2016 Australian Historic Road Racing Championships – Part Two
Words: Mark Bracks – Images by Colin Rosewarne
In part one of the report for the 2016 Australian Historic Championships, the focus was on the later day classes, and one of the modern legends in Malcolm Campbell, who can still punt a bike very rapidly. You can find 2016 Australian Historic Road Racing Championships – Part One here.
In part two we have a quick look at the remaining multitude of classes that make up the titles, with many of the 27 categories combined into the same race. We commence with a look at some of the true historic bikes; the Veteran class, for bikes originally built between 1920 and 1945, although what remains of the original motorcycles can be a mystery!
The brands in this class conjure many images of a romantic era in motorcycling between the two world wars and with names like “Indian” “Rudge” “Harley-Davidson” and Velocette, there was some pristine machines to perve on.
As was the case at the previous year’s titles, Stan Mucha, on his 1938 Indian Altoona 998, was the pace setter.
It’s a bizarre sight to see a bike of that vintage lofting a wheel into the air – albeit by only a foot or so – when the lights went out at the start of each race, but it is an ample demonstration of the torque some of these old bikes produce.
Mucha won the first three races by ever increasing margins over similarly mounted, Peter Birthisel, first by over eight seconds, 11 seconds in leg two and then 16 seconds in the third stanza.
He looked set to increase that in the final leg as he had an 11 second lead after three laps but then slowed dramatically allowing Birthisel a sniff of victory, which he inhaled vigorously and attacked to claim the win by just 0.111, one of the closest winning margins of the weekend.
David Morse on his Velocette 500 scored three thirds, but a DNF in the third leg curtailed his charge to third overall, as Ross Bolding on his Harley WL750 took advantage of Morse’s DNF to add a third to his three fourths to claim third overall in the title.
- Stan Mucha – 95 pts
- Peter Birthisel – 85 pts
- Ross Bolding – 69 pts
Unlimited Post Classic /500cc Forgotten Era
This class had quite possibly one of the most exotic machines to take to the track, while the other was in the 500cc Post-Classic. There were different models of the exquisite Italian GP machine – the Paton 500, with 2015 Australian Moto3 Champion Tom Bramich the extremely fortunate rider, who owner Ron Angel gave the rare opportunity for the weekend.
Bramich won all four races in the class although in the third leg he wasn’t first across the line as Corey Forde on his Post Classic Honda CB750 took off like a scolded cat to claim bragging rights to be first across the line by over three-seconds from Bramich.
Bramich won the other three races outright in convincing style, and in doing so lowered the class record twice. Although the final leg was red flagged, for it to become a two part race, after a crash with two Unlimited Post Classic riders, Greg Cuckson and Mark Faulkner at the penultimate corner.
Second and third places in the 500cc FE class races was shared by Stephen Kairl (Prime Appliance Services Yamaha TZ350), Peter Hinton on his Yamaha TZ350, and Grant Boxhell.
Hinton claimed runner-up in the title after his second place in the final race. Boxhell was third overall after Kairl was a DNF in the final leg due to a crash in the first part of the interrupted race.
The Unlimited class went to Forde from Aiden Coote, on the beautifully prepared Rob North Triton 750, with John Donai (Team Phantom Honda 1150) scoring third overall
500cc Post-Classic/500cc Classic
Bramich absolutely decimated the field in every race of this class, getting to the chequered flag at least 20 seconds ahead of the field. While it was lonely at the front ,Bramich put on an excellent display of consistent racing, his lap times very close to each other for the 16 laps of the four races.
Second on track was shared by Chris Pash (Team Atajura Suzuki T492) and Brendan Roberts (MatchlessG80 500), along with Keith Campbell on his Murramong Vineyard Honda CB77 350 and Mount Gambier’s Darren Trotter on a G50 Matchless.
Bramich won the Post Classic class from Pash with Roly Orr (Yamaha TR2 350) third.
Roberts’ DNF in the opening race negated his perfect score as he recovered to take three victories but Trotter took the class win from Campbell with Roberts, a solitary point behind in third.
500cc Post Classic
- Tom Bramich – 100 pts
- Chris Pash – 80 pts
- Roly Orr – 72 pts
- Darren Trotter – 83pts
- Keith Campbell – 76pts
- Brendan Roberts – 75 pts
700cc Classic/350cc Forgotten Era
This was another class with some very entertaining two-stroke racing in the 350cc FE class, with Yamaha TZ 350s dominating the class, although the Armstrong 250 of Stephen Ward kept them honest, when it was running.
