Our thanks to you all for the 2014 season

Simon, Francois and I would like to say a BIG thank you to all of you who have supported us throughout our 2014 season. Every single supporter makes a difference and is valued. We hope we’ve given you some excitement throughout the year in return!

First to our major sponsors: Simon Jeffery at Safe Response, Mark Rose of Mark Rose Accountancy, The Bathroom Centre, author Andrew Shurmer (Anoeth Ltd).

To those who were there for us at the TT: Mick & Lorraine, Isla, Claire, Sue, Francois B, les deux equipes francais. Also to Andy Martin who kept us going on short circuit.

To all our individual supporters: Ben, Morgan, Lynn, Claire, Fliss, Mike, JKB, Jason, Jo, Mel, Martyn, Jase, Jeremy, Jan, Iain, Liz, Cathy, Gareth, Oz, Mike, Claire, Tony, Greg, Beth, Sue, Peter, Joe, Richard, Keith, Pete, Steve, Megan, Pauline, Mike, Jaygee, Andy, Vanessa, Andy, Lucy, Nick, Linda, Chris, Gene and Kitty.

To the publications and groups who have published articles or listened to me speak this year: Bristol Advanced Motorcyclists, Chelmsford & District Advanced Motorcyclists, Bishop’s Stortford Observer, Solihull Observer, Rye Park Women’s Club, Hilltop Ladies Club, Hoddesdon Ladies Club, Herts & Beds Advanced Motorcyclists, Sele Farm Women’s Club, New River Women’s Club, Cheshunt 41 Club, Hertford Heath WI, Roysia Women’s Club.

To those photographers who have braved the elements and captured us at our best and worst, especially: Jenny Triker Wells, Derek Donsworth, Kevan Boitoult, Richard Glover, Dominic Bedford, Dave Kneen, John Manclark, Steve Parker, Tom Reed, Barry Clay, John Lockett, Sid Diggins and many many more!

To our friends and families, everyone who came to meet us at races, who did taxi rides, who bought Francois’ wine, bought jam, who made us tea, talked to us, took photos and shared stories. Too numerous to name, but thank you :)

To all those companies who helped us out along the way: Signs Express, A&M, Byson, Nitron, Avon and others.

and finally: to all our fellow racers. Here’s to a set of brilliant battles again next year!

As the weather turns, preparations are underfoot for 2015. Simon’s new fairing has arrived: he and I will be concentrating on the North Glos championship, where we’ll be running number 92 – the same number as Simon’s son Caleb in his first year of mainstream club racing on his 125. Francois had a ‘proud father’ moment this week as Estelle was announced as the 2014 winner of the Susan Jenness trophy again – a very worthy and lovely recipient, and so well deserved.

Wishing you all a VERY merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Nous vous souhaitons un joyeux Noël et bonne année!

Simon card TT card cover TT card inside

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The quiet winter season

It’s all gone quiet… but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening! Francois is coming over to visit this weekend and I have no doubt we’ll be discussing both TT2015 and the possibility of doing some of the French championship rounds together. Simon, meanwhile, is hopping from foot to foot in a state of heightened anxiety waiting for the new fairing so that and the new loom can be fitted. We’ve started to see the provisional calendars for the 2015 season, and as soon as we know what we’re doing we’ll update it on the site. I’ve given a couple of talks recently, with another booked in a fortnight or so, and in between times am throwing myself at muddy scenery to keep fit. It seems to be working ;)

20141102 Nuclear Fallout

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Mallory Park Sidecar Bonanza 28/09/2014

(c) Dominic BedfordSimon and I had a fantastic weekend at Mallory Park: he and Dave Gristwood nearly overturned the F2 (punctured front tyre), then redeemed themselves with a 3rd place and 2nd place in the Open 600 class. Mike Bellaby and I achieved his fastest lap time round Mallory with a 1:03.91 in race 1 (2nd in class!) and 1:03.74 in race 2 – but despite being on for a win in race 2, a final drive failure exiting the hairpin on the penultimate lap robbed us of our trophy.

Thanks to everyone who came to support – over £1000 was raised through the taxi rides. We’ll be back at Brands Hatch with Bemsee this weekend (3rd – 5th October), with taxi rides available on both days. Book through the Bemsee website. Edit 1st October: entries are now CLOSED.

Thanks to all our photographers – a selection of their shots below.

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Press cutting from Bishop’s Stortford Observer 25/09/2014

With thanks to Herts & Essex News for this coverage from our weekend with EMRA at Mallory Park. The photo is by the wonderful Sid Diggins.

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Taxi rides at Mallory Park 28th September!

