The top European builders may be deadly serious about their craft, but they also have a sense of humor. Right now, 18 teams are getting ready for the first round of the Sultans Of Sprint race series, pitched as “turbocharged flying carpets built and raced by creative gearheads.”
It’s the brainchild of ‘Sonic’ Séb Lorentz (below), proprietor of The Lucky Cat Garage. All races are an eighth of a mile long, will start with the customary flag girl, and require bikes to be under 1400cc.
Other than that, the regulations are wide open. There’s a bizarre mix of machines from BMW, Triumph, Ducati, Yamaha, Buell and Harley-Davidson—often boosted with turbocharger, supercharger, quickshifter and/or nitrous oxide injection systems.
The first round is next weekend at the Wheels & Waves festival in Biarritz, France. Here’s our pick of the machines to watch.
Young Guns Speed Shop of Switzerland will be entering a low-slung Moto Guzzi, with the magnificent name ‘Ferdinand The Sparrow.’ The nitrous-fueled 1200cc engine is taken from a 2007-spec Norge, and squeezed into a 1976 Le Mans frame.
A second Swiss entry comes from VTR Customs, who will be lining up their infamous ‘Polizei’ bike. It’s an ex-police R80 RT patrol bike, but this one is designed to break the speed limits—fuel injection and a Rotrex supercharger now feed the blueprinted engine.
Kingston’s Dirk Oehlerking is known for his decidedly unconventional machines—such as a Yamaha SR500 with a Porsche 930 top end. He’s entering the sprint series with this 126 horsepower BMW R100/7, with forced induction taken from a Porsche 924 Turbo.
Séb Lorentz is entering the legendary ‘Sprintbeemer.’ It burst onto the scene at the 2013 Glemseck festival, winning the StarrWars sprint, and it’s now back for more. The R100RS motor is sporting nitrous injection, big valves, Dell’Orto PHM 40 carbs, a hot cam and an HPN ceramic clutch. The smart money’s on this one.
The lads from FCR Original have also gone down the nitrous route, hooking up the juice bottle to a Triumph Bonneville via Mikuni HSR smoothbore carbs. There’s a Wiseco big bore kit in the mix as well. This is one of the most conventional-looking bikes, but it seems to be well sorted.
If Sprintbeemer has a direct competitor, it’s Plan B’s ‘Cherry Salt’—a 1999 Buell M2 Cyclone. The sleek dustbin fairing echoes the profile of a Bull Terrier’s head and there’s 1203cc of tuned Buell power. A fat Hoosier slick ensures that traction off the line is not going to be a problem.
The most elegant machine on the grid has to be this BMW airhead from St. Brooklyn Motorcycles, called L’Etonnante (‘The Amazing’). The specifications are scarce for this machine, but the quantity and quality of custom fabrication is impressive. Does it have the grunt to make it to the front? We’ll see…
This muscular looking Yamaha TR1 comes from Schlachtwerk of Offenbach, Germany. And if you’ve never heard of a TR1, you’re not alone—we had to look it up too. It’s an air-cooled 981cc V-twin from the early 80s: An early Japanese attempt wrest the touring market away from Harley. In this sprint series though, the threat is more likely to come from the Beemers …
If you can’t make it to Biarritz this weekend, the second Sultans Of Sprint round is scheduled for the Cafe Racer Festival a week later at the Linas Monthléry circuit, near Paris. The third round will take place at Glemseck 101 in Leonberg (Germany), and the final round at the huge Intermot show in the first week of October 2016 in Cologne.
We’ll be keeping an eye on the proceedings and report back.