Sunday Ride Classic 2022, Expo “Grand Prix of France”: Epic of Claude Fior – Paddock GP

Sunday Ride Classic 2022, Expo "Grand Prix of France": Epic of Claude Fior - Paddock GP

Claude Fior was an avant-garde player. Ancestor of genius, multifunctional inventor, contemporary Da Vinci, no image. Today, let’s focus on his story, both crazy and inspiring. To find some of his most beautiful creations, go to page Sunday Ride Classic June 11 and 12 and Paul Ricard.

1964, Nogaro, Armagnac. A young boy, three apples tall, adjusts his brother’s VéloSoleX. At just nine years old, little Claude has his hands dirty. However, few have managed to ensure that this child with fabulous hands will one day arrive in the closed world of the Grands Prix and fight with the best.

Young Claude quickly turned to the competition. Initially, he had a talent as a welder. Aluminum has no secrets for him; Fior, who was only 21 in 1976, set up his box in Nogaro and commissioned the French car industry. “Pif” loves two-wheelers and does not hesitate to ride them in national races.

Two years later, he is at the start of the first 24-hour motorcycles on a Yamaha XS1100, accompanied by Pierre Guy. During this race, Clauda worries: handling and stability of the front axle. Very unstable, the latter concentrated and wasted the energy of the crew. It was after this event that Fior decided to deal with the titan’s task: to revolutionize the principle of the “fork,” nothing more, nothing less.

Hardly said before done. In 1979, the ensemble returned to Sarthe with the Fior-Yamaha XS1100, equipped with the new system. Our thief took the opportunity to draw the chassis and was not satisfied with stopping at the front axle. The principle of the “Fior fork” is actually quite simple: It consists of the separation of the “braking” function and the “steering” function, so that stability and accuracy are not affected by the deceleration pressure. The concept, of course, improved over time, but the foundations were laid.

The original machine attracts attention in the paddock. However, by finishing 8th at the end of the race day, the competition laughs yellow. So much so that this work on the TZ250 caught the attention of Sonauto-Yamaha, an official importer in France and a 500cc factory engine! Unfortunately, in the face of the strangeness of the matter, the Japanese did not take any risks and put it on the track in the early 80’s. Disappointment for Nogarolien, who dreamed of the Grand Prix.

Does not matter ! Thanks to the money promised by Sonauto, “Pif” will build his own motorcycles! First with Suzuki engines and then Honda, Fior takes the lead with the best. Although he has not controlled his machines for some time, the passion has not faded. It is within these experiments that he collaborates with his Swiss friend Marc Gentil, an honorary pilot.

In 1988, Claude assembled the kit. It incorporates an “in-house” engine from the JPX used in side cars into its chassis. Gentile on the handlebars advances without integration of the top 10. In 1989, Fior puts the cover back on. Marco even managed to climb to 4th place in Misano, in the absence of the best. 33 points for 17th place in the championship. With few resources despite the Marlboro sponsor, the Fior / Gentile duo equals Mamol on Cagiva, with a vastly higher budget.

However, the dark winter of 1989 marks the end of the epic. The tobacco company slams the door and, worse, Marco kills himself in Nogaro on go-karts designed by Claud. Despite Aprilia’s 250cc approach for 1990, first-class dreams are coming to an end.

Fior’s technology, never patented, was “borrowed” (someone would say “copied” or “stolen”) by engineer Norman Hossack. Since then, BMW has embraced the idea of ​​a fork, known as the Duolever, and equipped some of its large touring models, such as the K1200.

Claude, an old-fashioned genius inventor, did everything, literally. Motor skateboards, buggies, gliders … his mastery of aluminum and his expertise allowed him to translate his ideas into concepts. On December 13, 2001, “Pif” died in a plane crash (which he designed) near the Nogaro circuit in his house. Only 46-year-old proud Gascon was a role model, an example to follow and left an indelible mark in the history of French motorcycling. If you want to get to know this impressive character better, don’t hesitate to take a turn to Paul Ricard at the Sunday Ride Classic on June 11 and 12, where you will find some of his models.

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