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THE AUSTRALIAN MotoGP  October 14-16, 2011


Preparing the DAM Laverda motorcycle to race at the 2011 MotoGP Historic Races at Phillip Island almost turned out to be a case of biting off more than they could chew for The DAM team. Unlike Greg's 'Lazuki' 1200cc bike of 1990, the motor in the DAM was a very early model 3C (2092) of  981cc  fitted with 10:1 pistons and A11 cams but with the addition of 36mm carburettors and a Megacycle 3 into 1 exhaust.



After an almost faultless run at the Broadford Bike Bonanza over the Easter weekend in 2011, the age of many components having sat inert for 21 years started to take its toll. The first to fail was the support bearing on the drive side of the crank which had developed serious surface pitting and destroyed itself in its maiden run at Broadford Raceway. The exhaust baffles had rusted and collapsed.  Ken Onus at Megacycle Engineering was amazed to see the 25 year old muffler which is not available anymore. “We do things differently now, but I just happened to have a new-old-stock item that I could fit.”



As the engine cooled after this initial run the rubber o-rings in the inlet manifolds collapsed and a manifold fractured. Greg put in a call to Laverda Club Victoria and Serge Canale who promptly produced a replacement which was soon machined to spec by Ian Drysdale. "In the 1980's  it was the cheapest way to configure the inlet ports for the bigger carbs by using manifolds from a 750 SF which already have a taper from 36mm to 34mm. This way we only had to taper a custom made plastic spacer for these to work on a standard head."



The 2011 rules for Historic Racing require any engine case that might release oil, if broken upon impact in a fall, to be protected so Ian and Greg manufactured a cover from aluminium sheet. Also required is a rear chain guard. Having limited area for decals on the SFC fairing this item became a great place for a DAM sponsor sticker.


Greg removed the Jota 4C cams from his old racer and dialled them into the 981cc DAM Laverda and then trailered the bike to Callaway Performance for another Greg to work his particular magic on the dyno. Greg Callaway and his partner Vicki have Goolwa Spa and River Retreat right on the banks of the Murray River at Torrumbarry. "I could go up there for Greg C to work the bike on the dyno and then have a luxurious spa in their retreat accommodation while the kangaroos and emus wandered around the garden, all with the backdrop of an extraordinary Northern Victorian sunset on the river. You can’t beat that."

The 30 year old ignition system cannibalised  from the ‘Lazuki’ finally failed and Greg Callaway removed the computer programmable system from his own racing Jota and installed it into the DAM Laverda to keep the show on the road.

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But another missed gear-shift at turn 10 on the warm-up lap had resulted in the valves colliding, a serious loss of power and eventual engine failure. 

"I found that when I was hanging off the right hand side of the bike I couldn't complete the shift properly with my left foot. I’ve had all the metal plates and screws removed from that leg now but old injuries have a habit of coming back to haunt you. That’s something I’ll have to work on. A valve finally let go on lap 6 and parked itself in the spark plug and that was the end of my race weekend. That was really disappointing, it was bit like a quick ride around an old favourite road, I was just getting back into it.”

With the help of visiting friend Alan Cudlip,  a smaller rear sprocket was installed while Greg Callaway took to the cover to remove any excess material. The extra lean angle on the left side is paramount at the fast Island circuit.

Angus and Greg had also discussed changing the road going gear-shift pattern of 1-down/4-up to the upside-down race pattern. "I missed a few gear changes in Practice which was not good for the motor and I’m afraid I might bend a valve. I have never used race pattern, not even back in the '80's when I was racing regularly so now isn't the time to change so we’ve left it as the road going pattern."

The scheduled Qualifying session was cancelled due to oil on the track. The lap times from the Practice session now became the final Grid positions. “Our 4th lap of practice was our best so that put us in 30th position out of 40 starters.”



"When it came to race one I was very anxious about the start. The steward let us onto the track at the dummy grid at Turn 5 and I presumed that was all the warm up we were going to get. So when we formed up on the grid and when the flag dropped like it did in the ‘80s I took off like a cut cat thinking that was the race start. It wasn't until I came around to line up on the grid again that I realised I was 'racing' on the warm-up lap. No wonder I was passing everything in sight!"

"I'm happy." Greg laughs. "I haven’t been on a race track for 20 years. It seems  I've dropped half a second a lap for every year I haven't raced since then! Those lap-times will come down, there’s no doubt about that. Angus and I came here to have fun and we certainly enjoyed the weekend. The DAM Studio was well advertised with our total supply of stickers being picked up by people coming past for a look on Saturday, and plenty of people came away with great photos of our Laverda with Callaway Performance and Drysdale Motorcycle Co decals on it at the races, so yeah, we feel pretty good.

We can go away from this race and develop this bike into something that can be very competitive in its class. And we’ll have the Laverda 500 twin that Angus is keen to race as well."

Greg's fastest lap was achieved in the first session of the morning Practice after just 3 laps while scrubbing in his 18” treaded race tyres. It was exactly 10 seconds slower than his best lap of the Island circuit, on a Laverda, of 1.55.8 in the 1990 World Superbike Support races 22 years earlier.


Arriving at Phillip Island Race Circuit on Thursday morning Angus and Greg were keen to set up their pit. "We were the first historic team to arrive. I was really excited," says Greg. "and to be back at Phillip Island for a race day was one thing, but to have not been on a race track for 22 years and then be here on a bike I've only cruised around on once, it made me pretty nervous. We have a 19:45 final drive ratio on the bike at the moment which is too short for this track, but I'll go out anyway in Practice and then make a decision on the ratio I think we need. We have a 39 tooth rear sprocket and a 41 as alternatives."


20 minutes later Greg took to the track for practice, turning in a 2.05.8 after 4 laps. "I was in top gear before I came onto the main straight and the engine was into redline about two hundred metres later, so it was as I expected with the gearing. But the bike feels really good. These modern tyres behave quite differently to what I used in the past, very confidence inspiring. I’m scraping the left engine cover going through Southern Loop." 

Laverda at the Australian MotoGP 2011

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