The opening leg was a cracker as Ward, Stephen Kairl (Prime Appliance Services TZ), and Peter Hinton had a great battle. It was a race that came down to the final lap with Hinotn claiming the win by 0.344 sec over Karl with Armstrong right on their tails in third.
Hinton won the second leg but the battle for second between good mates Kairl and Ward was a cracker as they carved each other up. Unfortunately, the Armstrong cried enough on the final lap for Kairl to claim second with Brett Metcalfe (RDLC350) third.
Ward made it out for the third leg but Hinton held off Kairl to take three on the trot with Ward third.
In the final leg it was all Kairl as he took the win by over 11 seconds from Hinton, with local lad, Grant Boxhell third.
A mention has to be made of the battle between Metcalfe and fellow local, Mick Damon who were virtually superglued together in their battle for fourth and fifth, with Damon claiming fourth by under 0.7s.
In the new 700cc class Keith Campbell (ESO Special 650) was dominate when on track, taking two wins, but two DNS curtailed his dominance with Robby Turner (Cousin It Triton 650) taking out the class victory from Stacey Heaney on her Royal Enfield and Marton Gratton, also on a Royal Enfield.
- Peter Hinton – 95 pts
- Stephen Kairl – 85 pts
- Brett Metcalfe – 66 pts
- Robby Turner – 88 pts
- Stacey Heaney – 75pts
- Marton Gratton – 67pts
Sidecars – Forgotten Era
While the numbers of the sidecars have dropped over the years, the interest is still well and truly there. The FE Sidecars had their own race while the two classic categories ran together and in the FE class there were a couple of blasts from the past.
The first was the outfit of Ian Gardner and Burns as it was the sidecar made famous by Andre Bosman and Dave Kellett and still sported the livery from the 80s. Another blast was the return to the track of Graham Biggs on his Ireson TZ750 for the first time in almost two decades with the exact same livery on his machine as well.
The power plants varied from TZ 750s to the big bore 1100cc, adding an aural treat to the class. While there were only five entries, the lads and ladies put on some entertaining battles with one race decided by a tenth of a second.
The father and son team of Stephen and David Jones took the overall win, with three race wins and a second, the Ian Gardner/Kevin Burns and Graham Biggs/Daryl Calvert teams took the remaining podium positions.
- Stephen Jones / David Jones – 95 pts
- Ian Gardner / Kevin Burns – 85 pts
- Graham Biggs / Daryl Calvert – 69 pts
Classic and Post Classic Sidecars
There were five Post-Classic entries and only one Classic outfit entered for the event with Bruce and Graham Marston (HD 900) but their weekend was over after one race.
However, in that one race they smashed the old PC lap record by 21 seconds so at least they had something to take away from the weekend besides a trophy!
Although the numbers were limited, the PC boys put on some great dicing with two of the races the closest finishes of the weekend.
Max Hooper and Brad Gorrie (Windle Honda 750) took three wins from Lindsey Donai and Christine Menzies (Steve Reilly Honda 1100) who followed them home. In two races they crossed the finish line side by side, with gaps the closest of the weekend.
In the second leg it was just a 0.058s gap, while in the final outing of the day Hooper and Gorrie took the win by just 0.012s, the closest finish in any race of the 56 events! Dona and Williams got one back on them in the third leg and took the win by over 14 seconds.
We cannot leave the Sidecars without a mention of the outfit multi-Australian Champion, Doug Chivas and his passenger Scobie Breen were punting around.
Sidecar fan or not, one had to drool at the immaculate and supreme engineering of the Konig 500. If they had a section for motorcycles in The Louvre, it would be the first exhibit. What a work of art.
Classic and Post Classic Sidecars
- Maxwell Hooper / Brad Gorrie – 95 pts
- Lindsay Donai / Christine Menzies – 81 pts
- Geoff Grant / Alaina Mccarthy – 74 pts
- Mark Hollingshed / Andrew Heness – 67 pts
- Doug Chivas / Scobie Breen – 67 pts
250cc Forgotten Era/350cc Post Classic
While on paper it may look like it was a Stephen Ward benefit on his pristine Armstrong 250, as he walked away from the championships with a perfect score of four wins, and led every lap of every heat, but he had a battle on his hands, as two of his wins were by less than a second.
It was a close run affair in the second leg as Peter Hinton gave him a chase to miss the win by 0.759s. It would be the closest “Hinto” got to him as the Cotton 250cc pulled the pin and remained in the garage for the rest of the weekend.