Taxi rides at Mallory Park on Sunday 28th September! Details below. If you’re interested then get in touch with EMRA on the number below – and don’t worry if you’re short of kit, as we’ll do our best to have a whip round and make sure everyone is catered for. Please bear in mind you’ll need to pay an entry fee to get access to the venue on Sunday – with regret, while we’d like to get everyone free tickets, it’s just not going to be possible :(

“EMRA is bringing to Mallory Park – The SIDECAR BONANZA incorporating the international sidecar race of the year 26/27/28th September 2014, it promises to be the biggest event of its type. Stars from UK and Europe will be on track with F1, F2 and Classic machinery. If you need any more information, please call Iain and Joyce Rankin on 02476 317273 EMRA.

EMRA will be holding a session during Sunday for Taxi Rides for Charity £20 per person for a lap, anyone wanting a passenger ride must be 16 or over and have full protective clothing, including leather footwear, no trainers.

To book or offer to give taxi rides contact Iain for more info on the number above.”

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Round-up and exciting news

  • Simon raced at Darley Moor on bank holiday Monday (25th August) with the lovely Claire in the chair, and together they achieved a fantastic 4th place – well done both!
  • While Simon will be racing with Dave Gristwood in the chair at TT2015, I’m delighted to have been asked to partner François Leblond again, so will be there too.
  • At the Sidecar Festival at Mallory 26-28 September we’re literally playing musical chairs: I will be on the classic front-exit outfit of Mike Bellaby, and Dave Gristwood will be hopping onto the F2 with Simon.
  • Still no news of taxi rides at either the Festival or the Brands Hatch meeting in early October – we will bring you news as soon as we have it.
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Brands Hatch GP: 8-10 August 2014 (Bemsee)

With apologies, this race report is compiled from my Facebook updates as I didn’t get an opportunity to write a separate report afterwards:

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

We had a superb test day on the Friday on the Indy circuit, with the bike going brilliantly and Simon absolutely on it. With relief we heard we were no longer a reserve, but had a guaranteed grid slot. Phew! We did a track walk of the GP circuit in the evening, which alleviated some of the nerves.

On the Saturday we had our first experience on the GP circuit, which is absolutely immense and huge fun. It was a day of mishaps for others. After being stuck with a slow F1 for over a lap, a red flag accident in qualifying on Paddock Hill nearly collected us, Simon’s quick reaction and driving skills avoiding the accident by mere feet. The bike overheated as we pulled into pit lane, but after topping up the water we only had one more lap, leaving us well down the qualifying table.

Race 1 was full of drama, with a competitor stalled on the grid on our racing line so evasive action and quick braking required, dropping us back quite a few places, then an engine blown by another competitor and oil round half the circuit, then an F1 spewing fuel over us for the last 2 laps. We were really finding our way and starting to get a feel for the bike, but on our last lap the red flags came out again.

Unfortunately it was our awning-buddies Sean and Mark, having had a racing incident with another competitor on the way into Clearways on the final lap. I’m pleased to say that after a very anxious afternoon and time in hospital for Sean, both seem to be merely walking wounded. The bike is looking rather sad though In terms of our race, Simon did some great overtakes and I think we finished 11th F2, 17th overall.

(c) David Daisy

(c) David Daisy

With several stoppages throughout the day our second race, along with all the solo races, was cut from 6 to 5 laps. We had a good start, but yet more incidents made for excitement – another blown engine, someone had dropped a *lot* of fuel around Druids. I felt the engine was flat but Simon disagreed and the time sheet proved me wrong, taking another 1sec off our fastest lap.

Sunday was a real change of fortune for us. The bad weather swept in overnight so Sunday’s warm-up session was very damp, with very little grip anywhere. We only had 2 laps, not really enough to do anything except reassure ourselves that MSV hadn’t reconfigured the circuit overnight. An F1 spun in front of us at Druids (nicely avoided by Simon!) and we heard of other pirouettes elsewhere.

Our first race was distinctly damp, and I’d already decided I was going to sacrifice the lefts to try to keep weight on the rear wheel. This is something I’m always nervous of doing, but works brilliantly as long as I can overcome the headology of thinking the chair wheel will come up. Simon was relearning the great grip levels possible on the wet tyres. Off the line the real wheel spun up dreadfully and we found ourselves in a huge bunch going into Paddock. Visibility was a real issue, and as we went up into the GP circuit the rear wheel was struggling to find any grip, even with me completely draped over the back wheel. Left-handers felt much better with me keeping my weight inboard, so that was a positive.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

I could feel something was wrong within a couple of laps as the power seemed intermittent and Simon was struggling to keep us going. The same F1 spun in front of us at Graham Hill, collecting another outfit in the process and causing a red flag. We were sent back to the paddock for a very quick lunch break, before the race was re-run over 5 laps. We changed the tyre pressures to try to get more heat into them and improve grip. Simon wondered if the engine was cutting as we were hitting the rev limiter with the rear wheel spinning.

