| TT Ace Barton in Endurance
John Barton of Crosby, Isle of Man was a member of the
Manchester based Motomax team which recorded the best result by a British entry
in last weekend's Le Mans 24-hour bike race.
Riding one of the new
GSXRR 1000 Suzukis, the team of Barton, Pete Jennings and Russell Baker
finished 21st overall and sixth in class out of a total 56 starters. 'We could
have been a lot higher up, but we had to come back from two crashes,' revealed
TT regular John, back at his sports therapy clinic in Kermode Close on
Jennings was at the helm for the first stint, which started
at 3 o'clock Saturday afternoon, but the race was barely a few seconds old when
the Suzuki was T-boned by another rider's machine at the second turn - a
'Pete managed to remount and return the bike to the pits
where the mechanics worked hard to get us back in the race. We lost nine or ten
laps, but the bike still wasn't right as it kept misfiring.'
alterations were attempted, but none appeared to work and the Suzuki was
brought back into the pits after every couple of laps to try another possible
solution until finally it was diagnosed that gravel had got into the fuel
system when the bike was dropped, and this had clogged up the fuel pump. 'By
that time we had dropped to 49th, right at the back of the field, but we all
rode well during the night - indeed recording our best times - to emerge into
Sunday morning holding onto 20th position,' continued 'Bart', a regular
Combination team player for Marown Football Club.
But then, at about
6.30am, Baker slid off - undoing much of the good work and dropping them back
down to 30th. 'Luckily there wasn't much damage so we kept plugging away to
finally get back up to 21st at the finish.' The team, backed by the British
Derbi importers, were very pleased with the result, which guarantees them an
entry at Le Mans next year.
John had limbered up for the event with a
third place overall in a British Endurance six-hour event at Snetterton with
former Senior MGP winner Tom Knight on Bart's own 996 Ducati production bike.
'I was pleased with that result as it was my first ride on a short circuit for
18 months,' says John.
He was very impressed with the new 1000 Suzuki he
rode at Le Mans. 'It's an awesome piece of kit, and we rode it more or less
standard except for some new fork internals, a different shock and a pipe. It
has excellent mid-range power.'
Having last ridden a World Endurance
series in 1994 with Lee Pullan and Simon Beck, John is now hopeful of riding
the Brno six-hour event in three weeks time.
John Watterson for TT
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