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 Post subject: Pantah F2 TT Tony Rutter No. 8, by Pat Slinn
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:06 am 
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The Pantah Racing Story

During the early part of 1977 whilst I was on one of my regular visits - as UK service manager for Ducati UK - to the Ducati factory in Bologna, one of the highlights of these trips was to be able to visit the experimental and competitions department. I knew that Ducati had been developing a 500cc 90 degree V twin that had a belt drive to the valve gear. Just after I had entered the department I noticed a machine that looked a bit “strange”. It had, from what I can remember, a Darmah tank and seat unit, it was obvious that it had been well used and ridden for many miles as a lot of winter road grime was on the machine. Franco Farne - who was the head of the department, a very long serving employee of Ducati, and ex racer - I knew quite well and I persuaded him to fire the bike up. Well..... firing it up just was not enough, I asked if I could ride it! So he let me ride it round the small track that they had at the back of the experimental department. The first thing that I noticed, and about the only thing I can now remember, was how responsive it was to the throttle. Before I left I was fortunate enough to talk to Ing.Taglioni and he showed me a striped down engine that was running on the dynamometer. One thing that I did notice was that they did not really want to talk about was a racing version !!!!! My many visit to the factory during the next 2 years convinced me that Ducati were really serious about racing the Pantah. They had already raced a standard framed version of the Pantah in an Italian championship and won it.

During 1979 I had accepted an offer from Steve Wynne to join Sports Motor Cycles in Manchester, and together, later that year, we travelled to the Ducati factory to discuss our racing plans for 1979. I had learnt that from the beginning of 1981 the FIM were to change the technical regulations for the F2 class. Previously the class had been dominated by the 350cc TZ GP Yamahas. The new technical specifications would suit the road based Pantah, and my imagination went into overdrive!! I persuaded Steve that we should build and enter a bike in the Formula 2 class of the Isle of Man TT. Steve enthusiastically agreed, but we both knew that if we were to be competitive we needed the help of the factory. I had asked Snr Valintini, Ducati’s export sales manager, what help could they give us, and he suggested that I meet with him, Doctor Cosimo Calcagnile (Ducati’s commercial director), and Franco Farne at the Cologne Motor Cycle Exhibition to discuss our TT project. I think the meeting went on for well over 3 hours. As the meeting was taking place in the office on the Ducati exhibition stand there were constant interruptions, so we decided to reconvene the meeting over dinner at the Alt Cologne restaurant, a wonderful old German restaurant opposite the Cathedral in the centre of Cologne. Around midnight I had an agreement that Ducati would supply us free of charge with a used 500cc Pantah engine, plus a set of high compression pistons, a pair of special camshafts, and a racing exhaust system. The proviso, and my part of the deal was to find a rider who was capable of winning the F2 TT!! The guy that I had in mind was Tony Rutter, Tony was already a TT winner, and was a Ducati dealer in the West Midlands. Tony jumped at the opportunity of racing the Pantah in the F2 TT, however we did not have a rolling chassis. I had asked Ducati if they could supply us with one of the “special” TT2 frames and suspension that they had been developing and racing in the Italian championships, and the answer was an emphatic NO. They explained that they were making a batch of these special purpose built racers and they were to be used in Italy and Spain. It just so happened that we had a crashed 500cc SL Pantah sitting in the workshop awaiting for an insurance assessor to decide what should happen to it. Within days, it was c confirmed as being written off. The frame and swinging arm were given to Ron Williams, the owner of Maxton engineering, who was Honda GB’s and Honda HRC’s racing frame and suspension guru, his brief was to convert the frame in whatever way he felt necessary, and supply or modify the suspension and brakes.

I was invited by Ing. Taglioni to visit the factory (at their expense) to learn all about converting and building a “clapped-out” old test bed engine that had already ran for over 22 hours on their dynamometer into a race winning 600cc engine. I spent 3 days working alongside Guiliano Pedriti, who was Ducati’s main race engine builder. I returned with all the racing bits and pieces in my case, and the exhaust system under my arm , as Ducati had not given me any paper work to help clear customs at Manchester airport. I was a little apprehensive but I marched straight on through customs with no questions being asked! Work began on the engine as soon as I returned. It was clear that the engine that they had given to us was really worn out, and the crankcase was cracked at the front left hand mounting boss. However according to my engine and machine build journal that I still have, I spent almost 90 hours working on the engine. Everything possible was lightened and/or polished. Looking through that journal now I notice that I spent 8 hours on each piston and cylinder, establishing the correct compression ratio, squish measurements and piston to valve clearances. A further 5 hours was spent on shimming up the close ratio gearbox that they had given to us. One change that we made to the Ducati specification was that instead of using Del Orto carburettors we were given by the importers a pair of Gardener 36mm flat slide carburettors, these carburettors were excellent and suited the Pantah.

