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No. 47, Wednesday June 14, 2000

   Yamaha’s reigning 500cc World MX champion Andrea Bartolini has showcased the company's two-wheel-drive TT600 prototype in public for the first time. The machine, which employs hydraulics to drive the front wheel, has been in development for a number of years and is likely to be a forerunner for a number of road and off-road models.

“Impressive. Very impressive,” commented the Italian after his first outing. “The bike is so easy to ride ... I tested the TT600 on sand and found that on the fast sections the front wheel is always on contact with the ground aiding traction and control at the front end. It is so stable ? not a hint of the ‘shake’ you normally get through the handlebars.” 

Andrea was equally impressed through the twisty bits, says Yamaha.“ You can turn quicker because you get the benefit of power coming through both wheels, which gives you more speed in the centre of the turn. Mind you, it takes a bit of getting used to because as you open the throttle in a tight turn the traction is so good that it takes you off what you think is the ideal racing line!” 

(Ed's note: we point out with some pleasure that Ian Drysdale of Australia first developed a working version of this idea in an incredibly adventurous 2WD & 2W-steer prototype several years ago. Long-time Yamaha Europe prototype road-bike tester David Bean is also complimentary about the idea and its dynamics.) 

In an incredible twist of fate, Isle of Man magician Joey Dunlop topped up his already impressive Isle and F1 race career with another win or three last week.

See <> for more detail.

Meanwhile, the Lemmings MC (motto: death before courtesy) conducted an official tour of the event, at great personal cost and risk, and the assistance of Triumph Motorcycles, to bring you this report: 

It were raining on the Isle of Man. It were always raining on the Isle of Man - but that didn't stop around 60,000 motorcyclists having their bikes crushed beyond recognition on the Steampacket ferry and spending their life's savings on a tent site and four or five beers.

The normal population of the Isle (75,000) almost doubles during the TT (Tourist Trophy) festival which consists of a week of practice and a week of racing.

The TT started in 1907 and is probably the only thing still keeping the Isle afloat.

The circuit is all public road and a lap is around 60 kilometres. When racing isn't scheduled the circuit is open to the public and about half of it has no speed limit. Police are present but their role seems to be to encourage everyone to ride faster. They hold cars back on the main drag in Douglas (the island's capital) so that riders can do burnouts. Your choice of behaviour is governed only by the instinct of self-preservation.

For the Lemmings, self-preservation comes a long way behind the desire to reproduce, the desire to go blind from speed and the need to drink hundreds of gallons of Okells, the local bitter. Of the three people who died over the two weeks, one did a Lemming-like cliff jump but three deaths is actually quite a good result considering.

In news just in, a British television company is making a documentary on the dangers of TT week for both visitors and riders, but it's unlikely to make much difference as the Isle makes its own rules and needs the money, thank you very much.

Actually, It's hard to imagine an event like this being possible anywhere else in the world. It certainly puts Bathurst into perspective.

Most of the visitors are Brits, Germans and French. The Germans have a poor reputation for machine skill and the circuit is full of signs reminding them to stay on the right side of the road.

With a circuit this size, spectating is difficult. The front riders go through and you glimpse them for only three or four seconds. You can spend two hours watching the race and only see the leaders for less than thirty seconds. Nobody seems to care, though, and there is plenty of variety in where you can sit or 

David Jeffries and Joey Dunlop had three wins each and were a treat to watch, however briefly. Jeffries' R1 was uncatchable and an R1 is obviously necessary if you want to win here.

Joey rode a hybrid VTR Honda with a factory endurance engine in it but wasn't competitive in a face-off situation. He only won the Formula One TT because Jeffries blew his bike up on the last lap.

What's amazing about Dunlop, though, is he's 48 years of age. Many people his age are scared to drive, let alone average 125mph on a crash-and-die road circuit.

Gossip suggests he may retire this year with 26 wins from 25 meetings. The trouble is he's raced here 97 times and it must be tempting to do just three more races..

The Lemmings are off to England now to introduce Wales to Australian culture. Read about us on the front page of the next "News of the World" ... GR 

American Kenny Roberts joked that Spanish motorcycle fans should be shot when they pelted him with rubbish after his third win of the grand prix season, while Australians Garry McCoy and Anthony West both dropped a place in the world championships.

The Spanish fans - disappointed at seeing local 500cc heroes Carlos Checa, Alex Criville and Sete Gibernau crash - threw debris at Roberts at the Catalunya circuit on the northern outskirts of Barcelona in a repeat of behaviour six weeks earlier at another Spanish track, Jerez.

"Maybe we should put up signs which say 'anyone who throws things will be shot by the riders'," Roberts joked.

"I don't think they dislike me but there are a lot of disappointed Checa and Criville fans out there.

"I think I am going to talk to race control about the safety issues." 

Suzuki rider Roberts, the only multiple 500cc winner from seven rounds so far this season, is now 25 points clear of Yamaha's Checa, who had shared the championship lead going into his home race.

McCoy, the early series leader and winner of the season-opening South African GP, dropped to sixth in the points - still on 61 to Roberts' 125 - after a miserable weekend aboard his Red Bull Yamaha at Catalunya. Qualifying only 18th, McCoy opted for a radical tyre combination for the wet race - a hand-grooved slick at the rear and an intermediate compound at the front - but the move backfired.

McCoy was last at the opening corner, was quickly lapped by the leaders, and crashed in the closing stages - although he remounted to finish 16th, two laps down and without a point.

"The whole weekend was bad from start to finish," McCoy said. "If the track had dried, like I thought, it would have been perfect, but it just stayed the same and that was it.

"It was a gamble, that's for sure, but I had to try something different, being so far back on the grid.

