The glorious sunshine that warmed the Bikers’ Classics was also of a symbolic nature.
Not only the spectators could enjoy three days of blue skies, the organization was more than happy with the 11th classic race event at the picturesque Spa-Francorchamps circuit. “At the moment we don’t know exactly how many people came to this 11th edition of the Bikers’ Classics, but this is one the best years we’ve had”, said Olivier Aerts of organizers DG Sport. “Also because of the incredibly relaxed atmosphere among spectators and riders and subsequently also among us as organizers.”
Although the last minute absence of popular Superbike rider Rob Phillis was a big disappointment, Phillis’ compatriot and Bikers’ Classics first-timer Wayne Gardner’s raving comments about the event were like music to Aerts’ ears. “What a wonderful event”, smiled 1987 500cc world champion Gardner. “Everything went smoothly and the response of the crowd was great too.” Surprisingly Gardner did not ride a Honda, but a Yamaha YZR500 formerly raced by Christian Sarron in 1986. “It doesn’t have the power of the Honda NSR I rode that year, but it handles beautifully”, Gardner noticed. During a spectacular GP500 Parade on Sunday Gardner, Sarron, Steve Plater and surprise addition and current Moto2 championship leader Scott Redding put up a great show for the fans.
On a 1994 ex-Schwantz Suzuki RGV500 of collector Steve Wheatman the 20-year-old British rider clearly enjoyed himself. “The bike turns like a 125 but it keeps on going in 6th gear”, smiled Redding, rider of the Belgian Marc VDS Racing Team. “I wasn’t even born when Kevin raced this bike, so for me it’s amazing to ride this. Why don’t they bring this back? I felt completely comfortable on the bike. I even got my elbow down.”
For Gardner it was an unusual experience: “Those Suzukis of Plater and Redding were so much faster, I felt like I was on a 250!”
Christian Jupsin, CEO of DG Sport, was not only thrilled by the show GP500 Parade participants like Gardner, Sarron, Giacomo Agostini, Wil Hartog and home hero Didier de Radiguès delivered. “The passion of the sidecar guys was something that was much appreciated by the spectators”, said Aerts. “People loved seeing champs like Rolf Steinhausen and Werner Schwärzel ride hard. Getting an inside view in the sidecar scene was something many enjoyed too. Also, the easy going attitude of the sidecar men was great. Clearly the Sidecar Parade is here to stay.”
For the 2014 edition of the Bikers’ Classics DG Sport aims to persuade more top class Superbike riders to come to Spa-Francorchamps. “The riders who were present gave their all, but I’d like to get some bigger names for 2014. Terry Rymer has promised us he will try to get some of his former racing buddies to come along and bring some great bikes too. My personal ambition is to get King Carl Fogarty on our list for next year. I think it’s time.”
Three full days of parading and racing – the 4 Hours of Spa Classic once more growing in status and rider attraction – combined with an attractive entertainment programme of signing sessions, interviews, the used spare parts market and Triumph test rides proved to be another great success.
The 2014 edition of the Bikers’ Classics at Spa-Francorchamps will take place in the first weekend of July.