In the final race of the category, Murray Seabrook on his Post Classic Yamaha TD3 gave him the terrier treatment on Sunday afternoon as he took his second win in the PC class but missed the outright win by 0.877s as Ward won yet another 250cc FE title.
With a brace of seconds and two, fourth place finishes, Brett Metcalfe’s (Yamaha RDLC) consistency gave him second in the class with Mark Holman (Yamaha TZ250) third.
In the 350cc class Keith Campbell salvaged some satisfaction from the weekend to take the class win, as in the other classes he competed in by his own reckoning, he had a wretched weekend that was beset by mechanical woes.
Seabrook was another with a few woes of his own, crashing big time in another class which forced him out of the opening leg of this class and combined with a DNF in leg two. He did put a smile on his face by taking out the class win in the final two races to score a 50 per cent hit rate.
Roly Orr grabbed another piece of silverware by finishing second overall with his 2-2-2-3 results to edge out local Michael Dobson third.
- Stephen Ward – 100 pts
- Brett Metcalf – 74
- Mark Holman – 65
- Keith Campbell – 87
- Roly Orr – 78
- Michael Dobson – 70
Unlimited Classic/750cc Post Classic
Aiden Coote on the absolutely pristine Rob North Triton was another rider who took four wins and led every lap of his 750cc Post Classic class but it is what happened behind him in the battle for Unlimited Classic honours that had onlookers enthralled.
While Coote may have given the impression that the wins were relatively stress free as he crossed the finish line at least nine seconds in front of everybody else, there was one true positive.
With him so far out in front, it gave everyone the opportunity to hear the Triton in all its majestic and magnificent aural glory as there is nothing quite like the sound of a megaphoned, triple-cylinder engine on full noise. Pure ecstasy.
The battle for second across the line was an intense battle for the Unlimited Classic trophy between Darren Trotter (Matchless Manx 600), David Trotter (JAP 1000) and Garth Francis on his Norton 750 with every race decided by tenths of a second – or less – separating them.
In the opening leg, David Trotter scored maximum points over Francis by three thousandths of a second as Darren T retired on the fourth lap.
In leg two David repaired his bike and won the class while Francis blew and engine on the final lap but sensibly took to the grass to finish the race and pick up valuable points while both David Trotter and Keith Campbell retired.
Francis repaired his machine over night, extracting the engine from his sidecar to use the next day to continue his battle with Trotter. In leg three Darren trotter claimed the class win over Francis by 0.409 of a second as Campbell and David Trotter again retired from the race.
It was all to play for in the final leg. Darren Trotter won an enthralling battle over Francis by 0.224s, and claimed a new lap record (1:08.937) in the battle, to take three wins in the class, however his DNF in the opening leg told the tale as he fell just two agonising points short.
Francis took the title, his eighth – and last – place finish in leg two proving the difference in claiming the silverware from Trotter with Michael Panyani’s (Norton Manx 780) consistent 4-2-2-3 results scoring him the silverware for third overall, four points seperating the trio.
While Coote won the 750cc class quite easily, the other podium place getters had to be split on a count back as Chris Pash (Team Atujura Suzuki T492) and Ivan Hoey on his immaculate and extremely reliable Yamaha XS650 battled for second and third in the class.
In leg one Pash got the nod over Hoey by just over a second. In leg two and three, Hoey finished second with Pash third, while in the last instalment Pash claimed second with a frantic drag to the line to edge out Hoey by a frustratingly slender margin of just 0.326s ensuring the pair finished on equal points with the runner-up spot going to Pash with his better finish in the final leg.
750cc Post Classic
- Aiden Coote – 100pt
- Chris Pash – 76pts
- Ivan Hoey – 76 pts
Unlimited Post Classic
- Garth Francis – 77 pts
- Darren Trotter – 75pts
- Michael Panyani – 73 pts
350cc Classic/250cc Post Classic
There was drama in the opening within metres of the start of the first leg with a multi bike coming together at the first left hander that saw pole-sitter Murray Seabrook (Yamaha TD3 250) Phil Paton (Thumbz-Up Bultaco 350) and Keith Campbell (Murrrummong Vineyards Honda CB77 350) involved, cartwheeling into the dirt.
This subsequently brought out the first red flag for the weekend, to clear away the mess.
A full restart ensued but Seabrook and Campbell didn’t front again as Seabrook nursed sore ribs and a battered bike and Campbell repaired his bike – an omen for the majority of his weekend.
