Shawn Giles Wins Barry Sheene Memorial
— By Russell Downie
The 7th annual QBE Barry Sheene Festival of Speed has been run and won at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway. Three-times Australian Superbike Champion, and recent Historic Road Race convert Shawn Giles won the two-leg Barry Sheene Memorial Race over the March 23-25 weekend.
The Festival of Speed, run by the NSW Post Classic Racing Association, is the largest Historic Motorcycle race meet in NSW, and draws huge numbers of spectators and competitors to the former Grand Prix Circuit, 40 minutes outside the city of Sydney. Cllasses for Period 3 – Classic (1946-1962), Period 4 – Post Classic (1963-1972), Period 5 – Forgotten Era (1973-1982), Period 6 – New Era (1983-1990) and Pre Modern (1991-1995), plus the crowd favourite Sidecars, – both classic and contemporary. Plus a huge number of Trade Stands, a show-and-shine, a ride day style HART Honda Spectators’ parade laps of the circuit plus an atmosphere that enthrals all who attend.
The racing is made up of regular sprint races for all classes, plus memorial and feature races that bring out the best riders, and some true emotions. This year there were memorial races for Barry Sheene and Ken Wotton around the slightly modified Eastern Creek layout – turn six has been removed completely, in preparation for a new layout which will increase lap distance by over one kilometre.
Giles, riding a highly modified Suzuki Katana, won both legs of the Sheene memorial – for period 4 and 5 bikes, setting lap times in the 1:37 second bracket that no one else could match. He then managed a 1:36.83 in the second leg, a new Historic Lap Record by some margin around Eastern Creek. Australian Motorcycling legend and multiple Historic Racing Champion Robbie Phillis was second, on a similar Suzuki, and Malcolm “Wally” Campbell was third, riding a Honda CB1100R.
The Sheene memorial was marred slightly in the first leg, when long time historic competitor Keith Higgs suffered a brake issue into the turn 9 hairpin and crashed hard in front of a newly erected wall. Racing was delayed for some time while Keith was stabilised, however at last check he was chatting with medical staff, suffering serious leg and ankle injuries.
Pocket Rocket John Pace was showing off his newly built Suzuki Katana, and grabbed third place in the shortened first leg, however he couldn’t complete the distance in the second leg. Victorian Stuart Loly, on an older style un-faired Suzuki GSX1100 finished fourth outright and young Queenslander Daniel Youl was fifth on the incredible Honda CBX1000 six-cylinder machine.
These same bike/rider combinations took to the track for the P4/P5 750cc/Unlimited races. Giles was again quick, but an issue in leg two allowed Youl to win P5 on the CBX1000. Drmsby Middleton riding a Laverda scored maximum points in P4 unlimited, while Paul Coughlan and Terry McKinnon won the P4 and P5 750cc battles respectfully.
In the first running of the Ken Wotton Memorial race, (for Period 4 bikes) which was also decided on points scored in two separate legs, it was Drmsby Middleton on the 1000cc three cylinder Laverda who scored maximum points to claim the spoils. Then came Glen Hindle, who kept the fans of two strokes happy all weekend with great riding on different oil burning machines, in this case he was riding his Maxton TR3. Third and fourth were Laurie Fyffe and Rex Wolfenden both riding 1000cc Hondas, very similar to that campaigned for many years by Ken Wotton. Fifth was Dean Oughtred on his Honda CR.
The Barry Sheene feature race for 500cc classic machines was held over six laps, and it was visiting Kiwi Chris Swallow on his Norton ES2 who set a new lap record (1:49.79) and took victory. Second was Graham Roberts and third Keith Campbell, both riding Hondas.
Some of the closest racing was seen in the P4 350-500/P5 350-500 races on Saturday afternoon, as Glen Hindle (Maxton 350) and Glen Kelleher (Yamaha 350) battled at the front of the pack. Unfortunately, Kelleher couldn’t keep the challenge up over the weekend, so outright and P4 350 went to Hindle. Lech Budniak just won P5 350 on a count-back, tied on points with Michael Hockley, both on Yamahas. Mitchell Mulligan took his Ducati to the P5 500 win with maximum points, and Bob Marriner won P4 500 on his immaculate CB500/4.
The newest bikes out on circuit were the Period 6 and Pre-Modern machines, run in combined races.
The P6 250-750cc/P.M. Formula 3 winners were Alan Johnston (Yamaha TZ250), Peter Fryer (Yamaha FZR400) – who also snared two heat wins, Craig Stuart (Yamaha FZ750) and Troy Loveday (Honda CBR400). While the larger capacity machines were lead around all weekend by Scott Campbell on a Honda R45, the class winners were Steven Green (Kawasaki ZX6R) and Nigel Taylor (Yamaha FZR1000).
P6 125cc machines lined up against the P3 500 and Unlimited bikes, they had very similar lap times, although achieved that speed in slightly different ways. David Woolsey took his Triton to P3 Unlimited honours, Chris Swallow P3 500 and Jason Dunn a maximum haul in P6 125.
At the other end of the scale was the P3 250-350/P4 125-250/P5 125-250 race, with dozens of small two strokes filling the grid. Lindsay McKay was the class of the field all weekend on his P4 Yamaha 250, while Phil Paton (Bultaco) gave him a run for his money outright, and won P3 350, and another Bultaco rider John Imrie won P3 250. Brian McGrath (Yamaha 125) was unchallenged in P4 125, and while Stephen Kairl has more opposition in P5 125 the result was the same, maximum points on his Honda, and Lech Budniak won P5 250 on his Yamaha.
The sidecars competed not only in regular sprint races, but also raced for the combined sole and sidecar Trans-Tasman Challenge. After a Kiwi win last year (by a single point!) the Aussies were fired up and responded this year with a hard fought, but close win. The fastest outfit during the team event was the Scrivener/Bryan combination, ahead of Pym/Johnston and Brown/Bonney.
In the modern Formula 1 sidecar sprint races, which formed round one of the 2012 Australian Sidecar Championship, the Soutar/Rowe combination won two-from-two, and now leads the championship, ahead of Pym/Johnston and Brown/Bonney.
The F2 sidecars took to the track with the Historic sidecars and had some epic battles. The Chivas/McKinnon 750cc two stroke outfit was the quickest out there, and won P5. Alton/Patterson doubled up over the weekend, racing a F1 and F2 sidecar, they had more success in the smaller machine, winning all four heats on the 600. Gay/Butler won P4 and Rees/Rose won P3.
The Trans-Tasman Challenge saw Australia win the Cup back from across the ditch with 202 points to the Kiwis 195.
Overall is was another successful celebration of Historic motorcycling, organised and run by the Post Classic Racing Assn of NSW. All those involved over the weekend, and over the course of the last 12 months making this meeting what it is are volunteers, and they did a sterling job. The next major Historic activity is the Broadford Bike Bonanza held over the Easter Weekend in Melbourne.