Kiki Show Stoppers

Manx Independent - 25 June 1993

THERE were no prizes for naming Which machine attracted most attention at this year's TT. The fantastic lOOOcc vee-twin innovation of the amazing John Britten was, to say the least, stunning. Only down to compete in the one race (the Senior), the brightly coloured Britten received more media focus and general interest than all the other machines combined.

Said to produce around 160 bhp at 10,000 rpm, rider Shaun Harris admitted the night before the big race that he considered the bike to be the quickest at the TT.

"My biggest problem is keeping the front wheel down", said the diminutive New Zealander, who'd completed only four laps of practice aboard the machine prior to the race, the fastest of which was just over 110 mph.

Shaun had tested the bike a month earlier in Italy, but was still very much in unknown territory when he leapt aboard at the start of the Senior.

His opinion that the bike was the quickest on the Island were confirmed when it was clocked through the speed trap at the Kawasaki bridge just past the Grandstand at 165 mph on lap two. Phillip McCallen's so called RVF Honda went through at 163.

A lap of 115.87 mph placed the ginger haired Kiwi 12th at the end of lap two. a position he held onto at half distance.

An even quicker lap of 116.43 mph moved the 23 year old former New Zealand 250 champion up to llth spot ahead of leading local Gary Radcliffe on lap four, but the Britten camp's dreams of a finish were shattered shortly later when the bike came to a halt near Glen Lough camp site.

John Britten was philosophical about the machine's performance after the race. "We came here to gain experience and to show the bike off to the World press", said the former property developer who gained an Engineering degree through an evening course at Polytech.

"Of course we're disappointed, but the bike performed well and we'll hopefully be back next year to do better if we agree terms with the organisers".

Sbaun Harris eventually rode the bike back to the pits on open roads, having remedied the loose oil pipe - a by-pass which Britten had only fitted as a precaution against the rigours of the Mountain Course - the machine normally running without an oil cooler.

"I had to keep short shifting the thing to keep it on the ground", said Harris, "it's just awesome man".

Harris had surprised the machine's brilliant inventor too. "I'd designed the suspension so that it wouldn't bottom out", said Britten, "but Shaun told me it had in practice and I didn't believed him until I saw the on-board video play back of the race".

Incredibly the bike, which incorporates a Ford Cortina oil pump and GSXR Suzuki gear and clutch parts, did not have the luxury of a rev counter. A small red light showed the rider when the bike was beneath the power band, replaced by a green when it was. It came back into the red at top revs, but Harris reckoned it just kept on pulling like a train whatever colour it showed!

One particular problem the ultra-light machine does suffer, however, is a reluctance to start from cold. Harris and his mechanics spent more than an hour practising push starts in the paddock the day prior to the Senior. Allowed only one pusher in the pits on race day, the machine fired up an average of just once in ten attempts in the paddock.

Fortunately, on race day the vee-twin behaved itself better, firing into life relatively quicker after the two petrol stops.

Let's hope the mighty Britten team return next year for a top ten finish.

Photo top:
READY FOR THE OFF... Bike inventor John Britten (standing) looks a touch pensive as finishing touches are made to the 1000cc vee-twin prior to the Senior TT. Rider Shaun Harris is cleaning the slick front tyre with &n alcohol based fluid.

Photo bottom:
FLYING KIWI... Shaun Harris aviates the front wheel of the Britten over the St.Ninians road junction on his way to a 116 mph fourth lap.

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