Author Archives: Geoff Dawes

Ducati starts production of the Superleggera V4

Ducati V4 Superleggera.

In keeping with Ducati practice since 2014 with the Panigale L  twin range, the Italian company has produced a limited run “Superleggera” (Superlight) version of its flagship sports bike based on the race orientated Panigale V4R. Below is the official press release. Enjoy. 

Borgo Panigale (Bologna, Italy), 17 June 2020 – The first Superleggera V4 has come off the Borgo Panigale production line.  This is the #001 of the 500 units scheduled in a limited and numbered series; the only motorcycle in the world approved for road use with a frame, swingarm and carbon fibre rims, is finally available. A masterpiece of mechanical engineering, technique and “made in Italy” design, which sets a new benchmark in terms of performance, style and attention to detail.

The exclusivity of the materials and technical solutions adopted on the Superleggera V4 are also reflected in the maximum number of motorcycles envisaged: 500 numbered units accompanied by a certificate of authenticity . The progressive numbering of the motorcycles (XXX/500), coinciding with the chassis number, is shown on the steering head, and on the ignition key.

Number one of the limited run of 500.

The first of the lucky owners of this fantastic bike has been invited to Borgo Panigale for a delivery ceremony and, in the next few days, he will personally meet Claudio Domenicali, Ducati CEO, to receive his Superleggera V4 001/500.

The uniqueness of the Superleggera V4 project is underlined by the experiences that Ducati together with Ducati Corse has exclusively reserved for the owners of the motorcycle: the “Superbike Experience” – the possibility for all fans who purchase a Superleggera V4 to be able to try out the Panigale V4 R that takes part in the SBK World Championship on track at Mugello. Even more incredible and exclusive is the opportunity – limited to 30 owners of the Superleggera V4 – to purchase access to the “MotoGP Experience “, thus realizing the dream of every sports motorcycle enthusiast. For the first time, it will be possible to ride the Desmosedici GP on the circuit, followed directly by Ducati Corse technicians. Both “Experiences” have been confirmed for 2021.

The attention that completes the purchase experience of the Superleggera V4 also includes the possibility of personalizing the Superleggera V4 leathers with airbags from the “SuMisura Ducati” line, as well as completing the look with a carbon helmet, both dedicated to this motorbike, whose colours and graphics they replicate.

Each motorcycle is equipped with a Racing kit: complete exhaust for Akrapovič racing track use in titanium; open clutch cover in carbon fibre; swingarm cover in carbon fibre with titanium “slider”; headlamp and light replacement kit; license plate holder removal kit; side stand removal kit; mirror replacement aluminium caps from billet; Ducati Data Analyzer + GPS (DDA + GPS); racing fuel cap, brake lever protection, motorcycle cover; front and rear stand and battery charger.

The bike is delivered inside a wooden crate with specially made customization for the transport of this “made in Borgo Panigale” masterpiece.
Finally, all customers receive a sculptural reproduction of the Superleggera V4 in 1:10 scale, modelled in futuristic aerodynamic shapes. A real collector’s item personalized with your motorbike number.

Carbon composite rear wheel.

Superleggera V4
The Superleggera V4 is the only motorcycle in the world, approved for road use, with the entire load-bearing structure of the chassis (frame, subframe, swingarm and rims), made of composite material, obtaining, for these components only, a weight saving of 6.7 kg compared to those of the Panigale V4 MY20. To ensure the highest quality and safety standards, these components are 100% controlled by the most sophisticated techniques borrowed from the aerospace industry, such as thermography, ultrasound checks, and tomography.
The specific set-up of the chassis gives an unparalleled deceleration capacity, an extraordinary speed of descent when cornering and a marked tendency of the bike to close the trajectories when exiting corners.

Many components are made of carbon fibre, modelled in advanced aerodynamic shapes. These include the fairing, which reaches efficiency levels higher than those of today’s MotoGP bikes, which are limited in this by the current technical regulations. Thanks to the aerodynamic biplane appendages inspired by Ducati’s 2016 MotoGP bike, the most highly-performing in this field, it is able to guarantee a vertical load of 50 kg of “downforce” at 270 km/h, 20 kg more than that produced by the wings of the Panigale V4 MY20 and V4R. This downforce improves acceleration by counteracting the tendency to wheelie and increases braking stability.

The carbon fairings are embellished with a livery inspired by the Desmosedici GP19, with an alternation of lines and depths between the red colour of the GP19 and the visible carbon that highlight the shapes, the materials and the technical details. The red continues on the coloured sides of the OEM Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres, specifically developed in the construction for the Superleggera V4.

Desmodromic cylinder head

The most powerful and lightest Desmosedici Stradale R engine is hidden under the carbon skin. The 998 cc 90° V4 unit of the Superleggera V4 weighs 2.8 kg less than the 1,103 cc V4 and, thanks to the Akrapovič approved exhaust, produces 224 hp of power in road configuration (EU homologation value), which becomes 234 hp by mounting the titanium Akrapovič exhaust for track use, which is included in the Racing Kit supplied with the bike.
The racing connotation of the engine is emphasized by the use of a dry clutch and by the timing of the Desmodromic system made manually by a specialist who, after checking, confirms the positive result by affixing his signature on the metal plate that embellishes the carbon cover of the rear cylinder bank.

Only on the Superleggera V4, by loading the engine calibration for the racing exhaust, is it possible to enable the display of the “RaceGP” dashboard. Intended for circuit use only, it derives from that of the Desmosedici GP20 dashboard designed on the indications of Andrea Dovizioso.

Thanks to the extensive use of carbon fibre, components made of titanium, magnesium and others from aluminium billet, the Superleggera V4 shows a dry weight of 159 kg on the scale (16 kg less than the Panigale V4), for a power/weight ratio of 1.41 hp/kg. A record value for a homologated sports bike. In track configuration, by mounting the Racing kit supplied with the bike, the power rises to  234 hp and the weight drops to 152.2 kg, with a power/weight ratio of 1.54 hp/kg.

The electronic controls have also been evolved in a purely racing perspective. By default, the operating parameters of these are associated with three reprogrammed Riding Modes with specific names (Race A, Race B and Sport). In addition, for the first time, five Riding Modes can be added, customizable with your favourite settings. The rider can monitor lap times through the evolution of the Lap Timer, which now allows you to store the coordinates of the finish line and the split times of five favourite circuits, so as to recall them every time you go out on the track without having to repeat the data logging procedure. By default, the system proposes the coordinates of the finish line and intermediates of Laguna Seca, Mugello, Jerez, Sepang and Losail. Added to this is a latest-generation electronic package that includes EVO 2 strategies for DTC and DQS up/down.

Öhlins lightened suspensions with a pressurized fork and lightened billet foot and shock absorber with titanium spring and GP-derived valves are part of the equipment, which improve the absorption of road roughness in the initial compression phase.

The braking system is the best of Brembo production with an MCS radial-pump equipped with a remote control for adjusting the distance of the lever and Stylema® R calipers, an exclusive of the Superleggera V4 that allows greater consistency of front brake travel in long runs on the track.

All this translates into a level of performance of absolute importance. Alessandro Valia, official Ducati tester, with Racing Kit and slick tyres, lapped the Mugello circuit in 1m52.45s, less than two seconds away from the time of the Panigale V4R SBK winner with Michele Pirro in CIV 2019.

An example of maximum attention to detail is the aluminium radiator cap machined from billet and the dedicated ignition key with aluminium insert on which the motorcycle number is indicated.

The completed article.

The Superleggera V4 is an extreme machine, devised and designed to achieve maximum performance on the circuit, but at the same time guaranteeing the reliability and ease of use requirements typical of a sports motorcycle homologated for road use. With this motorcycle, Ducati pushes the limit even further. The technical competence and knowledge developed and continuously evolved in MotoGP is made available to fans of technique and performance on two wheels.

Words  Geoff Dawes and courtesy Ducati Media House ©2020. Photographs and video courtesy Ducati Media House ©2020.

Mitsuo Ito Passes

Mitsuo Ito, the first and only Japanese rider to take a TT victory at the Isle of Man, has passed away at 82 years of age.

Ito had recently been inducted into the inaugural Motorcycle Federation of Japan Motor Sports Hall of Fame in December 2018.

A lifetime employee of Suzuki Japan, Ito won a TT riding a Suzuki RM63 in the 1963 50cc Ultra-Lightweight Class.

Mitsuo also participated in domestic and international Grand Prix racing from 1959 to 1967 and competed in the 50cc and 125cc categories, claiming two 50cc Grand Prix victories 13 podiums and 1 fastest lap from 29 starts.

In 1970 Ito also had a foray into car racing in Japan and won the only event he entered, the Japan Automobile Federation Junior Seven Challenge Cup held at Mount Fuji International Speedway driving a Suzuki Fronte RF single seater.

Mitsuo also famously partnered Stirling Moss in a Suzuki 360SS for a high-speed run on the Autostrada del Sol between Milan and Naples as a publicity stunt, with the 356cc two-stroke machine averaging 122.44kph (76.08mph).

After retiring from racing, Ito took part in Suzuki’s racing activities helping to develop racing machines and world-class technologies. In addition, Ito served as an engineering committee member of the MFJ for many years. He not only contributed to Suzuki but also the popularisation and development of motorcycle racing in Japan.

Words Geoff Dawes & Team Suzuki News Service © 2019. Image courtesy Team Suzuki News Service © 2019

Tragedy At Pikes Peak International Hillclimb

Carlin Dunne, a four-time winner of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, has died during the 97th running of the “Race To The Clouds”. Dunne had set pole position for the event and was well on his way to setting a new overall record with the fastest time in the first three sectors of the 156-turn 20km course before fatally crashing within a short distance of the 4,300 metres above sea level finish line.

36-year-old Dunne, the 2018 winner in the Heavyweight Class on a Ducati Multistrada 1260, had been lured back to the event by Ducati North America to ride a prototype model 2020 Ducati Streetfighter V4 1100 in the Exhibition Powersports division.

Below is a joint statement issued by the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb Board and Ducati North America.

“The collective hearts of the Colorado Springs community and the Board of Directors of The Pikes   Peak International Hill Climb, along with Ducati North America, share the grief and pain of Carlin Dunne’s family, friends and fans over his untimely death.

Throughout the 97 years that this unique race has been conducted on America’s Mountain, we have experienced the ultimate joy in victory, the disappointment of failure and now, the unexpected heartbreak of the loss of a competitor, whose love of the race brought him to Pikes Peak. We mourn the tragic death of Carlin, and he will remain in our hearts forever as part of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb family. Carlin will be remembered as a warm-hearted mentor with a competitive spirit. He was a gentle and thoughtful man who touched everyone who met him. We will always remember his contagious smile and genuine love for the sport.”

“There are no words to describe our shock and sadness. Carlin was part of our family and one of the most genuine and kind men we have ever known. His spirit for this event and love of motorcycling will be remembered forever as his passing leaves a hole in our hearts,” said Jason Chinnock, CEO Ducati North America.

With our deepest condolences,”

The Board of Directors of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Ducati North America.

Words Geoff Dawes and Ducati Media House © 2019 Image courtesy rideapart.com © 2019

Ducati Panigale V4 Streetfighter.

 

The prototype Ducati Panigale 1100cc V4 Streetfighter.

After an absence of four years in Ducati’s model line-up, the Streetfighter name is to be resurrected for a 2020 model based on the 1100cc Panigale V4.  A prototype model has been revealed and is set to compete at the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on the 30thof June 2019 ridden by the four-time winner of the Heavyweight Class, Carlin Dunne.

Dunne rode a Ducati Multistrada 1260 to the win in last year’s event beating Australian Rennie Scaysbrook riding a KTM 1290 Super Duke by mere hundredths of a second as both went under the ten-minute mark for the 156-turn flight to the summit.

With the entry of the 1100cc Panigale V4 Streetfighter, an escalation of potent machinery looks likely to follow with Scaysbrook for one changing to Italian machinery by entering an Aprillia 1100 Tuono Factory in “The Race to the Clouds”.

Ducati Panigale 1100cc V4 prototype and rider Carlin Dunne in action.

And the Streetfighter is something very special. In keeping with Ducati tradition, the Streetfighter is derived directly from the MotoGP inspired Panigale V4 but stripped of its fairings, and fitted with high and wide handlebars. The front wheel lifting high-performance of the 1100 cm Desmosedici Stradale engine is kept in check by the use of MotoGP type aerodynamic winglets specifically designed for this model.

The prototype will race with a “pixelated” livery, designed by the Centro Stile Ducati and unlike normal practice with prototypes, the livery does not hide the lines of the motorcycle but reveals how the bike will look.

MotoGP type winglets are used to keep the front under control.

“The Streetfighter V4 will be one of the stars of the Ducati World Premiere 2020,” stated Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati. “The Streetfighter V4 is the Panigale for road riding; so there was no better stage than the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb for what will be the highest performance Streetfighter ever put into production.”

The bike will be presented to the public at EICMA 2019 and will be available in Ducati dealerships starting from mid-March 2020 onwards.

Words Geoff Dawes and Ducati Media House © 2019. Images and Video Ducati Media House © 2019

The Swind E Classic Mini

A sight becoming more commonplace in major cities.

As Governments around the world wrestle with the possible long-term effects of climate change and aided by a groundswell of public opinion to stop global warming, Electric and Hybrid vehicles continue to gain traction in the model line-up of many of the mainstream automotive manufacturers.

Outwardly a classic E-type but with an electric heart.

It has also created the by-product of a potential electric future for classic vehicle enthusiasts to consider.

Last year Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry, part of the Jaguar Land Rover group, revealed the E-Type Zero.  The Concept Zero is built around a 1968 Series 1.5 E-Type Roadster, which has been converted to utilise an electric powertrain that offers equivalent performance to the original petrol engine but with zero emissions. The conversion is fully reversible and future-proofs classic car motoring, and the good news is it can be applied to any classic Jaguar built between 1948 and 1992 and is intended to preserve the looks and handling of the original petrol XK engine classics.

The Mini still holds its own in the efficient use of space.

And now this year, 60 years on from the birth of the iconic Mini, British engineering firm Swindon Powertrain, is offering an electric classic Mini.  The Swind E Classic is the brain-child of Swindon Powertrain’s managing director Raphael Caille, who saw an opportunity to produce an electric car that people from all walks of life would instantly fall in love with. “This is the first time an electrified classic Mini has entered production,” confirms Caille. “There have been one-offs and prototypes before, but Swind is the first company to launch such a car to the public. The classic Mini has such a special place in people’s hearts, not only in the UK but around the world. The packaging of Sir Alec Issigonis’ 1959 design was truly ground-breaking, and now we are making it relevant again. Its compact size and good visibility, together with contemporary performance and handling, make it a car you’ll want to drive in the city and put a smile on your face.”

Iconic Mini instrument dial still looks good.

It is city driving that the Swind E classic is built for, utilising state of the art EV technology, replacing the petrol engine and gearbox with a bespoke 80kw electric motor and 24kWh lithium-ion battery give a range of over 200km. A full charge takes four hours from a type 2 connector and with the petrol tank removed boot space is improved by 200 litres. Performance is nippy to with 0-100kph in under 10 seconds and a top speed of nearly 130kph

The conversion adds 80kg to the total weight of the car, but the centre of gravity is 44mm lower, helping to enhance its already legendary handling. Weight distribution is also superior from 68:32 to 57:43 front and rear. Other nice modernities are new brakes with regenerative capability, new suspension and contemporary rust protection. Also, there’s heated front, and rear windscreens, underfloor heating, 2 USB ports, and leather heated seats.

60 years young and still good looking.

There are a number of options on offer as well such as an infotainment system, electric air-conditioning, central locking, electric front windows, openable rear windows, electric power steering and full electric sliding roof.

The Swind E Classic is also available in left or right-hand drive. Only 100 are to be produced and with a price tag of 79,000 pounds ($145,000 Australian) without options.

Words © Geoff Dawes 2019. Images © 2019 Courtesy of Swindon Powertrain https://swindonpowertrain.com,  Jaguar Land Rover Classics https://media.jaguar.com/news/…/jaguar-e-type-zero-most-beautiful-electric-car-world

Mitsuo Ito Honoured

Mitsuo Ito, on the 50cc Suzuki RM63, at the Isle Of Man.

Mitsuo Ito, the first and only Japanese to win an Isle of Man TT  has been inducted into the inaugural Motorcycle Federation of Japan Motor Sports Hall of Fame. A lifetime employee of Suzuki Japan, Ito achieved this feat riding a Suzuki RM63 in the 1963 50cc Ultra-Lightweight TT.

Ito participated in domestic and international Grand Prix racing from 1959 to 1967 and competed in the 50cc and 125cc categories, claiming two 50cc Grand Prix victories 13 podiums and1 fastest lap from 29 starts.

In 1970 Ito also had a foray into car racing in Japan and won the only event he entered, the Japan Automobile Federation Junior Seven Challenge Cup held at Mount Fuji International Speedway driving a Suzuki Fronte RF single seater.

Mitsuo also famously partnered Stirling Moss in a Suzuki 360SS for a high-speed run on the Autostrada del Sol between Milan and Naples as a publicity stunt, with the 356cc two-stroke machine averaging 122.44kph (76.08mph).

After retiring from racing, Ito took part in Suzuki’s racing activities helping to develop racing machines and world-class technologies. In addition, Ito served as an engineering committee member of the MFJ for many years. He not only contributed to Suzuki but also the popularisation and development of motorcycle racing in Japan.

Mitsuo Ito.

Mitsuo Ito: “I am very honoured to be inducted into the first hall of fame. However, it couldn’t have been achieved without the teamwork of everyone, so I don’t believe that I was personally awarded. It is a result of a brave decision by our second president Shunzo Suzuki, who had the foresight to participate in the TT racing, and I am honoured and thankful that I was selected as a participant and was able to win the race.”

 

Words © Geoff Dawes 2018 and suzuki-racing.com. Images courtesy http://www.suzuki-racing.com

The Perfect Car The Biography Of John Barnard By Nick Skeen

Here’s a last minute suggestion for a stocking filler for motorsports enthusiasts as Christmas 2018 looms large.

THE PERFECT CAR THE BIOGRAPHY OF JOHN BARNARD by Nick Skeen is a wart’s and all account of the life of one of the most innovative Formula One design engineers in the sport’s history. With co-operation from Barnard himself and with input from his peers and former Formula One drivers, Skeen provides a fascinating insight into the life of a man driven in his search for perfection.

