Sunday, February 12, 2017

Rich Schlachter's 1981 season revisited

I was a bit premature in posting my report on Rich Schlachter's 1981 season as I realized later that I left out at least a couple of races and in researching them I found more detail on the races that I did report.
I already reported on Rich's 250 ride at the Dutch TT at Assen, but Rich also had a one off ride in the 350 GP, as reported in Cycle News: "Rich Schlachter's ride in the 350cc World Championship class at the June 27 road race in Assen, Holland was arranged through Kenny Roberts according to Schlachter's sponsor Bob MacLean.  'Rich rode (350cc) World Champion Jon Ekerold's back-up bike and although it wasn't really set up for his style, I think he really did well before being forced to retire when the shift lever broke.'"
I left out the Belgium GP at Spa because there was no mention of Rich in the Motocourse report, but Henny Ray Abrams reported in Cycle News: "For Connecticut's Rich Schlachter it was a disappointing weekend.  He had qualified twelfth in the first practice session on Thursday, but holed a piston on Saturday and after putting in a new engine, seized again....For American Rich Schlachter the weekend was a learning experience at best.  'I learned that you need two motorcycles to really do the GP's right.  If I had two bikes I'd have been out there today,' the Krause Racing /MacLean Racing /Arai/Hostettler/Castrol/ Champion sponsored Schlachter said.  there was a rash of seizures during the week which many attributed to bad gasoline.  Schlachter seized twice in the same spot.  'It locked up both times in the fast left-hander just before the hairpin.  It's a flat-out fifth gear turn, but the rear wheel didn't  lock up either time.  I like the track.  It's real fast and the corners are wide so you can see them going in. But it's real dangerous.  Most every corner has hay bales and guardrail around it.'  Since he only went a few laps in the dry (it was wet on Friday qualifying) he was unable to qualify and had to watch the race atop the Dunlop truck with mechanic Kevin Cameron."  This was probably the first time Henny and Rich met.  Henny was a photographer working for UPI in Brussels at the time, and they became good friends.
The next weekend was the San Marino GP at Imola.  Lou Martin reported in Cycle News: "American Richard Schlachter had a day he would rather forget at Imola.  Different fuel and a change of lubricating oil caused untold carburetor problems in practice and during the race.  The bike was described as a pig by mechanic Kevin cameron after Schlachter finish 19th of 22 finishers in the 250 class."
Rich came back to the US to ride his TZ750 at Laguna, which was run in two 100 kilometer legs.  Dale Brown reported in Cycle News: "The top two positions were set to the flag, but third became a bone of contention at the midway point as Schlachter, on the MacLean Racing /Xastrol/Arai/Sky Cycles Yamaha, moved up to challenge Bettencourt, riding a Yamaha sponsored by Bettencourt's Yamaha and Suzui and J. Wood, for third.  Schlachter, who is actively pursuing the 250cc World Road Racing Championship Series this year, made the pass on lap 16 and made it stick for almost 4 laps before he started to lose his rear brake and being forced to slow his pace.....
Bettencourt took the flag in third and followed by Schlachter, but Schlachter's 4-4 tally toped Bettencourt's 7-3.  'We just wanted to hang in there and get a good placing,' said Schlacher.  'we had an awful lot of problems in practice and the Heat race yesterday, so that hurt me in the first heat today.  But overall, it worked out quite well.' "
Alan Cathcart reported in Cycle News on the British GP at Silverstone two weeks after Laguna: "Freymond then fell back into the clutches of these three, among them Richard Schlachter, enjoying his best-ever start in a GP this year.  Qualifying a lowly 21st after blowing an engine in practice, the Old Lyme, Ct. rider has impressed trackside observers by his determination as he swooped through packs of riders in the corners to make up what he was evidently losing down the straights.  His flyer of a start ensured he was able to get a tow from the factory Kawasaki of Aussie Graeme McGregor as well as Marin Wimmer's Yamaha of Germany TZ, and by lap four he was in third place and his best GP position thus far.  This became second on lap 10 with a  heart-stopping pass inside of Wimmer in the first turn, but then Schlachter began to drop back, losing places on each successive lap until he'd become detached from the trio by lap 15, and was in danger of losing his tow.
Fortunately, Richard was alive to the problem, and hoisted himself back into contention by the final two laps, still in 5th place.  This became fourth in a tremendous pass around the outside of Wimmer before the flag to be first pistons-port machine home and equalling his best-ever finish in
Spain earlier this year.
Richard Schlachter has shown by his performances this year in Europe that it is possible for an  American  rider  to pack his bags and head for Europe with only the minimum of sponsorship and a production bike.  Provided he isn't disheartened by a few initial setbacks, he'll be able to compete on equal terms with the Europeans and beat them.  All you need is talent, belief in yourself some good help and a couple of breaks.  Are there any more Richard Schlachters out there?"
Lou Martin in Cycle News on Imatra:"Richard Schlachter got a good mid-field start but overshot the chicane on the first lap.  He continued and was 23rd at the completion of the first lap.  Schlachter clawed his way into fifth place with some absolutely brilliant riding and dicing with Grand Prix regulars like Fernandez only to have a certain fifth place turn into a DNF when he ran out of fuel on the next-to-last lap.  Schlachter is determined to win a world championship, and he has the talent to do it.  It would be a shame to see the enormous cost of fielding a competitive bike for a full season rob him of his goal, as Schlachter is living a hand to mouth existence contesting the GPs."
 Lou Martin on Swedish GP at Anderstorp: "Richard  Schlachter finished in ninth place after riding the whole race with a faulty  monoshock unit.  His TZ250's unit went in practice and a 500 Yamaha unit was fitted but it was not dialed in properly.  Schlachter is now eighth place in the 250cc World Road Racing Championship standings with one round remaining at Brno, Czechoslovakia on Aug.30."
Rich finished the season with an event that I had forgotten that he was involved with: Superbikers.  This was the precursor to SuperMoto with a circuit that was part asphalt and part dirt.  The event was made for TV and riders were selected from the three disciplines of road race, dirt track, and motocross.  
Mark Kariya in Cycle News on the 1 Nov. Superbikers race at Carlsbad: "In the Bel-Ray Challenge Cup team competition (to qualify, each team had to be composed of a dirt tracker, a motocrosser and a road racer), Team Honda, with riders Mickey Fey, Wise and John Bettencourt, grabbed the spotlight for the second year in a row at 38 points.  Scoring was done motocross style with heat and main event scores added, low score winning.
Team Maico was the only team to get all three riders into the main.  Steve Eklund, Rich Schlachter and Carlos Serrano came up with 46 points for second team on bikes they'd had out of the crate four days.
Heats
The first five finisher from each of the three eight-lap heats transferred to the 12 lap main.  There would be no second chance.
In the first heat, comprised of road race specialist, Eddie Lawson latched on to the early  lead and ran the rest of the distance unchallenged....Dave Aldana who quickly rode from fourth to second in the early going on a Dallas Baker/ATK Yamaha......John Bettencourt on a Honda CR480R, 1981 World Sidecar Champion (well, half the team, at least) Rolf Biland on a Husky CR430 and Rich Schlachter on a Maico 490 were the next riders across and into the main.....
Rich finished 12th in the final

