Suzuki Snapshots

1960 Colleda RT60


Mitsuo Itoh

Suzuki started racing in European GPs in 1960. The obvious place to start was the Isle Of Man TT, Honda having debuted there the year before.



 In contrast to the great hullaballoo in the press when Honda first took part in the Isle Of Man TT in 1959, the Suzuki team hardly cracked a mention at all in 1960. The Colleda Suzuki 125cc twins were reliable piston port machines which were low-revving and basic in design. All  three Colleda RT60s finished their first GP race.


The fastest of the Colledas lapped at 71.88 mph with a race time of 1.34.296 (Ubbiali lapped at 85.61 mph and his winning time was 1.19.212). Suzuki riders Toshio Matsumoto, Michio Ichino and Ray Fay (an Englishman brought in to replace the injured Mitsuo Itoh) finished in 15th, 16th and 18th places. Mitsuo came off at the Bungalow sustaining leg abrasions and a badly cut lip during practice. [Ray Battersby kindly advised that Ray Fay was a Liverpudlian, and was recommended to ride the factory Suzuki (Colleda) of the injured Japanese
rider, Mitsuo Itoh, on the recommendation of Lew Ellis, Shell Petroleum's racing representative. Ray 
died in October 2009].

The team (including Mitsuo Itoh, who would go on to become Suzuki's racing chief) were staying at the same hotel ("Fernleigh" guest house, Parade Rd Douglas) as Ernst Degner the East German MZ team lead rider. Degner was later to defect and design race engines for Suzuki. With his skill and the stolen information from MZ the little Suzukis became unbeatable.
 


Air-cooled 125 cc two-stroke twin. 13 hp @ 11.000 rpm
Bore x Stroke: 44 x 41mm
Carburetor: M20
Compression ratio: 8.8 :1
Maximum speed: 140 km/h
Transmission: 6-speed
Tire sizes: 2.50-18 / 2.50-18

With only 13HP the twin cylinder 125 Suzuki was not enough to challenge the likes of Honda, MV or MZ, which were already pushing 20HP. The fairing on the RT60 has hand beaten alloy. Geoff Duke had reported quite favourably on these machines having ridden one on Suzuki's test track. The RT60 would rev to 16,000rpm though usable power was between 8-11,000 rpm. Plug oiling was a problem due to the high petroil mixture of 8:1. The machine only weighed 180lbs. The engine had a 6 bearing crankshaft. The exhaust port was huge, the inlet bridges and the liner chromed.


Geoff Duke samples the RT60

The engine designer was Prof. Takeharu Okano, an ex-aircraft engineer.

The RT60 did not appear on the TT Program as through a mistake the machines were all entered as Colledas.

A lot of preparation went into the TT entry and Geoff Duke volunteered his services and he provided them with copious notes on the circuit.


Ray Fay prepares his 1960 RT60. He finished 18th on this machine in the 1960 Lightweight TT.
 

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Muzza - 2003