30/03/15 – Herts & Essex Observer coverage

Thanks to Alastair Gold of the Herts & Essex Observer, and to Richard Glover for the photo, covering the Brands and Le Mans meetings.


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19/03/2015: Solihull Observer press coverage

An excellent article in today’s Solihull Observer about our Brands Hatch outing. The photograph is (c) Richard Glover.

20150319 Solihull Observer (PDF)

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Brands Hatch – NG – 14 & 15/03/2015

Our first race weekend of the new year, after a very brief test day at Mallory 10 days ago when the head gasket went. We had to laugh, since that engine hasn’t missed a beat until then, and was due for a refresh after Brands Hatch anyway.

Simon was able to get both engines sorted out during the 10 day break, but had to sacrifice getting the fairing painted as a result. So, we turned up at Brands on Saturday with an ‘HMS Pinafore / unpainted airfix’ theme, in smart matt gray. This was a great plan until we discovered that the race numbers and gaffa tape wouldn’t stick to the primer, so were slowly peeling themselves off as we went round. Oops.

(c) Richard Glover, Brands Hatch 14/03/2015

(c) Richard Glover, Brands Hatch 14/03/2015

Race 1 on Saturday was dry but very cold, and over the 8 laps we struggled to get much heat into the tyres. Simon was much more comfortable with the new DMR fairing, but suffering with his helmet being battered by the wind, and some discomfort from the kneeler. I had some new handholds cut, which made Clearways much easier (for practice I’d been holding the front of the kneeler tray!)

In between the races our trusty mechanic Andy, assisted by Karl and Simon’s TT passenger Dave worked hard to create moulded foam for the kneeler. We cut yet more handholds and added more fairing fasteners, as the front was flapping about quite a bit, being a much lighter, more flexible fairing than our previous one.

Race 2, also cold and dry, felt much better, over the longer 11-lap distance and we came across the line in 7th. We were surprised that our laps times had only improved by 0.5secs, however it’s a good starting point for the season, and was 1 of the the 2 crucial signatures we both need for our Mountain Course Licence.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells, Brands Hatch 14/03/2015

(c) Jenny Triker Wells, Brands Hatch 15/03/2015

Yesterday, Sunday, was very slightly warmer but rain overnight and a persistent drizzle made the circuit extremely slippery. The NG marshals worked extra hard, with incidents in most sessions at most corners, especially amongst the poor solos. Simon and I missed practice as his son Caleb had a crash in practice on his 125, but was back out quickly (and scored 1st and 2nd in class over the weekend). Our first race on Sunday was moist and again we struggled to get heat into the tyres on a slippery circuit. We had an unscheduled stop on lap 2 when we pirouetted at Clearways, with the engine stalling once we’d stopped. It took us a while to get going again, but by then Simon had the bit between his teeth and we stormed back through the field.

Our second race was a reduced length due to the number of stoppages on the day. Clearways and Graham Hill bend were treacherous, and the race was red-flagged on lap 3 when one of the F1s went over on Clearways. Fortunately the crew were fine, but even more fluids were deposited, making for very sketchy grip. We had a very good restart and were pleased with our 4th place finish, in a time which would have been a podium in the same conditions last year. We now both have all the signatures required for the Mountain Course Licence.

Simon now has a very busy mechanical time before we’re out together at Cadwell on 11/12 April, but we will have the fairing all painted by then. I’m off to Le Mans with Francois at the end of this month to take part in the French Sidecar Championship – which will achieve the signatures he needs for the TT.

It was great to see so many familiar faces – and a few new ones – at the circuit yesterday, not only amongst the competitors but also from our supporters and sponsors. It really helps to boost morale and give us confidence, so our thanks to you all.

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Mallory testing: 4th March

I’m delighted to confirm that Simon and I will be testing our bike with the new fairing at Mallory Park next Wednesday, 4th March 2015. The fairing isn’t yet painted, so no names on it yet, but we want to give everything a good shake-down before our first race at Brands Hatch on 14/15 March. Race season is nearly upon us!

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TT2015 Supporters Club is launched!

See details of our great offer – your name on TWO sidecars at the TT plus a goodie bag – here.

2015 Supporter's pack: a photo, TT pin badge and EXCLUSIVE wristband

2015 Supporter’s pack: a photo, TT pin badge and EXCLUSIVE wristband

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2015 TT supporters club

TT fever is in the air, with news every day of riders signing to factory teams, fans frantically searching for just the right ferry crossing, and sidecar crews with new fairings discussing paint colours.

As in 2013 and 2014, I’ll be offering you the opportunity to be part of TT2015 – bigger and better than ever. Your name will be on not one but two sidecars at the TT for 2015. As well as that, your name will appear here and on on our website, every supporter will be sent a goodie bag when they sign up, and of course a Thank You card at the end of the season.

Details to follow shortly… watch this space!

