Hosted by Laverda spare Partsshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1
Hosted by Laverda spare Partsshapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1
Hosted by Laverda spare Partsshapeimage_3_link_0shapeimage_3_link_1
 

January - November 1990: Greg Parish riding a Laverda 1116cc triple finished 1st outright in the Hartwell Victorian Formula European Roadrace Championship Titles. The Series was staged at Winton, Broadford, Phillip Island and MacNamara Park raceways.


RACING HISTORY 1983-1990


Greg raced a modified Kawasaki Z1R from 1983 to 1985 and then began racing Laverda. Originally he used the Number  83 or 183 right up until the inaugural Australian World Superbike meeting at Philip Island in 1990 where it became 186 due to a clerical error in registration. But in 1983 he bought a Laverda 30th Anniversary 1200 (2368) and soon after bought another one (2350) as a burnt wreck. Rumour has it that he had registered his road-going Anniversary 1200 with frame number 2368 and then notified the registration office of an engine change to 2350. Then he swapped the number plate onto whichever bike he decided to test-ride, they were both black and gold and the numbers were correct but in the wrong place, “Obviously a typing error at the registration office Sir”.  From 1986 until 1988 he raced occasionally in Superbike races on the standard engined burnt wreck that he had restored (2350). He rode it to the track with a tent and sleeping bag strapped to the seat, then removed the lights, raced, put the lights back on and rode home again. Most meetings he would be in the top ten finishers.

By 1988 this bike was off the road and used solely as a racer in Superbikes with a best finish of 6th place at Broadford in May of that year. Near the end of 1989 he rebuilt the bike with different head and other tuning parts. This is when a bit of collaboration with past Laverda racers was helpful. In particular Hillary Heenan, and Phil Peacock from whom he received quite a few 'go-fast' bits left over from his years of racing Laverda. 


Early in 1990 Greg and his brother Graeme travelled to the race track at Broadford during the week to do some testing on new suspension, head and carbs and spent a day sorting it out. 

From his diary it is apparent that it wasn't a wildly hot motor. The compression ratio was 10.5:1 running on Avgas. It ran 32mm carbs with long velocity stacks into cleaned-up, but not polished, tapered inlet ports with bigger inlet valves and standard exhaust valves exiting via enlarged exhaust ports  into a modified Megacycle 3 into 1 exhaust system. He changed the length of the exhaust tail pipe slightly according to his own calculations to suit the cam timing and then deliberately mismatched the exhaust a little at the upper edge of the port when fitting it to the head to enhance gas flow and increase the reflection pulse in the system for better midrange. 

He had tried Laverda’s 7C endurance racing cams but because the tracks were short and tight with relatively slow corners he instead chose the 4C Jota sports cam, often adjusted with the inlet advanced a few degrees, but there were also custom grind camshafts used as well at some races. The reknowned Wade Camshafts (now closed down) made blanks from Greg’s 7C and 4C camshafts so other members of the Victorian Laverda Club could re-grind their standard A11 cams if they chose to. The cam followers had been shortened and lightened along with re-profiled valve stems and seats. None of this was tested on a dyno. “We always worked our calculations and then how it felt on the track, and on the road sometimes. The head-work on the ports and valve seats were the special bits”


The ignition blackbox was from a Suzuki GSX-R750 but retained the original Bosch BTZ pick-ups. In 1986 he installed a 16" front-end also from a Suzuki GSX-R750 along with its built in fork brace and compression damping.  Good race tyres were available for 16" at the time so although is seems strange now it wasn't so illogical in 1986 when most race-bikes were running 16 or 16.5 inch rims. This improved the agility of the Laverda thru tight chicanes for quick changes of direction but was less than desirable through fast sweepers such as at Phillip Island. Good braking grip, with the short Suzuki fork sliders (with hydraulic adjustable anti-dive) and those extra long fork tubes specified on a standard framed Laverda, resulted in the bike handling less than perfect. “The forks flexed so much under brakes that the back-end was off the ground and bouncing from one side to the other most times.”  


Maintaining adequate ground clearance was always a problem with the big triple. Vena Lavery, racing a Suzuki 750 at the time, commented on the aluminium dust from the engine cover touching the tarmac, blowing into his helmet at some corners during practice. On the left hand side the chain tensioner was replaced with a thin hex head bolt cut to the correct tension length but the frame still scraped on the engine mounting lug on the frame. On the right he had removed the alternator and cut away the cover but it still scraped, right on the end of the crankshaft. The top mount for the rear shocks was moved to steepen the head angle and gain a bit more ground clearance but no other modifications were made to the standard Laverda frame. “In theory lifting the rear would have introduced other effects because of the relationship of the drive sprocket to the swingarm pivot but the differences were minor.” Vibration of the 180º engine was also an issue. One time at Phillip Island GP Circuit Martin Hone came up to his pit to deliver a velocity stack that had vibrated off (“..very embarrassing,” greg recalled. “I've lock-wired them ever since”)


The front brake callipers were Suzuki (with little Laverda badges glued on to confuse Laverda fans) with Laverda cast iron discs and the rear was a Brembo Goldline calliper onto a Laverda cast iron disc. The bike was fitted with an 'anti-squat' rear brake linkage that linked the rear calliper to the frame via a rose-jointed linkage to reduce rear suspension displacement under braking. “For fun we cheekily ground off the Suzuki casting from the wheels and suggested they were from a very rare SFC 1000 that had a 16" front end, some people nodded saying they'd heard of such a thing.”  Unbeknown to Greg at the time the Laverda Factory had actually tried a 16” on a prototype SFC1000 but had favoured the 18” for production bikes because of ‘indifferent’ handling.


