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The Missing Link

by Roger Gowenlock

With the production run of the TZ250 reaching the 30-year mark in 2003 it provides us with an opportunity to look back at how these fantastic machines came into existence.

Image courtesy of Alan Cathcart.

Older Yamaha nuts will recall the halcyon days in the 60s when Yamaha participated in the GPs for the first time. Phil Read won the 250cc World Championship two years running, 1964 and 1965, riding the 250cc air-cooled RD56 rotary disc valve twin, beating Jim Redman who was riding the Honda four in 1964 and the Honda six in 1965.

 Then, when the RD05A V4 had been developed and been the moral victor of the 1967 season, Honda were forced to throw in the towel and withdrew from GP racing. The pattern was then set for the two-stroke to dominate GP racing until the rules were changed to favour four-strokes from 2002.

 

Following the FIM decision to limit 250s to two cylinders from 1970, Yamaha withdrew their works teams and V4s at the end of 1968. Within a month or so they announced that for 1969 they would be supplying production racers, the 250 TD2 and 350 TR2, with tuned piston ported engines from the road bikes. The idea for these bikes was conceived in America two years earlier but in Europe we were not aware of what was happening across the Atlantic. The governing bodies of the two continents fell out between the two world wars and their motorcycle sport developed in opposite directions. In America their championship combined road racing, dirt track and scrambling and the machines were based on road bikes with the rules favouring the home products and the Harley, in particular. Things were about to change but this did not occur until 1970 and before then there was very little interest in the American scene.

To understand how the TD2 and TR2 production racers came about we have to go back to the works RD56 disc valve twin. Between eight and ten were built in total and when the bike was superseded by the RD05A water-cooled V4 for the 1966 GP season, six of the redundant air-cooled twins ended up in the USA. Spares were sparse and soon ran out, so the bikes were withdrawn from competition and put to one side. Then someone in Yamaha America thought of a use for them. The regulations for road racing and the prestigious Daytona 200, in particular, required that only the engine and front forks had to be derived from the road bikes. They realised that the frames of the TD1 production racer were too flimsy and fitted the new TD1C engine into the RD56 rolling chassis with the front forks from the YDS road bike range. Four 250s were built and two 350s, the latter using tuned engines from the, American market only, YR1. In 1967, the 250s were raced at Daytona and again at Indianapolis, wining on both occasions, before being stripped and the RD56 frames returned to Japan for a date with the knife, or so it was thought.

Enter centre stage Rick Soles who was working as a salesman for an auto-parts company in America in the mid 80s. When one of his customers learnt that Rick was interested in old bikes he showed him a heap of junk in the corner, which he said was a race bike which he had bought for $125 after he saw it advertised in a local paper. Vintage racing was just taking off in the States and Rick thought that this pile of bits would be a good way to get into it. It would appear that he thought it was an early production Yamaha racer and it took him four years to get his customer to sell it to him.

He enlisted a Canadian friend of his, Dave Hughes, whom, as well as helping him to find parts, also did some research into the history of the bike. The RD56 frame number had been over-stamped with a spurious road bike number, DS5-02109 to go with the genuine DS5-002 engine number, presumably to prevent any problems with homologation of the frame. He contacted Yamaha America and gave them the engine and chassis numbers and they immediately identified the bike and told him it should not still exist, it should have been destroyed after the 1967 season! Rick then realised that it was a works machine and not a production bike. Up until he saw the pile of junk he had not done any road racing, only motocross and dirt track and this would probably explain why he did not recognise the RD56 front brake which was smaller and of different material to the V4 replica used on the production bikes. The seat from the RD56 was also slightly but noticeably different to that on the TD2.

 

Image courtesy of Alan Cathcart.

 

Yamaha America could not tell them who road the bike at Daytona but it had the longer expansion chambers that Gary Nixon used at Indianapolis, so it was probably his bike. He took it to show Nixon, who confirmed it was very similar to the bike he raced and he lent Rick some photos to help him get the restoration and painting right.

 

Whilst the front forks may have originated from the road bike, the triple clamps were top-notch works tackle. He used the original chromed aluminium cylinders and exhausts that came with the bike and did not do any tuning but got Kevin Cameron to rebuild the crank. An early form of electronic ignition was used at Daytona in 1967 but the two other bikes retired with ignition problems and Nixon reverted to the magneto at Indianapolis and Rick has retained the point’s ignition in the interests of originality. The original 30mm Japanese Amal carbs were not with the bike so he used a pair of 32mm Mikunis fed by a 25:1 petroil mix from the six-gallon tank. It appears to be bigger than the standard RD56 tank and looks very similar to that used on the RD05A. Extra capacity would have been required for the Daytona race, which was longer than the normal European GP. At the time of the article in Road Racer in 1991, he had obtained some Amals and proposed to fit them to see if the bike would run as well on them. The bike was shod with 1990s Michelin intermediates, 13/66-18 TC22 on the rear, which had to be shaved slightly to fit in the swinging arm and a 10/64-18 TV12 squeezed onto a narrow WM1 rim on the front.

It took Rick Soles a winter to restore it and most of the following season to get it to run fast and reliably but in his first full season he won the Canadian 250 and outright vintage titles as well as several wins at venues in New England. About ten years ago Alan Cathcart had the opportunity to ride the bike at Loudon. As he prepared to take it out on the track for the first time he thought that Rick Soles had told him he could rev it to 11,500 rpm or until it stopped dead. Now Alan knew that a standard TD1 C engine became fragile if revved beyond 10,500 rpm so he stopped the engine and asked Rick to repeat it to make sure he had heard him right. True enough it span quickly and freely up to 11,000 rpm before hitting a brick wall at 11,500 and requiring a quick change up. It obviously had some very special works cylinders fitted to the TD1C engine. It had a wide power band with good power from 8,000 rpm but if you kept it above 10,000 rpm, the torque was noticeably better than the standard TD1 C engine, at which point the latter would begin to protest. For an engine in a 1967 state of tune it had an almost modern (1990s) feel to it and was surprisingly flexible.

 

Image courtesy of Alan Cathcart.

 

 

The RD56 frame gave it good handling for that period and the front tyre squeezed onto a WM1 rim gave it a triangular profile which quickened the steering and made it drop into the corners and was an improvement once you had adjusted to it. The front forks from the YDS roadster were typical of Japanese forks of that era, oversprung but they were fairly well damped. The works triple clamps did a good job of holding them rigid and they coped well with the bumps and ripples at Loudon, particularly as the modern Michelin tyres gave so much more grip and made the bike wriggle and squirm. The impressive power of the twin leading shoe RD56 front brake was one of the bikes strong points but it did make the front end dive noticeably and the lever needed to be squeezed very hard before it started to bite. This was rather tiring and a little disconcerting since, as you were not sure when it would start to grip, judging braking distances was difficult but at least it would not lock up.