Born an only child into a working-class family that prided itself on being self-reliant, and with both a mother and father proficient in all things technical, it created an environment that nurtured Barnard’s tendencies to be an independent thinker and helped develop his almost obsessive attention to detail.

Although his education did not take him to university, the technical colleges gave him a good grounding in the use of different materials and sound engineering formulae that eventually led to a job at Lola cars where he cut his teeth working for Eric Broadley and given a chance to complete his first racing car design. The successful Lola T250 Super Vee. Some time spent across “the pond” in the U.S. saw Barnard continue to grow as a designer, culminating with the first ground-effect Indycar, the Chaparral 2K.

But the road to Barnard’s future successes was not an easy one for the headstrong designer.  In the competitive cauldron that is Formula One, Barnard’s approach of taking time to develop a car put him at odds with teams he worked for such as Ferrari, and also the politics that swirled around those involved, which on many occasions saw him move on before his brilliant designs achieved their full potential.

The list of Barnard’s innovations is long, and many are taken for granted in Formula One today, such as the carbon fibre monocoque chassis, the paddle shift semi-automatic gearbox, the steering wheel instrument panel to name just a few. But, more importantly, Barnard’s success forced his competitors to embrace aerospace technology and to question processes they had been reluctant to change.

And unusually for a biography, there is also a “happy ending” to Skeen’s book.  After decades of animosity between Barnard and Ron Dennis, who together made the Mclaren International Formula One team a winning force during the mid-1980s, are brought together again by Skeen in a fascinating final chapter.

Well worth a read and available from the Book Depository

Words © Geoff Dawes 2018.

From Russia With Love – The Vostok Racers

Endel Kiisa aboard the 500cc Vostok four-cylinder S-565.

At the end of the Second World War former allies, the United States of America and the communist Union of Soviet Socialist Republics entered into a period that was aptly described as “the cold war”. Both superpowers, armed with ideological distrust and a large arsenal of atomic weapons, knew that a direct confrontation would only bring about mutually assured destruction.

Each side fought the other indirectly by trying to influence foreign countries politically and economically while also aspiring to claim global prestige on the high ground of advanced technology – in particular, what became known in the 1960s as the “Space Race”.

It was no doubt a rude shock to America when in 1961 the Soviets put the first man into space to orbit the earth in the spacecraft Vostok 1. Vostok (meaning Orient or East) became a household name around the world and one that was adopted by the communists for a little-known foray into World Championship Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

Although the former eastern block countries of Czechoslovakia and East Germany are better recognised for their motorcycle production and Grand Prix prowess, thanks to CZ, Jawa and MZ, it was in the town of Serpukhov 99km south of Moscow that these not so widely known Russian racers were built.

In 1942 the Central Construction and Experimental Bureau were established in Serpukhov with the aim of providing research and development for the numerous mass production motorcycle factories dotted around the USSR, in a bid to help the Soviet war effort during the Second World War.

Single cylinder engine of a 125cc S-157 racer.

At the end of the conflict German motorcycle manufacturer, DKW fell into the hands of the Soviets. In the1930’s DKW had been the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. The Russians plundered the Zschopau factory confiscating its technology and taking it to the Serpukhov Bureau,

Unsurprisingly this spawned blatant copies of the two-stroke DKW racers. The S1B, the S2B and the S3B were all reproductions of pre-war DKW’s with capacities of 125cc, 250cc and 350cc while the “S” (sometimes referred to as “C” which translated from the Russian Cyrillic alphabet stands for “S”) in the acronym stood for the town of Serpukhov.

Motorcycle competition and record-breaking took place post-war in the USSR but there was no participation in international events. The Soviet motorsport governing body the URSS was not affiliated with the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), but by 1954 the communists became interested in competing on the international stage. The Central Automobile and Motor Cycle Club of Moscow joined the FIM two years later on the 1st of January 1956.

But in 1954, in preparation for entry into international road racing, the Serpukhov Bureau designed (believed to be by Evgenij Mathiushin) a new series of four-stroke racers simply designated “S” for Serpukhov. The classification of these racers was quite simple. The S-154 had a 125cc capacity represented by the “1” and “54” was merely the year it was designed.

Its architecture was double overhead camshaft driven by shaft and gears on the right-hand side. The single cylinder was slightly inclined with a “square” bore and stroke of 54 x 54mm giving a capacity of 123cc and an output of 12.5hp. The chassis resembled a smaller version of the Norton Featherbed frame while the overall weight was approximately 80kgs with a top speed around 140kph.

S-254 was designed as a 250cc twin cylinder four-stroke racer with the same “square” dimensions of 54 x 54mm as the S-154 and also used double overhead camshafts, this time driven by an inclined shaft on the right hand side of the engine to the inlet camshaft which in turn on its left hand end used gears and a pinion to turn the exhaust camshaft. Ignition was by coil while twin carburettors supplied the fuel and final drive was by a five-speed gearbox. Weight was 126kg, and with 23bhp available, at 8,200rpm it boasted a top speed of 150kmh. For the chassis, a Featherbed type frame with earls type front forks was utilised, and initially, it was equipped with a dustbin fairing.

Serpukhov’s 350cc machine was the S-354 and of the same design as the S-254 but with the bore and stroke taken out to 60 x 61mm for 348cc. Power was initially 33bhp at 8,200rpm and with a weight of 144kg was capable of 165kph. It used a duplex cradle frame was best described as a cross between a Manx Norton and a BSA Gold Star design and utilised earls type fork. A “bikini” fairing provided the aerodynamics.

The twin cylinder engine of the S-254 250cc racer.

Then came the S-555, a bored out version of the 350cc S-354 with a bore and stroke of 72 x 61mm giving the short stroke engine a capacity of 498cc with a claimed power output of 47bhp at 7,400rpm and a top speed of 190kph.

There was also a 175cc machine simply designated the S-175. This was not a bored out S-154 or half of the 350 twin and had a bore and stroke of 64 x 54mm for 174cc. It utilised a vertical cylinder like the later version of S-154, the S-157, and also boasted a twin-plug cylinder head, which became a feature of the S range in 1960. Although it was not an eligible capacity for international racing, a 175cc category was introduced into Soviet national competition.

With no official factory based team running on a permanent basis the Bureau loaned the “S” racers to preferred motorcycle clubs in the major cities. These machines were made accessible to promising road racers as they were well in advance of the out-dated two-strokes and altered road bikes that were available to the majority of competitors in national events.

