Europe’s biggest classic thrash set for Donington this weekend

Five hundred riders will hammer hundreds of bikes through 50 events at the Donington Classic Festival this weekend, in what is claimed to be Europe’s biggest historic race meeting.

In the premier race for the Wheatcroft Trophy on Sunday, Yamaha TZ350s and TZ750s will tussle with eighties’ Superbikes such as Harris Yamahas and Suzuki XR69s in pursuit of the £1000 first prize.

With over 70 potential starters for the Wheatcroft race, the CRMC organising club will run heats will be run to whittle the field down to a grid of 42 bikes of different eras and capacities. That’s one of the charms of classic racing - lots of metal, lots of variety.

Last year’s Wheatcroft winner George Hogton-Rustling is again a threat on an XR69, and at 25 years of age proves that classic racing is now a young’s man game as well as for silver foxes. He could be challenged by talent such as Lee Hodge, who rides Minnovation Racing’s Yamaha TZ750. Noted for making exquisite replicas of the Matchless G50 British single, the multi-skilled Minnovation crew are now working on making replicas of the two-stroke four.

The programme includes rounds of the ACU 350 and 500cc championships, and the Bonhams Lansdowne series, which bans fairings and has a 1963 cut-off point. The Lansdowne tries to present classic racing pretty much as it was in the fifties and early sixties.

Watch, too, for the spectacular sidecar outfits, where you’ll find power supplied by Hillman Imp car engines, BMW flat twins and Brit parallel twins. In fact that’s one of the great joys of the Donington Festival - just wandering around the paddock and nosing into the garages to look at the amazing ways in which people can go classic racing, from a budget of a couple of thousand to £50,000.

The metronome-steady pulse of the event is handled by the CRMC (Classic Racing Motorcycle Club), which welcomes everything from two-stroke 125 singles to might Eddie Lawson-era naked Superbikes.

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