Page updated 10-Jun-2011
Jeff Brown examines Gus Kuhn's big hope for this season's endurance races.
Motor Cycle Weekly, 28 April 1979
If painstaking development, thorough preparation and determination are winning ingredients, the Gus Kuhn team must be rated among the top contenders for this year's Coupe d'Endurance crown. The team, riders Andy Goldsmith and Stewart Hodgson, with mechanic Dave Sleat and team manager Gus Kuhn boss Vincent Davey Snr have developed their Suzuki GS1000 endurance bike during the winter and Andy Goldsmith was more than pleased with the results of the bike's first team outing at Brands Hatch recently.

Goldsmith, Davey & Sleat with the Gus Kuhn Suzuki endurance racer and the race van
L-R: Andy Goldsmith, Vincent Davey and Dave Sleat

"I was impressed with last year's bike but the new one is markedly better in every way," he said. "The seating is better and the bike should be very comfortable for a 24 hour event. The motor is much more powerful too. At Brands the power was coming in with a bang at 7,500 rpm and peaking at 10,500 rpm, but it still had a lot of useful power outside the power band," continued Andy. "It was very manageable and agile too; in corners it was no harder to move around than a 350.

"I've been lucky to find a backer like Mr Davey. The team set-up is great, the back-up is there and the machine will do the job. As it is, the bike is easily competitive with the Honda RCBs," he said.

The new bike is based on the design of last year's machine (which has been up-dated to be used as a spare) and has a new frame made by Ken Sprayson of Reynolds. The swinging arm and detail frame work was done by mechanic Dave Sleat and the Gus Kuhn workshop men. Weight is about 420lb. The bike's triple clamps are re-machined BMW items while the front forks are shortened GS1000 tubes with modified springs and internals, with air pressure usually about 14psi. Front brakes are Lockheed callipers with Suzuki RG500 disc. A close-ratio gearbox is used and the bike has a standard GS1000 drive chain.

The gearshift can be easily changed from left to right. Everything on the bike is designed for quick removal with one screwdriver, the idea being the less spanners necessary, the less time spent in the pits. The swing arm pivot point is adjustable to allow the wheelbase to be altered to suit different tracks.

The engine in last year's bike was near standard but the new one has Yoshimura valve gear and cams, while the spare bike has experimental cams the team designed and made themselves. Breathing through 31mm Keihin racing carbs, Vincent Davey claims the spare bike can be converted to Formula One spec simply by bolting on standard Suzuki carbs. Unfortunately, the team will only contest a few Formula One rounds because of the effort and money concentrated on the Endurance championship.

"There's more than £20,000 tied up in that bike," said Vincent Davey, "and that's without considering the time spent on it. We simply cannot justify expanding our racing effort without assistance." But while Formula One is going to miss out on the professional approach of the Gus Kuhn team, endurance racing will certainly gain.

"It's going to be very interesting this year," Andy Goldsmith said. "With Honda cutting back it'll leave it open for the other teams - and there are a lot of good teams in it." "I think we've got the right bike at the right time. With that little bit of extra luck as the final ingredient it should be a good year for us."

Click here to find out about this GK Suzuki now.

February 17th: No Sponsors - Davey may quit F1 series. Vincent Davey, boss of London dealer Gus Kuhn, says the firm might not be able to afford to race the works Suzuki Formula One machine they are being given by Suzuki GB in this year's Forward Trust/Motor Cycle Weekly Formula One championship.

Sponsorship for the team has not materialised, says Vincent, and as Gus Kuhn are already committed to a heavy endurance racing programme, it looks as though they could have to pull out of the Formula One championship.

"We are already building two machines for the endurance racing series and those races cost us about £1,000 each because of the expense involved in shipping a full team to the meetings," said Vincent.

"I have always envisaged having sponsorshop to help with the Formula One programme, but it hasn't materialised. I think the programme could cust us about £10,000 for the season."

The GS1000-based Suzukis are being developed in America by Pops Yoshimura. Three machines are being built, two for Paul Dunstall - to be ridden by Tom Herron and Steve Parrish - and one for Gus Kuhn.

"We can't decide on a rider until we know if we can afford the team." said Vincent. [Motor Cycle Weekly]

April 28th & 29th at Le Mans: 24 Hour Race. "Heavy rain caused numerous spills during the first few hours and speeds were well below last year's. The Gus Kuhn Suzuki GS1000-based prototype was sixth in the (prototype) championship class covering 609 laps. The team was pleased with its efforts following four crashes, one in the cold and wet of Saturday afternoon when Stewart Hodgson was brought down by part of seven litres of oil left on the track from the two Moto Guzzis consistently blowing pistons, and three other night time crashes, two from Andy Goldsmith. Apart from time lost by an alternator wire coming loose the bike's engine remained on song for the entire race and wasn't damaged by any of the spills. The team was understandably pleased to finish so high up in the points in the first round of the season, on an engine which until then had yet to finish a 24-hour event." [Motor Cycle Weekly 5/5/79] Hodgson and Goldsmith finished 18th overall.

The team seem happy, despite the state of the Suzuki
The team seem happy -
despite the state of their Suzuki!
May 13th Sunday at Snetterton 1,000 Mile International Endurance Race: Only nine of the 22 starters survived the gruelling marathon. The Gus Kuhn Suzuki of Andy Goldsmith and Stew Hodgson maintained 2nd for the first two hours. Then the Suzuki's second gear broke, shattering the casing and wrecking the crankcase. Vincent Davey, driving force behind Suzuki's most consistent European endurance championship challenge said “The casting is fine for road use but a normal steel body would probably be better for racing. When the clutch flew apart it broke the bottom of the cylinders and the crankcase. Only the cylinder head was salvaged.” [Motor Cycle News 16&23/5/1979]

May 27th Assen: Results unknown

June 17th at the Nurburgring 8 hour race: The Gus Kuhn Suzuki Andy Goldsmith shared with Stew Hodgson was up to seventh after six hours but Hodgson then crashed. He pushed it back to the pits but the bike was too damaged to continue. [Motor Cycle News 20/6/1979]

July 7th & 8th July at Barcelona 24 hour race: Stew Hodgson was aboard the highest-placed British machine when a piston collapsed and bent a con-rod of the Gus Kuhn Suzuki he shared with Andy Goldsmith. Hodgson pushed the Yoshimura-kitted GS1000 back to the pits to retire after ten hours during which he and his partner climbed from 12th to fifth. [Peter Howdle, Motor Cycle News 11/7/1979]

15th & 16th September Bol d'Or 24 hour race at Paul Ricard: The race finished five minutes early when the crowds broke fences and police cordons before surging onto the track. Andy Goldsmith and Stew Hodgson retired during the night after their Gus Kuhn Suzuki produced a boxful of neutrals. [Peter Howdle, Motor Cycle News 19/9/1979]

Date unknown 1,000 Kilometres de Mettet: Andy Goldsmith & Stewart Hodgson finish 5th on the GK Suzuki.

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