In the normal mode of celebrating a heritage of motorcycle racing, the Goodwood Revival – now in its 20th year of running – features some of the world’s superstar champions who were invited by Lord March to contest the two-leg race on machines that pre-dated the 1954 cut-off for these vintage grand prix racers this year.
The race consists of some two legs run over the weekend’s packed race schedule. Each leg is contested by two riders who get around 15 minutes of track time to strut their stuff before a crowd of over 50 000 spectators all seemingly dressed up to the nines in 1950s period party-type clothing. All this for the seasonal sporting occasion and a theatre for some of the most amazing cut and thrust racing to be seen in the UK on a unique track with its flowing layout and brisk corners. One that always seems to provide delicious dices for two-wheelers from the first running of the day.
The Barry Sheene races are a highly prized event for every two-wheeler petrol head. Add to the mix Freddie Spencer, John McGuinness, Jeremy McWilliams and Troy Corser, would soon show who was up for glory. Glen English and riding partner John McGuinness would set pole position time. Second place went to an 85-year-old supercharged BMW machine with Troy Bayliss on this rigid framed bike that’s owned by Herbert Schibe. It packied an extra 30 horsepower over the rest of the field of Manx Nortons, Matchless’ and Velocette racers. In fact, Corser set a speed trap time of over 130 mph, “while the machine handled like a pogo stick in the corners where the wheel jumped around like crazy,” said Corser.
The 1929 BMW Compressor of Bayliss refused to start at the Le Mans race and he got away last, way behind Glen English who opened up a huge lead advantage over James Hillier and Ian Bain’s other Manx Norton. At the time, Jeremy McWilliams was out in front in the early laps but sadly the previous winning combination of himself and Duncan Fitchett were side-lined as the long stroke Manx expired with a puff of blue smoke to end their charge. Meanwhile, Corser was turbocharged as he and Schwab sliced through the field to claim third spot behind Hillier and a steady riding John McGuinness who was fresh from his recent win at the Isle of Man Classic race.
The 500cc racers were all lined up for the second day’s events in stunning weather but this day was to Corser’s, who was due to ride the second-leg of the race at the rider change, after which the fast riding of multiple classic racing world champion, Glen English and McGuinness held over 16 seconds advantage on the Manx Norton at the rider change.
The enduro riding style of Corser cut the advantage down by 12 seconds on the first lap but he was soon among top riders such as Charlie Williams, Adam Child and Ian Bain – gobbling them up at an alarming rate.
With the favourites of McWilliams and Fitchett once again side-lined with mechanical gremlins on their weekend to forget, Corser gave a brilliant riding display when passing the Norton, he gave a big pat on the back to John McGuinness as he shot by on the main straight with three laps to go. In a demonstration of sheer brilliance to give BMW their first win in the Memorial Race in the 20-year drought of competing in the slipstream of the 20th year of the event that can only be described as thrilling to behold for any spectator who happened to be sat on the embankments at this star-studded event. Simply brilliant.
Story and pics by Ian Groat