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Yamaha Motorcycles Street Event - Skagit


Moore, Schwen and Littlejohn take big wins at SIR

Photos and Story by Simon-Pierre Smith

KENT, WA, AUG. 5:  It was a good sized lineup for the 125 Grand Prix race run by the Washington Motorcycle Road Racing Association, with all of the bikes being the traditional Honda RS125. Bruce Lind, the only local rider to race a Yamaha TZ125 was sitting the race day out. He had to spend all his concentration on breathing after suffering 15 rib breaks at Laguna Seca.

The RS125 is a compact, simple, and light affair that makes a respectable 40 horsepower or so. Being a two stroke, the pistons are cheap and easy to change, which is good, as it has to be done all the time. Michael Bateman, riding for Group W Racing, was fired up for a strong ride, but his equipment held him back. He had re-adjusted his carburetor after practice to fix a "flat spot" at mid throttle. He only managed to make his problem worse, tuning himself out of contention.

Early on it was Kevin Sheafer, riding for Ben Schenk, being hounded by Andy Moore (above). Moore has put in a decade of hard lessons advancing his craft from lackluster beginnings, proving that precision, aggression, and skill can be learned through diligent study. Stephen John, a racer with considerable experience at the Isle of Man, was holding down a competent third. He seemed strangely unconcerned with Seattle International Raceway's occasional limited runoff.

The race continued on this way with Moore keeping a close watch on Sheafer (left - the boy loves his Avon's) , waiting for an error. Moore's error came late in the race, when the leaders caught up to the first of the erratic, wobbling lapped riders. Moore, seeing Sheafer balked, seized the lead in high speed turn two. Immediately afterwards he missed a shift, giving Sheafer the position back. The peaky power of the 125 harbors little forgiveness for such a blatant misstep. It was a full lap later, in turn one, before Moore could retake the lead. He continued on for the remainder of the lap to score the win.

In third place, John was carrying too much corner speed through the tight turn ten "bus stop". Crashing hard, his body was left spinning and tumbling in front of Bobby Hawbaker, already hard on the brakes. Hawbaker, always the humanitarian, threw his bike wide into the gravel and crashed, rather than ride over a fellow competitor. Cedric Smith, mounted on a highly modified Suzuki GS500, was then presented with two bikes and two bodies to avoid. Managing to skirt the mechanical and human debris, he continued on to finish the Heavyweight Early Grand Prix race which was running simultaneously. Jerry Berkey advanced to third in the 125 class with the elimination of John, and held that position to the end. 

The Heavyweight Early GP class was intended to be a class where older superbikes from the 80s could be campaigned by low budget racers. This day it was a showcase of racers from the eighties mounted on their original bikes. Champion and dominant endurance racer Steve Littlejohn was laying down fiery laps on his Yamaha FZR1000 to take the win. Whatever rusty riding was evident earlier this season in this veteran's comeback has diminished. It is time for the modern bike racers to greet a new/old competitor.

Walt Schoenbachler, mounted on his GSXR 1340 "Big Poppa" superbike, was using power and aggressive recklessness to force his way to second place. Michael Boresma was one of the few fulfilling the spirit of the class, riding a low cost Honda CBR600 to a quick and hard ridden third.

The 450 Superbike race, also run at the same time as 125 GP, was destined to be another Tyler Sandell/Allan Schwen (right) battle. Sandell, typically a quick hand off the starting line, was not in typical form. A horribly botched start left Schwen with a substantial lead on the first lap. By lap three Sandell had managed to regain the ground he'd given away. Todd Frey, in third, was secure in his spot, but never in contention for second place. Behind Frey, Christian "Squido" Owens was trying to keep out of the clutches of Randy Grein. span style="mso-spacerun: yes"> Sandell, not satisfied with being "first loser", managed to pass Schwen in the tight and technical turn four. A pass in turn four generally involves losing a good drive in the exit, which punishes the rider all along the back straight. Sandell found this out as both of his turn four passes were reversed before turn five. Finally Sandell had to concede the win to Schwen. Grein had managed to get by Owens by lap four to take fourth, but was unable to catch third place Frey before the checkered flag.

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