Race report from DTRA Vintage stalwart, John Harrison. All photos by Braking Point Images
The Rise of the Two-Strokes
Round 4 of the 2021 Indian Motorcycle DTRA National Champs, at King's Lynn, was a watershed meeting for the Sideburn-sponsored Vintage class. I reckon it was the first time that the two-stroke entry outnumbered the four-strokes: 14 to 12. Of those two-strokes present, there were six Bultacos, six Yamahas, a Suzuki and a CZ.
The lighter machines evidently had the advantage on the superbly prepped speedway track, with the usual frontrunners, Sean Kelly #33 (Suzuki) and Simon Bird #555 (Yamaha) showing the way throughout the heat races, but Danny Williams #585 and Will Smith #129 are getting into their stride on their Bultacos and both spent the day at the pointy end and giving the leaders a hard time.
It was great to see Mike Fisher #80 and his rare, early, Champion/Schwerma-framed Bultaco (read about it here) back on track and flying after missing the last two rounds with mechanical issues. In his most impressive heat he worked from the back row to take third. Not bad going for a 112-year-old bike /rider combo.
Sadly, Vince Hurst's #95 stentorian Norton didn't survive past practise, due to a two-pence part failure.
The track crew worked hard to provide a surface that was consistent and grippy throughout the day and, apart from a few mechanical DNFs the heat races ran without a hitch, and the two-strokes dominated the heat results. The highest place four-strokes being the Triumphs of Dave Webb #140 and Peter 'Wilky' Wilkinson #99, who took third spots in three of the six heats.
Come the Final the dominance of two-strokes was again evident with them filling the front row and outnumbering the four-strokes seven to five, both first time events in my memory.
Simon Bird #555 got the holeshot and rode away from the pack, laying down fastest lap and finishing nearly 2secs ahead of Sean Kelly #33, who beat Danny Williams #585 after a tussle for second place.
Dave Webb #140 got the better of Will Smith #129 coming off the final turn to uphold four-stroke honour and take the top step of the four-stroke podium.
Sideburn Rider of the Day deservedly went to James 'Leftie' Smith #143 who returned to the Vintage fold on a 1965 Triumph Tiger 500 road bike that he only started to prep in the week before the race. A stock machine with the lights, speedo and guards removed, he scored solid 4th and 5th place results in his heats, then took 6th in the final which bagged him 2nd on the 4 stroke Podium.
That he won the Thunderbike final on his Co-Built Rotax ahead of the nation's fastest was the icing on his cake.
The third step on the 4t podium was taken by a returned to form Rick Bearcroft #39, ensuring it was an all Triumph affair.
So, all change at the top, with one round remaining. The two-stroke Championship is tight between Simon Bird and Sean Kelly and will be decided at the TT, while it seems unlikely that anyone will overhaul Dave Webb's lead in the four-stroke standings (unless the DTRA can fit in another round at Amman ).
FINAL ROUND: The Greenfield TT. The Vintage class race on Sunday ONLY. Go to dirttrackriders.co.uk for more details.