1982 Australian Moto-GP at Bathurst

Perhaps they showed that a good race cannot be manufactured or   predicted, for all the high technology machinery and stop-watch gazing, a race   still seems to need some undefinable spark to make it memorable. Compare, for   example, the Australian Unlimited Grand Prix run at Mount Panorama three years   ago and this year's anticlimax of an Australian 500cc Grand Prix. In 1979 three   machines which on paper were not equal in performance were the instruments in a   20-lap frenzy that people are still talking about. But that race could hardly   have been dreamed of after qualifying or when the KR750 Kawasaki's of Crosby and   Petty dominated the Saturday preliminary race.

For this year's premier racing machine event, four new TZ500J   Yamaha's were set to meet new RGB500 Suzuki's, the last word in production-run   racing machinery from both sides. Competing riders included three who had won   three Bathurst Grand Prix races each, Ron Boulden, Gary   Coleman and Paul Lewis, plus an in-form international with the right road   circuit credentials in Dennis Ireland, and Selangor Grand Prix winner Len   Willing. So with those machines and that riding talent, Grand Prix race   enthusiasts were justified expecting some sparkle. But like too many Sunday   features, you have to be wary of the trailers...

Take the revelations from practice, Ireland's Suzuki was stuck   on a warf in Melbourne, Lewis' Suzuki was equalling the 500 class lap record on   it's out-of-the-crate tyres, but had already seized once, and the three dealer   team Yamaha's were suffering speed wobbles on Concord Straight. The tease   continued in qualifying. Boulden and Willing qualified their Yamaha's 0.17   seconds apart, their times straddling Greg Pretty's class record of 2m18.68s,   which isn't to be confused with John Woodley's best ever Bathurst lap by a 500cc   machine, at 2m15.6s in that 1979 Unlimited GP. In other developements, Ireland   obtained a Suzuki RGB500 Mark VI (1981 model), Lewis' 290km/h missle locked up   before he'd recorded a lap time, and Lee Roebuck (750cc Yamaha) was third   fastest qualifier for the Unlimited race, being fractionally quicker than Gary   Coleman. However, of the three TZ500J machines Warren Willing and his Toshiba   Yamaha Dealer Team crew had built up from 1982 parts and unused, remachined   TZ500H crank-cases, Coleman's was the fastest down Conrod Straight, having the   least wobbles.

So what happened in the races? Although not a Grand Prix   event, the first race, the Bathurst Unlimited, warrants examination both for   it's result and an irony which has become increasingly poingant. That irony is   the coincidence in timing of the Unlimited class' loss of AGP and Australian   Road Race Championship status and the class becoming interesting again. This   interest is a product of the rise of really professionally built superbikes,   plus prototypes similar to FIM Formula One machines, the arrival of still   quicker 500cc and 750cc which won't lie down, no matter how short spares become.   Outside Crosby's KR750 intrusion in 1979, 700cc and 750cc Yamaha's had dominated   the Unlimited rcing on the mountain since their introduction in 1974.

For one lap Lee Roebuck upheld that tradition this year. His   machine out-grunted the 500cc to lead up Mountain Straight. Right in the groove   from the outset, he popped a confident wheelie as he led across the finish line.   However, less than 600 metres later he was sidelined when his drive chain   stretched a couple of links to destruction. A lap later Coleman's weekend was   over. The Dealer Team Yamaha's were formation flying when Coleman, unsighted by   being so close to Boulden down through the Esses, clipped the median strip which   devides the track from the sand trap. The result was a broken collarbone,   courtesy of the bank he contacted with.

 


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