Photos & Musings: British Championships

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Matchams Park, 250 British Championship, 1987

A very rare shot of me on a 250, from the British Championship round at Matchams Park, 1987.

In my early adult racing days, from 1981 to 1984, I couldn't get on with 500s. They were heavy, awkward and too powerful, and I really preferred to ride 250s. On the smaller bike I felt that it was more nimble, and that I raced harder and faster.

However, in those days the only British championship that really counted was the open championship. Of course, you could race whatever bike you wanted, but racing a stock 250 against 500s was difficult. While I may have felt good once the race was underway, I'd get buried off the start, and the lines were all suited to the bigger bikes. Generally a 250 rider was on a hiding to nothing.

So, what I would do was ride the 500, get a good start, but hate the bike and go backards. In the next race I'd jump on the 250, get a bad start, and ride well to come through. In both scenarios I'd probably end up finishing in the same posiiton!

The only solution, my Dad and I decided, was to take the 250 out of the equation, and force myself to learn how to ride a 500 properly. For 1985 I therefore just raced 500s, and dumped the 250 altogether. With no 250 to hand I couldn't be tempted to jump on the easier bike!

Racing a 500 is an acquired skill. It's all about throttle control, and being smooth, accurate and precise. It's thinking man's motocross, but by no means an easier option. 500s could be docile or they could bite you.

In the end, concentrating on the 500 was the best thing I could have done, because by the end of 1985 I was scoring points in 500GPs and on my way to a factory 500 Kawasaki ride for the next year.

The 250 outing in the photo was from 1987. Honda wanted a presence in the quarter-litre class and so I reluctantly had to race 250s at the 6 round championship. However, after getting used to the 500, riding a 250 was horrible. No power and balls-out everywhere. I didn't like it at all. I had a couple of thirds I think, but it really wasn't my thing!

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