 

 

Even with the Mikunis it was not easy to start, you had to run with the throttle closed and then gradually open it up until the engine fired and you could pull in the clutch, not an immediate starter like the modern two-stroke. New for Daytona was the wet, five-plate clutch mounted on the primary shaft of the gearbox with a reduction ratio of 3.65:1. The clutch on the earlier TD1B was on the end of the crank running at engine speed and was prone to spit out through the engine covers if you missed a gear and tried to force it in whilst the clutch was spinning too fast. The TD1C clutch was not so sensitive and the rev counter still worked when the clutch was pulled in, unlike the previous model.  This was a big improvement since it was not much fun on the grid when you are trying to judge how much to open the throttle and the noise of engines around you made it difficult to hear your own.

Rick Soles RD56/TD1 works special is the missing link between the disc valve works specials and the GP and World Championship wining TD2//TD3//TZ production racers, the grand daddy of all the Yamaha over the counter racers and unwittingly became the prototype for the TD2. This feature was derived from an article published in Road Racer magazine ten years ago, does any one in America know where it is now and whether it is still being raced? On the internet there is are some web pages for the AHRMA rulebook for 2002 and it states in section 10 that the RD56/TD1 'works special' is eligible to compete in the Formula 250 Class for two-stroke twins and it appeared that it might still be raced. Further surfing of the Internet, however, revealed a page recounting a trip by a chap called Otis and his friend in which they visited the AMA Museum at in Ohio. Attached were some pictures taken in the museum and one of the bikes appeared to be the RD56/TD1C special. Is there any one in America who can confirm this?

 

Image courtesy of Alan Cathcart.

 

At the end of the article in Road Racer, the author Alan Cathcart expressed the need for a post classic movement to preserve the bikes of the late 60s and 70s, particularly the much maligned two-strokes. The Yamaha TZ Club and the TZ350 and 250 Website were formed to do just that. We have both a tremendous responsibility and a great privilege.

Not all of us have the vision, skill, patience and perseverance to make a wonderful RD56 replica like Steve Wareing but those of you that own a TD2/3 or TZ have the next best thing, since they can be considered as the privateer's RD56. It would appear that the bulbous fairing of the works disc valve twin provides at least 5% more frontal area (needing 10% more power) than the TD2/3/TZ fairing.

 

 

Add to this the lower engine position that the absence of the side mounted carbs allows and 10% less weight (MacKellar page 27) and you have a bike that handled better than the RD56. With an effective power to weight ratio at least equal to the works disc valve special and a broader power band, it is no wonder that within two years, the TD2 was breaking the lap records set by the fabulous water-cooled V4 RD05A.

 

Line up of Ferry Brouwer's bikes at Rockanje Classic meeting recently. ( Image courtesy of John Valster in The Netherlands. )

 

The TD3/TR3 replaced the TD2/TR2 in 1972 and water-cooling was added a year later in 1973 and they then became TZs, the 250 version of which is still available today over 30 years later.

Those of you that own one of these fantastic production racers have a remarkable piece of Yamaha racing history in their hands. Through Rick Soles RD56/T01 special there is a direct connection back to the exotic all conquering disc valve works bikes of the 60s and also forward to the current YZR500. Two 250 engines were coupled end on to form the 500cc straight four of 1973-1980 and then geared together in a V in 1982 to form the first 500 V 4 and this configuration has continued to the present day. The reed valve induction direct into the crankcase from 1984 can be seen as a development of the piston porting used on the TD2, continuing the relationship to the present day works 500.

 

 

 

So, you fortunate owners, continue to lavish TLC on your TD, TR and TZ production racers, preserving them for posterity and whenever you can bring them out to display, parade or race.

Roger Gowenlock

Please Email the Author directly with any feedback.


 We wish to thank Alan Cathcart for his kind permission to allow us to borrow images from an old story of his to use in this article.


How Phil Read became the First Privateer to Win a World Championship-Despite Shooting Himself in the Foot.     by Roger Gowenlock

 

When Yamaha withdrew their RD05A water-cooled 250cc disc valve V4 works special at the end of 1968, they built air-cooled 250 parallel twins using the works rolling chassis and piston ported engines from the road bikes. This was to anticipate the FIM’s rule change limiting the smaller classes to no more than two cylinders and six gears from 1970. Reigning 250 Champion Phil Read opted not to defend his title in 1969 because without a works contract it was not financially viable to contest the world championships. He even had to buy his own production TD2 and TR2 Yamahas, which he raced in selected GPs and Internationals where his double 125/250 World Champion status guaranteed him good start money.

Kel Carruthers won the 1969 250 title on the four cylinder four-stroke Benelli before it became ineligible in 1970. The early production Yamahas were a little fragile in the longer GP races but Kent Anderson gave the 250cc TD2 its first GP victory at Hockenheim in W Germany and claimed a very creditable second place in the championship, only 5 points behind Carruthers.

 In 1970, with the four cylinder bikes gone, the way was opened up for the TD2 Yamaha to clean up and it was a ding-dong battle between the factory supported Rod Gould and privateer Kel Carruthers, now also on a TD2. One of the weaknesses in the production Yamahas was the contact breaker ignition and the factory team of Gould and Anderson contracted the Spanish Femsa firm to make and supply an electronic system, which solved the problem but the exclusive contract prevented other riders from using it. Femsa’s reward was a contract to supply the unit for all the production bikes bound for Europe for three years from 1972! After three races in succession when the bike failed whilst he was leading, Carruthers commissioned an electronic system from the German company Krober. He then won the next three races but Gould had built up such a lead that he was able to clinch the title with one round left.

 Phil Read again took part in selected GPs in 1970 and his results on the production TD2 during the two years since the factory team was withdrawn at the end of 1968 convinced him that he could mount a serious attempt on the 1971 250 title as a privateer. He took a lot of stick when he disobeyed team orders to win the 250 title in 1968 on the V4 and having been given the cold shoulder by Yamaha thereafter, he was keen to show that he still had what it took. He knew from his occasional GP appearances in 1970 that the factory duo of Gould and Anderson would be his main threat, particularly as they had increased support from Yamaha for the 1971 season. The works MZ disc-valve twins ridden by Bartusch and Grassetti would be fast but being behind the Iron Curtain they were without access to the best materials and reliability would be suspect.

 

Read also realised that the standard machine would not be good enough and proceeded with some developments to improve its performance. He designed and commissioned a new frame from Eric Cheney which had essentially the same geometry as the standard frame but was 2.25kg (5lbs) lighter. The final version was made from Reynolds 531 tubing and nickel-plated and made available to other riders.

Picture:  Phil Read holding the nickel-plated Eric Cheney frame. (Courtesy  Ferry Brouwer)

 

 

This reduction in weight would not appear to be very significant but it was probably more to do with Read wanting to win on his own bike and using his own frame would put his stamp on the bike and justify calling it a TD2 Special. I am not aware of any other top riders using the frame and less than half a dozen were sold but has anyone got a TD2 or TR2 with a Phil Read/Eric Cheney frame?

