So much for the Royal Enfield GP5 being a failure!

From 1963 until 1968, I worked for Henstock’s of Mansfield, a large motorcycle dealership employing around 15 staff, as manager of their well-equipped workshop, and as part of the deal Don Henstock agreed to buy racing motorcycles for me to compete on in their name.

In 1963 he bought me a new Greeves Silverstone on which I had fairly mixed results, my best placing being a second in a final at Scarborough, along with the fastest lap award.

In 1965 Don bought me the Royal Enfield GP5 which I collected from the factory, and while there I was introduced to Leo Davenport, the managing director, and Hermann Meier.

John Swannack flies around the Croft on his Royal Enfield GP5 in 1967. That year, with a works-spec engine fitted, his bike won every 250cc race it entered at the North Yorkshire circuit. Note the sole of his boot!

Next day, while testing the machine at Mallory Park, all went well except that I found the steering to be very light. Back at Henstock’s, I ordered a racing Honda hydraulic steering damper from the Honda dealership in Sutton-in-Ashfield, and made the clamps for the frame and front forks.

The damper was fitted inside the fairing so was not visible from the outside, and after that the handling was just sublime! I entered the 1965 Manx Grand Prix, but retired in the race with, of all things, a broken rear brake torque bracket, but in 1966 I had many top-six placings, the best at the Scarborough International, winning my heat and coming second in the final to Australian Kevin Cass.

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