Castrol Six Hour Race
With Jeff Parkin again as co-rider, Yamaha provided us with a new RD350 to compete in both the Australian and New Zealand Castrol Six Hour races in October and November of 1975. Having a new machine there was a considerable amount of work involved preparing it for a long distance race, let alone two races back to back.
The Australian event was pretty much smooth sailing and trouble free right to the finish line and the podium.
We arrived in New Zealand a week prior to the race to do our preparations. The bike and gear had not arrived and there was no sign of it. Ross Gregory, who owned a Yamaha franchise at Masterton, loaned us a bike so we could get in some race mileage while the search was on to locate the bike and equipment.
We travelled from Masterton to Palmerston North each day, which was about a 90 minute drive. Hoping each day the race bike would show up, our friends at Castrol were doing all they could to locate the bike and equipment, so we had confidence they would come up with the goods, and they did, two days before the race.
The “Manfield” Six Hour Race was a clutch start as opposed to a Le Mans start, with about 80 starters and a first gear stop corner after the start was the big test to stay out of trouble. There were some very late breakers, so late they had no intention of following the track. About 6 riders were taken out on the first corner, after about 10 laps we were leading our class and 2nd in the 600cc class and sixth outright. A local guy, Graeme Crosby, was leading on a Z900 Kawasaki. Our nearest rival in the 400cc class was Murray Hill.
About 5 hours into the race I got into a frantic run with Crosby which lasted 3 laps when I lost the front end and went down. Luckily there wasn’t much damage. I quickly remounted and was back into the race. I pitted and handed the last bike to Jeff Parkin for the last stint, he brought it home a two class winner and 3rd outright.
After the race we were chatting with Crosby and I said you should come to Australia, you would do well over there. He said he had already had plans to move over.
The next time I saw Crosby was on the starting grid in Australia and many times after that.