6 March, Daytona  Battle of the Twins,                  Gee Vee Ducati  1st Mod Prod Pro, 2nd Overall
7 March, Daytona 100 mile LightWeight,               TZ250 Yamaha,  DNF, in 4th when chain came off
8 March, Daytona 200                                             TZ750 Yamaha, 3rd, after having led until he lost 2nd and 3rd gears
5 April,   Imola 200                                                 TZ750 Yamaha, DNS got there too late and wasn't allow to start
12 April, Circuit Paul Ricard Moto Journal 200,    TZ750 Yamaha, DNS, chain came off on warm-up lap after qualifying 2nd
17 April, Brands Hatch, TAMR, heat 1                   TZ750 Yamaha, 2nd
                                                     heat 2                   TZ750 Yamaha, 2nd
19 April, Mallory Park, TAMR   heat 3                    TZ750 Yamaha, 3rd
                                                     heat 4                    TZ750 Yamaha, 5th after chain started jumping sprocket
20 April, Oulton Park, TAMR     heat 5                    TZ750 Yamaha, 18th, DNF crash
                                                     heat 6                     TZ750 Yamaha, DNS
3 May,   Hockenheim,             250cc GP                    TZ250 Yamaha, 6th
10 May, Monza,                      250cc GP                     TZ250 Yamaha, DNF after tape from radiator got in carb
17 May, Circuit Paul Ricard,  250cc GP                     TZ250 Yamaha, DNF, stuck throttle, 2nd in practice
24 May, Jarama,                     250cc GP                      TZ250 Yamaha, 4th after last off the line
27 June, Assen,                      250cc GP                      TZ250 Yamaha, 9th, qualified 6th
                                               350 cc GP                      TZ350 Yamaha, DNF, broken shift lever
5 July, Spa Francochamps      250ccGP                        TZ250 Yamaha, did not qualify after a couple of seizures in practice
12 July, Imola                         250cc GP                       TZ250 Yamaha, 19th bike ran poorly
19 July, Laguna Seca Champion Sparkplug 200          TZ750 Yamaha, 4th and 4th=3rd overall
2 August, Silverstone             250cc GP                       TZ250 Yamaha, 4th with fastest lap of the race
9 August, Imatra                     250cc GP                       TZ250 Yamaha, DNF ran out of fuel while in 5th with two laps to go
16 August, Anderstorp           250cc GP                        TZ250 Yamaha, 9th with bad rear shock
30 August, Brno                     250cc GP                        TZ250 Yamaha, DNF broken exhaust pipe
1 November, Carlsbad            Superbikers                    490 Maico,       5th in heat, 12th in final

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