 When the TD2s and TR2s first came out many riders did not like the handling and tried different frames such as Seeley (Yamsel) and even Read had one of the latter built but apart from the seat unit he used the rest of the Yamaha components as well as the engine. Rod Gould tried a different frame designed by his mechanic, Randy Hall and built by Rob North but most of them reverted to the standard frame and improved the handling by lengthening the swinging arm and fitting the big diameter Ceriani front forks as used on the factory V4s.  TZ Club member, Ferry Brouwer has a TD2 with those forks fitted and it was ridden by Jon Ekerold at the 2002 Ulster GP. Has any one else got a TD2 or TR2 similarly equipped?

 Ferry, who was Phil Read’s mechanic in 1971, was a very capable and experienced two-stroke tuner. In the 60s he was a member of the factory team and helped to prepare Phil Read’s works V4s in 1968. He worked alongside the factory mechanics and with Roy Robinson took over full responsibility for the bikes when the factory withdrew midseason, leaving Read and Ivy to run their own teams. When Yamaha withdrew from the GPs at the end of that year, Brouwer was called up to do his national service. Phil realised that Ferry was a good mechanic and wanted him to work for him in 1969 but being in the army he was not available. Madeleine, Phil’s wife, was not prepared to accept this and started writing letters, including one to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands and it had the desired effect, Ferry was excused his national service for the time being! When Phil Read heard the good news he sent a telegram to Ferry at the end of August 1969 asking him to fly to London and stay with them, all expenses paid. Ferry spent what was left of that year and all of 1970 fettling Read’s production TD2, the TR3 was owned by Joey Henderson and tuned by Ron Herring. Brouwer was one the first tuners to realise that the customer bikes were not in a high state of tune and by reducing the length of the exhaust header pipe by between 20-40mm and cutting out 10-20mm from the parallel section of the expansion chamber, much more power could be obtained from these piston-ported engines.

 Ferry also experimented with cutting away the piston skirt adjacent to the inlet port to increase the time the port was open and thereby draw in more charge and produce more power. He even tried pistons with the skirt cut away so much that the inlet port closed at the same time as the transfer ports opened. This meant that there was no primary compression in the crankcase and this was contrary to the thinking at the time, which said you needed as much primary compression as you could get, even to stuffing the crankcases to reduce the volume. These pistons were used at Imola in 1969 and Assen 1970 where Read won the former and came second in the latter after being left at the start. The only downside was that, with no primary compression, the bikes were a little more difficult to start.  It was a bit of a gamble on Ferry’s part but he was desperate to provide Phil with more power to combat Kel Carruthers faster four cylinder Benelli at the 1969 Italian GP. This was the race where the Read team played mind games with the Benelli team. Ferry wired two extra exhaust pipes either side of the seat and covered the bike with a tarpaulin to suggest that Yamaha had sent a V4 so Phil could try and stop the Italians taking the title! The thinking behind such drastic removal of the piston skirt was that at a fast flowing circuit, where there were no slow corners to bog the engine down and the revs could be kept up, the speed of the descending piston would be enough to overcome the initial inertia of the fresh charge and pull it through the transfer ports. With the inlet port open longer, more charge could be drawn in and hence more power produced. Ferry’s record working for Read prior to the start of the 1971 GP season was impeccable. In the short time that he prepared the bikes at the end of the 1969 season, all the 250 and 350 races were won, including a double at the Italian GP at Imola. In 1970 of the 23 races they contested, 20 were wins with a second and a third and only one retirement.

 For 1971 Ferry fitted Krober ignition to the 250, replaced the standard rear shocks with Girling units, shortened the exhausts and reworked the ports. Disc brakes were fitted front and rear for the first time on a production Yamaha racer. Rod Quaife was asked to convert the standard 5-speed gearbox to 6 gears, as Yamaha had done for Gould the previous year. The race bike was based on the latest TD2B, which incorporated all the improvements private riders had made to the original TD2, and was now a fast and reliable machine. As a demonstration his standing with the factory, Brouwer had been given advance notice of the modifications to be made to the TD2, well before the appearance of the TD2B. Ferry took Phil’s No. 1 bike over to the Technical University at Delt in Holland and measured the output on their dyno. It was developing just over 60 bhp and this was over 10 bhp more than the standard machine (47)! Ferry thought this was rather optimistic and disagreed with their method of calculation and he worked it out at 54 bhp but even this figure was remarkable, being 15% up on standard. Although the 250 World Title was the prime target, Read also contested the 350 championship but up against Agostini he had no expectations of beating him regularly but he could have some fun giving him a hard time and it was an extra source of income and provided him with more practice. Including the bikes he had from previous years, his stable amounted to seven bikes! Actually involved directly in the 1971 campaign were two 250s, two 350s and a spare engine for each class.

 Ferry spent the winter of 70/71 preparing two 250s and one 350 in Cheney frames and early in 71 they took the bikes to Helmut Fath in Germany to convert them to dry clutches. Fath had started working on two-strokes in 1970 and one of the first things he did was to perform a conversion of the 350 TR2 to a dry clutch. The cable operated wet clutch was heavy to use and prone to slip, particularly with the increased power obtained by Brouwer’s tuning. Helmut Fath converted the TR2 to a dry clutch and Phil wanted the 250 similarly modified. Unfortunately the two engines were completely different, with the 350 split horizontally and the 250 vertically and the clutches were on opposite sides, so it was not a simple case of repeating the exercise. It was obviously much more difficult and Fath was rather reluctant but he finally agreed. Ferry and Helmut spent two evenings discussing the 250 and then did the conversion together and it was used after the first two GP races. To simplify it, an aluminium barrel was built to house the clutch and keep it separate from the oil in the gearbox and metal had to be machined off some of the gears and shafts to make room for the barrel.

 After several weeks testing and modifying the Cheney frame at Brands, the team set out for the early season races in Italy to check out the bikes and earn some decent start money. At the first two meetings the prototype Dunstall twin discs on the front faded towards the end of the race when he was in winning positions. New 9 inch discs and modified pads solved the problem and Phil won convincingly in Riccione. Another win at Imola ahead of 250 title contenders, MZ works riders Bartusch and Grassetti on the disc valve twins meant that he was fully prepared and looking forward to the new GP season with confidence. Part of this confidence came from the fact that he had beaten two of the lap records he had set on the factory, water-cooled, disc valve V4.

 At the time it was Fath who was always given the credit for tuning the engines and helping Phil Read achieve his goal to be the first privateer to win a World Championship and this has become accepted fact and is repeated whenever this year is recalled or mentioned. The purpose of this article is to reveal the facts and the reader can then judge for himself or herself as to whom the credit should be given. Despite Ferry’s record and all his hard work over the winter, tuning and modifying the bikes, Read asked Fath to have a look at the engines before the first round in Austria.