Although these machines competed with a certain amount of success in race meetings mainly in the USSR, it was the Czechoslovakian manufacturer Jawa that in 1957 appeared to have a Grand Prix machine capable of competing at an international level bringing a halt to the development of the Serpukhov factories middleweight DOHC racers the S-257 and S-358. Czech racer Franta Stastny had ridden a Jawa 250cc racer to 12th place in the 1957 Lightweight TT on the demanding Isle of Man Mountain Course. This brought about a closer collaboration between the Serpukhov Bureau and Jawa. It effectively saw replicas of the Jawa 250cc, and 350cc racers re-badged as S-259 and S-360 Serpukhov machines, although a number of components were made in Russia.

These two “S” racers used twin overhead camshafts driven by a vertical bevel shaft positioned behind the two cylinders, driving the inlet camshaft and a horizontal shaft across the top of the engine to drive the exhaust camshaft. The cylinders were inclined at 10 degrees, and a heavily finned wet sump held the engine oil. The cylinder head sported two valves per cylinder and twin spark plugs with a battery and coil ignition. A pair of Amal carburettors provided the fuel and final drive was via a six-speed gearbox.

The frame for the two racers was conventional tubular construction either diamond or Featherbed with 19-inch wheels. The 248cc version had a bore and stroke of 55 x 52 mm and produced 38bhp at 11,000rpm. With a weight of 128kgs, a top speed of 190 km/h could be reached. It’s thought the 350cc version had a bore and stroke of 62 x 57.6mm and approximately 46bhp 10,300 rpm with a weight of 130kgs. 210 km/h was believed to be the top speed.

Endel Kiisa aboard the S-360 350cc racer.

The Jawa replicas were a step in the right direction for the Serpukhov Bureau. Russian rider Nikolai Sevostianov on the S-360 claimed third place in May 1961 at the Djurgardslopper international race meeting held at Helsinki in Finland.

It should be noted that the Jawa 350cc “version” did considerably well over the course of the 1961 Grand Prix season with factory riders Franta Statsny and Gustav Havel claiming a double 1st and 2nd places in the German and Swedish Grand Prix’ eventually finishing 2nd and 3rd in the 350cc World Championship

More progress came when the Soviet team made their debut in the World Championships at the East German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring in August 1962. By now the “S” racers were sometimes entered as CKB or on occasion as CKEB in reference to the Central Construction and Experimental Bureau in Serpukhov. Again it was Russian rider Sevostianov that provided the results finishing fifth in the 250cc class and in the 350cc category a fine sixth place.

The team returned in 1963 to the East German Grand Prix taking fifth place for Sevostianov riding the S-360 in the 350cc class. Sevostianov accomplished an even better result at the Finnish G.P. held at the Tampere circuit coming home in fourth in the 350cc category, although there is a side story to this result as the outcome may have been a Podium. The following is the doyen of motorcycle journalists Chris Carter’s recollection of the event published in his book “Chris Carter at Large.”

Carter, “Mike Hailwood was there on his 350cc and 500cc MV Agusta’s, and there was a Russian guy on one of these Russian four-cylinder Vostoks (authors note: it was in fact a twin cylinder S-360). Down the straight, he kept looking across at Hailwood, and he wouldn’t brake for the first-right hander until Hailwood did. Hailwood became furious with this man, so in the end, quite deliberately, he didn’t brake at all. They both shot up the slip road, and then Hailwood … put his foot on this man’s petrol tank and shoved. The poor Russian and his Vostok went crashing to the ground.” Hailwood went on to win the race. Sevostianov was also entered in the 500cc class and took sixth place on a bored out S -360 twin.

A cutaway drawing of the Vostok S-364 350cc four.

As the results of the “S” racers in the World Championship improved, the head of the Serpukhov Bureau, Ing. Ivanitsky, and the Deputy Director of Laboratories at the Vniimotopram Institute, V Kuznetsov, decided it was time to take on the European and Japanese factories at their own game with a completely new design. The 1964 S-364 was a 350cc four-cylinder four stroke and the first from the Serpukhov Bureau to be entered as a Vostok. The ambitious project also included a 500cc version to challenge for the blue riband class but was still on the drawing board.

The Vostok’s engine architecture took its design cues from the Italian multi’s and the Honda’s with double overhead camshafts being driven by a central gear train. Bore and stroke were oversquare with dimensions of 49 x 46mm for a capacity of 347cc. Ignition was by magneto and coil while four 30mm carburettors supplied the fuel and the final drive was via a dry clutch and six-speed gearbox. The first Vostoks used the frame and suspension units of the Jawa/CKB racers. Weight was around 130Kgs with a top speed of 230km/h.

It was at the East German Grand Prix in July 1964 that the Vostok S-364 made its international debut, creating a flurry of interest, as these were the most technically advanced Grand Prix racers to come out of the Soviet Union. It was not to be the introduction though that the Serpukhov Bureau would have hoped for as both the entries of Sevostianov and Estonian rider Endel Kiisa retired with mechanical problems after holding third and fourth place behind Jim Redman on a Honda and Gustav Havel on a Jawa. Sevostianov also raced in the 500cc class on a bored out version of the CKB S-360 twin and managed a fourth-place finish.

In August at the Finnish Grand Prix Endel Kiisa recorded the Surpokhov racers best result in the World Championship so far with a podium third place behind Redman and Beale on Honda’s. But it was not on the Vostok four but the CKB S-360 twin cylinder.

However, the Vostok four did appear again in September at Monza in the Nation’s Grand Prix. Unfortunately Sevostianov and Kiisa both retired with mechanical problems, which was said to be with the ignition, but in reality, the S-364 was destroying its pistons as it had done on debut in East Germany.

A cutaway drawing of the Vostok S-364 crank conrod pistons and overhead camshafts.

The four-cylinder reappeared again in 1965 at the first round of the championship, the West German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring. The Soviet team arrived a day late and Endel Kiisa could only manage one practice session. On the starting grid for the mandatory push start the Vostok refused to fire, but once he got on his way, Kiisa managed to fight his way through a pack of privateers to finish in fifth place. In a field that included riders of the calibre of Agostini and Hailwood on factory MV Agusta’s, it was a promising result. Only a week later at the non-championship Austrian Grand Prix, he very nearly gave the Vostok its maiden international triumph only to retire a just a kilometre short of victory.