The bike was very light in the front as all triples using the 1200 frame seem to be.  “This probably occurs because of the low position of the countershaft and the shock absorber mounting point on the later frames was moved forward to angle the shock absorbers. The rider’s weight is then almost behind the shock absorber pivot point and the low countershaft sprocket location encouraged ‘squat’ under acceleration. It would skim the front coming out of corners under power. When the wheel touched down again the bike would shake it's head around and I found myself soothingly telling her to settle down. I thought it was great fun to ride and show off, but not so perfect to race, being honest, it was evil at speed on the sweepers. In retrospect it would have been more sensible to make it handle better in other ways. It was very much a 'bolt-it-on' mentality, with little cash to do anything differently, but it was still quite a fast bike.”


In 1989 a Suzuki RGB 500GP fairing was used as the basis for the design of a new fairing, including a lower half which he never raced with. “This had a much needed streamlining and stabilising effect at speed. The seat was my own design with sides that curved around to the edge of the velocity stacks to reduce the air-turbulence at the entrance to the carbies.”


Back at Broadford Raceway Greg’s brother Graeme timed a couple of laps to see how things were going. He felt the bike could do well when Hartwell Club reinstated the Formula European Series so they turned up two days later as a pay-on-the-day late entry at Broadford. During practice Graeme put on Greg’s leathers and took it for out for a few laps. “That put a smile on his face.” They had missed two meetings already and hadn't raced for nearly a year so had to start from the 2nd back row of the grid. Greg had a good start and finished 2nd which then put them on the front row for the second race of the day. He won it and then came 1st again in the final race of the day. “ I had never won a race before and Graeme had never been on a race track so we were pretty happy lads at the end of the day.”


This was the start to some very memorable races in 1990.


The next meeting at Philip Island saw an 851 Ducati team turn up and Greg felt he’d been blitzed in the first race, by nearly half a lap. But they were still in 2nd place so he thought that was OK. The 851 promptly broke down in the next race, rumoured to have broken the crankcases at the swingarm pivot. Other problems for the highly tuned Ducati such as oil leaking onto the cam-belts and slipping a tooth or two, resulted in a lot of DNFs for Ducati and subsequent wins for Laverda throughout the rest of the season. 

“We'd actually had our own dramas with oil leaks at an earlier meeting at Broadford” Greg recalls. “We presumed it was due to the ball in the Laverda breather system having too much inertia and allowing the pressure in the crankcases to build up at high revs to the point where the layshaft seal blew out, spraying oil all over my leg and onto the rear tyre. We pushed the seal back in, removed the ball, scrubbed the tyre down with a rag and acetone and went out in the next race on the same tyre. And we still finished in 2nd place.” Later investigation found that by increasing the area the ball could travel in the breather trap allowed the system to work properly and the ball was reintroduced to restore the negative crankcase pressure.


There were lots of comments from other riders in the pits who came over to see the wild black bike. It was nicknamed the 'Lazuki'. “Some reckoned they could have passed me in the corners but erred on the side of caution because the handling of the Lazuki looked so unpredictable, and when pulling out of corners onto the straight it was hard to catch. One person shook his head and suggested that with forks that long we should enter it into the dirt-bike events. We didn't do that, but Ian Drysdale [Drysdale V8] and I did enter a 'flying maggot' Honda CX500 shod with trials universal tyres, into the Broadford Flat-Track event and raced against a young Anthony Goebert. We didn't win, but we were not last either.”


The final race meeting of the BEARS/Formula European season was to be at MacPark in South Australia. “If the Ducati DNF'd or didn't show up then we could expect to finish 1st in both races then we would be ahead in the points.  And that's  almost the way it turned out, the 851 didn't show, and we thought we had it in the bag.” Except Greg came 2nd in the first race, losing out to a Bob Brown prepared Ducati Pantah that he said he’d never seen before. In the second race the pressure was on and according to the commentator on the day it was an absolute cracker. “I survived a huge slide and near high-side through the sweeper on the last lap, straining a groin muscle, and then taking a tight entry to the final corner I ran it wide from the inside to the finish line. Probably not a very polite manoeuvre for those that remember the run to finish line at the track back then. Just as the outside of the corner turned into the straight  there was an abrupt narrowing of the track of about 500mm, so I drifted out for that.” He won by a wheel length. 


