More Norton vs Ducati battles at Willow springs

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Monoshock Ducatis against the monoshock Norton (#777). Knee hitting the dirt for a split second at 1:52. The Ducs having a 5 speed advantage on the 4 speed Norton. Times around 1:36 to 1:37?? which was fast for twins back then.

This vid shows Fred Eiker (#188) on a fast Duc, Nigel Gayle on a 1500cc Harley and me (#777) on the monoshock Norton 3rd until something crapped out at 4:20
 
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Nice stuff Jim. Could you comment on your commando engine set up at that time. Was your engine similarly modified back then with respect to the things you can do to the commando engine now??

Also, I wonder if you felt the commando and ducati bikes were pretty evenly matched back then, and then elaborate on why or why not.... Thanks...
 

lcrken

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Glad you found those, Jim. Several good shots of you in them. I spent a couple hours yesterday looking through the '87 and '88 races trying to find one with some better shots of you and Fred Eiker, but had so much trouble identifying the riders that I missed these two. I'd forgotten how bad the announcers were back then. But I should have recognized those gray leathers. The only races I found with Fred were showed him on the Ducati or the Guzzi, none on his Norton.

Ken
 
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Nice stuff Jim. Could you comment on your commando engine set up at that time. Was your engine similarly modified back then with respect to the things you can do to the commando engine now??

Also, I wonder if you felt the commando and ducati bikes were pretty evenly matched back then, and then elaborate on why or why not.... Thanks...
It was an 850 and it had my prototype lightweight custom pistons from Wiseco which enabled it to stay together (solid frame). I had to shorten the cylinders for the shorter pistons. The cases were reinforced because I had them crack earlier on with heavier Hepolite pistons. I didn't have the BSA lifters together then but borrowed an Axtell cam from Ken Canaga and lightened the stock lifters to the max (Revved it to valve float with racing valves). Axtell porting copies thanks to Ken Canaga loaning me a head. With the torque of the 850 I noticed my gears wearing on an angle because the shafts were flexing so I adapted an outrigger bearing. I installed a close ratio 4 speed but was hurting bad for a 5 speed (I was broke). The frame was inspired and taken off the dimensions of the Ducati TT2. I made the 1st non metallic fork bushings and adapted damper cartridges from Marzocchi rear shocks.

The first lightweight pistons and shortened cylinders (stock rods).


The reinforced cases and outrigger bearing.


The monoshock frame


The homemade guillotine slide carbs.


The Ducati TT2 (F1)s were far superior. Stock they were just as fast as my tricked out Norton. I just couldn't afford one. So I pushed myself harder through the turns and eventually learned to feel it start to slide and held it there. But when the watercooled 851 Ducs came out it was all over for privateer innovators like myself.
 
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Gortnipper - I think the smoking you see is Mic's norton #66 in the vid Ken posted - he liked to run it loose and you can see it blow blue smoke when he shuts of on the straights.

Ken - below is a vid of Fred cleaning up on his Nort with a Duc or two behind him (maybe a Harley). The mono Norton (#777) ran 4th a while but ended 5th with Mic sixth (#66).

 
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When you have twin cylinder four stroke motors of the same capacity and all with only two valves per cylinder, the only way to gain advantage is probably to have a lighter, better handling motorcycle. Unfortunately, in Australia, technical configuration is not the basis for establishing race classes. If you get the opportunity to race a Norton against bevel or other two valve Ducatis, you are very lucky. It is something I can only dream about.
 
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Monoshock Ducatis against the monoshock Norton (#777). Knee hitting the dirt for a split second at 1:52. The Ducs having a 5 speed advantage on the 4 speed Norton. Times around 1:36 to 1:37?? which was fast for twins back then.

This vid shows Fred Eiker (#188) on a fast Duc, Nigel Gayle on a 1500cc Harley and me (#777) on the monoshock Norton 3rd until something crapped out at 4:20
5 - speed gives a Ducati a major advantage over a Commando with a 4 speed standard gearbox. Closer ratios give much quicker acceleration. Commandos with 4 speed close ratio are better than 4 speed wide ration, but 5 speed is even better again, because you have gears everywhere including down low.
 
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It was an 850 and it had my prototype lightweight custom pistons from Wiseco which enabled it to stay together (solid frame). I had to shorten the cylinders for the shorter pistons. The cases were reinforced because I had them crack earlier on with heavier Hepolite pistons. I didn't have the BSA lifters together then but borrowed an Axtell cam from Ken Canaga and lightened the stock lifters to the max (Revved it to valve float with racing valves). Axtell porting copies thanks to Ken Canaga loaning me a head. With the torque of the 850 I noticed my gears wearing on an angle because the shafts were flexing so I adapted an outrigger bearing. I installed a close ratio 4 speed but was hurting bad for a 5 speed (I was broke). The frame was inspired and taken off the dimensions of the Ducati TT2. I made the 1st non metallic fork bushings and adapted damper cartridges from Marzocchi rear shocks.

The first lightweight pistons and shortened cylinders (stock rods).


The reinforced cases and outrigger bearing.


The monoshock frame


The homemade guillotine slide carbs.


The Ducati TT2 (F1)s were far superior. Stock they were just as fast as my tricked out Norton. I just couldn't afford one. So I pushed myself harder through the turns and eventually learned to feel it start to slide and held it there. But when the watercooled 851 Ducs came out it was all over for privateer innovators like myself.
 
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Heat build-up is a problem with any air-cooled race motor, particularly if you use petrol as fuel. Four valves per cylinder typically give 10% more power than two valves per cylinder. So racing a two valve, air-cooled Commando against a four valve, water-cooled Ducati is nonsense. Why did it happen - ignorance - or did somebody's friend want an easy win ?
 
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