Press cuttings

Press cuttings this week from the Solihull Observer and the Stortford Observer:

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Competition time!

Would you like your charity blood bike / SERV / Freewheeler logo to appear on our sidecars? Please visit the Safe Response page on Facebook and see the thread started on 26th March to take part in this competition.

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Anglesey Coastal 30/03/14 (Wirral 100)

A weekend at the Anglesey Coastal circuit with the Wirral 100 club. I haven’t been to Anglesey since 2010 so for me it was a quick reminder of which way it went – all I could remember with any accuracy was Rocket and the Corkscrew. It was cold and wet on Saturday morning, so we skipped the first session on track in favour of sorting a small water leak which had been the cause of the airlock and overheating at Mallory. We’ve become so used to having Andy Martin available as our mechanic that it was a shock to get our hands dirty without him there to keep us in line!

A handshake before the start

A handshake before the start

We spent the three sessions familiarising ourselves with it, then trying different lines,braking points and so on as the weather improved, the track warmed and dried and the sun even put in a brief appearance. Our unofficial time-keeper reports we were getting faster. Pat Farrance gave us some very useful suspension advice as we were struggling with the exit to left-handers – and it definitely felt like it improved, so we are very grateful. We’re still working out the best settings with the new Nitron shocks.

Sunday had a stellar cast, with competitors in the form of Dave Molyneux / Pat Farrance and John Holden / Andy Winkle amongst others. After an unfortunate grass-track and flip for the Founds F1 on Saturday, the remaining F1 was that of Rob Biggs / Luke Capewell (who achieved a new club lap record – great work!), with the 750cc of Alan Molyneux the only other non-F2.

Down the start-finish straight

Down the start-finish straight

Sunday’s weather was perfect – warm, dry and sunny. It was a successful day for us, but not without its frustrations. Practice ended for us on lap 3 when a blockage in the fuel system caused us to slow dramatically. This is an intermittent issue which last raised its head when Simon was at Anglesey last year – I wonder if there is a peculiar characteristic of the Anglesey circuit which causes it? The tank has been comprehensively cleaned through and nothing found over winter. The blockage can’t be seen, but we managed to clear it (by blowing through), then replaced the fuel pump for good measure. Surprisingly, we didn’t qualify last.

Unfortunately race 1 was red-flagged on the last lap when Wayne Kemp fell at the Corkscrew; we were very relieved to hear he wasn’t as he is due to do the TT again this year. Our engine sounded unwell and we could both feel the reduction in power, which we hoped was due to oil misting in the airbox. We cleaned it all up and siphoned out a little oil.

(c) John Lockett

(c) John Lockett

We completed race 2, but the engine went ‘off’ over the last few laps and felt woolly and slow again. We were pleased to have improved our lap times over the weekend and could have done with a third day to consolidate our learning. We did overtake one competitor with some close racing, which was very satisfying, and since Moly DNFed we are technically listed as lapping him.  Now that’s a timesheet we’ll be keeping for posterity!

It was lovely to see one of our TT supporters – Pete Keating, who rode up to watch us – and great to meet some more new teams and new faces. Our next outing is Brands Hatch with Bemsee next weekend – we’ll be testing on the Friday afternoon from 1pm, then racing all day Saturday and Sunday. Due to an oversubscribed grid we’re 5th reserve, but if we’re not out with the club sidecars we have a guaranteed space at the back of the FSRA British F2 grid. We’re also delighted to be hosting our sponsor Andrew Shurmer or Anoeth Ltd on Saturday – and hoping for great weather again!

Ready for the off

Ready for the off

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Returning sponsor for 2014

We are absolutely delighted to confirm that Safe Response Ltd have returned as a main sponsor for our 2014 season. They will be named in the TT programme and their logo is on our short-circuit bike all season as well as on our TT bike. Safe Response make a variety of products from their innovative LED visor signs to hi-viz clothing and signs for all emergency service workers.

safe-response-png-logo redOwner and Director of Safe Response, Simon Jeffery, explains what his company provides:

I am a Member of: Institute of Advanced Motorists, the British Chauffeurs Guild of London, the Devon Freewheelers and the founder of the Emergency Service Volunteer Group. On my travels as a chauffeur I found that there was a need to make retained fire fighters more noticeable in traffic when responding to an emergency call, this idea came to me and I tried a few prototypes and finally came up with this finally design with a little help from my father.

In April 2010 I commissioned a company to make my first order of FIRE LED Visor signs and headed out to stations and see how they would react to the product; I was welcomed with a great response from my local stations and I am constantly seeking to gain feedback to find out how they are getting on. In July 2010 I found that the public needed to get to know what the product was so that it would be even more efficient, so I introduced banners and boards that could be placed at the stations and in the towns to raise their awareness.”

Please visit Safe Response’s website for a full range of products. They also have a Facebook page where you can hear their latest news.