On the restart, Greg Watkins (Norton Manx 350) took the lead from Paton and gradually pulled away to take the win by over nine-seconds from Paton with Bruce Marston (BSA Gold Star 350) a further 15 seconds adrift.
The second leg was a carbon copy of the first with the same order and similar margins.
Sunday morning had all combatants back on the grid, albeit with bikes and riders patched up. Tasmanian, Seabrook made up for the previous day’s disappointment to take the win by over 16 seconds – and a new lap record – from Campbell leading the 350 Classic Class from Paton in third.
Campbell’s woes continued and he failed to start the final leg as Seabrook again cleared off to greet the chequered flag flag first from Paton 13 seconds adrift. Watkins was third and second in class, with Marston next and third overall in the 350cc class..
- Greg Watkins – 88pts
- Phil Paton – 85
- Bruce Marston – 71 pts
250cc Post Classic
- Colin Burgess-Maclean – 90pts
- Murray Seabrook – 50 pts
125cc New Era/250cc New Era/500cc New Era
There was a bit of fresh exotica on the grid with a recently imported Honda RS250 that ex-125cc Australian competitor, Brett Simmonds raced and it was one fine pristine example of GP racing.
He was in a class of his own and won all four legs in comprehensive style from Tim Podt (Honda VFR400) who did the same in the 500cc New Era class with four wins, although there were only two in the class.
Third place on track was split between Lech Budniak (Yamaha TZA 250) and Stuart Wilton (Yamaha TZU250) over the four legs although Wilton did not complete the fourth race handing the last place on the podium to Craig Johnson after his 4-5-5-4 results.
In the 125cc New Era class there was only two starters with Dave Short (Honda RS125) leading home fellow South Australian Mike Engberg (Honda RS125) in all races
250cc Classic/125cc Post Classic/ 125cc Forgotten Era/ 250cc New Era Production
The races with the most classes in it could only attract 11 competitors although there was still a couple of good dices at the front of the field.
The most entries were the 250cc New Era Production with the ever reliable Honda CBR250 the bike of choice, although Tom Dykes flew the flag for the two-strokes on his Suzuki RGV250, and all the front runners were locals.
Cameron Rowell won the first three races, the third by just 0.158 sec and looked on track for a clean sweep, but after 2-3-2 placings, Paul Smith had other ideas and took out the final race by just over a second.
Courtney McMahon took out third place on track in all four races, but copped a 10-second penalty for a jump start in leg two allowing Smith to inherit third, even though McMahon and Dykes finished on equal points. McMahon grabbed the silverware making it two women to claim a top three finish in the Australian Historic Championship.
Murray Seabrook (Honda CB72 250) made up for the disappointment of his two DNS in the 250cc Post Classic class by winning the 250cc Classic from John Imrie (Thumbz-UP Bultaco Mercurio) and Otto Muller on his pristine Adler 125.
Incidentally, the German Adler bikes are the template that the Yamaha factory based all its early models and Otto actually worked for the Adler factory before migrating to Australia, bringing it with him.
250cc New Era Production
- Cameron Rowell – 95 pts
- Paul Smith – 83 pts
- Courtney McMahon – 83=
- Tom Dykes – 71 pts
- Murray Seabrook – 100 pts
- John Imrie – 80 pts
- Otto Muller – 72 pts
125 cc Forgotten Era
- Dave Short – 100pts
- Greg Tory – 80pts
125cc Post Classic
- Des Heney – 75 pts
A few more words…
In closing this report I’d like to state, publicly, my thanks to the Tasmanian Motorcycle Club, from El Presidente, Cary McMahon and his daughter CJ and the many others involved, as well as the Campbell clan of Mal, Scott, Sue and Amy for making me especially welcome and the hospitality that was offered during my stay.
It was an extremely well run event that the team of officials and volunteers did, led by Clerk of the Course Rob Scott (who is usually the head scrutineer for ASBK) with the meeting run like clockwork, even allowing for a few interruptions to the program due to crashes and mechanical issues.
Also, a thanks to my fellow commentator, Rob “not-so-young” Young for the banter over the three days of the meeting.
Plus to all the competitors thanks for the banter and the beers!
The trip back to town on the Saturday afternoon with Wally Campbell, in his red Australia Post transit van, will stay with me a long time and made me very keen to get back over there and do one of Mal’s motorcycle tours around parts of the Apple Isle.
A magnificent effort by all concerned.