The Peterborough round of the DTRA Championships is an event with a different atmosphere to any other round. Being part of the MCN Festival there are big crowds, lots of motorcycle industry involvement and the DTRA Flat track racing is the main live attraction.
The Sideburn Vintage Class entry lined up 18 riders vying for a place in the 12 bike final.
French Sideburn Ambassador Hubert Bastie #2 was back with his Husqvarna running reliably at last and was full of confidence after winning the DirtQuake class earlier in the meeting. Fellow Frenchman Dimiti Coste #67, also made the long trip with his early Trackmaster Triumph, transporting Adam Brinkworth's 650 BSA framer back from Atelier Chatokhine where it has been undergoing a refurb. It was great to have Brink #8 and his bike back on the grid after a nine-month absence. Peter Koren #63 debuted his freshly finished Harley shovel/XR lookalike, another stunning build from Pete.
The sun was out and baked the track into a hard, dusty clay that had a metre wide blue groove laid down by the time the Vintage grids assembled in the late afternoon.
Once again the two strokes of Sean Kelly #33 (Suzuki) and Mike Fisher #80 (Bultaco) threw down the gauntlet in practice, setting times that would have seen them well up the Thunderbike time sheets.
Dimitri Coste produced fantastic starts in all his heat races as did Sean Kelly, the pair of them mastering the unusual (for us in England) track conditions.
The track rode beautifully on the groove but was challenging if one got off line. Looking at the lap charts I noticed that the rider to make up the most mid race places was Lucia Aucott #209 on her OSSA, proving that if one had the bravery, the skills and the bike, it needn't be a groove procession. Brava, Lucia!
In the thrilling final it was Coste who lead Kelly and Fisher away from the rest of the pack, the three of them breaking away and circulating tightly enough that you could have covered them with a table cloth. Two laps from the end the two strokes managed to get underneath Dimitri in turn 4, Kelly taking the win.
The day belonged to young gun Sean Kelly, who won all his heats, set fastest lap every time he was on track and triumphed in the final. He was deservedly awarded Sideburn Vintage Rider of the day. However, the time sheets tell us that Flyin' Mike Fisher set the fastest Vintage lap of the day in his second heat, one of only a handful of riders in all classes to crack the 70kph mark on Sunday.
In class results, third spot on the two-stroke podium was taken by Hubert, while the four-stroke steps were topped by Dimitri, followed by yours truly and Rick Bearcroft. All three of us were riding 750 Triumphs, the favourite weapon of former works rider and flat track poster boy Gene Romero, the 1970 AMA Champion who sadly died earlier in the week.
All photos: Tom Bing/DTRA
I know that The Burritto's* iconic style hugely influenced both Dimitri's and my own approach to how we present ourselves on track, and as we're trying to recreate our own version of the late 60s early 70s glory years (in our own heads at least) it seemed fitting that we had made it a Triumphant podium. Thanks for the inspiration Gene, you're one of the reasons I race.
* He spelt it with two Ts on his bike. GI