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Cadwell 23/03/2014 (Auto66)

My first return of 2014 to my favourite short circuit in the UK: Cadwell Park. For Francois it was the first time he’d seen the track, so we were a little frustrated that Auto66 had advertised Saturday as a test day but sidecars had no track time. We spent Saturday prepping the bike and making essential changes from the French specification to the UK spec – this includes the UK requirement for a catch tray, replacing anti-freeze with water, and changing our numbers and background from black on white to white on red. That evening we watched a TT onboard from Nick Crowe (2003) and talked about what would be required at various corners.

Rain overnight on Saturday was not welcome, but our day was brightened immensely by solo racer Mark Ess, who parked up next to us. He arranged for Francois to have two laps in the Course Car before racing started on Sunday, giving Francois a first view of the full circuit and potential lines. The circuit was drying and so our first practice session was on slicks, and gave Francois a chance to work out where we were going.

Up the Mountain at Cadwell

Up the Mountain at Cadwell

After the 10-minute session we had a debrief (this usually involves a French dictionary as my technical French is still limited!), then for the second practice we went out with even more confidence. Francois took 10 seconds off our best lap time and we’d qualified in 9th position in the all-F2 field. We had a chat about when and where I should move for some of the braking points, but the whole circuit was starting to flow nicely. The handles on the Shelborne were becoming for intuitive – no more slapping or reaching around looking for something where it wasn’t where I anticipated.

The circuit had dried completely for the first race, but 8 laps seemed daunting and I was determined to do my absolute best. Although we’d talked about more differences between French and English races (no lap count-down, the new-to-him Last Lap flag) and had established it would be a flag start for the warm-up and lights start for the race, Francois was expecting a green light and this nearly scuppered our start.  I was fully expecting a jump-start penalty when Francois started to move as the red lights came on, but he caught himself and we set off with the rest of the field.  Immediately he settled down to following some of the faster competitors, refining our lines, moving braking points, carrying more speed and improving all the time. From a start of 9th, by the end of lap 1 we were up to 7th and 6th by the end of lap 3.

Does my bum look fast on this?

Does my bum look fast on this?

After a few laps Francois had Dean Kilkenny in his sights and settled down to stalk him. Where Dean was faster than us in some right-handers, Francois had the edge in the lefts. Lap 5 was spent building speed (and was our fastest lap), then on lap 6 Francois made his move, smoothly undertaking Dean and then using the empty tarmac ahead of us to gain a lead. Up into 5th we were making good progress when 4th place was handed to us with the retirement of the Lowther brothers. We crossed the line with a best lap time of 1:50.056 – a 14 second / lap improvement from 1st practice! Dean was less than 2 seconds behind us at the line – excellent close, hard, clean racing.

In the wet, on slicks. Race 2

In the wet, on slicks. Race 2

Unfortunately over lunch the weather closed in. Intermittent rain, hail, and the temperature dropping. After serious thought we decided to stay on slick tyres for race 2, gambling that the damp circuit would dry in the wind up at Park / Chris. Gridded 4th, we found ourselves on the front row when both 1st and 2nd place teams didn’t take the start. We were one of only two teams on slicks, the only team on slicks to finish, and as the rain closed in we had decreasing grip lap on lap. Reduced to 6 laps, we stayed on circuit and eventually crossed the line in 4th place – but were saddened to hear Dean Kilkenny had hit the tyre barrier trying to avoid us after we had a slide out of a corner. Lap times were dreadful, as anticipated.

However, the day had been a huge success: we’d had an opportunity to race on a fast,

Leading the pack into Coppice, in the wet on slicks

Leading the pack into Coppice, in the wet on slicks

flowing circuit together in a variety of conditions. We’d both gained that essential signature for our TT Mountain Course Licences and learned better how to work together. We saw so many familiar and new faces, and would like to say a BIG thank you too to everyone who bought wine and jam from us over the weekend, to add to the coffers. (The wine is fantastic, by the way, I’ll have more available at future meetings – £5.50 a bottle. Delicious.)

My Mountain Course Licence application has gone off in today’s post and all I have to do now is just revise, revise, revise those onboards. Francois’ next outing is at Le Mans for the first round of the French F2 championship with Erika on 5/6 April: I wish them both all the very best for the weekend.

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Mallory 16/03/2014 (EMRA)

We had a cracking practice day on Wednesday with six sessions on circuit, of which we did about 5 in total if we added all the bits up together. ‘We’ is me and Simon Smith on an MR Equipe, sponsored by Safe Response Ltd and Andrew Shurmer (Anoeth Ltd).

Devil's Elbow

Devil’s Elbow (c) Grant Tapsell

Race day yesterday was with EMRA with 17 or so outfits starting race 1 (15 F2s, 2 Open / F1 class).  A red flag on qualifying lap 5 when the 750cc roofed it on the start-finish straight underneath the bridge occurred just as we had cleared traffic and about to go for our flying lap. On the restart we had an airlock in the radiator so ended up gridded 13/17, not great.

