25-26 May 2002
COUPES MOTO LEGENDE - MONTLHERY
Montlhéry is so
unique that the fact that it may have been one of the very last Coupes Moto
Legende, I spent a lot of time just walking around enjoying the over-abundance
of - almost literally - all motorcycles that have ever
been produced in the entire motorcycle history AND to see them in action! A thousand classic motorcycles and racers make it on the track but many thousands more can be see on the grounds of the huge Montlhery autodrome. It
is impossible to fathom the things that you see there and it is so easy to miss most of it by being concentrated on the Laverda aspect..
Never enough orange...
One thing that struck me is that you see the crowd streaming along the countless stands, that the Laverda caps, T-shirts or badges on leathers or helmets are abundant. The Laverda name still has potential!
OK, so what could be seen on the Laverda stand?
All three works endurance racers of 1975, and this time all three in action in the same group - wowsers! Massimo Laverda's example, the one with non original cast wheels but for the rest unrestored and brilliant and still
wearing the experimental 3 into 1 that they tried at the Bol d'Or, was run by former factory test rider Fernando de Capellotto in is old leathers with LAVERDA PROVE written on his back. Nice..
Gijs van Dijk and Cor Dees of course rode the other ones because they happen to be the owners. It almost became a 2 men show because someone had stolen the special Moto Legende number plate that every participant has to fit to his bike. People of organisation told him that he could ride when the plate was found... but Cor didn't think that was a good idea... and on the track he went..
Capellotto, Cor Dees and Gijs van Dijk in a glorious dance for three..
One of the three SFCs that were present was a very beautiful 8000 batch SFC with obvious racing history. It was wearing number 27 which refers to 500 miles race of Modena in 1972. This bike was featured in Moto Storiche
d'Epoca some time ago. Loved it. Didn't get to talk to the owner, hope he comes again next year!
SFC # 8330
My Electronica only deserves a qualification Tim Parker once gave his Electronica SFC: heaven sent. Only 'problem' was that one chain adjuster bolt came loose. What a bike! The engine is so strong that there is no need to pull further than 7000 rpm because it will pick up strong in the next gear.
It performs through the powerband without any dip.
The organisers had
put the three SFCs in a road models class so we were among Kawa triples and 900
fours, Honda fours, several other Laverda SFs and Brit twins and triples. It was
spectacular to pass and out-brake countless machines each lap but on the other
hand it would have been nice to be in a race class where difference between
bikes are smaller so there's more competition. Some of the machines were faster
in a straight line but in the braking and handling department they were no
match. Only exception was an original John Player Norton racer that took off and
I never saw it again. I felt lucky that he didn't lap me..
You have to be careful on that track and especially in the wet it is searching for grip everywhere but everybody is aware of that and so it is good fun. I had to be careful not to shift with my brake pedal because in the past half year I mainly rode the RGS and the 650.. so I put my left foot with toes on the peg so I couldn't do stupid things with it. Fortunately only very few crashes happened this year as far as I have seen.
Fernando de Capellotto in the hairpin
The third SFC was Belgian Bruno Chevolet's cast wheel Electronica. Last year he had some problems and after the event, Augusto Brettoni took it home to Barberino to repair it. They decided to increase the bore to reach 900cc
with Asso's that Brettoni has made to his own specifications. These pistons are claimed to have same weight as the original Assos so no re-balancing necessary. Bigger inlet valves were fitted, some flowing done but the 36 mm
carbs remained because Augusto told him it makes little difference (he races a 900 version in Italy as well). Brettoni ran the bike a few hundred kilometres in Italy so Bruno could immediately race it when Brettoni handed
him the bike back at Montlhéry. Bruno did notice that vibration had increased slightly and there was a clear increase of torque at low revs.
On the track it was no faster than my SFC, yet. I slowly pulled away from him during both sessions. Bruno is a good rider but had hardly practiced in the past year so next year I may only see his tail light..
After my return in the paddock, Piero Laverda came to me looked me straight in the eyes and said 'Marnix, be honest, your bike is more than 750cc, right? As said before, heaven sent.. what a bike.
Augusto Brettoni's Laverda 600 TT2 with trellis frame
Then there was Augusto Brettoni's TT2 600 racer. A bike built in same style as
the Ducati Pantah based TT2 racers of the early eighties, with trellis frame. It
worked because it won the national championship. This bike was noisy! The two
meggas had no reverse cone at all which of course contributed greatly to this
infernal roar. Noise-wise it can easily compete with the MV's on the track and
it (and the hero Brettoni himself of course) was very fast as well..
Piero Laverda aboard the 1979 Barcelona Formula 500
Piero Laverda's brought his 1979 500 Monjuic endurance racer, still wearing the badges and scars of this gruelling race. It had been in his wine cellar for almost 20 years; was just cleaned a little and there she went again as if Barcelona happened yesterday... Piero let me take the bike for a spin and it indeed felt as nimble as can be but of course no life below 4500 rpm which is interesting with a tall first gear so playing the clutch is of vital importance. The stretch over the SFC tank makes the riding position more extreme than a Formula but not unpleasant. The magnesium Marzocchis front and rear prove that these people could make good absorbers but just why they never made them for road bikes puzzles me. Another unique rolling museum this Barcelona racer that will make more appearances on race tracks in the future I'm sure.
The boss. Note the original sponsor stickers and nice details such as the transparent line in the tank.
Finally Piero Laverda had dusted off a 100% standard 1979 version of the 500 Formula for his son Giovanni. Giovanni didn't like the long tank of the 1978 Barcelona racer that he rode last year and asked if he couldn't ride this Formula that has been gathering dust in the Laverda residence. They cleaned (almost) everything and took it to Montlhéry. During the first session he had troubles because it would run on one cylinder from 5000-6000 rpm.. They suspected one of those ancient Bosch plug caps were the problem but the real reason was a broken needle in the r/h carburettor..
Giovanni Laverda on the Formula 500 in the banking.
During the second
session his gearchange pedal came loose so he did not have too much luck even
though his riding has improved a lot in the past year, but after all he was only
17 at last year's Coupes Moto Legende... his
father can teach him good things because he is still a very safe and fast rider.
Oh certainly, the 2002 version of Montlhery certainly was another great one and yesterday I removed the nice oval number plate from the Elettronica and put it on the door of my workshop to join the other three. I hope to be able to
add a few more but fear it could be one of the last