After missing 3 races at the start of the 1990 Formula European season the ‘Lazuki’ finished First or Second in every race to win by 1point overall. “Vic and Ann Zurek of Norvin Bike Hire in Melbourne were a driving force to keep us racing. Ken Nixon, who's shop had previously been a Laverda Service Centre, had helped me with the Kawasaki and continued helping with the Laverda. Along with support from my wife Mandy, Graeme Parish, Ian Drysdale, Karl (Karel) Morlang, Hillary Heenan, Andrew Barton, Harold Blewitt, Vena Lavery, Phil Peacock and others I should remember/mention and apologise to for my poor memory. We had so much fun with sausage sizzles in the pits and general hooliganisms on the bikes, many activities banned by police.”


In between times Greg was working for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a cinematographer and also photographing stories for Revs Motorcycle News. He had the opportunity to ride a few special bikes at Phillip Island, like the Honda RC30, “which felt minuscule and so fast through the gears compared to the Lazuki,” and the equally tiny Bimota DB1 which is still one of his favourites, “and it has a 16 inch front-wheel too.” Every year he'd ride to NSW to watch the bikes at Bathurst but never raced there. “I was usually there with media accreditation to film or photograph. But we raced home to Melbourne down the Newell Hwy on the Laverda dodging kangaroos and big black Christmas beetles. Three successive years of increased police violence and brutality had killed off a 50 year tradition of motorcycle racing at the Mount Panorama circuit by 1985.”


1990 was the year of the inaugural World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island. When the Thunderbikes were announced to be the support races Greg entered the Lazuki. 

“Again there were some pretty quick Ducatis and a very nimble  Triumph Trident, which had the better of us. We qualified 4th on the front row but I fell exiting Siberia in Friday Practice and pretty much wrecked the bike.” With the front already understeering out of corners, the rear lost traction sending the bike sliding onto the grass. It flipped as it slid onto the dirt and somersaulted several times out to the tyre wall. “One of the Marshalls was nearly in tears as he picked up the pieces, he had followed us all season and was shattered that we were now out of the competition.”

 

The crew used an iron bar to bend the swingarm back just enough to allow the wheel to rotate in order to get the bike onto the trailer. With Greg only bruised and uninjured they packed it up and returned to Melbourne, spent the night making one bike out of two others and returned to the track on race-day. The swing-arm and rear wheel was replaced with a road item, complete with existing tyre from Greg’s road going Anniversary 1200. The 3 into 1 exhaust was taken from Andrew Barton's TS Mirage road bike and the handlebars were straightened in a vice. The tank had been thrown clear and survived.  Ironically those long forks had not taken a direct hit and were still straight. The bike now had no fairing and just a plastic number plate bolted to the fairing support. The seat was damaged but useable. “With no spare numbers available Ian Drysdale patched up the existing ones with white tape. It wasn't pretty.”


Back at the circuit the scrutineers were loath to let the bike race but sent Greg out at the rear of the field of World Superbikes, “ to see if I could get near my times of the previous day. That was fun. I exited the pits and pulled a wheelie down the main straight, temptation had got the better of me in front of a big crowd. The bike now shook its head at speed so I locked the bars with my elbows onto my knees to hold it all together and this transferred the vibrations to my head blurring my sight going down the straight. Coming off the power at the end of the straight as I pulled it down into turn 1 was the most dangerous time to lose control of the wobble. The frame was obviously bent to go better around left handers than right turns or straight, which sort of suited that track, because it behaved fine through the fast left corners.”


The scrutineers allowed him to start the race and he finished in 5th place. That year WSBK Timing measured top speed after the Start/Finish near the end of the straight. “We didn't expect to match our practice times but the Lazuki triple was helped with a 50knot tail wind and clocked 238km/h at just over 9000rpm with a best lap of 1.55.8. We were very happy considering the bike was then running a 120/80 16" race tyre on the front with a 130/80 18" sports road tyre on the rear and was without a fairing after the crash the day before. That was a wild, wicked ride.”

On the final lap the motor started to expire and by the time Greg pulled into the pit garage it was so noisy that he shut it down in pit lane and rolled into the garage . “We'd not touched that motor for two seasons apart from normal servicing and the head change. This bike still exists in my shed, still bent, and with the motor damage never investigated.”


Using some parts from this bike Greg rebuilt another bike in anticipation of continued racing but never rode it until the 2011 Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza 21 years later. His son Angus had seen this bike under a tarp in the shed all his life and was part of the first time it started. He also took it for a run on the track. “We slapped our Video and Sound-Recording business stickers on it and called it The DAM Laverda. Rather appropriate don't you think? Much better than Lazuki.”

‘Lazuki’ 1200 in 1987

Greg with James(baby),

Andrew Barton, Vic and Ann Zurek.

Phillip Island 1989

Vic & Ann Zurek, Vena Lavery, Mandy with James. 1989

‘Lazuki’ with a new fairing.1989-90

Winton Raceway 1990

Mandy with James at Phillip Island 1989

Angus prepares for Broadford 2011

Angus. Broadford 2011

Broadford Raceway 1990

1990

Formula European Championship

Racing History

Repair time. Greg at

Phillip Island1987

Copyright The DAM

PrivacyDAM_Laverda_Privacy.html

   Contact