Spain has a great history of scooter sport and is one of the few countries in the world where classic scooter endurance racing has found a following. More than just a sport, the endurance race is now a testing ground where prototype scooter products are rigorously tested before entering production. This is the crucible for the next generation of road products.
Vespa The Resistance is the only 24-hour classic scooter race in the world. VTR 2016 took place on 28 and 29 May on the international circuit of Zuera (Zaragoza). Originally the organisers – Team Vespa Barcelona – expected 20 teams but this year they had a total of 314 riders and 60 teams registered from Germany, France, Austria, Italy and their native Spain.
In 2011 I was lucky enough, with my compatriot Mr Gillard, to enter our first classic scooter endurance race in Alcarras, Spain. This was a ‘mere’ 6-hours; which between two riders is a tiring enough feat. We entered on my Vespa 90SS ‘Underdog’ and through determination, and reliability we won the smallframe class. Performance Tuning took the absolute win on a Lambretta.
At that time we were just starting to hear about Barcelona-based TVB’s 24-hour classic scooter races. Vespa The Resistance is a hardcore race conducted in the great tradition of Le Mans, and to my knowledge the only classic race of this duration anywhere in the world. 2016 marked the 9th edition of Vespa The Resistance (VTR). This year the event was sponsored by Pinasco; a company more famous for endurance events than sprints.
SLUK asked Enric Mollon from TVB to explain how VTR works.
SLUK: Please explain the different classes?
We have 5 main categories: smallframe / smallframe proto / largeframe / largeframe proto / SP1 and another residual for Lambretta (but we do not have many Lambrettas here).
When we say smallframe, that is for the crankcase of the bike, so smallframes will be Vespa PK and Primavera. When we talk about largeframe we mean PX and TX and this kind of crankcase. On each category we have the original machines and also modified prototypes.
Original ones are those which don’t use any performance parts, all the components of the bike have to be original ones. You can tune up all the parts but all the parts MUST be original. This includes suspension, carburettors and exhausts. The only thing you can change are the tyres and stuff which helps with the safety.
Proto in both smallframe and largeframe means that you must use the original crankcase. On the smallframe you have limitations maximum 28mm carburettor, iron cylinder, and street exhausts (not racing type) to keep costs down. On largeframe proto we do not have limit (at the moment).
Then we have Super Proto 1 (SP1). This is a regulation for the top teams from Germany, Italy and France. Teams which have money to improve the bike and spend lots on cylinders, tyres and carburettors. This category is for smallframe only and is open for every modification; liquid cooled bikes, aluminium cylinders, bigger exhausts etc etc.
How much does it cost to enter?
The fee for 2016 was 380€ for each team and 85€ for each rider if that rider was not licenced to a federation. Normally each team pays around 650€. Each year we try to open registrations around February. Every year we work hard to improve the subscription web page to do it easier for the riders and teams. To manage data from many countries and 314 riders is not easy.
Do riders need an international race licence?
Well we had riders from many countries and always the federation from Aragon manages that side of things. This means that each rider is inspected personally to see if the licence is eligible for this race, but yes we accept any kind of licence to see if it is valid.
What time does the race start?
The race always start at 12:00 and finish at 12:00 the following day. Even if we have red flag the race finishes at noon.
What would be the best tip you could give for a newcomer?
The best tip is this; a 24h race is won 70% in the workshop and 30% on the track. It is much more important to have a good reliability than faster riders. Fast riders break bikes, that is a fact.
What is the Zuera circuit like?
The track length is 1.7kms and around 5 metres wide. The fastest time we got this year is 1.16 which is really fast. A couple of years ago the best laptime was 1.21. This means that all the riders and teams are improving really rapidly from year to year.
Who competed well this year?
There is a notable Aragonese and Catalan presence in this race where the strongest teams were Team Love (Love Team) #3 from Guadalajara and Team Vespa Barcelona Taxivespa (Event organisers) which have both entered every one of the nine editions of VTR.
From the outset the Italian teams (Scuderia Pinasco) and Spanish (Team Vespa Constantí) led the test with consistancy, but after three hours Constantí Team Vespa retired with a mechanical problem.
What was the final result?
The final result is… Italy came and Italy won!
Scuderia Pinasco came to this race last year and broke their engine many times. This year they came with a new engine, a new crankcase from Pinasco smallframe, an experimental one that is not on the market yet, and… well, what can I say? From the first turn to the last minute they were on the top without any problem. They used a cylinder called Zuera (named after the circuit). Pinasco is developing a great deal over recent years. Piergiorio Betella is a great friend of us. He is betting hard for this race, and this helps him to improve Pinasco’s new products.
What was the best result from a nearly standard scooter?
The best we can talk about is ‘smallframe serie’, and the best lap time was 1.24. This is a crazy lap time with a basically standard smallframe, but on this case this team (Too Moto Vespa Rubiella Team 1) had four riders aged around 15 years old who compete in the CEV (Campeonato Español de Velocidad) and are very fast.
What makes VTR special?
24 Hours Vespa TVB is one of the few tests that still maintain the epic spirit of yesteryear. The system is the same as the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. They are teams of three to six drivers which run to score as many laps as possible.
This year has the circuit lap record for scooters was lowered by two seconds to 1:16 at 01:00 in the morning. This feat denotes the skill and competitiveness of the riders.
Winning is a nice objective but the most important thing for most riders is to participate and finish. At noon on the second day the track is invaded by the public and there is a great celebration.
This event brings together characters of all ages from 16 years to 60 the oldest.