Okay, it’s my fault. Not enough time for maintenance and prep, but on the otherhand it seems ill fortune was on my side. The SC500 still needs a bearing and an the subsequent engine rebuild and a the MX250 has also had its woes.
Scherpenheuvel is only 30km from Lier and it’s a good thing too. Practice at 09h00 was cut short by the throttle seizing shut on lap two. The slide in the carb was locked solid, which necessitated replacing it with the spare. First race, saw the non-tuned carb struggle to run underload from the corners and eventually stalling with fuel starvation and not wanting to restart.
Made it to the line for the second race, but by then the clutch was slipping and it gave up the ghost, again on lap two. Not the best meeting for me.
On the plus side, the VMCF meeting was well run, it was an interesting if slightly quicker track than you’d normally find and there was lots going on. Met a couple of the guys who’d I’d chatted to back in February in Telford and discussed the bikes, parts and what might be around in the UK.
Met with Rudy Bruggeman, who has an interesting penchant for 4-stroke 1970’s Suzuki’s. The bitsa collection has been well put together and is very competitive in the pre-77 class. Whilst his current bike is based around a GN400 engine (yep, that’s a cruiser) and I think an SP370 frame which gives it some height, he’s also got a previously developed bike. This has a DR400 engine, RM front forks and what looks like a Metisse frame. Very much in the pre68 British style, it doesn’t have the large suspension travel of some bikes, but it does have power and plenty of grunt. An interesting bike (and for sale).
Quite a few XT’s and TT’s in the paddock, again very much spec’d for the pre77 class. Whilst this hasn’t really caught on in the UK, in Belgium it seems to created a whole range on bikes, based on various 70’s offroad machinery. Also, a plethora of Suzuki models, including TM’s, TS’s, RM’s, GN’s, SP’s and DR’s have morphed themselves into fairly suitable machinery for the flattish, sandy and sometimes quick Belgian tracks. For Pontrilas they might struggle, but at places like Llanthony or Narberth, they’ll be a little more interesting. Mud and sand is where 4-stroke power will win. Given that a beat-up TT is £2000, an HL is a lot more (x5) and a CCM is mind-boggling (x8?), then bitsa bikes make a lot of sense, along with some other weaponery like an XL500 (of which there were a couple at Scherpenheuvel).
There are a few Triumphs, BSA’s and other British iron in the pre72 class, and people will spend money on early CZ’s, Huskies and Maicos, but it’s nice to see some grass roots stuff. There tradition of 50, 125 and 175 cc racing lives on and there is a healthy class. Mobilette racing (ie 50cc) also happens, which is cheap youth motocross.
For those thinking of racing in Belgium, few other things arising from the meeting:
• scruitineering; bit more serious in the UK and in particular a handlebar pad is needed, the rear brake are needs a lock of some form
• VMCF use transponders, and you can rent one on the day for 10 euro.
• you need numbers on the back of your shirt
• you need the environmental mat to go under your bike whilst there.
• practice and race sessions are on set times, VMCF tend to run the same at each meeting
• you can turn up and ride on the day !
This last point is interesting. The costs of running motocross in Belgium was I thought less than that of the UK, but it seems not. Speaking with Rudy and Werner Castelyns during the day, the ground at Scherpenheuvel had cost the VMCF 4000 euro for the event and the Red Cross (St John’s in the UK also) now charge and are too expensive, so they use a specialist dedicated first aid company.
However, where they win, is that they use the track on two days, Saturday’s for Classics / Old Timers and Sunday’s for modern bikes. They also get catering company’s in to run the bar and they get spectators to an event.
They also charge differently;
• 12 euro (£10) to enter the track, per person whether you are riding or not
• 25 euro (£20) to ride, though that would be less for most registered riders (I think around 5 euro per event), the annual cost is around for 180-200 euro.
• 10 euro (£8) to rent a transponder, though regular riders will have one registered for the season. Not all events need them, the VMCF (Flemish) does for racing in Antwerp and Limburg.
Not saying that their finances are perfect, but there is a strong case for two-day meetings, with classic events on Saturdays and moderns on Sundays. They do grade the track between practice and the heats and there some effort needed. Also, there is a bit of culture clash. Whilst their is the odd large camper or lorry, the Belgian classic contigent have bikes on trailers and stuff into old vans and cars. The more modern bikes arrive in larger campers and you potentially need a heathly sized paddock. Most clubs only run one meeting a year.
Anyway, back to the meeting. Good racing, nice weather and good atmosphere. Recommended place to hang-out if you fancy it.