Unsurprisingly, after a trio of wins on Saturday, mood in the Casa awning was optimistic for Sunday’s races. After the traditional BHR Lydden party there were still a few sore heads around the rest of the paddock. Rally-goers needn’t worry; scooter racers don’t let the side down in front of the bikers. In fact they are often told off for partying too late and too loud.
I was fortunate enough to be offered a bed in the race truck – a massive behemoth that sleeps 10 with an enormous awning, but that came as little benefit come breakfast-time. These continentals and their pastries know nothing of the restorative benefits of a bacon and egg sandwich dripping yolk down your arm. Goddamned heathens.
The scooter racers can also hold their heads high on the track too. Around Lydden the front running group lap faster than 90% of the classic bike riders. By the end of the meeting Luca Zani – riding the smallblock Casa SS200 – took the outright scooter lap record to only 48.44 seconds which meant averaging 74.3mph including climbing quite a steep hill.
Of all the motorcycles and scooters present, only Kevin Van Der Worp’s 1134cc Moto Guzzi California (47.32 seconds @76mph average) lapped faster than Zani’s 198cc Lambretta!
Correction 8/8/2016: Stuart Day of SRP informed us that he posted a 46-second lap of Lydden in 1998 racing his Lambretta special against Yamaha LC250s. The track had been freshly resurfaced at the time.
Into the fray
By the first of Sunday’s races it was clear that both of the Italians had ‘got their eye in’ on the track, which they’d never previously visited. Any worries about it being a boring demonstration of superiority were immediately wiped away by both the Lucas fighting at really close quarters throughout the race, only for Zani to pip Fuschini on the last lap for a maiden victory.
Given that Zani is leading the championship – and that there is a big budget behind securing victory – you’d imaging that there could be a case for ‘team orders’, but it was obvious that they’d both been allowed to play as hard as they liked.
I asked Dean about team orders, but he wasn’t sure that their riders would pay any attention to them even if they were instructed. They both love racing too much to throttle off…
Further back down the order, and the scale of spends, our man Barrie took his first win in the production class after twice twisting the AF cranks in his race motor the previous day, but still managing to limp to the finish. He wasn’t the only production competitor to suffer crank problems either that weekend, so clearly there’s room for an upgrade in this specification.
The overnight remedy for Barrie’s issues was simple. Strip the engine down, hit the crank web with a copper mallet and check for true. If that all sounds quite brutal then consider that this is actually the approved method for truing 2-stroke cranks. What wasn’t by the book were the subsequent alignment checks. These are normally carried out on v-blocks or knife-edge rollers with dial gauges, but instead Barrie and the Darlo crew operated by eye with a plastic ruler acting as a straight edge. Top bodging.
The real solution that got Barrie to the win was simply to treat the engine more gently and to use the clutch on all gear-changes.
Mi Casa su casa
While Casa Team may have brought Superbike-style professionalism to the paddock, what hasn’t changed is the BSSO’s traditional level of comradeship. It’s still quite usual for teams to borrow cranks, gearboxes or even complete engines from other competitors to ensure everyone gets back out on the track. Casa Team participated fully, with Barone and Lorenzo regularly on the gas bottles to weld or adjust exhausts for other teams. Similarly Jahspeed carry MIG facilities better suited to other welding jobs.
It’s just a question of asking the right people in the right way. Make no mistake, you see a lot less of this friendly attitude the higher you get up the motorsport ladder.
Given the previous races, and with their main rivals suffering technical problems, no bookies would give you decent odds on one of the Casa riders winning the last race. However with both Lucas now on form, there was still the question of which would take the flag in the finale.
In many ways the team have chosen a similar hard route to Group 6 racing as Darrel Taylor employed in 2013 with his Lambretta piloted by Joe Ravenscroft. Back then Darrel was determined to win the championship using a fan-cooled motor, despite the fact that air-cooled engines tend to suffer heat-soak and lose power as the race goes on.
Vittorio insisted that the Casa Team was similarly handicapped by using fan cooling. It was important that their machines looked very much like road scooters. This insistence also lead to the use of conventional (albeit fibreglass) scooter bodywork where previous winners have tended to look like more miniature motorcycles. In fairness, both JB Tuning, SRP and Replay Racing have also done the same this year, which makes Group 6 look all the more impressive to spectators.
I was intrigued as to why the Casa scooters didn’t seem to slow through over-heating during the course of a race. You can hear that the engines are so rich that they barely rev-out in the paddock, and they run Bardahl oil at and asthma-inducing 5% oil ratio but they still run cool even with shortened flywheel fins.
The final race was another cracker, with Zani quickly coming through the pack to begin swapping the lead with Fuschini. Zani is the lighter of the two and seemed to make up yards on Fuschini when climbing the hill, despite having the smaller capacity engine and only running a close-ratio 4-speed gearbox.
By this stage in proceedings it was clear that the scooter races were essential viewing and the Paddock Bend fence was thickly-lined with spectators from both scooter and bike communities.
In the end Fuschini managed to reclaim the lead at the flag, but not before Zani took the outright scooter lap record.
It’s not every day that records get so comprehensively trashed race by race, but it may be the last time any team ever expends this level of effort in British scooter racing. Certainly the Casa Team can’t afford to do it next year, nor do they want to with so many other challenges on the horizon such as the burgeoning interest in scooter endurance racing. Charlie Edmonds’ Performance Tuning team were the last Lambretta to win a modern scooter endurance meeting – at the Spanish circuit of Alcarras in 2011 – but to our knowledge a Lambretta has never won any of the 10 or 24-hour meetings. Now there’s a gauntlet.
Given Dean’s answer that they aren’t likely to compete in the whole BSSO championship next year, then if you want to see the Italian scooters in action, get yourself along to the BSSO’s last-minute replacement meeting at Croft (Petrol & Pistons) near Darlington on August 21st.
We at SLUK are supporting the meeting with a top-level scooter custom show, but the BSSO will be bringing the drama to the track…
Additional Lydden Gallery by Lee Hollick