In his second autobiography “Phil Read The Real Story” he said that he was not at all happy with the bikes performance at the early Italian meetings! Also, in his forward to Colin MacKellar’s book ‘Yamaha Two-Stroke Twins’, he said ‘At the start of 1971, I was forced to go to the maestro of motor engineering, Helmut Fath, the ex-sidecar world champion, in order to return to basics on my highly modified machines which were not behaving as they should.’ The events that were to unfold later in the season may help to explain this contradiction.

 

 Picture: A young Ferry Brouwer crouches behind Phil Read's TD2 special. ( Courtesy Ferry Brouwer )

Round One-Austria-Salzburgring-1st May1971-30 Laps-78.95 Miles.

 This was the first GP to be held at the Salzburgring, which consisted of two drag strips up and down a valley with a connecting loop each end and without the chicanes that would come later. It was a power circuit, which would suit the MZs if they could keep going. In the event it was the Yamahas of Read and Gould that failed early on, Phil’s with a seized piston. Barry Sheene, on the new Derbi twin, harried the two works MZs for two thirds of the race but as he was hampered by a misfire on one cylinder before the bike finally failed, Grassetti and Bartusch were probably only going as fast as necessary and their suspect reliability did not come into play. They finished in that order with veteran Marsovszky third and Kent Anderson fourth, both on Yamahas. Fath, who was relatively new to two-stroke tuning, had been playing around with cylinder head gaskets and carburettor jetting to increase the power but there is a fine line between the obtaining the optimum mixture using a high compression and over weakening it with the inevitable seizure. This experimentation would have been better left to the workshop and test track.

 

 Round Two-West Germany-Hockenheim-16th May 1971-23 Laps-96.68 Miles

 The second race was held a week later. On the third lap of the first practice session for the 250s, a piston seized again so the engine was replaced by Phil’s spare 1969 unit for the afternoon session. Unfortunately Phil crashed heavily at one of the new chicanes, sustaining a bad gash in his elbow and concussion which brought an end to his first day’s practice. Read was fed up and wanted to go home but Ferry told him that he was prepared to work through the night on the bike to get it ready for the second days practice and Phil agreed. Practice on Saturday morning was wet but the conditions put less strain on his aching arms and legs and he was able to qualify for both 250 and 350 races. The morning exertions had opened up the wound in his elbow so he had to visit the local hospital where seven stitches were required. Working conditions in the pits were rather primitive in those days so Ferry Brouwer took the opportunity to return to Fath’s workshop in nearby Ursenbach to prepare the bikes for the race.

 When Read returned from the hospital he noticed that the track had dried out and he was shocked to find that the organisers had held an additional practice session in his absence and his wet times for the 350 race were no longer good enough to qualify. After much argument with the officials, which failed to get them to change their mind, the ACU steward at the meeting intervened and he was given a start but only from the back of the grid. This and his aches and pains from his practice crash plus the fact that the race was run straight after the 250 event did not deter him and he diced with Agostini up front for half the race until gearbox problems forced him to retire.

Read had a pain killing injection in his left arm before the 250 race which fortunately for him did not feature the works MZs. The communist authorities would not let them travel from East to West Germany for fear that some of them would defect. His opposition came from the factory supported and reigning champion Rod Gould. They diced together in the early laps and Read had opened up a winning margin when Gould’s Yamaha came to a halt with a suspected crank-pin failure. Phil’s three-year-old Brouwer prepared TD2 engine ran without a hiccup and he was able to cruise to an easy win 20 seconds ahead of Karl Huber on another Yamaha. The point’s table looked like this: Marsovszky 18pts, Grassetti 15pts, Read 15pts, Anderson 14pts and Gould yet to score.

 

 Round Three-IOM TT-9th June1971-Four Laps-150.92 Miles

There was a two week gap before the start of TT practice, so Read’s team travelled to Northern Ireland to take part in the North West 200, a good place to set up both the bikes and the rider for the IOM. In addition, being a non-championship race he could command good starting money. Race day was wet and miserable and Phil retired from both races with water in the ignition system.

TT Practice went well and having lapped fastest at 98.2 mph Read was favourite for the 250cc Lightweight TT, a race he had yet to win. Attention was given to streamlining and the underbelly was extended and met a new aluminium sheet which extended down from the seat, enclosing the rear end and the screen was modified with the addition of a lip to give more wind protection for the rider. This bodywork had been first tried at Monza the previous year. The six-speed Quaife gearbox was used for the first time on the 250. MZ enlisted TT expert Peter Williams in place of Grassetti but it was a late decision and he was handicapped by not having practised on the bike!

 As it happened, they both started together and Read decided that in view of the MZ’s suspect reliability, he would ‘have a go’ on the first lap. Williams fluffed his start but thereafter felt comfortable and with the bike handling ‘like a dream’ kept Read in sight. On the mountain Phil got a signal that Williams was only 8 seconds down so he continued to push hard and lapped at over 100 mph from a standing start and this included slowing down for a pit stop. Having fitted a standard tank, the team decided on a quick top up at the end of the first lap. Read looked anxiously over his shoulder to see where Peter Williams was. He needn’t have worried, the MZ rider coasted in with a dead engine, shaking his head, the crankshaft had broken. With Gould way off the pace there was no other opposition and Read was able to roll off the throttle and drop his speed to 97 mph for the remaining three laps to win comfortably. Rod Gould had worked himself up to second by the end of the third lap but a late pit stop dropped him down to fourth at the finish. It was Phil’s first 250 TT win and he confessed at the end that he’d ‘never had it so easy’. Championship position: Read 30pts, Marsovszky 23pts, Grassetti 15pts and Gould, opening his account, 8pts.

 The 350cc Junior TT, which was run in cold damp foggy conditions, was very eventful. Starting at number 12, Read pushed off after his main rival Agostini and had decided that he needed to pass him on the first lap, so he set a cracking pace (could this have been prophetic), lapping at over 100mph from a standing start in dodgy conditions! He was denied the satisfaction of catching Ago when the MV failed at Ramsey but this left him with a big lead over Alan Barnett (Yamsel) and Rod Gould who were battling for second place. The margin fluctuated up and down as Read encountered gear selection problems until Barnett crashed at Glen Helen on lap three. Phil slowed to almost touring speed over the mountain as the weather became wet and windy but he was still over three minutes ahead of Gould when he pulled in to refuel at the end of lap three. Then, between Glen Helen and Laurel bank, on the fourth lap, he had to retire with the frame broken in three places and the chain off. One report said ‘Read has retired, his frame’s main tube is cracked and his engine is missing’.  Presumably it meant that his engine was misfiring and not…..? Gould inherited the lead only to crash out at Sulby but Tony Jefferies stayed on and outlasted everyone else to win.

 

 Round Four-Dutch TT-Assen-26th June 1971-17 Laps-81.38 Miles

 

The official Yamaha team were struggling and they enlisted the help of two British riders, Paul Smart (350) and Chas Mortimer (250) and sent their chief engineer Naito to Holland but Read was the fastest in practice just in front of Saarinen, Tony Rutter and Dutchman Theo Bult. The ‘works’ Yamahas of Gould and Mortimer were well down. Without consulting Ferry Brouwer, Phil Read took on an American mechanic, Steve Johnson, to help work on the bikes.

