Melton motorcycle racer wows fans with classic 1970s GP bike from the heyday of Barry Sheene

Sean Walkinshaw in action at Brands Hatch in May 2016 PICTURE: Eric O'Brien EMN-161105-134949002
Sean Walkinshaw in action at Brands Hatch in May 2016 PICTURE: Eric O'Brien EMN-161105-134949002
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A real buzz was created at the Croft circuit when Melton motorcycle ace Ant Hill competed with a bike which hadn’t been raced for 36 years.

The machine in question was a Len Manchester Yamaha 500 three cylinder, which was built in 1974 to compete in Grand Prix at a time when the legendary Barry Sheene was in his heyday.

The bike was rebuilt by mechanic Arnold Fletcher and Ant felt honoured to be the first rider to race it since 1980.

Despite only a few laps of practice, he lined up 11th on the grid and ended up with a brilliant class win, carrying on the machine’s pedigree of lap records and international victories.

Ant said: “It was a wonderful way to carry on the bike’s history with all its success in the 1970s to return with a win 36 years later.

“The potential with this bike is huge and the attention it attracted because of what it is was unbelievable.

“So many people still remember it from the glory days when Barry Sheene was king and everybody rode this kind of bike.”

Ant also had a successful time at Croft competing in Round 2 of the 350 GP championship at Croft.

The team had no data because they hadn’t raced at the North Yorkshire circuit for nine years.

With a freshly rebuilt engine and limited practice time hopes weren’t high.

There were eight riders capable of winning in Race and the lead changed hands several times in the opening laps. But on the final two laps one rider made a break and Ant followed to finish an excellent second.

He followed that up with another good second place finish in Race 2.

There was only one race on the Sunday and the pace was quick with five riders two seconds under the old lap record.

He started in third spot but was forced onto the grass when entering a really fast sweeping section of the track after the rider in front fell leaving him nowhere to go but off the track at 100 mph.

Forced back to eighth, Ant then rode superblyt to get himself back up to third place to keep his lead at the top of the championship.

The Croft weekend also saw racing in the first round of the King of Classics title, which is open to any bike, and which Ant won last year.

With the nature of the circuit favouring the powerful superbikes it was a good result for Ant to qualify third, on the front row.

After a race-long battle for third, Ant had to settle for fourth place but it was still a decent start to the defence of his title.

Ant is next in action at Cadwell Park in round 3 of the 350 GP Championships.

l Sean Walkinshaw raced in the Blancpain Sprint Cup at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

Partnering Mexico’s Ricardo Sanchez in a Nissan GTR, Walkinshaw had to settle for a 22nd place finish.

The 22-year-old was unable to repeat a previous podium finish in the series after arriving at the race fresh from an outstanding drive at Monza, Italy, in the curtain-raiser to the sister Blancpain Endurance Cup the week before.

WRT Audi pair Christopher Mies and Enzo Ide took the spoils in the Blancpain Sprint Cup round after a second-half safety car set up a thrilling conclusion.

Jules Szymkowiak and Bernd Schneider,, in the HTP Motorsport Mercedes, crossed the finish line second with Bentley drivers Soulet and Soucek in third position.