Malcolm Davis. AJS Scrambler. 1968.

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24. Malcolm Davis / AJS Scrambler / 1968

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From 1960 to 1965, Greeves and DOT had dominated the first years of the 250cc ACU Scramble Drivers’ Star, Greeves had won the event every year, apart from in 1961, when Arthur Lampkin, gave BSA, there last 250cc show, and was crowned champion. The competition was renamed in 1966 and become the British Motocross Championship.

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Malcolm Davis / AJS Mark II Prototype / NV Badged / 1968

By then, CZ and Husqvarna were also knocking at the barn door, Freddie Mayes in that first year managed to hold on to the trophy with his 2-stroke Greeves, for one of there last times, with Dave Bickers on a CZ in second place. The next year Freddie achieved joint second place with Dave Bickers (CZ), on the new Norton Villiers prototype, in its development year, the Championship being won by Alan Clough, on his Husqvarna, the first foreign machine to win the event.

So the AJS Y4 was now up against, truly international motorcross competition, of the highest order, ridden by top-flight riders, another example of this was to be Don Rickman racing on his Bultaco Metisse, in 1968 two rounds of 30min + 2 laps per event was introduced.

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Don Rickman / Bultaco Metisse / 1968

The last time AJS had won the trophy was back in 1954, with Geoff Ward, when it was an open 500cc, thumper event.

Dave Curtis, also won it for Matchless in 1958, they had fought off BSA, who would go on to win the new 500cc class from 1960, which seperated the 4-strokes from the 2-strokes for a while, for six consecutive years, with rider Jeff Smith.

The battle for this new wave of 250cc 2-stroke technology though, was to be, even tougher, the competition was to come, not just from just across Britian, but from across Europe, and then in the 70’s, from across the World. Malcolm Davis was an up and coming star, he was racing for Bultaco, and had ridden their new 360cc to race victory in the 500cc class, the 2-strokes had just started there attack against the big bore BSA’s, he was just what AJS needed.

He was snapped up by AJS and entered in the opening round, of the BBC Grandstand Trophy, at Canada Heights on Armistice Day in 1967. He immediately collected two points for a sixth place in the 250cc section. Then at Kirkcaldy, Scotland, he added four more points for a third place. The final round was at Caerlon, comprising of two separate events. Davis won the first one and was fourth in the second. Only World Motorcross Champion, Jeff Smith, exceeded his total of 19 points.

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Chris Horsfield / AJS Y4 / 1968

The AJS Y4 had arrived with a vengeance, in the world of motocross, and Malcolm Davis had got his hands on, the right machine, at the right time, he was now ready to compete in the 1968 British Motocross Championships, against that powerful opposition in the shape of the works riders and the new machines of Bultaco, CZ, Husqvarna and the old enemy, Greeves.

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Norton Villiers Advertising /1968

The opening round was the Cumberland Grand National, and Davis won the first event with his teammate, Dick Clayton second on the other AJS. Then at Glastonbury, Clayton was the runner-up in the first heat with Davis likewise in the second.

They had made a solid start to the season and at this stage, the championship placings were as follows

 

  1. Derek Rickman (Bultaco) 26 points
  2. Andy Roberton (Husqvarna) 18 points
  3. Malcolm Davis (AJS) 16 points
  4. Dick Clayton (AJS) 13 points

 

Round three was at Cleveland, York, and here AJS bought in the experienced crowd pleaser, Chris Horsfield, to replaced Dick Clayton, he won the first heat, overtaking race-leader Davis on the 11th lap. The latter finished fourth, slowing with electrical problems.

Horsfield then charged into the lead in heat two, with cheers from the crowd, but in the chase Davis slipped up and hit a tree, losing a lot of time and being over taken by several riders, and then to everyones surprise, Horsfield lost his petrol tank, a stupid maintenance failure. Davis though, continued the pursuit, and fought his way through to take third place, this moved him much closer to Rickman and the Bultaco, it put him only five points behind.

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Norton Villiers Advertising /1968

Then there was the thrilling battle at Cuerden Park, and this time Malcolm Davis was ready, having learnt from the failures in preperation from the earlier rounds, the team had worked hard on the bikes, before the race began. The electrical problems they had experienced in earlier events had now been eradicated and in the first heat, Malcolm thrashed Arthur Browning by almost half a minute, leaving the Greeves in his dust.

He then did the same, in heat two, with Browning again tasting the dust. The AJS was flying, just at the right point in the season, these results put Davis and the AJS in an almost unassailable position, for there was only one round to go – at Nantwich, Cheshire. He had 37 points to the 26 of Rickman, the 23 of Roberton, and the 21 of Browning, Bultaco, Husqvarna and Greeves were being put in their place.

The final races were incrediable, Alan Clough (Husqvarna), who had just beaten the prototype AJS to become the 1967 British Champion, was racing on his home curcuit, and he took advantage in the pouring rain, he was chased by Rickman on his brilliant Bultaco Metisse, and Roberton on the other super fast works Husqvarna. But Davis had an incredible race, he fell off sliding in the slippery mud, but this time the electrics didn’t fail, he remounted and chased down the pack, and fought until he achieved third place, he had only needed 6 points from the final two heats. That was 4 points in the bag, and Rickman was left facing the last race with only 32 points, Davis rode for fun, the bike finally, completely sorted of its gremlins and he again enjoyed third place, that gave him a season total of 45 points, an astonishing achievement for the team, thirteen more than Rickman and his Bultaco.

 Acknowledgement: Out Front – Ian Berry – 2011

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Malcolm Davis / AJS Scrambler Advertising / 1968

 

British Motocross Championship – 1968

  1. Malcolm Davis         AJS Stormer
  2. Don Rickman           Bultaco Metisse
  3. Andy Roberton       Husqvarna

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AJS Double T Racer Advertising / 1968

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AJS Scrambler 250cc Advertising /1968

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