Picture: Ferry warms Phil Read's TD2 on the grid at Assen. ( Courtesy Ferry Brouwer )

 

 

 

The 350 race was held before the 250 and marked the debut of the new Yamaha which was based on the R5 road bike. The frame was identical to the road unit but it was fitted with a beefier swinging arm. The engine had a larger bore and shorter stroke, 64 x 54mm, compared to the TR2’s 61 x 56mm and an external dry clutch. It was a prototype for the 1972 TR3 and looking further ahead keened eyed observers would have noticed the radiator brackets on the frame down tubes which would bring water-cooling to the production racers in 1973 and start the 30 year TZ run celebrated in 2003.

 From the start Read shot into the lead and held it for two laps but when Agostini passed him Phil was able to stay with him. They dropped the rest of the field and went at it hammer and tongs with the lead see-sawing back and forth and the crowd was thrilled and most of them were cheering for Read, the underdog. Ago had a slight misfire and Phil’s bike started to slip out of gear. In the pits Helmut Fath was worried that Phil might get carried away and do something silly and with the more important 250 race still to come, he held out a signal at two-thirds distance with the words ‘Slow Down’. Read came to his senses, heeded Fath’s advice and eased the pace to finish a safe second.

 In the 250 race Phil’s TD2 special fired up immediately from the push start and he led from start to finish. At half distance he had a lead of 20 seconds over up and coming Jarno Saarinen, who was into second place and poised to make a move. On the tenth lap, however the Fin’s Yamaha seized and Phil was able to win at his own pace and finished with a 12 second gap over Theo Bult (Yamsel). Rod Gould was never in the hunt and retired on the tenth lap with a broken fairing bracket complaining that his ‘works’ Yamaha was well down on speed. Read was very popular with the Dutch crowd and one enthusiast commented ‘That man Phil Read, he ride like the devil’ after his scintillating display of riding.

 

He was on a roll now and had a commanding lead in the 250cc-title race. Championship Positions: Read 45pts, Marsovszky 28pts, Bult and Grassetti 15pts, Andersson 14pts and Gould still only on 8pts. The first privateer title would seem to be just a formality but there is many a slip between cup and lip!

 

Picture: Phil Read leads Jarno Saarinen during the 1971 Dutch TT. (Courtesy T&T photography)

 

 

 Round Five-Belgium-Spa-4th July 1978-8 Laps-70.09 Miles

 True to form, just when things seem to be going well trouble strikes and it went horribly wrong a week later at Spa. Typically the weather up in the Arden Mountains was very hot and just before the race, at the last minute, Phil wanted the front mudguard removed since he felt that this would allow more air to flow to the engine. A contrary view to this was that the spinning wheel could actually drag air away from the engine or at worst create turbulent air, disrupting the airflow. Steve the new mechanic and Helmut Fath were told to remove the ‘fender’, as the American would have called it.

 In the race, Read got off the line first and led just ahead of Grassetti until he hit the brakes on the approach to La Source hairpin the second time around. Nothing happened, the front brake failed and he shot down the slip road at 120 mph with the rear brake locked solid, frantically stamping down through the gears and leaving a long dark black rubber streak on the tarmac. Unfortunately 150yds from the hairpin there were some iron gates closing off the main road to Francorchamps village and the track marshal at the gates watched open mouthed, in horror, as Phil hurtled towards them. He managed to scrub off most of the speed but hit the gates at 10mph. It gave him the fright of his life; he just sat there drained, unable to move, his limbs quivering. The brake hose had not been taped to the fork leg and in the absence of the front mudguard had rubbed on the front wheel. It had taken less than twenty miles for the hose to be worn away and allow the hydraulic fluid to escape.

 With Read out Grassetti was able to make full advantage of the superior speed of his disc-valve MZ and such was his advantage that he was able to ease the pace to ensure that the bike made it to the end of the race. Rod Gould had another disappointing day and could only come home in sixth place. Grassetti’s win had put him back in the championship race. Points Table: Read 45pts, Marsovszky 32pts, Grassetti 30pts, and Gould languishing way down on13pts.

 After the race Phil blamed Ferry Brouwer for the mistake and when he and his wife Madeleine went out to dinner that night they invited Steve Johnson and Helmut Fath to go with them but said nothing to Ferry. This was completely unfair. Ferry knew the importance of securing the hose out of the way of the wheel because he was with the works team at Spa in 1968 when the front mudguard was similarly left off of the V4s in an attempt to improve the airflow to the engine. Although the cable would have been less susceptible to the chaffing of the front wheel than a hydraulic pipe, it was taped to the fork leg, safely out of the way. If he had removed the mudguard or seen what was being done he would have made sure that the hose had been secured, it was the obvious and logical thing to do.

 This was the last straw and not being invited out to dinner was a big mistake by Read and enabled Ferry to consider his position. He was quite happy to accept responsibility for the team but he had to be given it and all work on the bike would have to go through him and this was not happening. He spent the evening touring the paddock discussing and deciding what to do and in the morning his mind made up he collected all the things that he had which belonged to Phil Read, handed them to him and said goodbye. Phil was astonished and asked “Why, Why?” Ferry did not bother to explain but told him where to stick the wages he was owed, turned round and walked away.

 

 Round Six-East Germany-Sachsenring-11th July 1971-15 Laps-80.28 Miles

 This was the third race of six held on successive weekends and marked the halfway point in the championship. Read was only fourth fastest in practice, over 2.5 seconds slower than pole man Gould, who was now back on form.

 From the flag Read and Gould shot into the lead and opened up a gap on the pursuing pack by the end of the first lap. West German Dieter Braun had made a poor start but began climbing up through the field largely unnoticed and was up to sixth place after four laps. He then put in two stunning laps using all of the road and more as he kicked up the trackside dust and suddenly he was up behind Read and Gould on a very standard looking TD2, except that it was fitted with a smaller Oldani or Fontana front drum brake. On the tenth lap, two-thirds distance, Braun made a move and passed both of them to take the lead. He tried to get away but they stayed with him and the lead changed back and forth every lap. Read, anxious to claim maximum points following his disastrast failure in Belgium a week ago, took the lead on the last lap but Braun was not to be denied and repassed him and Gould did likewise, leaving Phil a disappointed third. After the race he complained that Braun’s standard TD2 was 10 mph faster than his and with Gould complaining in previous races that his bike lacked speed, was the absence of Ferry Brouwer being felt already?

 An interesting footnote to the race has come to light following the fall of Communism and the Iron Curtain. The oppressed populations of the Eastern Bloc were starved of top quality sport and when an event like a round of the World Motorcycle Championships was held they turned up in their droves and crowds of 150,000 to 200,000 were commonplace. They aspired to the freedom their fellow German citizens enjoyed in the west of their divided country and tried to retain the West German national anthem which, apart from anything else, was much more lively than the dull East German counterpart.