During the early part of April 1981 Ron Williams called me to tell me that the rolling chassis was ready, and would I go to his workshop, (which incidentally was a small converted Methodist chapel) where we could discuss the work he had done. I really did not know what to expect, but when Ron uncovered it there was a masterpiece! He had modified the frame, supplied Dymag wheels, Lockheed brake discs and callipers. He told me how he had modified the Marzochi front forks, and supplied Koni rear suspension units. The positioning of the rear Koni units had been bought well forward of the standard position, and were almost upright. He had modified the exhaust system for the best possible ground clearance, and modified the “megaphone” to an upwards position. Ron had supplied everything the chassis needed, including the clip on type handlebars, footrests, brake and clutch levers brake master cylinders, and even fitted Aeroquip brake hoses and bled the brakes. He had even had the frame and swinging arm powder coated in a very subtle grey/silver colour that certainly gave the appearance of lightness! The engine was fitted to the frame, a 20 litre alloy fuel tank was fabricated, and the seat unit and fairing were adapted from one of our F1 units. I ran the engine on the rolling road for about 15 minutes just to make sure that the gearbox and transmission was ok. It was decided that the bike should be “run in” on the road for a couple of hundred miles prior to race testing, so I rode the bike home one evening. The registration and tax were used from the written off Pantah, and, apart from the exhaust system and the Dunlop intermediate (treaded) racing tyres, it was road legal. (It certainly looked legal!!) One evening I was headed out of the village where I live, when, horror of horrors, I was overtaken and stopped by a police car. The more senior of the police officers seemed to know nothing about motor cycles, and left the questioning to his junior, the usual questions, where are you going? Can I see your licence and insurance? Is this your bike? It was obvious that they could find nothing suspicious; he eventually commented on the unusual pattern of the treaded tyres, “special sporting tyres” I said, “cost a fortune!” It was fortunate that they did not take a closer look at the tyres on the side of each tyre was printed: NOT FOR HIGHWAY USE.

The first time that Tony Rutter saw the bike was at our first test session Oulton Park and his first comment was “bloody heck”. He could not understand why Ron Williams had moved the rear suspension units so far forwards, and why they were upright. I think he also thought that the tilted up megaphone was more akin to a Moto cross bike than a road racer!! However Ron was so committed to the project that he turned up that day at Oulton Park and answered all Tony's questions. After the first few laps Tony was unsure, he thought that the bike was not very fast and, after we had checked that there was no oil leaks etc, Tony started to go faster. He was very surprised at his lap times, and stated that if it was not for a “strange” steering problem he could have gone a lot faster. Ron quickly realized what the problem was, told us what we needed to do, and said that he would see us at Aintree race circuit in a day or so. In actual fact the steering problem was that the distance between the centre of the steering stem and the centre of the fork stations needed to be increased by a couple of millimetres. We soon found out that a set of steering yolks from a Laverda Monjuich were the correct dimensions. These were machined and modified to fit the Pantah. When Tony next rode the bike at Aintree he had no complaints at all. From my records of the running in and testing sessions at Oulton Park and Aintree the bike had done about 270 miles, 15 laps at Oulton, and 12 laps at Aintree. Prior to TT practice starting the engine was generally checked over. I removed the cylinder heads to check on the valve to piston clearances, and the actual valve clearance, the only adjustments that were necessary was to close the exhaust valve clearance on the front head by a couple of thou.

The only problem that we had during the whole of TT practice was a broken tooth on the 3rd gear of the gearbox layshaft. Tony had shown from the first F2 practice session that the bike was really fast, and he was the one to beat. During one of the practice sessions Tony had actually beaten the F2 lap record, and his comment to me afterwards was that a “bloody double decker bus had passed him in Kirk Michael”!!!! We knew then that he was a happy TT rider!

