Raceblog: Harley one-make series for BSB?

How about a Harley-Davidson XR1200 racing series as a support class for the 2009 BSB championship?

I only ask because I just happened to spot this Italian Harley XR1200 Trophy race when I was surfing around the Harley sites (see video below).

With the R1 Cup scrapped and the KTM series switching from naked LC8s to more race-like RC8s, there’s a slot open on the BSB programme again for a naked-bike racing class – in keeping with the championship’s ethos of having both pro racing classes and classes purely for entertainment.

Having a grid-full of snarlin’, snortin’ XR1200s barrelling into a first corner at any BSB track seems high on entertainment value to me. But then I have openly admitted my allegiance to all things Harley in the past.

The possibility has not been lost on BSB Race Director Stuart Higgs either who said: “If the conditions were right to promote such a series then we would be very interested.  Harley-Davidson is probably the most iconic motorcycle brand in the world.”

It seems the XR1200 race at the delightfully-named Autodromo Dell’Umbria Magione, Perugia was billed as a one-off end-of-season, toe-in-the-water, try-out. But as one-offs go it looked pretty well-sorted for a full championship war zone in 2009. A full grid of 48 bikes (including former WSB competitors Paolo Casoli, Luca Pasini, Luca Pini (the Magione race winner) plus 1989 Euro250 champ Andrea Borgonovo), all backed by dealerships, and massive Harley-Davidson support. Pretty damn impressive that they managed to get 48 bikes, race-prepped ready, when the damn thing was only just hitting the British showrooms. Call it Harley dedication.

The video, to be honest, isn’t great quality, but the racing looks pretty competitive and the sound… well the sound reminds me of a half-mile dirt-track full of bellowing XR750s. Just savour the moment the bikes come thundering out of the final left-hander onto the front straight. I swear some of the riders are mimicking the classic dirt-track pose, gripping the left-side fork stanchion to get tucked in for the draft.
Harley’s heavy promotion of the new XR1200 is impressive and not only that, Harley is offering a ‘professional’ Trophy kit available for XR1200Rs, complete with front number board, shorty Akrapovic pipes (they weigh 6.5kgs), alloy wheels, Dunlop Sportmax D209 tyres, Ohlins shocks, Braking wave disc, re-located oil rad (the stock bike has it hung off the left side down tube) plus an optional Screamin’ Eagle Pro Super Turner electronic box to re-map the engine management.

I reckon the UK series would pay dividends. The fans would get something different to watch between the regular fayre of production-based, sportsbike racing (and before you say it, yes, I know the 125s are GP-style pure-racing two-strokes).
BSB tracks might welcome a bunch of new fans. If the UK dealers got behind such a series you could guarantee they would do everything in their power to entice the local HOG chapters along (each dealer has a local Harley Owners Group which tends to be very active and well supported).

It’s not like this hasn’t been done before. In the early 90s there was a Harley 883 Sportster series (huge in the US, a damp squib in the UK) but back then only a handful of UK dealers supported it (Warrs, Riders and The Foundry being the stalwarts I remember).

Times have changed. These days Harley won’t do anything by halves. You can bet if Harley UK did promote an XR1200 Trophy at BSB it would be the works: Huge US articulated unit, massive paddock presence, HOG ride-ins, parades, US guest rider appearances, maybe even an XR1200 Trophy World Cup because you can bet that the French and Germans will follow the Italian lead. Dammit, Harley might even pay for TV coverage.

So over to you Harley UK. I say bring it on. Damn the racing, let’s feel the noise!
But what do you think? Does BSB need another racing class? Or more important, does BSB need a Harley racing class?


Gary Pinchin

By Gary Pinchin