Through much of the 1970s the race series fans flocked to was the Avon tyre production racing championship, a series latterly supported by Bike, the UK’s best selling motorcycle magazine. The coverage that ensued made even entering great publicity and Slater Brothers, the British Laverda importers, took the series to their heart. They had persuaded to factory to build a highly tuned version of the firm’s 1000cc triple which initially was only available in the UK. Called the Jota, this was a motorcycle practically invented to win the Avon title. During its debut year in 1976 the Jota was dominant, setting lap records at pretty much every circuit in England. The tested top speed of 140mph made it the motorcycle that most racers coveted, and the Slaters were happy to support them. Numerous other wins followed, including the Avon championship in 1978 and ’79. The full story is in Benzina issue 3, available via my bio link, in which Roger Slater recalls the product meeting where Laverda agreed to his proposal: “I went to the factory for a meeting with all concerned. My opening gambit was that we needed to charge more money for the already pricey 3C. This went down like a lead balloon and so I followed up by presenting my power readings resulting from the work we had done with the then endurance cam, pistons and my own interpretation of the exhaust system. I suggested that the factory could supply some UK bikes built to my new specification. We would need a new colour scheme and the bike must have an appropriate name. All the faces around the board room table were viewing me with great suspicion. After a lengthy pause, Massimo Laverda asked what the name of this model might be; ‘Jota’ was my response. ‘What the hell is a Yota?’ came the chorus from around the table. ‘It’s a Spanish gypsy dance danced in rapid triple time’ I replied. A roar of approving laughter went up and we left for a splendid two hour lunch at Ill Torresan.” The photo is a later Jota, by now built at the factory, and arguably not “The Real Thing” but I love the image by Craig Howell. It’s his bike.
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