7 August 2009

Running with the Kettles

Originally posted on the first ever Suzuki Owners Club website hosted by Yahoo! Geocities. First posted in 1998.

When Geocities announced they were closing I saved the source.

Running with the Kettles - August 1998
On the face of it, a group of over fifty GT750's, drawn from all the different models from the entire six year reign, might seem a particularly insignificant and sobering thought to the non-believer. But. I BELIEVE!

Thanks to some jiggery-pokery by Dave Pitcher, Chairman of the Kettle Club UK and Suzuki Owners Club member, we had a half hour. No. A wonderful half hour of track time to ourselves at the VMCC's "Festival of a 1000 Bikes" on the Sunday of the weekend event.

Having a special Kettle-only session meant that we didn't have to put up with the myriad of slow blokes on Z900's and old British rubbish as we had done in Sunday's first session, the 1972-77 Over-500cc 'parade'. Waiting in pit lane I listened into a couple of other owners - "Soon blow this **** out of the way" said one to the other, eyeing myself and a couple of other Kettles behind him in his mirror. "By the end of lap one!" laughed his equally ignorant friend. By the end of lap two they were well to the rear of the Kettles and when we came round to lap one of them later he was forced to the side by the travelling Marshall. Perhaps now you will respect others and their choice of bike?

On the face of it the GT750 is a heavy, sports tourer, more suited to pulling a few mph on a nice A-road than being thrashed around Brands Hatch on a 'parade'. Strange that in the early to mid-Seventies men like Barry Sheene (who he?) won Championships at the controls of the racing version - the TR750? The same engine with mods was still to be found tugging the sidecar racers around tracks until the big bore four strokes became so cheap to run and ecologically sounder!

I digress. I have always treated my Kettle like an elderly aunt. Not too much thrashing and a nice drink every so often to keep everything well oiled! A sort of sherry drinker of the biking world. Although it's been around Europe as far east as the Czech Republic and Hungary and as far south as Spain, it's not been to the races, often. The last time at Brands Hatch, on the circuit, was when I was the corner commander at Dingle Dell Corner for BMCRC, and it was all of ten years since I went by Kettle. Then you could get a lap less the start/finish on the way to and from the corner. Sometimes you missed and had to go around again!

The Kettle only session before lunch was to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the GT750. A milestone in automotive history. That was all lost on us after a parade lap from the pits round to the starting grid in model order. Sitting at position 36 on the grid the front seemed a long way ahead. The plan was for two laps in model order and then the remainder was a free for all. Unfortunately the end of two laps in my mind is also the start of three laps, i.e. after crossing the finish line. Not for the twenty or so A's and B models behind and on the exit to Clearways half a dozen came by! My gearing wouldn't let me get as far as top, but it was pulling an indicated 105 at 7000rpm in 4th. Experts please tell me what this equates to if I had found 5th! Gradually we came a bit mixed up and my targets for the day were firstly fellow SOC member Dave Greenhalgh on his "Rat J". Partly to make up for letting him past me on Ivan Benda's Kettle in Czech in May when we were at the SOC'S Czech Centre Rally (I was on a GSXR750WR!) and partly due to a long standing rivalry over 18 years of SOC membership. Also I have his ex-standard pipes and he has my ex-Swarbrick's! By the time I had got to the front the pace car was too slow and I was having hassle from a CBR600 mounted Marshall that was all arse off and knee down and in my way at Clearways. Another ten to twenty mph might have been nice mate.

Then I got my comeuppance.

On the outside line through Graham Hill Bend, you can then make the entire back straight (actually a curve) into one flowing line and cruise past everyone, and then be set up for the big right hander though Surtees and Clearways, I got the 'drifter'; the guy on the slower line that begins to drift across the track across the lines; and we had loads! At six inches I wasn't unduly worried, at three inches I began to think about lifting up and at one inch between handlebars I lifted up and opted for the grass. Drifter sailed on regardless and I bumped the kerb, braked (it was dry!) and then re-joined last. In the few laps that remained I picked up a few more places and followed Dave G's smoking J before slipping up the inside into Paddock Hill Bend. Somehow I managed to be second off the track when the session ended. How I got to the front again I don't have a clue!

The bug bites very easily and it would be easy to imagine that I am the next Mick Doohan! But, no it was fun. Some of us where giving it a bit more than others and overtaking bunches was part of that. Next year I would like to have another go. I will remove the topbox; I was the only one there with one! It might help the handling and slipstreaming along the finish straight!

No problems reared their ugly little heads. No leaks anywhere and nothing fell off, not even me, despite the hardest this bike and I have ever worked in my 14 year ownership!
The old sherry drinking maiden aunt was a bourbon drinking, muscle rippling Wonder Woman for a day! And she loved it.

All material contained in this document is the copyright of the author and may not be used with out express authority from the author.
Paul Devall 18/08/98 15:15

Copyright: Paul Devall.
Last revised: August 25, 1998.

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