#Ride – The ELF 2

1983 saw the end of the 1000cc endurance racing era. It enabled ELF to enter the higher-profile world of prototype GP racing and reap better promotional dividends.

Honda supported them with three-cylinder RS500 engines, and in June of 1984 the ELF2 began testing in the hands of de Cortanze’s longtime collaborator, Christian Leliard.

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Its most interesting feature was a revolutionary steering system, consisting of handlebars mounted to a crossmember and rigged to move fore and aft, rather than pivoting side to side. The suspension was also adventurous, utilizing a pair of specially made Marzocchi shocks beneath the engine that worked in traction rather than in compression. The Black Bird, as it was dubbed by the French press, never raced.

Riders found the curious steering system hard to get used to (push-starting on a crowded GP grid would have been exciting !). The proximity of the suspension pivots and insufficient damping from the special Marzocchis led to incurable handling problems. It didn’t debut until a year later at the French GP at Le Mans, by which time it morphed into the less-quirky ELF2A, with proven ELFe-type hub-center steering and revised suspension.

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At this point de Cortanze was forced to give up his involvement with the ELF project, which had been dwindling due to the pressure of his new job with Peugeot.

 

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