The 2016 edition of the Bikers’ Classics was more than ever about the men and their machines. With Bikers’ Classics regulars Giacomo Agostini and Christian Sarron making their annual appreciated visits, the fans were introduced to a new and unique MotoGP sound at the Spa Francorchamps circuit. Bikers’ Classics first-timer John McGuinness was a big fan favourite.
Clearly, this year’s Bikers’ Classics provided a different sound sensation to previous editions. Three roaring Ducati Desmosedicis – formerly raced by Loris Capirossi, Troy Bayliss and Casey Stoner – a couple of green and mean works Kawasakis and a Scott Redding Honda RCV1000R heralded a new era for the Bikers’ Classics. The collaboration with the Amicale Spirit of Speed brought magnificent MotoGP machinery that had never been seen or heard before at Spa Francorchamps. Next to the two-stroke tones, the roar of the four-strokes was greeted with smiles all around the crowded pitlane and the grandstands. However, once again the sunny Sunday GP Parade confirmed the popularity of 15-time World Champion Giacomo Agostini. Riding a 1974 Yamaha TZ700, ‘Ago’ unexpectedly headed for the pit lane after a few laps, making a surprise switch with Christian Sarron’s distinctive blue 1988 YZR500, before rejoining Honda RS500 mounted Didier de Radigues and many others on the track.
Forty years after his very first visit as a toddler, Isle of Man legend John McGuinness returned to Spa Francorchamps. “In 1976 my father, who was a racer himself, took me to the Belgian Grand Prix”, said the ‘Morecambe Missile’. “Although I was only a 4-year-old, I knew I wanted to come back. And now I’m here. What a fantastic old school circuit this is.”
McGuinness enjoyed a thunderous reception during the interview sessions and not only participated in the 4 Hours of Spa Classic on Saturday evening, he also rode his own Honda TSR250 on Sunday. For his compatriot Bradley Smith two wishes came true. “I always wanted to know what it was like to ride a 500 two-stroke and I’d always wanted to try Spa”, smiled the 25-year-old Grand Prix rider, who was accompanied by his Tech3 Yamaha crew chief Guy Coulon. “Now I’ve done both. The track is amazing and riding such a light and powerful two-stroke is clearly something else.”
Smith rode a 1993 ex-Laurent Naveau ROC Yamaha.
Massive three-wheeler attack
The Sidecar community made a succesful comeback at Spa Francorchamps after a two year absence. Former racer Ralph Bohnhorst was visibly proud of the turn-out. “This is by far the best field we’ve ever had at the Bikers’ Classics”, Bohnhorst beamed, overlooking no less than forty sidecars from Rolf Steinhausen’s Busch König to Werner Schwärzel’s 500cc König and 2015 World Champion Benny Streuer’s LCR Suzuki. Multi-American champion and speed world record holder Larry Coleman enjoyed his first visit to the Bikers’ Classics. “What a great group of people we have here in the Sidecar tent and what an unbelievable circuit this is”, said Coleman. “I’m having a blast.”
As usual, the Bikers’ Classics was about more than watching speedy GP Parades and the 4 Hours of Spa Classic – won by the flying Dutchmen Henk van der Mark and Dirk Brand – and getting up close and personal with men and machines. More than 500 bikers enjoyed their outings on the track, while both paddocks were flocked with people, browsing through the stands and the Lifestyle Village where the stars attended the highly popular signing sessions and where Yamaha and Harley-Davidson as well as specialists Fred Krugger, KD Motorcycles, Kruz Company and Zadig presented their range of bikes. “I can honestly say that I’m happy with this year’s Bikers’ Classics”, said Event Coordinator Florian Jupsin. “A big thank you to all the participants and of course also to our faithful visitors. I was also thrilled to see younger faces in the paddock. That’s what we were hoping for and for us this means we’re moving forward. This motivates us even more to make next year’s fifteenth edition of the Bikers’ Classics even more special.”