Photos & Musings: Grands Prix

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Finnish GPs

This is the Finnish GP track at Ruskeasanta, close to Helsinki airport.

Finland was a long way from home. To get there was a three day journey. There was a ferry that went direct from the UK to Sweden but it was very expensive so we used to drive through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Denmark, catch the ferry to Sweden, drive across Sweden then catch a ferry from Gothenburg to Helsinki.

The Swedish GP would also be held the week before or after.

In my first year of 500GPs as a privateer, journalist Neil Webster accompanied us on this journey and wrote a road trip article which was published in Dirt Bike Rider magazine. It was an eventful trip, and the scanned article can be found in the 'magazine' section of my site.

Finland was always a fun trip. The final ferry from Sweden over to Finland was usually full of other riders and teams, and the ferry was an overnight service so we could relax a bit. At the ferry terminal the lamp posts next to where the trucks queued to embark were covered with a really cool selection of motocross stickers, going back years and years.

One year we were at the docks in Gothenburg waiting for the ferry to Finland. We were booked on a slightly cheaper boat which went to Turkuu, about a couple of hours drive from the track in Finland. But when we got to the docks we found that the rest of the GP gang were all going direct to Helsinki, where the GP was being held. Their boat was also leaving 30 minutes before ours. We were bummed that we’d miss out on the fun and would be all on our own for the long sailing.

When the Helsinki boat started loading there was a big queue and it was a bit chaotic so we sneaked the truck into the Helsinki line. When the guy asked for the ticket I said “We’re with Honda”, pointing at the HRC team trucks in front. “They have our ticket”. The guy wasn’t convinced, but by now, everyone was jostling for position and getting cross so he just waved us on to the Helsinki boat, without taking our ticket, and we enjoyed a great laugh with everyone else on the way to Helsinki.

After the GP we caught our correct ferry back from Turkuu to Gothenburg. When I got to Gothenburg I went to the ticket office and told them I hadn’t used my outbound ticket and enquired as to whether I could have a refund. Amazingly they gave me my money back for the outward sailing! Result! How they thought we got to Helsinki in the first place I’ll never know because if we hadn’t used the outbound ticket then they must have thought we had driven round the top, through the arctic circle!

Ingenuity is a privateers’s saviour.

Ruskeasanta, Finland. Enlarge image

First corner action at Ruskeasanta, 1989. Jeff Leisk just saving it. Enlarge image

Jacky Vimond (5), Kurt Nicoll (2), Thorpe (3) following Nicoll, Liles (8) and Jacky Martens (9) Enlarge image

I really loved the look of my Yoko gear and JT helmets in 1989 Enlarge image

Ruskeasanta was pretty sandy and had some great berms Enlarge image