Before the East German Grand Prix later that year significant changes were made to the Vostok S-364. A new frame based on the Norton Featherbed design was employed, and the power unit was improved with a new cylinder head and an oil cooler mounted in front of the engine.

Unfortunately, both Vostoks retired from the East German race, but only a week later, at the Czechoslovakian Grand Prix in Brno, Sevostianov took the honour of a 3rd place podium behind Jim Redman on a works Honda and Derek Woodman on an MZ. It was the best result so far for a Russian rider on a Russian designed and built racer in the classics.

The Vostok did compete at the Nations Grand Prix at Monza in Italy in September with Kiisa finishing in eight spot, and again later that month for a meeting organised by the Automobile Club of Milan as an Italy vs USSR match race series. Italian riders filled the first six places of both races, and sadly this was also the last international event for the Vostok S-364.

Endel Kiisa at the 1965 Austrian Grand Prix on the Vostok S-364 four.

There was to be however one last hurrah for the Vostok racers. A 500cc version of the four-cylinder machine had been built with the designation S-565 presumably making it a1965 design although it was based on the 350cc model. With a bore and stroke 55 x 52mm for a capacity of 494cc the engine produced a reputed 80bhp at 12,400 rpm. Weighing in at 155kgs it was good for 250 km/h. There were some minor visual differences to the 350cc version with more fins to the cylinders a deeper sump and more fins on the front of the crankcases.

In 1968 the Vostok team turned up for the Finnish Grand Prix just over the Soviet border at Imatra. With Honda and Mike Hailwwod’s withdrawal from the World Championship, it was assumed the race would be a cakewalk for Agostini and the MV Agusta triple. As expected “Ago” took the lead with Kiisa and the Vostok glued to the back wheel of the MV. Three laps in, and to the amazement of the crowd, the Vostok accelerated past the 500cc World Champions out of a slow corner. This was the first time a Soviet machine had led a 500cc Grand Prix. It was not to last with Kiisa experiencing ignition problems and retiring from the race. Sevostianov saved some face for the Vostok team by finishing in fourth place.

For 1969 some improvements were made to the S-565 Vostok, with a new four-valve head and huge drum brakes fitted that were developed originally for the Jawa V-four 350cc two-stroke.

Jewel-like Russian engineering on Vostok S-365 four.

The upgraded machines were entered in the East German Grand Prix at the Saschenring. It was not to be a good meeting for the Vostoks. During the wet race, Kiisa returned to the pits to change a spark plug finally managing tenth place, while his teammate fellow Estonian Juri Randla had held third place but a misfire and carburettor problems forced him to retire. Seven days later at the Czechoslovakian Grand Prix, both Vostoks retired on the second lap. It was a humiliating conclusion to an endeavour that held so much promise but was defeated by lack of an adequate budget to fully develop these fascinating Grand Prix racers.

Words © Geoff Dawes 2018. Images courtesy http://www.b-cozz.com, http://www.cold-war-racers.com, http://www.fim-live.com, Twitter.

Santiago Herrero And The Amazing Monocoque Ossa

Herrero becomes airborne at Ballaugh Bridge on his way to third place at the 1969 Isle Of  Man 250cc Lightweight TT on the monocoque Ossa.

The 2017 MotoGP season once again saw Spanish riders dominating the Grand Prix grid. Ten of the regular twenty-four racers were Spanish, and for the past six consecutive seasons, a Spaniard has won the MotoGP World Championship.  The junior Grand Prix classes of Moto2 and Moto3 also have a healthy representation of Spanish talent, and it’s also a Spanish company, Dorna Sports, who hold the commercial rights and play a major role in shaping the series. So it comes as no surprise that the popularity of the sport is so high that four of the eighteen races are held in that country.

Although Salvador Canellas won Spain’s first Grand Prix victory in 1968 contesting the 125cc class at the Spanish Grand Prix, it was a 17 year Angel Nieto who competed in his first Grand Prix in 1964 in the 50cc class that would spearhead Spain’s assault on the World Championships. It was the beginning of a stellar career, one that ended with Nieto reaching an elite level with 13 World Championships., six in the 50cc class and seven in the 125cc class, a figure only bettered by the great Giacomo Agostini with 15 World Championships.

However, it was a rider by the name of Santiago Herrero that looked most likely to win Spain’s first World Championship. Born in Madrid on May 2nd, 1942, Santiago bought his first motorcycle at the age of twelve and in 1962 obtained a racing licence. Initially competing on a Derbi Gran Sport and acting as his own mechanic, Herero then started racing a 125cc Bultaco Tralla.  This brought him to the attention of Luis Bejarano the founder and owner of Spanish brand Lube motorcycles.

Bejarano offered Santiago a position in his competition department and in 1964 Herrero repaid that confidence by finishing in third place on a Lube Renn in the Spanish 125cc Championship and then backed up the result with a second place in 1965. Difficult financial times under Franco’s reign saw the Lube marque go out of business. Santiago decided to work for himself and opened a motorcycle repair shop in Bilbao.

Herrero continued to compete as a privateer racing the Lube Renn a Bultaco Tralla and TSS in national events.  At the end of 1966, he was approached by another Spanish manufacturer Ossa. Founded by Manuel Giro the company had survived the difficult times of the early 1960s and thanks to the engineering genius of Manuel’s son, Eduardo, the company had developed road racing aspirations having already tasted success in endurance events.

Some early shakedown runs on the monocoque Ossa. Note the Telesco forks and front brake from the 230cc Sport.

It was the dream of winning the 250cc World Championship that inspired Eduardo to start design studies for a new Grand Prix challenger in 1966, and he even considered taking on Yamaha’s RD05 with his own two-stroke V4, but the cost was beyond the budget at his disposal.

The answer was to build a simpler solution using the proven philosophy of lightweight, a small frontal area and engine reliability combined with outstanding handling.  Following company ideology, the engine would be a single cylinder two-stroke of 249cc with a bore and stroke of 70x65mm.  But unlike the piston port road models, a more accurate rotary disc valve was used for induction, which was fed by a massive 42mm Amal carburettor.   An equally enormous expansion chamber exited on the left side of the engine, and a beefy air-cooled seven-fin barrel and cylinder head gave the illusion of a much bigger engine. Ignition was by an electronic Motoplat unit while the gearbox used six gears and was engaged by a dry clutch.