Again, a very poor start with the bike spinning up, and then a couple of laps in we also spun on the exit of Druids: a very neat 360 and we rejoined almost straight away. The engine was cutting out, and despite Simon doing everything he could to diagnose the problem while on the move, we retired at Stirlings. Water in the electrics seemed to be the culprit, so after making our way back to the paddock after the race (under our own steam) we stripped the fairing off to try to find the issue.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

Simon went through everything, liberal applications of WD40 and contact cleaner, and the battery connectors tightened. The lanyard had been checked but didn’t seem to be causing an issue, and of course we couldn’t replicate the problem in the paddock – how frustrating!

The weather was variable all afternoon but eventually the warm breeze and sunshine started to dry the circuit and we switched to slicks for our last race. The warm-up lap was fantastic and we were both feeling confident ready for the start from the back of the grid, but within seconds of the lights going out we knew we hadn’t found the fault. Hand in the air, we retired almost before we reached the end of the start-finish straight, limping round the indy circuit before returning to the Hailwood centre to watch the rest of the race.

At least one other competitor had chosen to pack up and go home earlier in the day as their engine was cutting out too, so we wondered if it was just the rain getting into the electrics. (Some days after the event Simon finally tracked down the issue: a broken connector for the lanyard.)

However, although we had two DNFs on the Sunday we had a really positive weekend. Friday’s practice was superb, and the racing over Saturday and practice in the wet on Sunday gave us both a chance to feel the bike sliding about and learn how to control it better. We’ve quite a lay-off now, as we’re not out until the middle of September, but a lot of work will be going on in the background over that time.

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Donington 26-27/07/2014 (North Glos)

What a blistering weekend – on several levels. With temperatures that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on an expensive holiday to the Med, we managed a lot of track time and a lot learned.

Saturday’s free practice was tentative as it was my first time racing at Donington and Simon’s first time there on an F2. On lap 3 the fault light came on (the one we’d seen at Mallory but couldn’t diagnose as the code blinked off too soon) so we whizzed into the pits and were able to identify it as a broken wire feeding the secondary injectors. The FSRA British F2 timed qualifying was superb, with 8 laps completed and a 6sec improvement in lap time. Qualifying position: 28/29.


(c) Richard Glover PhotoBikes

(c) Richard Glover PhotoBikes

Club qualifying race was next, where we’d been gridded 5th. A superb start and Simon was chasing hard when a momentary distraction of another sidecar going into the gravel at Coppice meant we followed… and beached ourselves. The marshals did a great job of digging us out after the race but with gravel in the brakes and half a ton in the undertray, quite a bit of cleaning was needed. It did give us a chance to track down an intermittant water leak and fix it though.

Our next race was the 10-lap FSRA British F2 race. A long way back from the lights but Simon had a fantastic start and we were holding our own and did our best to stay with the back of the pack. We had another wild-card team behind us too. Unfortunately we were lapped by the winner moments before the finish line so only completed 9 of the 10 laps, but took another 0.6sec off to 1:24.2 and finished 19/20.

Jenny Triker Wells 6

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

There seemed to be quite a delay before the club race but eventually we were called, and gridded on row 8. Again Simon made a fantastic start and proceeded to munch his way up the field, having a cracking battle with John Saunders (with novice passenger, son James, on the side). With outfits to chase and increased confidence we kept John at bay and crossed the line 8/14 with another improved lap time – this time 1:22.28!

We were both really pleased with the handling and the lap times and ended the day on a high. Sunday was one of those days of racing where it just felt so good to be out on circuit with friends and having a right ding-dong battle. Another hot day but with a slight breeze to make everything a little more bearable. Simon & the wonderful Andy Martin had a quick fettle with the brakes first thing in the morning, changing to super-expensive-whizzy brake fluid, but elected to sit out what we thought would be a very short warm-up session. As it happened it was a reasonable number of laps, and we could have used the track time to get the brake fluid level just right, but hey ho.

John Mushet 1

(c) John Mushet

The club Qualifying race had us gridded in 5th again with a 7-lap sprint ahead of us. A good start – Simon does enjoy aggressive starts – and we were in the thick of it and battling hard. A few overly-deep moves into corners meant we were swapping places with others the whole way round, but no trip into the gravel and a battle with 37  (Morphet/Halliburton) before we crossed the line 9/14, just ahead of them. The last three laps had been appalling – both Simon and I found ourselves exhausted, with nascent arm pump, dehydrated and fighting the bike. The cause? The front brakes were binding on where the teeny reservoirs couldn’t quite accommodate the new brake fluid after the change. Our best lap time reflected the problem, managing only a 1:24.68, slower than some behind us and only Simon’s late braking and wide outfit keeping them at bay.

