Saturday, May 23

LOOKING BACK: 5/10/15 YEARS AGO

FIVE YEARS AGO JUNE 2004

 A successful John Britten weekend was hosted in Helensville, attracting both big-bike aficionados and many scooteristi to the small riverside town 40km north-west of Auckland, proving that John Britten's particular brand of magic cast a wide spell. Tim Hanna, author of the biography John Britten, and pub landlord Inia, a long time supporter of classic bike racing, combined forces to create this signifi cant new motorcycle event. 
As Hanna said of the weekend; I will never forget the awesome sight of Kevin Grant's Britten blasting through Helensville on an empty road with hundreds of bikes forming a moving road block behind it. Long-time Napier based bike enthusiast Bill Welch shared some of his experiences as one of the lead writers for Silver-Bullet, a New Zealand based website and good source of Kiwi motorcycle news. 
He became involved with the website after sending an email to (Silver-Bullet creator) John Rushworth when concerned that the daily news flow seemed to dry up. Brian Bernard had dreampt of running a professional road race team in New Zealand since coming back from racing in the United Stated of America. 
However, the environment that the sport ran in had very little manufacturer backing. Unperturbed, he assembled a group of loyal riders, purchased and built several Suzuki race bikes while securing sponsorship from Shell Oils, Pirelli, AGV, and many more. 
Brian selected three riders who he felt could perform well in the sport for the 2003/04 season. As the most experienced rider, he took the number one spot. The other spots on his team were filled by Dennis Charlett, Craig Shirriffs and Karl Morgan.

TEN YEARS AGO JUNE 1999

The number of fatal motorcycle accidents on New Zealand roads in year up until February 1999 dropped by as much as a third over the same period ending February 1998, showed statistics released by the LTSA. The drop from 62 fatalities to 45 was the most dramatic drop in any of the six categorised fatality groups. 
The number of other vehicle driver fatalities stayed about the same. In February 1998 there were seven motorcycle related deaths, while February 1999 recorded only one passenger death. Honda rider Aaron Slight faced amputation of a finger following a crash in the third round of the Superbike World Championship. Slight’s right hand was bashed, cut and twisted on the sharp concrete ripple strips at Donington Park raceway, breaking bones which had already been substantially rebuilt several years before. Slight’s little finger was mangled in the pile-up and specialist surgeons were unable to agree on whether is should be amputated. “But there’s no way I’m losing the finger - you might say I’m very attached to it after all this time.” he said. 
Ducati Motor set up a separate and independent branch within the factory called Ducati Corse. Ducati Corse produced and sold complete racing bikes, racing engines, spares and services to all the teams who chose the 996 Factory and 996 Racing Special. Claudio Domenicalli was the Managing Director. 
Kramit, one of Italy’s smaller manufacturers, never lacked in enthusiasm or the capability to produce quality, very rapid motorcycles. To celebrate the factory’s win in the 1998 Italian Supermotard Challenge, they announced a special Supermotard called the Kramit 250 SMR ‘Coppa Italia.’

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO JUNE 1994


Robert (Bob) Burns, holder of a 40-yearold unbroken World Speed Record, died in Christchurch at age 82. Bob broke the World Sidecar Record, twice in the Ohoka region and once at Bonneville Salt Flats, USA. His ashes, with those of his wife who died in 1989, were scattered by the Tram Road memorial plaque which commemorates his records of. The ceremony was held on July 2, 39 years to the day since those World Records were set on that stretch of road. 
The European Battle of Singles series had its first international meeting in Italy, at Monza on April 25th, 1994. Robert Holden took first place on the Ducati Supermono. The wet conditions suited Robert who charged off the line and came out of the fi rst turn leading the field and was never challenged from this position, winning the race 48 seconds clear of the second place rider. Robert was elated. New Zealander Aaron Slight gave team Castrol Honda success in their world Superbike Championship debut. In the opening round of the 1994 championship series, at Donington Park, England, Slight raced his factory RC45 Honda to second in both races. 
Typically a New Zealand title contender (particularly in the 125cc class where he finished runner-up in 1993) Darryl Atkins switched his attention to the heady world of 125cc motocross GP and supercross racing in Europe. At 23 he believed he was at the ideal age to best handle the GP scene and he was fully prepared for what was ahead in the demanding 12 round 1994 GP series. He was to ride a privateer Honda, supplied by Honda France. 
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Please add your own memories or recollections of theses events. We'd like to hear them.
KR