 6 New Era January 1983 – December 1990
Time marches on and now that the Period 6 category has recently been introduced to the program, with the Period 2 Veteran machines there is over 70 years of motorcycle racing and development on display.
The lads sure put the bikes through their paces to bely the age of both the machine and those that ride them, “Like they stole them,” as they say.
It is getting more difficult to put everything on the program, and give the riders decent track time for the expenses incurred with entry fees, travel, accommodation and machine maintenance.
What happens in the next few years, when a Period 7 “Pre-Modern” class is introduceD? That is going to force some rethinking in how an historic meeting will be conducted.
It would be a shame to drop the older Vintage class as they have their place, and looking at a bike that first saw the light of day more than fifty years ago – albeit with many new engine bits – being flogged like any modern bike is a sight to behold.
However, the plethora of bikes on display and them being ridden like race bikes are meant to be ridden, no matter the age, was absolutely enthralling.
For the most part, the racing was entertaining, but as is the norm, in some categories, the racing was at times processional. Conversely, there was plenty of close proximity battles thought the fields and a very impressive 19 new lap records were set over the course of the weekend.
750cc New Era / 750cc Forgotten Era
In the after-meeting banter of the presentation, to most that attended, the highlight of racing on the weekend was the 750cc New Era/750cc Forgotten Era category.
Leading the entry list in the class was a legend of Australian road racing with the evergreen Malcolm “Wally” Campbell who turned the clock back, proving that you might take the man away from the racetrack but you can’t take the racing away from the man.
It was a three-way jousting session in all four races between Wally, his son Scott and multiple Victorian Supersport champion, Ryan Taylor. It was edge of the seat racing in every race.
Mal and Scott were on the immaculate Peter Howes-owned, Honda RC30s, while Taylor was on the Eieio Super Fund Racing Suzuki GSXR-750. Mal even brought his original VFR750 he campaigned all those years ago.
It sat on display outside his garage complete with the trophy and unopened bottle of champagne from his victory in the “Aussieland Superbike Series” where he won 19 of 21 races aboard the beast. Accompanying that was an original ‘Where’s Wally’ t-shirt that partly explained where Mal’s nickname eventuated!
Scott won all four races although he had to fight tooth and nail to get the victories but it was elder statesman Campbell who produced the jaw-dropping display.
In the first leg Taylor led the first couple of laps with the Campbells nipping at his heels. With some determined out braking manoeuvres Scott and Mal eventually got by as Scott took the first of his four wins by 0.492 sec from his dad with Taylor just 0.627 away in third.
The second leg was, arguably, the race of the weekend. Scott led every lap but the dogfight between Taylor and Wally was astounding. It all came down to the last lap as Taylor tried everything in his repertoire to keep the elder Campbell at bay.
The move started on the exit of the famous Symmons hairpin and the drag down the back straight. Taylor thought he had the line covered into the penultimate corner but Mal had other ideas.
He lined him up beautifully as Taylor left the smallest of gaps in the final corner as Mal kept a very tight line and won the drag to the line by only 0.084 of a second.
Taylor was incredulous saying afterwards, “I couldn’t believe that he found the room. I truly thought I had it well covered but Mal got up the inside of me as we exited the last corner. That was so much fun but I won’t be leaving a gap for him ever again. He hasn’t forgotten how to ride.”
He sure hadn’t and he put in the fastest lap of the race in that final lap with a 59.989.
The third leg was just as manic as Taylor finally claimed second from Wally, with the trio separated by 0.577seconds and their fastest laps within 0.122 sec.
One has to read the full results sheets to understand how hard the trio were riding as every fly lap from the three of them were within a few tenths of a second of each other. There was just no let up and one little slip was dealt with accordingly as Taylor discovered to his amazement.
In the final leg Scott bolted to have over a second lead by the end of lap two, but it was far from finished between the youngster and the legend. Taylor led Mal for three laps but Mal showed him another lesson in late braking and making room where there appeared to be none.
Taylor’s shake of the head when it happened echoed everyone’s thoughts that witnessed one of the true legends of Australia show why he is held in such esteem.
Along with the very appreciative crowd, Taylor left the meeting astounded at how competitive Mal Campbell still is and it is a memory everyone will hold for years to come.
