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Croz’s first Oz Race: Castrol 6 hour 1975

Submitted by on April 7, 2010

“My first race on Australian soil was at the 1975 Castrol Six Hour. I travelled over in the belief that I could find a ride and I thought that Kawasaki Australia would help a little through my contacts with Kawasaki New Zealand. I found out a lot about Aussies from day one when I turned up to meet Kawasaki’s sales manager, the late Myles Stivano.

“I rolled up to Myles’ door and went ‘knock, knock, knock’ and asked, ‘Can I have a Kawasaki to do the Castrol Six-Hour?’ He said, ‘No, f*ck off! Ring Peter Stevens (Australian Triumph importer) because they want to put a Triumph in.’ He wasn’t joking either. He had that look in his eyes that said, ‘We have the best bikes’. I was politely told that Team Kawasaki’s effort revolved around Gregg Hansford and Murray Sayle plus up-and-coming Kiwi rider Rick Perry. He said there were few privateers, and in the end we borrowed a bike, an old Z1-B. Former REVS magazine ad man Bernie Summers was scheduled to ride it, but ‘Bummers’ had a road bike crash and broke 13 legs, so I filled in for him.

“Well I was in boots and all I was introduced to a local hotshot Chris Wise from Sydney’s south-western suburbs. He was a very talented rider but I guess like so many young riders he had a family and was building his own cartage business. Amaroo Park was really small, tight hilly circuit taking only about 60 seconds to run a lap. On my first visit to Amaroo, I was astounded at the flies and the heat. Constantly swatting at the little bastards that hovered around your face, I finally got to appreciate the meaning of ‘the great Aussie salute!’

“Our old Z1 was in a bit of a sad state when I first laid eyes on it. Having been ridden on roads all of its life, it required lots of parts replaced to meet the official check. We had to replace mufflers, foot pegs, and all sorts of silly minor parts but having travelled all the way to the moon and back, it was well run in. The bike was put together with help from sidecar racer Peter Campbell, who knew the Z1 engine backwards, but he did struggle getting the valve clearance correct and we started the race with a distinct rattle on number three cylinder. Valve shims were just not available for love nor money. It didn’t seem to make much difference though and we started the race and put up a solid showing until we ran out of fuel which was a common thing in that race – it was critical to get an hour out of a tank prior to handing over to the co-rider. This ultimately meant one less stop. We missed calculated our fuel consumption and finished well down the field.”

The race was won by Team Kawasaki stars Hansford and Sayle on a Z1 900 after a brilliant battle with a Ducati SS900 ridden solo by Queenslander John Warrian, but despite his inauspicious debut, Croz would go on to star in Australia until he left for the world 500cc championship in 1980.

Darryl Flack

Images: Deejay51.com, GraemeCrosby.com

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