The history books record that Tony won the Isle of Man Formula 2 World Championship race at record lap and race speeds. His race average was 101.91 mph, (163.97 kmh) and he set a new Formula 2 lap record of 103.5 mph (166.53 kph). At the end of the 149.2 mile race (240.6 km) Tony was 1/1/2 minutes ahead of the second placed man. During practice week I had kept Franco Valintini fully informed of what was happening, and I had promised him that I would let him know the result as soon as possible after the finish of the race, in actual fact I managed to telephone him at the factory within ten minutes of Tony crossing the finish line. Ducati were over the moon and started to promise all kinds of help for the future. To those people who said at the time that racing does not sell motor cycles, I was told by a director of the Ducati importers that after the success of the Pantah in the Isle of Man there was a considerable increase in the sales of not only the Pantah, but of other Ducati motor cycles.

If it was not for the help and skill of a lot of people the success of the Pantah in the 1981 F2 TT would not have been possible. There are a few people who really do need thanking: Ron Williams of Maxton Engineering for the work he did on the rolling chassis, his enthusiasm and moral support. Ron was always present at every practice session and was there at the end of the race celebrating with us all. During the subsequent 4 years of my involvement with Tony and Ducati, Ron was always available to help us and give us his advice. Considering that Ron was contracted to Honda Britain racing I wonder if they ever wondered what part Ron had contributed towards the success of Ducati over the past 28 years. During 1981 Sports Motor Cycles Ltd did not have any “official” support from any manufacturer or supplier, however, without the considerable help from Shell Oils, Renold chains, Champion sparking plugs, and Dunlop tyres we would have struggled for the success that we achieved.

Ducati Meccanica’s unofficial support to Sports Motor Cycles Ltd, went far beyond the usual “dealer” help. Ing Taglioni, Franco Farne and his colleagues in the experimental/competitions department went out of their way to supply us with the parts and technical information that we needed.

It also goes without saying that Sports Motor Cycles Ltd, the forerunners of Sports Motor Cycles Racing, gave and supported a great deal financially to racing Ducati, and if it was not for Steve Wynne, racing would not have happened at Sports.

Last but certainly not the least was the support that we received from the Ducati Owners Club. In 1981 it was only a “smallish” club then, however their enthusiasm was infectious! Jilly Penegar and her fellow members rallied round and supplied “gofers” and signalling crew, without her and the club’s help our life would have been a lot harder.

Pat Slinn,
Poynton, Cheshire.


And more:

1, The rev counter was the same one that was on the original “written” off Pantah. That was the only instrument on the machine.

2, The Marzocchi front forks were indeed 35 mm.

3, The top yolk we used in the end was from a Laverda Monjuich, we did have one modified from a 900ss but the Monjuich one suited better.

4, No, we did not run a oil cooler. We worked very closely with Shell competitions department and they recommended that we used a mineral based racing oil ( Super M ) On a number of occasions Shell measured the oil temperature after TT practice sessions and they were happy that the temperature was with their tolerances.

5, There were no outside oil lines.

6, A standard Pantah clutch and clutch cover was used, I used nothing that was exotic ( on this bike anyway ! )

7, From what I can remember the top shock mounts were not moved,

8, Yes we did use a shock absorber in the rear Dymag, I believe it was one of their standard shock absorbers.

9, Can’t remember for sure Michael, my “gut” feeling is it was a smaller caliper than the front.

10, Yes we did run a steering damper, from a bracket clamped around the left hand fork stanchion, and a bracket welded to the frame.

I hope that these answers go some way to helping you. It is quite difficult remembering some things 30 odd years later. You mention Ian Falloon, has he written about it anywhere ?, I have never met Ian, or even spoken to him, but I have communicated with him on email. As far as I can remember he never saw the TR Pantah, not whilst it was owned by SM’s anyway.

Regards,
Pat.


Finally:

30 years is a long time ago to remember some of the details of the TR 81 Pantah. everybody carries a camera today. From what I can remember the manifolds for the Lectrons I fabricated from std Pantah ones. The photograph that you have of Fogerty’s Pantah is actually the Rutter 81 machine., different paint job, updated engine, and exhaust system. This photograph was taken in the Isle of Man whilst the machine was being prepared for the F2 race. Where did the "sister" frame come from?. Ron Williams who modified the 81 Pantah frame only ever made one, two or three people in Germany copied it. However in 82 the TT2 was available.