"Now I can't afford any more mistakes. I've just got to work hard and get on with it." 

Japan's Norick Abe (Yamaha) finished second and young Italian star Valentino Rossi (Honda) took his third podium of his debut 500cc season, ahead of Japan's Nobuatsu Aoki (Suzuki), who moved ahead of McCoy in the championship.

However, the Sydney rider still heads reigning world champion Criville (Honda), Italian superstar Max Biaggi (Yamaha), and Brazilian Alex Barros, who had pole position for the second straight race and briefly led Roberts on his Honda before mechanical failure.

Gold Coast teenager Anthony West needed a painkiller before the 250cc race because of his badly gashed left knee, in which he has 10 stitches, and he battled through from 24th on the grid to finish ninth on his Shell Advance Honda. West rocketed to 15th on the first lap and climbed as high as eighth but lost a place to Japan's Naoki Matsudo (Yamaha) on the last lap and ended almost 50 seconds behind the winner, Frenchman Olivier Jacque (Yamaha).

Although West earned seven points he fell to sixth in the championship, overtaken by Italian teenager Marco Melandri (Aprilia). West's Japanese teammate, Tohru Ukawa, took second place at Catalunya, while another Japanese rider, Jacque's teammate Shinya Nakano, settled for third to retain the championship lead.

Italian Aprilia rider Simone Sanna scored his debut 125cc win after starting from the third row of the grid and not having finished higher than 10th in any race this year.

The 125cc GP was the wettest of Sunday's three races and the many riders to fall included Italian pole-setter Roberto Locatelli and Spanish world champion Emilio Alzamora. Italian Mirko Giansanti kept his four-point championship lead after missing the race because of the wrist he broke in four places on the first day of practice.

Giansanti also will miss the eighth of the championships at Assen in Holland on June 24, which will be the halfway point of the season ending with the Qantas Australian GP at Victoria's Phillip Island circuit on October 29.
More info: <

UK MCN says Mondial, the Italian bike brand with 10 125 and 250cc world championships in the 1940s and fifties, may be on the verge of revival. Declared deceased in the 1960s, the brand is said to be the front for the development of a 1000cc-class V-twin, with ambitious plans to go racing in 2002. There's no indication of who the investors might be and the only web reference is, which is an IT company.

  Already lumped with a ban of dark helmet visors on the road, UK riders may be forced to drop them on the track, according to MCN. Why? It's a mystery to us ... "bloody stupid" springs instantly to mind as a description of the situation.

Word is that a diesel slick caused chaos at the IoM this year, leading up to the traditional Mad Sunday - put aside for punters to try the course for themselves. Several people fell and, while it might be traced to a leaky bus, local coppers suspected foul play.

The latest appearance of two-stroke direct injection technology from Australian company Orbital is in Aprilia's new 50cc scoot, the SR50 DITECH. Shame about the name ... but it claims better fuel consumption and unfriendly emissions lowered by as much as 80 per cent.

Aprilia's world web site <> has been hacked by a mob declaring themselves as lone gunmen. The site is disabled for the time being.

On another Aprilia theme, the company has released its RSV Mille R in Australia, which boasts cosmetic, chassis and engine refinements. See <> (which hasn't been hacked) for details.

The poms have announced that a new version of speed camera is being trialled on the Auld Dart. One which photographs your numberplate at one point and records it again some distance down the track, then works out the average speed. The distance between the two points could be anything from a few hundred metres to a few kilometres, making it a high-tech amphometer.

KTM's Joel Smets won last weekend's 500cc Swedish MX GP ahead of Yamaha's Marnicq Bervoets and Swede Peter Johansson. Series points: Smets - 249, Bervoets - 186, Johansson - 178.

Honda’s Frederic Bolley won last weekend's French 250 MX GP ahead of Pichon (Suzuki) and Coppins (Suzuki). Pichon leads the series with 249 points, ahead of Bolley (217) and Beirer (159).

Husqvarna's Thomas Traversini scored won the San Marino 125cc MX Grand Prix last weekend ahead of Grant Langston (KTM). Langston leads the series with 236 points over James Dobb (212) points and Brown (197).

World supersport (600cc) hard man Stephane Chambon is to have a run on a pukka superbike alongside Frankie Chili in the Alstare Suzuki team at the July 9 round in the USA. The team will also be fielding Japanese rider Katsuaka Fujiwara. Chambon says he likes the track, where he won last year's world supersport round.

Australia's Peter Goddard  will make his comeback to the World Superbike Championship in round seven of the series at Misano in Italy on Sunday week (June 18) on a works Kawasaki ZX-7RR.
The 1997 world endurance champion will replace injured Spaniard Gregorio Lavilla as team-mate to Japan's Akira Yanagawa in the FUCHS-Kawasaki squad managed by Germany's former 250cc grand prix rider Harald Eckl.
Goddard was a full time works rider in the international series for 
Suzuki in 1998 and Aprilia the following year, before switching to race for Kawasaki in the British Superbike Championship this year.
Lavilla broke his pelvis in a crash in round five of the 2000 
championship at Monza in Italy on May 21, and was initially replaced by New Zealand's Simon Crafar for the following race at Hockenheim in Germany on June 4.
The 35-year-old from Wollongong will be one of four Australians on the grid at Misano, along with Hockenheim race winner Troy Bayliss on a Ducati, Troy Corser on an Aprilia, and Anthony Gobert on a Bimota.

Spanish women's tennis player Sanchez Vicario was due to be taken for a ride on the Yamaha two-seater thrill machine with American motorcycle whiz Randy Mamola in Barcelona - before the GPs at the Catalunya circuit.

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Article by Guy Allen

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