 When West German Dieter Braun joined the battle up front the 200,000 crowd started to get very excited. Each time the leading group rounded Queckenberg, the final corner on to the start finish straight (this is the up hill corner so beloved by photographers, particularly for shots taken from the rear), they shouted ‘Dieter, Dieter’ and the shouts became louder and louder as the laps counted down. In the last 5 laps it was clear that Braun had a slight advantage and was determined to win. The Communist Party Officials present were not very happy with the prospect of the West German anthem being played and tried to get the clerk of the course to black flag Dieter Braun for crossing the white lines at “Heiterer Blick! This was one of the corners were he had been using all of the track and more to close the gap to the leaders earlier. He refused and much to the chagrin of the Communist Party, Braun won and the West German anthem was played but mysteriously the PA system failed and it was only heard from the podium! This did not deter the crowd however and they sang it on their own and despite the deployment of police and dogs, made their way to the start and finish straight to start one big party. The clerk of the course was later asked to take his hat (he was sacked) and replaced by someone more loyal to the Communist Party! Phil Read still had a commanding lead in the Championship race with 55pts followed by Marsovszky 40, Braun 35, Grassetti 33, Dodds 26 and Gould 25.

 

 Round Seven-Czechoslovakia-Brno-18th July 1971-9 Laps-77.98 Miles

 A week later and the Continental Circus was still behind the Iron Curtain, this time at Brno in Czechoslovakia. Phil Read did not stay there long however, he crashed in 350 practice on Saturday morning when the front brake failed, breaking his shoulder blade and suffering concussion. Most of the year the 350 was raced with the standard drum brake at the front and in his book he said the handlebar lever snapped off in his hand. Reports at the time indicated it was the small lever on the outside of the drum that broke. Was this just bad luck or did preparation come into play, had it been damaged previously or was there a lack of attention to detail? He was supposed to stay in hospital overnight but he came round after a few hours and as the treatment being provided was not up to much, he decided to do a bunk. His mechanic was told to load up the van and come back with his car and some clothes. No one realised what was going on but the lifts weren’t working and they could not find the way out and no one was prepared to help. Phil’s wife Madeleine found a way out of the problem; she pinched their son Pip to make him cry and immediately some officials rushed up and ushered them out!

 He drove home all the way across Europe just using his one good hand! With Sweden and Finland on successive weekends he was bound to miss at least two races and his title challenge would be severely dented. He was fortunate that the race result did not alter the points table as none of the contenders finished in the points, including Gould who retired with a faulty gearbox. The race was won by the almost unknown Hungarian Janos Drapal with his compatriot Laszo Szabo second and Jarno Saarinen third.

 

 Round Eight-Sweden-Anderstorp-25th July 1971-31 Laps-76.91 miles

 This was the first Swedish GP since 1961 and was held at the new Anderstorp Raceway part of which was an airfield and consisted of four straights, one long (the main runway) and the others relatively short, connected by 90 degree or U bend corners. It provided Rod Gould with a wonderful opportunity to make up some points on an injured Phil Read and he did it in style dominating the race from start to finish to win by over half a minute ahead of Yamaha support rider Paul Smart. Again none of the other championship contenders scored any points so Gould leapfrogged up into second place only 15 points behind Read.

 

 Round Nine-Finland-Imatra-1st August 1971-21 Laps-78.66 miles.

 This was the last of six races run on successive weekends and Phil Read made a desperate attempt to score some points and keep his championship lead by flying to Finland only two weeks after injuring his shoulder at Brno. The reports in the weekly motorcycle press suggested that his injuries were not as bad as first thought and the four-week rest period required had been halved. But he was notorious for playing down the extent of any damage, discharging himself from hospitals and convincing race doctors he was fit to ride. The Imatra road circuit was very bumpy and the slow corners required heavy braking and it was agony for Read. Even his wife, Madeleine, was unable to persuade him not to ride and a pain killing injection from a local doctor did not do much to help and he could only finish 10th over 2 minutes behind the winner to earn only one point. Gould again took full advantage winning by 10 seconds from Johnny Dodds with Dieter Braun third. The point Read gained did maintain his title lead but only just. Entailing a round trip of 2,500 miles and over Ł400 spent on airfares it was a very expensive point but could turn out to be vital in what was becoming a very close contest. Points Table; Read, 56; Gould, 55; Marsovszky, 46; Braun, 45; Dodds, 42; Saarinen, 34.

 With a two week gap before the next round, the Ulster GP, you would have thought that Read would have rested up to give more time for his shoulder to heal. However, with good start money available at the Hutchinson 100 meeting at Brands to help offset the big outlay he made to compete in Finland, he really had no choice but to race and it was only just down the road from where he lived. His aches and pains prevented him from contesting the lead in his races but he did not just secure the starting money and retire and finished 4th in the 350 and 6th in the 250.

 

 Round Nine-Ulster-Dunrod-14th August 1971-14 Laps-104.6 Miles

 When the competitors assembled at Dunrod they were in the unenviable position of not knowing if the race would count towards the championship. There had been a resurgence of the Northern Ireland troubles and some competitors were reluctant to travel to the province. The 50cc race had been cancelled after only eight entries were received and with only four classes left the meeting was below the permitted number for a GP. Fortunately, after much deliberation, the FIM gave the meeting the thumbs up a few hours before the races were due to start and the riders knew they were racing for real.

 Rod Gould was fastest in practice, 14 seconds quicker than fourth man Read with local boys, McCullough and Henderson, between them. Unsurprisingly, Phil’s shoulder was still not right and he could not race flat out on another bumpy road circuit and he only went as fast as necessary to qualify on the front row. Practice was damp and the continental riders that did make the trip did not have enough circuit knowledge to lap fast on the bumpy, wet, slippery track, so incredible as it may seem, 14 seconds behind pole man was still good enough to get Read onto the front row. The gods smiled on him on race day too because it was even wetter and windier. Gould hated such conditions, whereas Read was used to it and had become rather adept in the rain and it would be a lot easier on his injured shoulder.

 But if he thought it was going to be a canter he reckoned without local boy, Ray McCullough who revelled in the conditions and Peter Williams on the works MZ but the latter had to push for a 100yds before the disc-valve bike would fire and he was last away. Read made a good start and led comfortably for three laps until McCullough, on a Yamsel, latched on behind him. They were so far ahead that Phil kept waving at him trying to get him to slow down but “ he just put his head down and carried on sliding round the corners.” Each time Read took the lead and tried to slow the pace down, McCullough would dive past him and push hard opening up a gap which Phil then had to whittle down again.