Yes, the No 8 machine in your picture is the original Ducati Pantah that I built for Tony Rutter to race ( and win ) in the1981 IOM F2 TT. I have been trying for a number of years to find this machine for a
number of years. there has been a lot of "false" sightings over the years. people have told me that they have it, or know where it is, but nothing has ever materialized. I now believe it has been "lost". My original frame had a very unique frame number, it was a alpha numerical number based on my initials and date of birth, I numbered subsequent TT 2 frames with a similar number. The only frame that was vaguely similar to the original did not have the correct number. I visited a classic motor cycle show at the end of last year and there were TWO Ducati Pantahs there both claiming to be the one that won the IOM TT F2 race in 1981 !!!!. Swapping the brake and gear levers over is a relatively simple job, however as you say if you are not used to it you could end up in the weeds. Nice to see that you have the correct type of carburetor, the two Pantah that I have just mentioned only had the Dellortos !.

Pat.


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 Post subject: Re: Pantah F2 TT Tony Rutter No. 8, by Pat Slinn
PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:19 pm 
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Posts: 128
An excellent account of a coming of age of sorts for the Ducati Pantah and some insights into a privateer world where the love of competition overrides all the reasons racing isn't accessible to the ordinary working man. Pat, is this post printed out somewhere?

Did you try any alternative exhaust systems? Did you retain stock ignition and ignition timings? Single plug heads? Anything to omprove oil drain back from the front head at big revs?

Thank you from the many Pantah punters worldwide, we thrive on this kind of stuff!

Francis McDermott
in Canada


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 Post subject: Re: Pantah F2 TT Tony Rutter No. 8, by Pat Slinn
PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:28 am 
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Location: Brisbane
Can someone re-post the picture? I saw it before it went to computer heaven but it should be attached to Mr Slinn's story.
Graeme


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 Post subject: Re: Pantah F2 TT Tony Rutter No. 8, by Pat Slinn
PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 10:55 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:23 am
Posts: 1074
There was no photo posted at the time, but here is one. MikeV
Attachment:
works slinn_foto_2.jpg
works slinn_foto_2.jpg [ 111.4 KiB | Viewed 1932 times ]
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works slinn_foto_6.jpg
works slinn_foto_6.jpg [ 89.08 KiB | Viewed 1878 times ]
Attachment:
works slinn_foto_1.jpg
works slinn_foto_1.jpg [ 40.89 KiB | Viewed 1876 times ]
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works slinn_foto_3.jpg
works slinn_foto_3.jpg [ 87.57 KiB | Viewed 1876 times ]


Last edited by 618F1 on Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:28 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Pantah F2 TT Tony Rutter No. 8, by Pat Slinn
PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:31 am 
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Location: Vermont, USA
Those front rotors look tiny. Are those 260's?
Bill


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 Post subject: Re: Pantah F2 TT Tony Rutter No. 8, by Pat Slinn
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:16 am 
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On 18s, 260 mm rotors look dang small. Those look dang small...

Interesting also how long the intake manifolds appear, is it just because of the Gardners? I wonder how much head and combustion chamber work was done, here. Had to have been substantial.

Thanks for the excellent archived picture!

FM


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 Post subject: Re: Pantah F2 TT Tony Rutter No. 8, by Pat Slinn
PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 10:20 am 
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Posts: 1074
Yes, those are 260mm. They may have been of-the-era Lockheed parts with slots and holes for cooling or draining---that is subject to discussion. I will use cut-down Yamaha RD 400 discs (earlier posting)---now in a machine shop for work---since they look so much the same, will bolt up, and can be made to size. The caliper brackets will be, er, challenging for me to make. The manifolds were stock Pantah, modified by Pat Slinn to fit---there is a front carb-to-frame clearance problem, so the front one has been cut and spun inward. According to articles at the time there wasn't much exotic head work done, but the manifolds were opended and blended, and they used the factory racing cams. The carbs have been confirmed as being 36mm Electrons; maybe Gardner was the supplier? MikeV


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