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Six Hour 1979

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CASTROL SIX HOUR - 1979: The Yamaha XS1100 win of 1978 confirmed the fact that large displacement four cylinder transverse 'Shaftie Tourers' had a real chance of winning the Six Hour again. Not surprisingly top Rider pairings including Len Atlee/Gary Coleman (Bike No. 9), Greg Pretty/Jim Budd (Bike No. 12) and Ron Boulden/Steven Gall (Bike No. 14) and many others were entered on the XS.

Honda offered a very different machine, the CB900F, Dennis Neill/Alan Decker (Bike No.2), Ken Blake/Tony Hatton/John Warrian (Bike No.5) and Wes Cooley/Murray Ogilvie (Bike No.11). Kawasaki had a hot pairing on a Z1R Mark II, in Graeme Crosby/Akihiro Kiyohara (Bike No.4), mind you Croz had the communication problems worked out with his Team Mate, a Japanese Phrase Book, good grief!!  Oh, Suzuki, they were making do with a quiet professional pairing of Alan Hales and Neil Chivas on a Suzuki GS1000 (Bike No.6). Don Wilson's personal BMW R100S (Bike No.40) and a CBX1000 (Bike No.24) were entered but did not place. In fact the BM had the engine seize during the race, ouch.

THE PITS: From flat twins to straight sixes, there was certainly a wide variety of machinery, having said that Honda CB900F machines appeared to be the most popular choice. Amazingly most of the CB900F's were out qualified by a certain silver Honda CBX1000A, and there is a race photo below depicting the CBX passing on the outside of a CB900F, but I digress...

DENNIS NEILL/ALAN DECKER: HONDA CB900F'S

GRAEME CROSBY/AKIHIRO KIYOHARA, KAWASAKI Z1R MKII

 

BLAKE/HATTON/WARRIAN: CB900F

ATLEE/COLEMAN: XS1100

GARRY THOMAS/CLIVE KNIGHT: KAWASAKI Z1R MARKII

 

WES COOLEY/MURRAY OGILVIE: HONDA CB900F

BRIAN CARTWRIGHT/STEVEN FORD: HONDA CB900F

 

A HUGE CONTRAST!! HONDA CBX1000 AND BMW BOXER 1000!!

BOB PAYNE/BILL BURNETT: TRIUMPH 750

 

SATURDAY'S TOP QUALIFIERS: The final practice top five were a surprise, only one XS1100 was there, albeit in fourth, that of Greg Pretty. The top three grid positions were taken by Dennis Neill (CB900F), Graham Crosby (Z1R MKII) and Alan Hales (GS1000). The surprise to me was Hilton Steel on a CBX1000 achieving fifth on the grid, just over half a second off the pole time!

A last minute disaster hit the Blake/Hatton team, Hatton taking a fall after their CB900F engine failed, John Warrian took Hatton's place on the Team. Even worse, Gregg Hansford!! was originally entered with Graeme Crosby, however an eye problem forced his withdrawal and Akihiro Kiyohara took his place.

#2: BIG BAD DENNIS NEILL!!

COOLEY (#11) AND CAMPBELL (#16)

#4: CROZ AND THAT PHRASE BOOK!

#5: TONY HATTON AND KEN BLAKE

 

CROZ (#4), PRETTY (#12), HALES (#6), GALL (#14) AND STEELE (#24)

SATURDAY TOP QUALIFIERS

 

RACE DAY: The Le Mans start was uneventful, Croz was slow to get away, however Greg Pretty, Dennis Neill, surprisingly Wes Cooley and Ron Boulden were the early leaders but there was a very consistent team cutting some very steady laps, that of Hales/Chivas and they had more to offer in the pits with no tyre change required, a huge advantage.

 

THE START AND GREG PRETTY CHARGED UP BITUPAVE HILL JUST AHEAD OF DENNIS NEILL

 

EARLY LEADER - GREGG PRETTY: YAMAHA XS1100

DENNIS NEILL: HONDA CB900F

 

ROB PHILLIS/ANDREW JOHNSON: YAMAHA XS1100

KEN BLAKE/JOHN WARRIAN: HONDA CB900F

 

GRAEME CROSBY AND AKIHIRO KIYOHARA, KAWASAKI Z1R MKII

 

ALAN HALES/NEIL CHIVAS: SUZUKI GS1000

LEN ATLEE/GARY COLEMAN: YAMAHA XS1100

 

GARRY THOMAS/CLIVE KNIGHT: KAWASAKI Z1R MARK II

WES COOLEY/MURRAY OGILVIE: HONDA CB900F

 

RON BOULDEN/STEPHEN GALL: YAMAHA XS1100

 

PAULETTO RACING (HILTON STEELE/RON BAILLIE) CBX 'PASSING' THE HONDA AUSTRALIA (BRIAN CARTWRIGHT/STEVEN FORD) CB900F

 

DON WILSON'S PERSONALLY OWNED BMW R100 SUFFERED ENGINE FAILURE, UNBELIEVABLE.

 

MAJOR INCIDENT: Hard charger Dennis Neill was very consistent near the end, holding second place. Incredibly on the 'last lap' he dropped the Bike coming onto the main straight right in front of the Pits! The Bike lay prone in the middle of the track for some time, very close to the ideal racing line! A very dangerous place to loose it, Dennis luckily appeared uninjured.

I recall Dennis stood for an incredible length of time on the race side of the armco seemingly oblivious to racers passing by at high speed, no doubt he was both stunned by the fall and felt the extreme disappointment, this following the disastrous CBX1000 rear wheel replacement issues of 1978.

DENNIS NEILL'S DISASTROUS FINISH TO THE RACE, SO CLOSE AGAIN!!

 

THE CHEQUERED: Alan Hales and Neil Chivas on the Suzuki GS1000 were very consistent and took a well earned win on 360 laps with no tyre change, Alan being a very popular winner. Greg Pretty and Jim Budd brought the first of the XS11's home in second place covering 357 laps and right with them was that man Len Atlee with Garry Coleman on another XS11 credited with the same number of laps. Roger Heyes teamed with Dave Robbins brought another XS11 into fourth place also on the 357 lap count.

It must be noted that three (3) Yamaha XS1100's finished on the same number of laps just three shy of the winner, an incredible result for Yamaha's 'Shaftie Tourer' up against the winners 'wire wheeled' Suzuki GS1000!!

ALAN HALES AND NEIL CHIVAS, WORTHY WINNERS WITH A THREE LAP ADVANTAGE AT THE END ON THE 'ORIGINAL TYRES'.

I LOVE NEW TECHNOLOGY, TABLETS, LAPTOPS, DIGITAL CAMERAS, MOBILE PHONES/WIRELESS BROADBAND, GPS, ETC.  ALL SO COOL AND 'PORTABLE'......


Copyright 2013   Derek J. Hanbidge,  (aka Deejay51),  all rights reserved.
Revised: August 25, 2013.

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