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Six Hour 1980

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This is the last Six Hour Race covered by me, photographically. Heh, blame Wil Hagon (Motorsport Guru and Commentator) and the superb TV coverage. Oh, and the escalating cost of my flights and accommodation to Sydney etc etc......

CASTROL SIX HOUR - 1980: A truly amazing event, lets look at the CB1100R development, practice and ultimately the race, it really had everything:

PRACTICE: Honda desperately wanted another Six Hour win, Dennis Neill (Australian 'A' Grade Road Racer) was engaged by Honda Japan to develop the CB1100R to win at Amaroo Park. Dennis flew to Japan, tested the Bike, tested it at Amaroo Park and ultimately the CB1100RA made its appearance. Dennis deserved a great deal of credit for assisting the development of the CB1100R, I believe he received virtually no coverage for his 'work' internationally, the bike ultimately evolved into the all conquering CB1100RC fully faired machine in subsequent years.

Dennis, teamed with Roger Heyes and put their Honda (Bike No.4) on pole. Ron Haslam (Honda Britain) teamed with Mr Six Hour (Ken Blake) on Bike No.2, these two 'name' teams somewhat overshadowed the team of Wayne Gardner/Andrew Johnson (Bike No.5) entered by Mentor Motorcycles and fettled by Peter Molloy. The weather on race day and mercurial riding by Wayne Gardner would surprise all.....

Suzuki had a very strong challenger to the CB1100R in the form of the GSX1100, the strongest team had to be Alan Hales/Dave Hiscock (Bike No.6), surely another equally qualified team was that of Neil Chivas/John Pace (Bike No.1).

CB1100R - 'WIRED'

DENNIS NEILL, COMMITTED

ROCKET RON - 'CAMERA MAN'

PETER MOLLOY (CENTRE)

 

DENNIS NEILL/ROGER HEYES ON POLE - CB1100R

WAYNE GARDNER/ANDREW 'AJ' JOHNSON - CB1100R

 

JOHN SMAILES INTERVIEWS LEN ATLEE AND STEVEN GALL

QUIET GUY, BRILLIANT RIDER, DAVE HISCOCK

 

ROD GRAY AND DAVE WOOLLEY (SOUTH AFRICA)

MAL CAMPBELL AND ROD (STACK) COX

 

RACE DAY: Rain, rain, rain. Big Bad Dennis Neill might have got pole in the dry, but he handed the Bike to co-rider Roger Heyes for the first stint. The rain changed everything, Wayne Gardner 'CB' and John Pace 'GSX' were in a class of there own, disappearing into the mist and rain. Gardner/Johnson pushed very hard with John Pace/Neil Chivas the only overall race competition to the end.

ROGER HEYES - CB1100R

ANDREW JOHNSON - CB1100R

ALAN DECKER - CB1100R

D. WOOLLEY/ROD GRAY - CB1100R

 

NEIL CHIVAS - GSX1100

LEN ATLEE - XS1100

LEN ATLEE AGAIN, IT'S BIKE '3', AND NO, IT DIDN'T WIN!!

 

GRAHAM MUIR TEAMED WITH ROB PHILLIS

STEVE TRINDER TEAMED WITH JEFF MILLER

 

ALAN BLANCO/MICHAEL FEEHAN

GREG DREW/JOHN VEVERS

 

GLENN TAYLOR/NEVILLE HISCOCK

ROB SCOLYER/CRAIG BYE

 

MAJOR INCIDENT 1: Rocket Ron Haslam/Ken Blake, should have done very well. The Honda Britain Team were adamant they knew what they were doing and they wanted to set the CB1100R front forks at a particular location in the triple clamps, Race Scrutineers directed the stock settings would apply. Ron did not do to well in the rain and dropped the Bike. Luckily the 'CB' was rideable, after repairs both Haslam and Blake soldiered on with a very suspect Bike, TV coverage showed extreme front fork flexing as both riders entered the main straight.

Sadly the Team did not place, finishing in 22nd place completing 301 laps. I never fully understood the front forks problem with Bike 2, even prior to the race. Most other CB1100R Teams appeared to be happy with the handling and front fork settings.

KEN BLAKE - WAITING FOR RON

RON AFTER THE CRASH

HASLAM AND BLAKE KEPT TRYING, EVEN AFTER REPAIRS

 

MAJOR INCIDENT 2: The Suzuki Team of Alan Hales and David Hiscock on paper were in with a huge chance to upset Honda's plans, Dave took the first stint in the rain and for some reason could not come to terms with Amaroo on the day. He was lapped quite early in the event. Dave was called in early and Alan went out, his efforts were staggeringly successful, in heavy rain Alan Hales rode at a pace and commitment I have never witnessed 'before or since' on a motorcycle. Alan simply passed everybody, finally really extending his luck to get 'under Wayne Gardner' at Stop Corner and I understand place the Bike on the lead lap, albeit one complete circuit behind Gardner. He lost the front end, went down right in front of Wayne and whilst uninjured, the crash broke the handlebars.

Alan somehow rode the Bike back to the pits, still on a huge adrenalin rush he explained to the TV Media what happened, cursing the handlebars repair time. Alan went away to compose himself, the Team repaired the Bike and off he went again, new motocross goggles, kitchen gloves and all, absolutely heroic stuff. Unfortunately the Team did not place, however they finished a creditable 8th place completing 313 laps.

Alan's effort remains so clear in my mind, I often try to compare today's Racers, (car and motorcycle) commitments 'in the rain' to Alan's, I simply cannot.

HALES BRINGING THE DAMAGED 'GSX' IN FOR REPAIRS

DAVE HISCOCK DOING BETTER AS THE RAIN CLEARED

 

THE WINNERS: Wayne Gardner/Andrew Johnson kept the bike upright and held off all comers, winning with 322 laps covered, a very low lap count, bettering only the 'first' Six Hour results, (Bryan Hindle/Len Atlee Triumph Bonneville 650 on 312 laps). Clearly an indicator to the treacherous conditions. John Pace/Neil Chivas came in second 'initially' on the same lap count of 322 laps with Dennis Neill/Roger Heyes third on 318 laps.

Sadly the 'final race results' dramas dragged on for nearly a year!  Ultimately the Pace/Chivas team lost 'big time' and were relegated to 32nd place, Neill/Heyes were then credited with second. Any fair minded person only needs to look at the effort put in by John Pace during some four hours of wet weather riding during the race to accept the 'final race results' were a complete farce.

The race result may have been very different given fine weather, I believe Dennis Neill would have won the race on a dry track, he was simply awesome on the Bike in dry conditions. Then again...........

WAYNE GARDNER TAKING THE CHEQUERED AFTER SOME INCREDIBLE WET WEATHER RIDING

 

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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