We’ve known for a while we need to change to larger brake reservoirs, and a few ml of fluid removed fixed the brake issue – but for the two of us it was several litres of fluid to be added! A quick trip over to see superstar taping and massage saint Sue Hunt, then it was a short break before the start of the British F2 FSRA race. Our target was to complete all 10 laps without being lapped ourselves.

Glyn's Photos 1

(c) Glyn’s Photos

We were gridded back on row 15 after Saturday’s result, and Simon made the most of every inch of the tarmac when the lights went out. It’s safe to say that whilst Simon was on the circuit for the whole run down the start straight, I wasn’t! We made a dash all the way down the outside to Redgates with me over the grass, and stayed with the pack ahead of us comfortably for the next few laps. We could both feel that the tyres were on their last legs, with me needing to use my full body-weight to help steer round Redgates by throwing my leg off the back of the bike to spin us. Huge fun, but not something I’d want to do at every circuit We found the *perfect* line round Coppice – just once – so we knew how that could flow when we got it right, then 3 laps from the end we saw Tony Thirkell ahead, obviously having some difficulty. Simon chased hard, passing then nearly running too deep at Craner Curves and allowing Tony back through, but we managed to squeeze back past again and hold him off to the line. I kept checking behind me, but no sign of the race winners, and we took the chequered flag 23/24 with a best lap of 1:23.14. So great to see Sean Reeves and Mark Wilkes take the win again – congratulations both.

We both felt much better than we had after the club qualifying race, with just the worn tyres being our only real hindrance. Our last race was the penultimate one of the day, being gridded on the 5th row. I can’t actually remember every lap, because it was such close racing. We found that sweet line around Coppice a few more times, but with such little grip and steering it was a case of trying to run a wide outfit to keep others behind us, and make up for lack of grip by going deep into the braking zones. John Saunders evaded us today, taking around 4sec off his lap time to pull a long way ahead. We stayed with Morphet for a while, but were all being tripped up by a relatively slow F1 which baulked a number of good corner moves. For a long time we kept the Morgan brothers behind us, but they slipped past on the last lap, leaving us finishing 8/9 but absolutely beaming. The racing had been so close that it was impossible to be downcast about the end result. Our best lap was a 1:23.10, so although we didn’t get back into the 1:22s, we’d really consolidated our improvement over the weekend and made huge strides on understanding and feeling the bike.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who was around and supported us over the weekend: Sean & Mark for their company (and paddling pool!), Roisin and Paul for looking after us, the boys for running errands, Andy Martin for being Mechanic Extraordinaire, all our fellow racers for such a great time on track, and all our friends and supporters who popped by over the weekend (especially David, Andy, Alan, Nick and Nancy).

We’re now in a waiting period: while we put in an entry for the Bemsee Brands GP race on 8/9/10 August, we don’t yet know if we have a grid space. We’ll let you know as soon as we do – if we don’t make that weekend our next outing isn’t until September. Which gives us time to save up for new slick tyres.

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Getting started in sidecars

With thanks to Sally Bly of the FSRA (Formula Sidecar Racing Association), this article is reproduced from their 2nd Newsletter of 2014.

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6th July 2014 – Mallory Park (EMRA)

We lucked out on the weather yesterday at Mallory and it was lovely to see so many spectators when the alternatives were to watch F1 (too many wheels), Le Tour (too few wheels) or tennis.

We spent qualifying bedding in our new brake pads but as the braking wasn’t feeling quite right Simon pulled in after only a few laps. We still qualified 8th from 12, but a lap time quite a way off where we’d like to be. A great start to race 1 saw us past a few outfits from the line, but going into Edwinas I thought Simon was being *extremely* confident with the lateness of the braking… except we had no brakes so went straight through the chicane instead.

The commentator announced we were in the sin bin with a 5 second penalty as we’d made places when rejoining <oops>, although Simon let them all through within half a lap. However with confidence knocked in the brakes, when a warning light came on shortly afterwards we pulled to the side of the circuit. Much frustration all round, but we thought we knew what was up with the brakes. We scrubbed down the brake discs and pads and fettled the brake fluid level in the break, then relaxed in the sunshine.

For race 2 we were further back down the grid, but again Simon achieved a blistering start and as we went through Edwinas on lap 1 we’d made it up to 7th place. A little overexuberance at the hairpin scotched our challenge as we gently pirouetted through 360deg, but we recovered quickly. We spent the next few laps chasing down the outfit ahead of us. In the process Simon achieved another personal best: a 1:00.629sec lap. Still not under the minute, which is the ultimate goal, but getting closer every outing.

We crossed the line in 6th overall, 5th in class. So, not quite as much track time as we would have liked, but a very useful day on circuit and has set us up well for Donington at the end of July. We’re wild-carding with the British F2s there as well as doing the club races, so it promises to be a busy weekend.

Photographs courtesy of Dominic Bedford, John Lockett (who captured the spin on camera!) and Kev Boitoult.

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