 Read went to the front on the 10th lap, at just over two thirds distance, but it did not last for long and when his engine went ‘sick’, McCullough pulled steadily away. Phil had to retire two laps from the flag when the engine failed completely and on stripping the engine after the race they found a crankpin had broken. Ray McCullough won the race by nearly 1.5 minutes from Saarinen, with Braun third. Gould was with the leaders at the start but gradually fell back and was down as low as 9th at one point but when the rain eased, he climbed back up to finish 6th. With Read very disappointed to lose a certain 12points for 2nd, Gould was relatively happy with the outcome as he now led the title chase by four points. Unlike at the TT, the MZ was no faster than the Yamahas and Peter Williams could only make his way through to fourth, nearly two minutes behind. Points Table; Gould, 60; Read, 56; Braun, 55; Marsovszky, 50; Saarinen, 46 and Dodds, 42.

 With a welcome four-week break before the penultimate round at Monza, Phil Read had time for his shoulder to improve and take part in a couple meetings in England at Silverstone and Oulton Park. Most of the Continental Circus riders had the same idea as it was on their way to Monza and the races had more of a GP flavour than a British short circuit meeting. Read must have been getting back to near full fitness because he challenged for the lead at both events but suffered machine failures in both classes.

 

 Round Eleven-Italy-Monza-12th September 1971-20 Laps-71.45 Miles

 The Italian GP was held at the super fast Monza track without the chicanes, which were introduced later, and the primary requirement was out and out power and typically the whole meeting was characterised by close dicing with slipstreaming playing a vital role. At the front of the 250 race, the lead was contested by a group of half a dozen riders, comprising, Gould, Marsovszky, Barry Sheene, Grassetti, Dodds and Mortimer.

 

Picture: Phil Read leading the second bunch fighting for fourth place. (photo T&T)

 

The Italian MZ works rider raised eyebrows with his aggressive riding, weaving down the straights and clashing fairings in an effort to throw the others out of his slipstream. Read was left behind in the second group with Saarinen, Theo Bult and Dieter Braun. Sheene and Mortimer failed to finish and Gould finished at the back of the front group in 4th and Read was pipped by Saarinen for 5th, 15 seconds behind the leaders. Marsovszky won with Dodds 2nd and Grassetti third. With one round left there was only eleven points between the top four riders and only seven separating Gould and Read. Gould, 68; Read, 61; Braun, 58; Marsovszky, 57; Dodds, 54; and Saarinen, 52.

 

 Round Twelve-Spain-Jarama-26th September 1971-35 Laps-74.07 miles.

 The deciding race was held on the short twisty Jarama circuit and although theoretically Dieter Braun and Marsovszky could win the title, it was expected to be just between Phil Read and Rod Gould. The points scoring system in force at that time complicated the situation. The best seven scores would count under the half the races plus one rule and Gould already had seven scores so he had to finish higher than fifth (his worst score) to improve his total. Read on the other hand, only had six finishes and whatever he scored would count and he not only had to finish in front of Gould but higher than fifth to take the title. As at Monza Phil opted to race with the standard TD2 front end which was rather surprising because the big heavy drum brake would have slowed the steering up and the disc brake would have made the bike more nimble and much more suited to the tight twisty track.

 This was the second time that the Jarama circuit had been used for the Spanish GP but it was Read’s first visit and he spent the first evening walking round it checking where the bumps were and working out how to ride the corners. It was eight weeks since he injured his shoulder in Czechoslovakia but in his book he claimed he was still suffering from that crash! He claimed his arm was still stiff and painful and his body still carried blue bruises (? I thought they started out blue and changed to yellow). Could the heavy drum front brake have been used to increase the weight on the front wheel and make the bike more stable over the bumps?

 

The race ended up as rather an anti-climax. Read shot into the lead from the push start but Gould tucked in behind him and for the first lap or so they set to. Then, as early as the second lap, Gould’s Yamaha started to misfire and Read began to pull away but Rod kept going, nursing the bike in case Phil struck trouble later in the race.

Picture: The moment Phil Read became Champion. Saarinen leads past a touring Gould with Read in the background. (photo T&T)

 

Saarinen took second and joined Read at the front but Phil was not prepared to get into a dogfight. and let him go but kept him in sight to the end knowing second would give him the championship. At just over third distance Gould coasted back to the pits with a broken arm on the clutch release mechanism and Phil Read became champion. 

Final Championship Table (total score best seven results)

 

Aus

WG

IOM

Hol

Bel

EG

Czech

Swed

Fin

Ulster

Italy

Spain

Total

P Read

   0

  15

  15

  15

   0

  10

   0

   0

   1

   0

   5

  12

  73

R Gould

   0

   0

   8

   0

   5

  12

   0

  15

  15

   5

   8

   0

  68

Saarinen

   3

   0

   0

   0

   0

   6

  10

  10

   5

  12

   6

  15

  64

J Dodds

   0

  10

   0

   4

  12

   0

   0

   4

  12

   0

  12

   5

  59

D Braun

   0

   0

   0

  10

  10

  15

   0

   0

  10

  10

   3

   0

  58

Mrsvzky

  10

   8

   5

   5

   4

   8

   0

   0

   6 

   4

  15 

   0

  57

Grassetti

  15

   0

   0

   0

  15

   3

   0

   0

   0

   0

  10

   0

  43

 

Review of 1971 250cc Season.

In the end Phil Read won the title by five points but he was rather fortunate to take the crown because his total of 73 was quite low, the previous two years and the following year, the champion scored over 100 points. If there had been any consistent opposition it is unlikely he would have survived the barren period after Ferry Brouwer left the team, even if he had not crashed at Brno. 1970 champion Gould had a very poor start to the season and this enabled Read to hold on and take the title when Rod’s bike failed at the last race. The down side to being a factory rider is that you have to do development work and Yamaha and Gould were heavily involved in testing the TD3/TR3 prototypes which were to replace the TD2-B/TR2-B in 1972. Of the 73 points Read scored, 45 were chalked up at the beginning when he had a run of three wins on the trot and this set up the challenge and enabled him to hang on when it all started to go pear shape a third of the way into the season. It was at those three races that Ferry Brouwer prepared the bikes and the eight races that followed only yielded another 28 points!

 If we split it further between the races where Ferry and Helmut Fath were responsible for the bike it is even more revealing. As Fath and Steve Johnson removed the front mudguard at Spa in Belgium and this caused the retirement, then that race DNF must be credited to them even though Ferry was still with the team and prepared the engine. The crash in practice for the Czech GP ruled out three races and it was not until the Ulster GP that Read was able to challenge for race wins once more. Of the remaining six races that Fath was responsible for the bike, there were three mechanical failures, Austria (seizure), Belgium (brake failure) and Ulster (broken crankpin), two GPs where the bike was noticeably down on speed, East Germany and Monza, and in the final round in Spain, speed was not a factor on the short twisty track. Ferry had three wins from three races whereas Fath had no victories from his six races, only a 2nd, a 3rd, and a 6th and three mechanical failures. Complete brake failures are very unusual so can it be a coincidence that two brake failures occurred under Helmut Fath and Steve Johnson?