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January 2015

Happy New Year and welcome one and all! What news? Simon and I will be racing with North Glos under number 92 in 2015. Both he and I have put in our TT entries with our respective partners, and work goes on apace on the sidecar. Our first outing should be mid-March at Brands Hatch: we’ll keep you posted.

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Dave’s eulogy

I was asked by Dave’s family and friends to give the sidecar racing part of the eulogy at Dave’s funeral. This is (broadly) what I said:

I was lucky enough to passenger for Dave at Cadwell in 2012, from which humble beginnings grew a great friendship and racing camaraderie. I’m standing here today as a poor substitute for both Roy and Kevin, the two people who were the most important in the sidecar racing side of Dave’s life. Dave and Roy have been racing sidecars together for over 30 years, and for the last three years Kevin has been Dave’s full-time passenger. It’s a mark of how well loved Dave was that there are so many racers and former passengers here today, and messages of support from even more who couldn’t be here.

 We were privileged to see another side of Dave’s life to that which his family and friends have already spoken about, and I’d like to share his passion for sidecars with you and try to convey just how many people’s lives he touched in such a positive way. A life petrol-fuelled and well-lived.

 Although Dave was focussed and accomplished as both a driver and passenger on circuit, he seemed to have a love-hate relationship with other vehicles. His sense of direction, unless chasing down the chequered flag, could be suspect: I cite the time he was heading to Oliver’s Mount at Scarborough to passenger for Kenny Marsh, and ended up in Preston asking for directions. Or the time where he did his best to ‘improve’ the performance of Brian Illaria’s motorhome by posting each empty beer can up the exhaust as he finished it…

 That’s a classic example of the humour and joie de vivre that Dave brought to the paddock: I’ve spoken to many of his fellow drivers and passengers, and what shines through from every single anecdote was his sense of fun. His jokes were often ribald, his language colourful and not suitable for repetition here, but he was never malicious and loved a good laugh. As Sue Sherwood, one of the marshals at Bemsee said, such a laugh and such a gentleman. Generous to a fault, he was always quick to offer support, friendship, time and company, expecting little in return.  He had a strong sense of justice, always racing with integrity and honour, tempering his fierce sense of competition with an awareness and sense of compassion for his passenger which can be a rare quality amongst drivers.

 The late, great Dave Wells once said that they don’t make diamonds the size of house-bricks. Not a giant himself in stature, it’s fair to say that Wardy was himself a diamond in the rough – a gentle, gracious man who would have loved the idea of Kevin fitting extra handles on the coffin so it could be passengered down the aisle here.

 If Kevin wasn’t available, Dave’s good reputation as a fast, safe, driver ensured he had a host of other passengers who were very happy to hop on with him. Ross Hart remembers Dave as having ‘popped his cherry’ in helping Ross to his first race finish and signature at Donington Park.

 2014 was a successful year for Dave: he knocked time off his personal bests at almost every circuit, such as four seconds off his best lap time at Mallory with Mick Fairhurst on the side. With Kevin’s retirement from passengering, Joe Gaunt was going to be in the chair for Dave in 2015, the team making changes to the bike and fairing over the winter and hoping to solve the engine misfire which had plagued the last race of the season at Brands Hatch.

 We all thought we’d have more time with Dave, we all expected to see him in the paddock at Brands Hatch in the March wind and rain, beer flag flying high, ready to start the new season. We all looked forward to a repetition of Dave’s never-captured-on-camera “Lumley Manoeuvre” on left-handers. Who knows what his new kilt-based teamwear would have achieved?

 Most of all, he would have been looking forward to returning to Cadwell Park which was a very special circuit to him. He’s left a big impression on us all, and there will be a Dave-shaped silence in the paddock and on circuit next year.  We were all fortunate to have had the great pleasure to spend time with him, drink beer with him, race with him, laugh with him. We’ll remember him best by always asking, in moments of uncertainty, “What would Wardy do?”. Race safe, Dave, and thank you.

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Dave Ward – RIP

I was privileged to race with Dave Ward at Cadwell in 2012, and was shocked to hear of his sudden and unexpected death yesterday.

Cadwell 30th June 2013. (c) Richard Glover.

Cadwell 30th June 2013. (c) Richard Glover.

It’s this photo – not even of Dave driving – which sums him up for me. That’s Dave giving my hand a quick squeeze before I head out onto circuit with his great friend Roy Hawkins in the driving seat of their shared F2 at Cadwell in 2012. When I picture Dave it’s not just his smiling face, eyes crinkled in laughter, nor the ribald gravelly laughter, but the warmth, friendship and generosity of the man. I regret that we never had a chance to do Cadwell again together and see how fast we could go without blowing up the engine, I regret we won’t share one more joke, one more beer, one more discussion about the ways he wanted to improve his MR Equip. I’ll miss Dave, I’ll miss his presence in the paddock every time we’re there. And tonight I’ll be raising a glass to him – goodnight Dave, take care.

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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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