But it was the chassis that moved away from convention. Unique for the era was its welded monocoque construction of magnesium and aluminium sheets that incorporated the fuel tank. The engine was mounted from a lug welded behind the steering head to another lug cast into the cylinder head, the chassis then swooped down and attached to the rear of the crankcases and incorporated the pivot point for the chrome molybdenum steel swingarm.  Initially, oleo-pneumatic shock absorbers were used with proprietary Telesco front forks while the front brake of the road going 230cc Sport model was utilised.

The 97.5kg racer produced 42bhp at 11,000rpm and boasted strong torque from as low as 6,500rpm. Nonetheless, it still gave away over 20hp to the Yamaha V4’s.

The innovative Grand Prix racer had its first trial by fire at the 1967 Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuich Park and was ridden by Ossa factory rider Carlos Giro. Although sixth place was encouraging, Giro was a lap down to Phil Read on the Yamaha V4. Eduardo knew that on a tight circuit that should have suited the Ossa, they really needed to be further towards the front.

Meanwhile, Herrero continued to help with development work on the G.P. racer while contesting the 250cc National Spanish Championship eventually becoming the 1967 Champion. However, politics were about to come into play with the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme issuing new regulations, which would limit the number of cylinders, gears and minimum weight for the different capacity classes from the 1969 season. The governing body of motorcycle sport was attempting to curb the costly technology war that was being waged between the Japanese factory teams and level the playing field for the European manufacturers.

Honda withdrew after the 1967 season followed by Suzuki although Yamaha continued on with factory team until the end of the 1968 season. This would give Ossa a better chance of Grand Prix glory although they still had to deal with the V4’s of Read and Ivy during the 1968 season.

A good view of the unique chassis, engine and dry clutch.

The first Grand Prix of the year was the German round at the Nurburgring, a high-speed circuit more suited to the Yamaha V4 of Ivy and Read. Herrero, though, managed a creditable sixth place a lap down. Next was the Spanish round at Montjuich Park where Herrero qualified 5thand actually led the race but was let down by the oleo-pneumatic rear shocks that failed causing him to crash on lap 8. These were discarded and eventually replaced with British Girling shock absorbers. Some consolation was found for Ossa though, with their second-string rider Carlos Giro coming home in fourth position.

Next was the TT at the Isle of Man with Herrero finishing in a commendable 7thplace for his first time at the island, with Ivy taking the win and Santiago named as the top rookie for the class. Ossa, however, tasted victory for the first time at the TT in the 250cc production race.  English Ossa importer Eric Houseley had entered a 230cc Sport for Trevor Burgess in the event, who rode it to victory over the demanding 60.7Km  (37.73 miles) mountain course.

Herrero scored another 6thplace at the Dutch TT at Assen, which was again won by Ivy on the V4 Yamaha, and followed this up with a 5thplace at the hi-speed Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. Herrero, unfortunately, suffered a DNF at the next round at the Sachsenring in East Germany and also missed the next three Grand Prix’, but returned for the final race of the season, the Nations Grand Prix at Monza in Italy. Herrero claimed an outstanding 3rdplace on another high-speed circuit, which was won by Read ahead of Ivy on their V4’s. Read pipped Ivy to the World Championship with Herrero a credible 7th place.  Ossa also secured a well deserved fourth place in the Constructors World Championship.

Development of the Ossa racer continued and by now sported Italian Ceriano front forks and four leading shoe front brake with British Girling shock absorbers at the rear. This increased the weight of the machine from 97.5kg to 99.6kg but the improved handling and braking more than made up for the additional weight.

The massive 42mm Amal carburettor. The fuel was inducted via a rotary disk valve.

Although Yamaha withdrew works entries for the 1969 season they had been developing the parallel twin cylinder TD2 two-stroke production racer that was made available to privateers. Dutch Yamaha importer, Yamaha NV entered the talented duo of Rod Gould and Kent Anderson on TD2’s. The East German MZ factory was also a threat with their fast but fragile rotary disc valve two-stroke twins, while the Italian Benelli factory had their works four-cylinder four-stroke racers to compete with, in a last-gasp chance to win the title before the rollout of the new regulations made them redundant for the 1970 season.  The pundits favourite for the championship that season was Benelli’s Renzo Pasolini who had won seven races in the Italian season openers. This would in no way be an easy campaign for Herrero and the Ossa.

The first race of the 1969 season was the Spanish round held for the first time on the tight and twisty Jarama circuit near Madrid.  In wet and drizzly conditions, and much to the delight of the partisan crowd, Herrero won his and Ossa’s first Grand Prix. It was Spain’s first win in the 250cc class – Herrero becoming only the second Spaniard to win a Grand Prix.  Sweden’s Kent Anderson finished second on his importer supported Yamaha twin nearly 25 seconds behind.

Next was at the West German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.  Pasolini, unfortunately, suffered a crash in practice, which was severe enough to put him out for three Grand Prix’.  Kent Anderson went on to notch up the first win for the TD2 while Herrero suffered a DNF with ignition failure. Santiago bounced back at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, winning the race and leading home second place man Rodney Gould on his Yamaha twin by nearly 42 seconds with Kent Anderson third.  Benelli by now had drafted privateer, Australian Kel Carruthers, and Phil Read into the team for the next round at the Isle of Man.  It was Herrero’s second visit to the TT and experience no doubt helped him to an outstanding third place behind Carruthers on the Benelli and Frank Perris on a Suzuki.

Meanwhile, the Ossa factory continued development of the 250cc racer by water-cooling the head and block of the engine, which reputedly enabled it to produce 48bhp at 10,500rpm. This version made an appearance at the Dutch TT round; Herrero though chose to stick with his tried and tested air-cooled engine.

The water-cooled version of the 250cc Ossa.

Pasolini returned at Assen and duly went on to win the Dutch TT.  His new teammate, Kel Carruthers was second with Herrero an excellent third place 26 seconds behind the two works Benelli’s.  Up next was the Belgium Grand Prix at the ultra-fast Spa-Francorchamps. Santiago underlined that he was a real contender for the championship, winning by a mere half a second from Rod Gould on his Yamaha but almost ten and a half seconds ahead of Carruthers on the Benelli. In fact, Herrero’s average race speed was faster than second placed man Percy Tait in the 500cc category!

