The 1967 Snetterton 50cc Enduro.
SUZUKI VICTORY IN THE 50 cc MARATHON
(A re-type of a post in the media with some additions.)
With their eight-speed two-stroke reduced to a seven- speeder, George Ashton and co-rider Chris Walpole took the new production Suzuki to a two-lap victory in the 50 cc 250-mile Enduro at Snetterton on Saturday. Picture: Front page of the program produced by the host club Newmarket and District Motorcycle and Small Car Club.
In fact, only gear-box trouble prevented a one-two coup by the Japanese machines in Britain’s longest 50cc race, staged by the Racing Fifty Club over the 2.73-mile Norfolk circuit.
With their most serious challenger side-lined the Honda of Brian Brader and Bob Latham, the Suzukis of Ashton and Walpole and of Horace Crowder and Trevor Burgess looked set for an easy win. Picture: Horace "Crasher" Crowder made a racing comeback on Saturday on this 50 Suzuki he shared with Trevor Burgess. After gearbox trouble cost them 11 laps, they Finished fourth.
As it was, both machines struck gear-box trouble at almost the same time. But, while Burgess and Crowder were forced -to retire, eventually pushing over the line to finish fourth, the Ashton/Walpole mount carried on to win. Picture: Horace (Crasher) Crowder riding the Suzuki he shared with Trevor Burgess.
From the drop of the flag, Ashton rocketed away from the crowded grid just as the grey skies broke into a stinging drizzle. At the end of the first lap the order was Ashton, Latham and Burgess. Second time around Ashton began to lap the tail-enders!
With Ashton well established in first place, Burgess and Latham enjoyed a tremendous dice, Burgess finally getting the Suzuki ahead of the Honda on lap six.
Handing over to co-rider Chris Walpole on lap 12, Ashton reported the circuit was treacherously slippery. Walpole pushed off quickly, but the tiny Suzuki was reluctant to ﬁre, shrieking into Life only after a 60-yard push. The order of the first three remained the same through rider changes and refuelling stops, until Brian Brader pulled in shortly after the halfway stage with no sparks.
The Suzukis could afford to take it easy now, but as the track dried out they continued to lap the main body of the field again and again.
And. then, disaster. On his 81st lap, Trevor Burgess pushed into the pits. Ashton, with only eight laps to go, was now virtually certain of victory. But as he passed his pit, he waggled a foot, indicating machine trouble. Fourth gear had stripped and, because of the strain of changing through two ratios, all the adjustment on the clutch cable was rapidly being taken up.
But the Suzuki kept on, taking the flag after more than four hours of racing.
50 cc 250 mile Enduro:
1. George Ashton/Chris Walpole (SUZUKI), 92 laps;
2. David Lock./Brian Gleed (Honda), 60 laps;
3. Paul Latham/P. Marlow (Honda), 85 laps;
4. Horace Crowder/Trevor Burgess (SUZUKI), 81 laps;
5. A. Sidley/R. Sidley (ITOM), 76 laps;
6. R. Glover/K. Upton (ITOM), 69 laps.
Gear troubles stops
Suzuki double bid
GEARBOX troubles in the closing stages of Saturday's 250mile50 cc Enduro at Snetterton ruined an almost certain Suzuki one two and almost snatched victory from them with the chequered Flag in sight
The fourth gear in the six speed box stripped and Ashton found an unwanted neutral as be battled on to hold the two lap advantage over the second and third place machines. "Unfortunately, fourth is about the most important gear while riding the little Suzuki round Snetterton," said Ashton. But while he was able to over-come his problems Trevor Burgess, sharing the second Suzuki with Horace "Crasher" Crowder. was not so lucky.
With 11 laps to go gear selection failed completely while he was second and he had no alternative but to wait for the winner to cross the line and then push in - 11 laps adrift. But the 81 completed laps were sufficient to take him into fourth place. Picture: One of the hourly re-fuelling stops for the winning Suzuki. George Ashton, on the machine, is about to take over from Chris Walpole...........Picture explanation from Phil Walpole: The guy with the petrol can is George Ashton’s dad. I can’t remember who started the race, but they were last away from the line . I was in the control tower and could see across to the Norwich straight and could see them going past several riders. At the end of the first lap they were in front and never lost the lead. After the race I had a ride on the bike and it was certainly fast. All I was use to was riding an Itom.
The Burgess/Crowder failure gave David Lock and Brian Gleed the opportunity they had been waiting for to snatch second place. They were on the same lap as the Suzuki pair and as the two-stroke coasted to a halt near the finishing line Lock gave the thumbs up to Gleed who sped on to complete a trouble-free run on their Honda, two laps behind the winner.
Although no official times were available, unofficial clock watching showed that the winners covered the 92 wet and windy laps in 4 hrs 7 mins. Rain, which held off during the supporting races, started to fall as the tiddlers, set off on their mammoth run.
From a poor start Ashton--more used to riding his twin cylinder Honda racer, quickly got down to business and was leading at the end of the first lap. "The Suzuki is really a good bike and it's a lot faster than I thought it would be," he said after the race. "Its road holding is fantastic, especially in the wet, and it was that which helped me to get the lead so early."
The Ashton/Walpole Suzuki maintained its lead throughout but, behind, a do-or-die three-cornered battle developed between Brian Brader /Bob Latham (Honda), the Burgess/Crowder Suzuki and the Lock/Gleed Honda. Picture: the two superfast eight-speed Suzukis, with joint winner Chris Walpole (26) leading from Trevor Burgess (47) on the ill-fated fourth-placed machine.
First to drop out after 59 laps were Brader and Latham with mechanical trouble. They had been lapping consistently around 2m 33s and were in second place a lap ahead of Burgess when they made their exit. Last year they retired while in the lead. Meanwhile, the next best placed Honda carried on faultlessly and with laps of around 2m 31s moved ahead of the slowing Burgess Suzuki.
Third place eventually went to another Latham Honda ridden by Peter Marlow and Paul Latham.
Determination to keep in the race was no better illustrated than by the efforts of the Heldun Engineering team. The number one machine, a Hawk ridden by Pat Walsh and Roger Stopford, got no further than the starting line before a footrest was knocked off as the 50 riders got under way. This was replaced and the machine duly re-joined the battle only to have a clutch cable nipple pull out after a few laps.
Walsh and Stopford carried on regardless, but more troubles were in store. A rear puncture in the latter half of the race. which gave Stopford a few worrying seconds, cost valuable time and ruined any hopes of a leader board place.
A number of the machines were standard road-going mounts and the best performance in this class was put up by Crowder's brother-in-law, Robert Morley. and Phil Lloyd riding in his first ever road race. On a Suzuki they completed 68 laps and finished in seventh place.
Also having a first racing outing was the only woman in the race, Christine Parker, wife of the organizing club's treasurer. She shared the race to the finish on her standard Suzuki with George Ban her co-rider.
The Occasional use of Facebook in Research.
Seen by the editor while trolling on Facebook, there was a post from a rider, Itom mounted at the 1967 50cc Enduro, run at Snetterton in Norfolk, the rider was James Morse. He was a competitor in this race and on seeing the post he made this comment: "Well this race wasn't very successful for us, I was knocked off the bike on the first lap, remounted, but the gearbox failed after about an hour into the race. 250 miles was a long way for a 50cc machine! I think George Ashton won the race on his Suzuki RM50".
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