By chance and some careful organisation, I found myself near Dusseldorf on Friday morning having ridden over from Antwerp on the KTM. An hour on the autobahn on an increasingly hot day saw me ride through Duren and up into the Eifel national park and the Hurtgenwald. Probably the best road I’d ridden all day had a 70kph limit all the way up it, but the KTM was pressing on to Kleinhau.
Found one of the British enclave in the large pits, bathed in afternoon sunshine. The event is organised by MSC Kleinhau and lets confirm the sterotypical view of our European neighbours; it’s well organised (more on the schedule later though) and is an impressive event.
It’s a whole weekend of motocross, but Friday night is floodlight classic scrambles with 2 blocks of 7 races, including rider age-related pre70, Twinshock and Sidecar classes. The races were all fulled subscribed, with the British contingent strongest in the two Sidecar classes (pre85 outfits, above and below 53 years old for the driver). Not many Brits in the solo classes, but plenty of locals, Dutch and Belgian riders. Joel Smets had ridden here recently.
Timed practice kicks off at 16h30 and going down to watch I did notice one thing, where were the floodlights ?. During practice, a number of blue vehicles from [ the
Technisches Hilfswerk -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technisches_Hilfswerk ] appeared and low-and-behold, the lighting for later in the evening. The Technisches_Hilfswerk is a mainly volunteer organisation for civil emergencies and the like and as well as providing area light, could have knocked up a bridge or replaced the local sewage works. The best bit is that they have got some excellent vehicles and recruitment to the youth division is probably high because of these rather impressive toys!
Good to see a range of abilities and seriousness in practice, with different approaches to the jumps and drops. Track looked a bit rough and when it got dusty, they just turned on the automatic watering system; all very impressive.
Lots of CZ’s in the pre70’s class, helping Gerard and CZStuff with the British balance of trade; some BSA’s and an impressive Triumph with a quick rider on board.
Walked round to the different viewing areas during practice. Already lots of spectators watching and sampling the currywurst [Not as good as the Berlin variety, but not too bad]]. A good track, with some modern jumps, but something that is no more difficult than say [ Pontrilas . It also had 4 bars (serving the Bitburger regional favourite), plenty of sausage and pomme frites.
The racing kicked off around 18h00, with still lots of people coming into the track (and a 14 euro admission fee, thanks Adam for the wristband btw). The first twinshock race had plenty of Maico’s and some excellent racing. The races are 12 minutes + 1 lap and in some cases pretty close throughout. The first race saw the first accident of the night with a Maico rider coming a cropper on the big downhill. First aid was good and he was soon in the Red Cross ambulance.
If truth be known, I’m using fixing the Yamaha’s at races rather than watching the sidecar races, but on the night, they provided some excellent racing and some competitiveness for the British entry. 40 sidecars on the line seems a lot, but the 12 minute races and a big track means there was some space. Some accidents and argy-bargy on the night, but also some competitive racing. Got some insight to sidecar designs and powerplant (thanks Billy), including the ‘jumbos’, that is a 1000cc two stroke sidecar engine made up from two 500cc Maico engines. Wow. It sounded rather impressive down the start-finish straight.
I also wished I’d kept the two XS650 engines I sold in Tesco’s Hereford carpark back in 1999.
In the first over 53 race, Dickie Skinner and Kate Collings had a spill on the downhill tabletop and took out one of the lighting rigs; not sure how Dickie is but he looked in pain as he made it back to the pits and I think went to hospital later. The race was won by Paul Morris, with something to spare over Uwe Bohm.
For the under 53 race, brains were left in the pits as its balls out by Shaun Mallows / Colin Dunkley to win after a slow start. Great racing with 3 Brits in the top 4 early on.
Half-way through the racing and it was 21h00, with still a queue of people paying to come in and watch. Quick watering and grading of the track, saw races 1 and 2 take place, before another break to queue in the beer tent or watch the impressive firework display.
The next pre70 race started at 23h00, with still 5 races to go; by now its completely dark, making photography a bit difficult, but the atmosphere was great, especially as the high alcohol consumption was beginning to kick in.
For the over53 side car race, Paul Morris and Markus Snell won again, but were challenged hard by the German crew, but held on for the outright win.
Shaun Mallows had a disaster in the under 53 race, first not getting off the line and then hitting a block track on the first climb. The British crew of [///] came 2nd behind the local German pair, but this was enough to give them the overall victory on the night.
Some sly racing saw Andy and Leigh Carter in 17th overall taking the cautious approach but seeing plenty of action on the track.
The presentation of trophy’s took place in the main beer tent at 02h00 and with British winners of both sidecar classes it added to the atmosphere. More beer and drinking until deciding to retire to sleep under the KTM somewhere after 3am.
Thanks to the hospitality of the Carters and others from the UK riders and spectators. A great event which is in a different category to most UK meetings. With probably over 3000-4000 spectators who make a real evening of it, it is an impressive place to be, and to ride.
So next year ? would I rider, of course if I could find the right class. And Wayde and Mike, get the bike ready and I’ll get you there for next year !