The attraction of classic motorcycle racing at the Castrol Day of the Champions, which forms part of the Zwartkops Raceway’s racing extravaganza at the beginning of each year, resulted in an excellent turnout of riders and machines on January 29.
There were a series of races to pay tribute to the many champions present as well as the various categories of classic motorcycles, with many near priceless examples coming from overseas, along with a good contingent of riders.
Eight time world champion Phil Read (Suzuki RG500) and former British champion and Isle of Man TT winner, Mick Grant (Suzuki 500) battled it out with local stars Les van Breda (Suzuki TR750) and Peter Labuschagne (replica Arter Matchless 500 Wagon Wheels) in both Day of the Champion races, which saw a field of 20 champions in various aspects of motor sport out on the track.
The Legends of the TT races attracted even bigger fields, with many historic machines in action and attracting a horde of visitors to the pits to see them up close.
The spirit and camaraderie that reigns in this category of motorcycle racing was again very evident, with assistance quickly offered to those who encountered problems with their motorcycles.
Local magazine publisher Ian Groat once again epitomised the enthusiasm for preserving and racing historic machinery. This year he fielded no fewer than seven classic machines, mainly British classics – Norton, Matchless and AJS – but also including a howling 250cc four-cylinder Honda ridden by 7-time world champion Jim Redman and an Italian Ducati.
One of the most dominant displays of riding and machine performance came from the managing director of Honda Southern Africa, Yoshiaki Nakamura, who disappeared into the distance in the last Legends of the TT race on his ex-factory Honda 250 cc two-stroke twin. Nakamura had raced for the Honda team in Japan during his racing career and certainly showed he had lost none of his skill in a masterly display of riding at the Zwartkops Raceway.
One of the feature races of the meeting was the SA Classic Tourist Trophy (TT), which is run over three events, staged at Port Elizabeth’s Aldo Scribante circuit, Zwartkops and then a final race at Killarney on February 4.
The machines are classified according to age and winners at Zwartkops were: Etienne Louw (1975 Kawasaki Z900), Leon van den Berg (1984 Suzuki GRXR), James Barson (1990 Yamaha TZR 250) and Scot Robert Burns (1969 Suzuki XR1000). The winner of the three-race series will be presented with the original SA TT trophy, which dates back to 1922.