The weather was perfect and practice went reasonably well for me on both Parillas although I was beginning to encounter some gear change problems on the 125 near the end of the session. Whilst I had ridden against some quick MZs at Skofja Loka, their speed at Schleiz, and that of the RC 164 Honda, was a real eye opener and a bit of a shock to the system. It was clear that they had top speed advantages over ‘the also rans’, including my Parillas, of between 20 to 40 MPH! There was no way I was going to get a tow from any of these guys!
During the first 250cc practice session, standing on the starting grid one row back from the Honda RC 164 and the Works MZs of Rosner and Krumpholz, I had been mesmerised by the sound of these machines and had not appreciated just how much damage was being done to my hearing. It took 2 or 3 days for my hearing to recover to the extent that I could have a normal conversation without shouting or holding a hand to one ear, a problem from which I have suffered to some extent up to the present time! A bit late in the day, but never again was I to ride a racing motorcycle or attend a race meeting without full ear protection.
In developing our strategy for each race we clearly had to disregard the performances of the top Works riders with the exception that in a 15 lap race one, or more, of them would lap me on my Parilla at least once so we could fuel up for a 14 lap race. As it was to turn out, this prediction was correct but planning for it almost led to my undoing in the 250cc race!
From the 3rd or 4th row I had a great start in the 125cc race and found myself mixed up with a group of screaming Bultacos just behind the leading MZs as we went through the sweeping curves at the end of the start and finishing straight.
At the end of these high speed curves is a tight left hand bend and as I was to observe at close quarters on a number of occasions as the season progressed, the leading pack of MZs immediately got dutifully in line on the right hand side of the track to take the upcoming left hand bend – which left the door wide open for New Zealanders Ginger Molloy & Morrie Lowe, followed by myself, to dart down the inside and steal the bend! At least 4 or 5 riders jumped the MZs at this point of the race.