Things were hotting up with Pasolini winning again in East Germany at the Sachsenring with Herrero in second place a mere three-hundredths of a second behind with Rosner on an MZ in third. Czechoslovakia was next at the Brno circuit, and it was here Santiago’s championship campaign began to falter.  Herrero’s Ossa suffered engine failure while Pasolini won again with Gould in second and Carruthers in third.

Two weeks later the “continental circus” moved on to Imatra for the Finish Grand Prix. Pasolini had the misfortune to crash again putting himself out for the rest of the season. Herrero, however, could only manage sixth place, but more importantly, Carruthers finished fourth, and Kent Anderson took his second win of the season. The pressure was starting to mount on Ossa’s challenge.

The trip to Northern Ireland for the Ulster Grand Prix at Dundrod must have been a pensive one for Santiago. He knew only the best seven results would count towards championship points and he needed at least one more good finish. It may have been self-imposed pressure to do well in the wet and rainy conditions that caused Herrero to crash, sadly breaking bones in his left hand.  Carruthers notched his second win on the Benelli with Kent Anderson on the Yamaha third.

Three weeks later at the Nations Grand Prix at Imola, Herrero, with his hand and forearm in a splint, could only manage fifth place. The championship was slipping away. Yamaha had drafted Phil Read on a factory-supplied twin to help Anderson in his title bid and duly won the race from Carruthers on the Benelli with Anderson in third place.

Only one week later was the final race of the season; the Yugoslavian Grand Prix on the Adriatic street circuit of Opatija. For Herrero to have any chance to take the championship it had to be a win or nothing and poor results for his adversaries.  Unluckily it ended with another crash for Santiago. To help Carruthers in his title bid Italian rider, Gilberto Parlotti was brought into the Benelli team.  It would prove to be a masterstroke as Carruthers won the race followed home by Parlotti with Anderson in third.  The final tally on adjusted Championship points was Carruthers, in first place on 89, Anderson, in second place on 84, and Herrero,  in third place on 83.  Ossa also claimed third place in the Constructors Championship.

Arm in a splint, Herrero is distraught after crashing out of the Yugoslavian Grand Prix.

Nonetheless, 1969 was a season of accomplishment for Herrero and Ossa. Santiago had won his third consecutive 250cc Spanish National Championship. He had also been drafted into the Spanish Derbi team in the 50cc class of the World Championship finishing 7th in Holland, 2ndin Belguim and 2ndin East Germany. His results helped his friend Angel Nieto to his first 50cc World Championship and Spanish manufacturer Derbi to their first constructor’s title. Although only entering three 50cc Grand Prix’, Herrero finished 7thin the championship.

Herrero and Ossa entered into the 1970 season with a certain amount of optimism. Pasolini and Benelli would concentrate on the 350cc class due to the regulation changes that only allowed machinery with a maximum of two cylinders to compete in the 250cc category. Santiago still faced stiff competition from an armada of private, dealer and importer supported Yamaha’s and MZ could still be a threat, even though the OSSA was by now making 45bhp in air-cooled form.

Herrero’s season got off to a shaky start with mechanical problems causing his retirement from the West German Grand Prix at the torturous Nurburgring. Santiago then put in one of the rides of his life in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.  Herrero crashed while pushing too hard to try and make up for the speed differential between the Ossa and the Yamaha’s.  He remounted his battered machine and in a superhuman effort fought his way up to second place setting the fastest lap of the race.  Next was the Adriatica Grand Prix at the Yugoslavian seaside town of Opatija. Santiago once again proved he had the makings of a World Champion winning the race by four seconds from Kent Anderson with Rod Gould in third.  Herrero led the Championship by two points as the “continental circus” headed once more to the Isle of Man.

Santiago Herrero.

Although Yamaha’s TD2 had proven fragile at the TT the previous year, a season of development and the sheer number of competitors racing them put the odds against success for Herrero and the Ossa.  In the early stages of the race he could only manage fifth place and while pushing too hard took the slip road at Braddan Bridge. Santiago dropped the bike breaking the screen. He restarted and by the last lap had clawed his way up to third place. As Herrero tried to take the fast but difficult double left-hander at the thirteenth milestone before Kirkmicheal, a section of melted tar put the OSSA into a wobble and a slide that he was unable to recover. Stanley Woods was following Herrero and witnessed the accident before becoming entangled himself trying to avoid man and machine, ending up with a broken ankle, leg and collarbone.

Santiago suffered severe head and internal injuries and was airlifted to Douglas but passed away two days later.  Manuel and his son Eduardo withdrew Ossa from racing; his death had devastated the factory.  The impact of his accident saw Spanish riders and the Spanish Federation, the RFME, boycott the TT for twenty years. Spain had lost one of its pioneer’s of Grand Prix racing and an outstanding developmental rider. Few would disagree that Herrero could have one day been a World Champion.

Word Geoff Dawes © 2018 Images courtesy http://www.alcherton.com, http://www.progress-is-fineblogspot.com.au, and http://www.pilotes-muertos.com

 

HOW TO BUILD A CAR by Adrian Newey

HOW TO BUILD A CAR is the understated title of Adrian Newey O.B.E.’s new autobiography. Recognised as the most successful aerodynamicist and design engineer in Formula 1 history, Newey’s book reveals the hard work and personal sacrifices that it takes to design and develop World Championship-winning racing cars.

As a boy, Newey was greatly influenced by his father, a Vet by profession but a prodigious tinkerer and owner of a number of interesting cars. Famously expelled from Repton Boarding School, Newey followed a different path to reach the career, even as a child, he knew he wanted to pursue.

In many ways, this book revolves around the story behind each of the winning cars he designed but stitched together by the thread of his personal life story. The illustrations of his design ideas are insightful and well explained and Newey does not evade mistakes he has made along the way but worked so hard to rectify and finally succeed.

Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994 in the Newey designed Williams FW16 is a sobering account of the responsibility that the design team have to the driver in a sport where winning is everything. The book is also peppered with humorous stories and anecdotes, so whether you are an F1 fan or have just passing interest in the sport, it’s well worth a read.

Highly recommended.

Available from the Book Depository

Words Geoff Dawes © 2017.