 The Italian GP at Monza can be compared to the race at the same venue the previous year. It was a wide, fast, sweeping track which did not require a lot of physical effort and the effects of any aches and pains from injuries would be minimal and Read’s crash that damaged his shoulder had occurred eight weeks previously and he had been racing successfully in between. In 1970 Read was trying to help Kel Carruthers win the title so he was not necessarily trying to win and just wanted to deny Gould points but as Rod won the race, Phil had to be content with third behind Carruthers. Read’s time in 1970, however, would have won him the race in 1971and more significantly was 18 seconds quicker than his time the following year. Of the other three riders who finished in both races, Gould was 4 seconds slower in 1971 (he had been complaining all year about a lack of speed from his bike) but both Braun and Marsovszky were noticeably quicker.

 Phil Read has a reputation for never giving the bike or the mechanic any credit when he won a race, it was always down to him. Similarly when he lost a race it was never his fault, always the bike or the preparation. When Ferry joined the Yamaha works team in 1968, he was only 18 and only a year or so older when he joined Phil’s private team at the end of the summer of 1969, following Madeleine’s intervention over his national service. He lived with them and became part of the family and probably, in their eyes, owed everything to them. He was taken for granted and it was probably a question of ‘a prophet being without honour in his own country.’

 Read did tend to be impressed by people who had a name in the business and Helmut Fath had a very good reputation. He had become sidecar world champion in 1960 and when, following a bad crash and serious injuries, he was abandoned by BMW, a situation Read could sympathise with, he built his own four cylinder engine and became champion again in 1968. He was a very good engineer but four-strokes are very different kettle of fish to two-strokes, particularly in the lubrication and carburation department. With the oil mixed with the fuel, carburation of a two-stroke is a very fine art and the dividing line between success and failure was a very narrow one and Fath had very little experience in this specialised field. He had only started to get involved with them the previous year and this was mainly on the mechanical side, converting TR2s to dry clutches. But he had a name in motorcycle racing and in Phil’s own words ‘he was a maestro of motorcycling engineering’ and a clue to Read’s thinking in employing him came at the last race of the season in Spain. Phil said he took Fath to Jarama as a psychological weapon, he was not needed to work on the bikes but the opposition would wonder what they were up to! If the team without Ferry Brouwer was so good why did he not employ them the following year? Helmut Fath was given the boot and Steve Johnson was stamped on his forehead and sent back to America! Where were the hordes of riders queuing at Fath’s door after 1971 and where is the list of two-stroke champions he helped to make subsequently?

 Read had put himself in the position that Fath had to succeed. It was a very high profile appointment and in his regular column in the British motorcycle press ‘Read Writes’ he said he had spent a lot of money having the engines prepared by Helmut Fath. He would be the last person to admit that he had wasted his money. In his second book he said that he asked Fath to have a look at the engines after the early Italian meetings at the beginning of the season because he was not happy with their performance. At Modena he had a 7 second lead until his new disc front brake started to fade and was only caught 3 laps from the end and only just beaten into second place. He was leading again at Rimini until the brakes faded and he ran wide letting Parlotti and Mandracci through. In atrociously wet conditions at Riccione he won easily, lapping all but second and third finishers with the bike handling well in the rain. The final pre-season race was at Imola and his opposition included his rivals for the 1971 Title, the works MZs and factory supported Rod Gould. After another bad start he worked his way up through the field to take the lead on the 10th of 14 laps and stay ahead to win.

 As already mentioned, in his foreword to Colin MacKellar’s first book ‘Yamaha Two-Stroke Twins’ Phil Read said that his 1971 bikes, which had been highly modified by Ferry Brouwer, were not behaving as they should so he asked Helmut Fath to return them to standard. He suggested that Ferry was out of his depth, “ Boost and piston ports were new words to many, including my young and enthusiastic tuner, Dutchman Ferry Brouwer.” That was a bit rich, those comments should apply to Helmut Fath, if anyone. The only thing that Read could have been unhappy about at the early Italian meetings was his starts but he must take some responsibility for that because Ferry had no difficulty starting the bikes and he always had to do it from cold. It was a skill that Read should have been able to acquire. A contributory factor for the difficulty in Italy could have been the cold weather at that time of the year, which would have made it difficult for the fuel to vaporise.

 As Ferry’s radical tuning was not detrimental to the reliability of the bike, quite the reverse in fact, Read should have persevered with it because even if he did not get away with the leaders, he had enough power to come through the field and win. When Ferry returned the bikes to his set up for the races at Hockenheim, IOM and Assen, the bikes fired up straight away so it was not a problem with his tuning. The Brouwer approach was to get more air and fuel mixture into the engine to produce more power and not try to get the maximum power from that mixture by raising the compression ratio and weakening the mixture to the point where a seizure was likely, as did Fath. With more mixture Ferry could afford to play safe with the jetting and there would be more oil to protect the engine. It was clear that Phil Read did not know much about two-stroke tuning if he preferred Fath’s set up to Brouwer’s.

 After that 1971 season Ferry Brouwer worked for Chas Mortimer and then Jarno Saarinen, by which time he was back with the Yamaha factory team. They certainly recognised his tuning skills and had it not been for the tragic death of Jarno Saarinen at Monza in 1973 he would have continued to work for Yamaha and would probably have occupied the position of Yamaha guru that Kel Carruthers held right through to the 90s. Helmut Fath, who agreed that Read was ‘ ze impossible person to work with,’ realised that four-strokes were on the way out and tried to convert a Konig outboard motor to power both a sidecar and a solo bike. Later he made a 250 boxer two-stroke, but both projects achieved very little success and he can only really be remembered for his very successful four-stroke sidecar career.

 Imagine how Ferry must have felt when, after spending the whole winter preparing the bikes for the 1971 season and a successful shake down in Italy, Helmut Fath was asked to return the bikes to standard. Then at the West German GP, he worked right through the night to get the bike ready for final practice and was responsible for a run of three wins on the trot, only to read in the British bike press that Phil found ‘The Dutch TT very satisfying, because I have spent a much money having my engines prepared by Helmut Fath’! A week later at the Belgium GP, Steve Johnson, who was taken on without consultation, and Helmut Fath were responsible for the front brake failure only for Ferry to get the blame. Is it any wonder that he decided to leave even though it meant he had nowhere to stay and no job?

 After the parting Phil and Madeleine sent a number of letters to Ferry and his parents saying that they were sorry for the way it had ended and complimented him and said he would always be considered as a member of the family. It is a pity that he felt unable to acknowledge this publicly and give Ferry the credit for the wins that he made possible and particularly the vital part that Ferry played in winning that first privateer title. I hope this article will help to put the record straight once and for all.

 This was compiled using cuttings from MCN & MCW published at the time, Phil Read’s autobiography ‘Phil Read, The Real Story’, Colin MacKellar’s two books on Yamaha and personal correspondence with Ferry Brouwer to whom I am very grateful for agreeing to answer my very inquisitive questions.

 Copyright RJ Gowenlock 2003.

Any criticisms, comments or corrections welcomed.

Please contact me by email at Roger Gowenlock


 

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