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The International Island Classic is the largest and most prestigious historic motorcycle race in Australia. The Australia Day holiday weekend of January 24-26, 2014 was the 21st consecutive year held at the Grand Prix circuit on Phillip Island and was fiercely contested by teams from Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA.

The D.A.M. Classic Racing 981cc Laverda qualified 23rd in damp conditions from an international field of 43 starters in the Post Classic Unlimited Class. By the end of the weekend Greg Parish finished 11th outright in the Post Classic Unlimited Class with a lap time 2 secs faster than the previous year and a top speed measured at the finish line of 218kmh (135.5mph)

For this meeting Greg had decided to change the gear shift to the ‘race pattern’ specifically to deal with not being able to get his boot under the gear lever to change up in the series of fast left-handers leading onto the main straight at Phillip Island. The DAM Easy Clutch was retained and continued to give a feather light clutch action.

During the post race examination of the D.A.M. Classic Racing Laverda’s engine after taking 2nd Place in the 2013 Victorian Historic Titles, it was found that the valve seats in the head were soft and valve clearances were closing up 0.1mm every time the bike went out. Another head was purchased from the UK in the middle of 2013 but for reasons beyond their control it never arrived to the shores of Australia. So with the end of the year looming the team dismantled another engine and the head was installed on the engine just before Christmas. The bike was run around the back streets of Murrumbeena as a test and, with another track run scheduled in the New Year to adjust the jetting, the D.A.M. Classic Racing team felt they were all sorted.

But just two weeks before the Phillip Island meeting they started the engine and it suddenly started blowing blue smoke. Greg recalls it well, “After many hours of assembly and disassembly of the engine we discovered manufacturing issues with the current batch of head gaskets that allowed the cylinder compression to blow through into the oil galleries. The bike was blowing smoke, a lot of smoke! A flurry of phone calls went out to source some ‘old type’ head gaskets. Many people responded, and we eventually reassembled the engine two days before the Event.”

Special thanks went to Vince from NSW, Cam Douglas, Piet Herrman and Steve Battisson for their efforts to supply a suitable gasket at short notice. There was no time left to adjust the carburettor jetting for the new head prior to getting to the Island. Because the porting on the replacement head was not extensive Greg assumed it would run rich, but the exact opposite occurred.

“It ran so lean in first practice that I abandoned the session and installed the largest main jets we had with us.”

With help from Antony Carberry, Serge Canale and Shane McKie everything was checked to ensure an error hadn’t been made in the rush to get it back together. When presented with a set of jet-drills by Gerard Kelly the mixture was progressively enrichened over the weekend.

Qualifying was a wet affair and without ‘full wet’ tyres the session was not an easy one.  The result was that we were to start from position 23 on the grid.

“In race one I could hear the engine detonating even with earplugs in” said Greg.

He passed 6 riders in 4 laps, easing it home to finish 16th. The change to race pattern gear change of ‘1 up, 4 down’ on the left foot change was to have an impact as well. “A couple of times I nearly came to grief by getting the gear change wrong and changing down in the fastest section between the Southern Loop and turn 4, just like slamming the rear brake while cranked over midway through the turn at 180kmh.”

Greg did that at the same place several times over the weekend, usually as he was lining up a pass on another rider. “You just don’t think about which way to shift in moments like that. But the lap time is pretty much the same as last year so it must be making a difference. The engine feels softer with this head and the changes to suspension are working much better.”

By Race two Greg was getting used to the ‘race pattern’ gear change, the jetting was better, but still dangerously lean. The race was supposed to have been run the day before but had been postponed to Sunday because of oil on the track. It was the first event of the Sunday schedule and had been shortened to just 3 laps. “No time for strategy in that one. I got a great start, passing three riders before turn one, and two more through the fastest section of Stoner Corner.” Greg took another rider at the fast Hay-Shed section. The next two laps saw a fierce battle with an SS Ducati and a Honda CB 1000. The Ducati was beaten between turns 11 and 12 and then the Honda at the end of the straight into turn 1.

“I knew I had the better of the duke and I lined him up through the last part of turn 12, I love that series of corners, but it’s scary… so fast, so smooth”, Greg laughs. “Then I tucked in behind the Honda, saw the Last Lap board and popped out from behind going into turn one. The wind buffeted the front-end around badly and it must have looked pretty messy but I got him and held him off to finish 14th from 23rd on the grid which isn’t too bad in 3 laps.”

That race gave the best lap times and top speed of the weekend 1.55.89 and a top speed of 218kmh (135.5mph).

Comparing the top speeds and lap times to other Laverda raced at Phillip Island in the previous 5 years the D.A.M. Classic Racing triple was the fastest in Australia at that time.

James and Angus Parish changed wheels, set the tyre-warmers and looked after refueling so the pit team ran smoothly and calmly.

Again starting from 23rd position the Laverda carved it’s way to finish 13th in Race 3.

Because of the danger of blowing the motor if raced too lean the team kept enriching the mixture. Even so, the lap times were still consistently faster than last year, so the D.A.M. Classic Racing team and supporters were very pleased with the weekend’s results. Little by little, one change at a time, and the bike got quicker.

Another good start for Race 4 and Greg was up into 12th position by lap 4 when a dramatic missed gear-shift happened on the last lap coming out of turn 10. “I  had just got through the steep downhill and made a mistake with the race pattern gear shift, changed down instead of up and nearly high-sided going into turn eleven. I recovered and got back onto the power but the Honda had caught me. I had the inside line and was running wide and we went around that corner together, neither of us prepared to give way and I had his fairing leaning on my elbow and leg.

So close!

I eased off just enough to get in behind him and then lined him up for turn 12.” Greg pauses for a moment. “It’s funny you know… ‘cos sometimes you can tell when they are going as fast as they feel safe, so if you can just go at them at that moment, often you can sneak past.”

The D.A.M. Classic Racing Laverda took the Honda on the outside at turn 12 and raced to the line, finishing 12th in the final race of the weekend.

The accumulated score when the final flag waved was 37 Championship points and the Laverda was 11th outright in the international Post Classic Unlimited Class of the 2014 Phillip Island Classic.

Chris Cutler compares notes on bike prep with Greg Parish


Racing the D.A.M. Classic Racing Laverda at the Phillip Island International Classic 2014 owed much credit to Laverda Owners Victoria and a group of generous individuals who passed the hat around to raise support for The DAM Laverda entry into this event.

Engineers Ian Drysdale & Greg Wood in particular both went the extra mile at a time when they could have been on summer holidays.

And all those riders who continue to bring their bikes to D.A.M. Classic Racing for service and repair. Thank you to all involved.


Laverda at the Phillip Island International Classic 2014

Angus prepares to  remove the carburettors

Mark Muir and Antony Carberry in the DAM Pit

Greg and James reset the jetting

Poppy and Mike Costin

Copyright The DAM

Laverda Top Speeds and Fastest Laps at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit 2011-2014
ICR				917cc 2C      1.49.074	    216 kmh	    2013	Drymsby Middleton
DAMCR		         981cc 3C       1.55.890	    218 kmh	    2014	Greg parish
Redax 			1136cc 3C     2.02.784	    213 kmh     2015	Paul Casson
Redax		         880cc 2C       2.03.172 	    199 kmh	    2014	Phillip Brewer

Phillip Isalnd Grand Prix Circuit is the highest average speed circuit on the MotoGP calendar.

It also boasts the highest outright speed on the front straight of any circuit in Australia.


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