We didn’t have a great start in race 1, several outfits overtook us, then the remaining F1 blew its engine and deposited oil round most of Gerrards and Edwinas so we clawed our way up to 9th with various DNFs and got the TT sig I need. Breathe a sigh of relief!

Race start

Race start (c) Dominic Bedford

Race 2 was heavily delayed following various solos throwing themselves at the scenery, but gridded 9th we had a much better start and Simon found a target to chase.  We took half a second off Simon’s best lap time – not as fast as we could go due to the greasy surface, but we had some hard, close racing with a few outfits, passed a couple and lapped one. On lap 7 it all started to go wrong and several passengers dismounted on different corners, yellow flags galore, meaning we ended up crossing the line 4th of 8 finishers. We were extremely pleased with it, a great way to finish the day.

Having opened our season, our next race will be with Wirral 100 at Anglesey on 29/30 March.

Devil's Elbow

Devil’s Elbow (c) Dominic Bedford

Posing for publicity

Posing for publicity (c) Grant Tapsell

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TT number: 33

We’ve heard today that our TT number will be 33, with over 60 entries so a good starting spot.

Wednesday’s testing went very well with several of our TT Supporters popping in to say Hi (thanks Tony and Richard!) and six sessions on circuit. More photographs to follow:

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Mallory testing tomorrow

Simon Smith and I are off to Mallory Park tomorrow for a full day’s testing ahead of Sunday’s race with EMRA.  If you’re in the area do pop over and say hi, we’d love to see you! David’s mechanic, Mick, will be there and I’m looking forward to catching up with him – David’s coming over on Sunday to watch. Also… we have our TT Supporters name stickers!  Collected today from SignsExpress who have done a superb job on a very quick turn-around. It’s not too late to add new names, we have space for more throughout the season.

Finally, two columns have been published recently, one in Chain Link (Bristol Advanced Motorcyclists magazine) and one in On 2 Wheels (Chelmsford & District Advanced Motorcyclists magazine).  Links to PDFs of both can be found here.

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Spring has sprung

We’d like to take an opportunity on this glorious spring morning to shout out another thank you to all those who have joined our TT2014 Supporters Club. Would you like your name to join all of these on our TT and short-circuit fairings in 2014? If so, follow the link to the page and click to donate. Huge thanks to Gene & Kitty Rankin, Lynn Smith, Claire Poore, Pauline Woodhall, Fliss & Mike, John Bilsbury (JKB), Jason (DSM Mountain Mile) & Jo, Mel & Martyn, JaseDaRace, Nick & Linda Knowles, Jeremy Sagar, Jan Street, Iain Souter, Liz Calder, Cathy Phillpotts, Gareth Hatton, Oz Warren, Greg & Beth, Ben Henstridge, Sue Foster, Chris ‘Partyboy’ Paine, Peter Foster, BikerJoe, Tony Mallichan, Richard Glover, Keith Bennett, Mike & Claire Newton, Andrew Shurmer, Pete Keating, Andy Bryant & Lucy Stebbings, Steven Sexton, Megan Farnley, Morgan Roper.

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Taxi rides available!

EDITED 2nd & 4th MARCH 2014 WITH NEW DETAILS  – please read.

TAXI RIDES!!! Simon is offering taxi rides on Tuesday 15th April at Llandow circuit, near Cardiff, during a sidecar and solo test day. If you’re interested please reply to this thread. Potentially this is open to aspirant drivers as well, but anyone interested will need to agree that with Simon or another sidecar driver in advance (no ACU licence is required for either aspirant drivers or passengers, however a full DVLA licence is required to drive, and you will need to tell the circuit that you have previous experience. No licence requirement for passengers.) Solo riders must bring a full DVLA licence.

We’ll be testing for half the day and offering taxi rides for the other half, but timings aren’t yet confirmed. As far as I know, the minimum age for taxi rides will be 16, but for 16 and 17 year olds the sidecar driver must already be known to them and their parent must be present at the circuit.

Requirements: one-piece or two-piece zip together leathers – if zip together then no skin must be visible between boot and leathers, glove & leathers, or at the waist if it could ride up in the event of an accident. Don’t forget helmet, boots, gloves, and if you have one – chest and or back protector (and earplugs). Where possible racers will club together to loan items if you don’t have your own.

The day starts at 8.30am with signing on by 9am – Cost: £10 per person for a single taxi ride with one driver. Anyone wanting to do a full day’s passengering, or taxi rides with more than one driver will be charged £40. Solo riders are £70 for the day.

The fee is payable to the organiser, Marianne Walford, with payment due by the beginning of April. She needs to know your name, phone number and email address, receive your payment and know what you are coming to do on the day. Marianne can be contacted on or phone her on 01686 430522; she can give bank details for internet payment. Alternatively you can send her a cheque and your details payable to Diamonds MCC c/o Glanbachog, Staylittle, Llanbrynmair, Powys, SY19 7BU.

To whet your apetite, here are a few photographs from Llandow 2010, organised by Karl & Wendy Pring:

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