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Real Heroes - Now and Then

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' at netrider.net.au started by rc36, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. In another thread there is discussion about riders surviving high-speed crashes. I thought that a little bit of history about Bathurst might be illuminating.

    Current MotoGp bikes are exceeding 320km/h on long straights. This is an amazing speed, but probably understandable given the horsepower they have and the multitude of technological advances that are happening in the area. Riders of today are undoubtedly supermen.

    However, given the passage of time, it's interesting to note how far we have come in the last 30 years.

    At Bathurst in 1976, the Japanese ace Ikijura Takai was brought out to fly the flag for Yamaha against the might of Team Kawasaki Australia's KR750's ridden by the late Gregg Hansford and Jeffery Sayle.

    Takai was riding the mighty TZ750 OW31. Through the speed traps at the bottom of Condrod Straight he was recorded at 300 km/h! Remembering that there was a hump in the track just before the speeds traps, it is possible that he was going slightly slower when the speed was measured. And, this was 30 years ago!

    The hump was removed when the track was changed following the death of Mike Burgmann in the 1000km car race in 1986. Caltex Chase was installed and the track was made about 40 metres longer as a consequence. Speeds on Conrod Straight reduced for some time.

    But before that the bikes would come off the last hump at close to top whack and get completely airborne before smashing back down onto the track for the riders to begin immediately braking down to about 65km/h for Murrays Corner. I have actually stood right on the edge of the track watching this happen and it remains one of my most vivid memories.

    A map of the new circuit is linked here


    Eliminate the Chase by connecting the two ends of the straight and you'll see what the track used to be like.

    Here is another larger map of Bathurst showing pictures of each corner and track feature


    The last bike races to be held at Bathurst was at Easter time in 2000. Kevin Curtain was the dominant rider on the weekend on the works Yamaha R1. As part of the commentary team, I got to interview Kevin and asked him about speeds. The speed trap had not been installed for that meeting, so speeds were estimates only, but Kevin calculated from his tacho readings that he was doing a little over 300 km/h before backing off slightly for Caltex Chase.

    Interestingly, he also said that, such was the acceleration of the R1 that he was almost able to get to that speed AFTER the Chase before having to brake for Murrays Corner.

    Given that Takai, Hansford and Willing et al were doing these speeds 30 years ago on fragile bikes with ridiculous power outputs AND on tiny, narrow tyres, it makes them real heroes along with the present crop, wouldn't you think?