Hat’s off to them all for the racing and a big bow of respect to Mal Campbell. It was a special weekend for the Campbells as they raced against each other to put on the riding display they did with Taylor and the determination in the racing, bearing in mind it was the same place that son and brother, Kris Campbell lost his life.
In the 750cc Forgotten Era class, although there were only two entries, it was the magnificent two-stroke sounds of Yamaha TZ750s with Craig Ditchburn taking the class win, and a new lap record from Clive Warner.
750cc New Era – Overall
- Scott Campbell – 100 pts
- Malcolm Campbell – 78 pts
- Ryan Taylor – 74 pts
Unlimited New Era
The Unlimited Forgotten Era and Unlimited New Era had separate races but it was the same man, and team, that dominated both classes with Chas Hern astride the immaculate Rex Wolfenden T-Rex Racing machines.
In the Unlimited New Era, Hern rode Wolfenden’s Yamaha FJ1200 to four victories as Dean Oughtred on the Carl Cox Motorsport Suzuki GSRX1100 tried valiantly to keep the Victorian in check. Hounding him for the opening laps, the power of the Yamaha and the more prudent point, that Hern spends a lot more time in the saddle of a race bike saw him win each race.
The best race of the four was the final leg as Oughtred led the first two laps as he attempted to make the bike as wide as the bike’s famous Disc Jockey owner, Carl, before Chas powered into the lead and lowered his new lap record from race two.
Chas took out an entertaining win by his narrowest race margin from Dean by 0.859 sec and in doing so set the fastest lap of the entire race weekend with a 57.367 lap in his final race.
The battles a little way back were also exciting with Campbell senior and junior again battling with Taylor and the likes of Dave McCullagh (Demrl Transport Yamaha FZR1000) and ex-125cc pilot Brett Simmonds (Suzuki GSXR1100) for third overall.
Scott snapped a chain in the first race to thwart his charge and as they headed out to start leg four Scott had a fuel problem on the RC30 and had to start from pit lane to end up seventh.
Taylor’s consistency with three fourths and a fifth place was enough for him to grab the final spot on the podium by a solitary point from Campbell senior who was fourth overall.
Unlimited New Era – Overall
- Chas Hern – 100 points
- Dean Oughtred – 80 points
- Ryan Taylor – 67 points
In the Unlimited FE class, Hern rode the Harris-framed, Honda 1100 to four victories with three of them with over a three-second margin.
In the opening race Hern demonstrated the rapidness of the Honda by smashing the old lap record held by Peter Guest on a Kawasaki by an amazing three seconds lowering it to a 58.737.
In the third leg on Sunday morning Cory Forde on his Kawasaki GPZ1100 made Hern fight for it all the way failing by just over a second to score a tantalising win.
In the process of the fight Hern lowered his own lap record to a 58.350. However, between Forde and John Brewster on the immaculate Ulvastone Mowers and Chainsaws Suzuki GSX1168 the pair had some great battles with the pair splitting second and third places between them.
They traded places a number of times during their battles and it was reflected in that they finished on equal points with Brewster taking second overall in the championship on a count back with his second place in the final leg the telling point.
Unlimited Forgotten Era – Overall
- Chas Hern – 100 points
- John Brewster – 76 points
- Corey Forde – 76 points
Towards Part Two
Part two of the report will be following shortly but mention has to be made of the ever increasing number of women that are competing in road racing.
The women have flown the flag for the fairer sex in the Sidecar categories for a number of year acting as swingers with great aplomb.
In the three sidecar classes of the historics in Tassie, they were very well represented with five women taking part as passengers out of the 11 outfits.
They were Bronson Poucher in the Forgotten Era class and Christie Menzies, Alaina McCarthy and Scobie Breen taking part in the Post Classic class.
Added to that having a dip in the solo classes was Tasmanian Karen Webb, who was a team mate to Ryan Taylor in the Eieio Super Fund Team riding a Suzuki GSXR750 in the P6 Unlimited and P6 750 cc class.
Stacey Heaney rode a Yamaha XS650 in the P4 750cc class and a Royal Enfield in the P3 700cc class, taking home some silverware in the process, while another local, as well as daughter of the Tas MCC President – Courtney McMahon rode in the P6 250 Production on a Honda CBR250RR for third overall in the title.
Well done ladies, the more that get involved the better.