MotoGP – Australian GP – FP2 practice: Marquez and Lorenzo separated by 0.050 sec! –

Endurance racer

Godier & Genoud-Kawasaki 1000

Content of

Before long-distance races became a near-series endurance rating, extraordinary and remarkable spearheads of the motorcycle world started there. The Godier & Genoud-Kawasaki 1000 was undoubtedly one of the most unusual.

Kyoichi Nakamura

Endurance racer Godier & Genoud-Kawasaki 1000

As is often found in endurance racing – sometimes still today – it all began as a hobby of two enthusiasts who had to earn their living elsewhere full-time: in 1972, when the two first competed in the World Endurance Championship with an Egli Honda, Alain worked Genoud as head waiter in a 3-star restaurant and Georges Godier as mechanic for the Swiss Honda importer. Two world championship seasons and a title later it was still not ready to support the racing activities.

The French Kawasaki importer SIDEMM in the person of the boss Xavier Maugendre is completely different: He provided Godier / Genoud with a budget that allowed them to devote themselves full-time to the success of the green racers. In 1974 the team stuck
a Z1 engine tuned with home remedies in the Egli central tube frame and thus became long-distance world champion Maugendre’s sales benefited from the success, and he agreed to create a team under the name for the 1975 season "Kawasaki France" to send three newly designed motorcycles into the World Endurance Championship.

Godier’s sandpit friend Pierre Doncques designed the new motorcycle and thus anticipated technical innovations in motorcycle technology that would not find their way into series production until a decade later: the layout of the tubular steel frame that runs around the side of the engine was already very similar to today’s common aluminum bridge frame. A lever deflection between the central spring strut and the swing arm created a progressive characteristic curve, which proved so successful that Yamaha reproduced this concept six years later on Kenny Roberts’ 500cc GP motorcycle.

Everything was designed to shorten the downtime in the boxes. For repair work, for example, the monocoque and the frame made it possible to change the cylinder head quickly without removing the engine. In racing, quick-release fasteners for the wheels, quick-tank valves based on the US model, oil refilling by syringe and easily replaceable wear and camber parts all contributed to this.

Four Keihin CR carburettors with long air funnels prepared the mixture for the Z 900 engine, which a Yoshimura kit with 69.4 mm pistons increased to 999 cc. The inlet and outlet valves grew to 37 and 31 mm; harder springs and racing camshafts increased speed stability and power output. The pistons compressed the mixture in the combustion chambers of the revised cylinder head to 10.5: 1. Behind the standard oil bath clutch, a closely spaced Kawasaki kit transmission with a long fifth gear worked. The combustion residues were disposed of by an open 4-in-1 system from Devil – noise regulations only found their way into FIM endurance sports in 1977. Sports historians know: the motorcycle lived up to expectations, won the Bol d’Or, and the endurance world championship title went to Godier / Genoud for the third time in 1975. Promptly, at the height of their careers, both retired from active racing. Something like that is called an honorable exit.

In the years that followed, the duo built racing motorcycles on a commission basis and thus had a share in other endurance world championship titles and in Kawasaki’s entry into
the Superbike World Championship. Godier & Genoud was also registered as an independent motorcycle brand; more than 500 street motorcycles with Kawasaki engines between 998 and 1135 cm³ left their factory. In 1993, Georges Godier had an accident on a test drive. Alain Genoud needed a little to find his way around without his friend and business partner, but then caught the wave of youngtimer races precisely, became France’s leading tuner for Japanese four-stroke four-cylinder and even won the French Pro Classic title in 2003.

Back to the motorcycle from 1975: The first thing the newcomer notices when taking a seat is the unusually low seat height of 760 mm. Comparatively high placed footrests and the clamp grip of the rump wedge the driver. "We didn’t do gymnastics back then as you do today", Alain Genoud winks at me and stretches a thick rubber pad on the seat to relieve my knees. "We had to persevere for a long time and split up our forces because we were only allowed to use two riders per motorcycle."

Once you have folded yourself appropriately, the motorcycle appears a bit contradictory: at the same time narrow and wide. The upper part of the aluminum fuel tank is narrow. Most of its volume rests between the driver and the transmission, which keeps the center of gravity low and minimizes the influence of the tank level on the overall balance. Tea fairing is wide and high and protects the driver from the wind even at high speeds.

The handling does not suffer from this, not even from the long wheelbase of 1480 mm and the steering head, which is unusually flat at 62 degrees. Thanks to the lever deflection, the tubular swing arm allows 200 mm of spring travel on the rear wheel, which on the one hand enables a relatively comfortable set-up and on the other hand guarantees the wide four-cylinder sufficient freedom of lean angle.

Genoud specifies 105 hp at 9000 rpm on the rear wheel as the nominal power, which is said to have been enough for 255 km / h in 1975 on the fast Michelin test track near Clermont-Ferrand. Here and now on the narrow Circuit Carole north of Paris, such speed regions are far away. The choke lever activates the fuel pump, which floods the carburetors, and the starter balances the engine. Moderate tuning has retained its indulgent character, it completely copes with Carole’s infield in second gear. From 4000 rpm the two-valve engine runs smoothly, smoothly picks up the gas and switches to overrun mode without hiccups. Properly usable performance shows between 6000 / min and the red area at 9000 / min. Switching earlier – narrow steps back or forth – causes the speed to drop so far that the connection no longer fits. Therefore, on the Kawa, as in the Viennese waltz: turn, turn, turn. Unlike some dance partners, however, the green one does not run out of breath so quickly; the engine roars powerfully and climbs through the speed dial without much effort.

Genoud replaced the cast brake discs from JPX; now 300 mm stainless steel discs from Brembo rotate between the two two-piston fixed calipers on the front wheel. The arrangement cooperates a bit awkwardly and does not inspire confidence in the driver, which can be annoying in the long run in long-distance races.

The highlight of the excellent Kawasaki performance is the rear suspension. By the mid-1970s she was way ahead of all her competitors. In the meantime, a fully adjustable Koni shock absorb has replaced the original DeCarbon part, for which parts were no longer available. Even on a furrowed track like Carole, the chassis is always stable, the driver always feels in control of the situation. Some of the motorcycles of this millennium would be expected to have such superior handling. However, the fork looks underdamped in direct comparison to the hindquarters. But Alain Genoud throws in that the viscosity of the fork oil may not match the high summer temperatures.

What was an elaborately prepared and successful long-distance racer in 1975 can, in retrospect, be considered a prototype of the modern street motorcycle today. However, Kawasaki missed the opportunity to make the many technical features available to the general public. It wasn’t until more than a decade later that Honda and Yamaha brought the bridge frame with profiles around the four-cylinder in-line ready for mass production and earned the applause that Kawasaki could have had much earlier.

Related articles

Related articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *