Teifiside 17/Apr 2016 : Lets get the season started

Teifiside 17/April 2016

Results can be found here Classic MX Wales Google Sheet


Round 1 of the 2016 Championshpi kicked off at Teifiside, with early morning hail and rain giving way to a sunny but chilly day at Crugmore Farm, Penparc. The last minute change of venue had been handled well by the club and although small, the track was set out in similar lines to last August’s visit to the venue. A good entry, of around 110 including Evo’s, a few modern bikes and the Sidecars meant there was a good line up for every race. An early decison was made to split the Pre78 and Twinshock race, meaning there was a total of 8 races per block and a total of 24 races during a packed afternoon.

Delay to the start

The venue has a great paddock and views out over Cardigan, good so you can see the weather coming (when it’s not already raining) and whilst track conditions were slippery for practice and the first block of racing, it dried out nicely with some excellent racing lines. It was one of those tracks that when you were gingerly guiding the bike round the off camber bottom corner, that you should have fitted that set of Michelin S12’s in the garage. Riding Pontrilas the previous week was relatively easy; grip all the way round, berms uninterrupted by the sidecars and corners that generally helped you go round them, rather than trying to throw you off. Anyone wanting the challenge of a ‘proper’ track should really consider a sloping field in West Wales first.

With Kevin Pettit and supporters having spent a chilly night at the venue, Paul Prosser and myself gratefully received a cup of team on arrival and managed to chat to a few people before prior to practice. Signing on was pretty slick and afters a riders briefing it was out for practice. Though Teifiside wasn’t the first meeting of the season, it was a good opportunitiy to catch up with the usual suspects, as well as new faces at the beginning of a new season. Some changes of bike and classes, some experimentation and tinkering still taking place in the paddock. Guilty of myself of making some changes to the timing on the Hallman framed Husky, even though it ran right at Pontrilas (before it sheared a woodruff key. Changed it back after the first block of racing.

The Honda Elsinore Collective.

One of the things about classic meetings is the ability to race as much as you want, as long the bike sort of fits the class. For 2016, the general understanding that you can ride in multiple classes on the same bike, but only score points in one, will be more strictly enforced. This means this more people should win trophies and be placed during the season and that people who have two or more bikes, with associated maintenance and cost, will be likely rewarded for their efforts. The anomaly in the current championship classes where we have pre74 above and below 250cc precludes this doubling up, doesn’t exist for the pre68 class, where it is up to 350cc and unlimited, rather than over 350cc. Interestingly enough, back in the 60’s, where Husqvarna won what was the Open (or Unlimited) class on the 360cc bolt-up Frame bike, the 4-stroke manufacturers (British and Swedish) got the European championship organisers to change it to an over 500cc class. Whether its Kris Winder beating bigger capacity bikes on the 250cc Elsinore (see below) or Japanese bikes coming on the scene in the early 70’s you cannot change the course of history second time around.

Some of the talk in the well appointed Teifiside paddock was around machine eligibility, which wasn’t surprising after a trip to Pontrilas and the Ross club the previous week. Always better to talk things through face-to-face rather than vie email or Facebook messenger and hopefully the Welsh Championship season will continue as before, with self-regulation and common sense of riders with respect to the rules as the order of the day.

In the Pre60 / Pre65 / Metisse class, it was business as usual with Pete Hollinshead andh Andy Carter battling it out for Pre60 honours, though the main dual on the day was between Pete and Steve James who was back on his Triumph Metisse and revelling in the conditions. Terry Challinor, as President of Teifiside Club rode strongly for two 3rds and a 5th. Andy Carter started slowly, with a 7th but managed a 2nd in the last race. Mark Abbott, who’d had trouble starting the BSA, failed to finish in the first race and then struggled with reliability and not falling off in the other two motos. Kim Maddocks showed some early form, whilst Derek Brice continued his consistent performance from 2015, whilst previous year champion Barrie Townend was off the pace after a closed season injury. Dai Walker had moved from Honda Elsinore to an ex-Aaron Graves 350cc BSA and after narrowly missing a marshall point in race 1, improved all day, taking 6th in the 3rd race. Malcolm Herbert continues to be the sole 2-stroke pre 65 bike on the ‘bolt up’ Husqvarna but struggled early on with the track.

Cagiva and Husqvarna Encampment

In the Pre78’s Alan Woods knee injury on his first outing of the season meant that the battles between him James Edge didn’t take place. James was ahead of other riders comfortably in the first two races but his 125 Suzuki failed to start on the line for race 3, so David Weaver took the race win after two seconds. This wasn’t without a couple of race incidents, that given the small feel shows the passion and intesity this class brings in its 2nd season. Paul Prosser was suffering from a long term shoulder injury, but Kevin Pettit, riding a borrowed 250cc 1975 Husqvarna (after his KTM failed at Pontrilas) should some great style keep pace with the Weaver 400 Maico’s. Lots of recommendations that he should stick to 250’s. Both John Mainwaring and David Goddard rode consistently to start their season with good points.

In the Pre68 up to 350cc and Pre74 up to 250cc, very much a different feel with the ever dominant Mitchell Harris not at the meeting. Kris Winder who had provided an insight on the shape of things to come at Llanthony back last September blitzed the field on the Honda Elsinore and is clearly the man to beat in the class this season. All time most winningest Welsh Classic MX champion Dan Evans started with a strong 2nd place on the Husqvarna as usual, but the bike seized in race 2. Ben Weaver, also Elsinore mounted then picked up two 2nd places. Andy Lane on the Bultaco rode consistently as Gary Wolstenholme, though William Guest’s strong showing was only in race as he didn’t make races 2 or 3. In the pre68 class, Andrew Owen, also on a very standard Bolt Up Husqvarna took most points on the day ahead of Phil Anslow and Geoff Taylor, who was first time out on a twinpipe CZ acquired over the winter. Dai Walker and Malcolm Herbert missed race 1, but Dai had the edge and went to score well in the second two races. As in the pre65 class, Julian Richards roder well in the first two races.

For the pre68 Unlimited, Andrew Davies made a strong start to the season on the 380 CZ and as he’s done in previous season has managed to ride consistently. The only other rider in the class, also two-stroke mounted was Nathan Jones on the 400cc 4-speed Husqvarna saved his best race for last and finished 7th overall.

In the Pre74 over 250 class, battle between Jonathan Randall and John Cash was resumed with similar results to 2015, with John beating Jonathan in the last race. Graham Trump missed the first race (by going out in the up to 250cc class by mistake) so Robin Thomas and Ian Fenwick managed to pick up points, with Robin edging it by 1 or 2 places in each race. As with the pre74 250cc class, things didn’t go well for Dan Evans, who after completing race 1, suffered from a crankcase and oil loss, which ended his meeting and potentially his classic season.

New for 2016 is the 4 round Evo championship to be hosted by the Teifiside and Narberth clubs. Connor Jones, who’s Twinshock Yamaha mount still consisted of a box of bits due to some inactivity over the winter brought a mightly powerful 500cc Honda and turned on the style of ahead of #74 on a 250cc Honda. Nigel Davies managed two races on the Kawasaki (back to back with the Twinshocks didn’t help with a return to racing) whilst Paul Evans travelling down with the Chells powered the mighty Husaberg round and by duly completing all 3 races picked up the top score of 35 points from the afternoons racing.

No Dan Evans in the Twinshock class and after finishing 3rd for 2015 season on his 250cc Maico, Kyle Noble had the perfect start to the 2016 season taking 3 race wins ahead of Anthony Guest on the 480 Honda and 490 Maico mounted Andy Mills, Nigel and Dylan Davies. Also on a Maico, Sam Weaver took a while to get in to the swing of things but it was nice to see some new faces riding in the class. Kyle’s brother Keelan, in his first championship meeting had a great 3rd race, but seized his bitza Maico in the 3rd race. A promising performance.

The journey home

As you race at different meetings across the UK, they’ll be better tracks, better organisation and somewhere nearer to home than Teifiside but overall its still a great place to go racing. Sitting here 24 hours later on a plane with a stiff shoulder, slightly aching hands and thoughts on how I could have gone quicker and planning modifications to the bike, you realize what a good day it was and why you want to go racing. As many wives and girlfiends will attest, the day or so after an event snogging their partner might be like kissing an exhaust pipe in a dusty field, but it’s good to do it with someone who’s smiling from ear to ear.

A familiar story

Gentle One : 3/April 2016

There comes a point where Carmarthenshire or Pembrokeshire trading standards need to be call in, as conditions, weather and a healthy entry meant that the Gentle One wasn’t. There had been a subtle change on the Narberth Classic MCC website which aluded to potential challenges for the rider.

Don’t get me know, I enjoyed it, in a perverse sort of way. The forecast proved correct, with a bright start giving way to rain and the old coal tip at Cynheidre had soaked a lot of rain. There was grip around the shorter than expected track. The Junior race went off first and some struggled on the first hillclimb, about 300m from the start. Even though there was only about 20 of them, it was to prove prophetic has 80+ adult riders attempted the hill on the first lap.

For me, the recently acquired Husqvarna 360 Automatic was the chosen mount for the day and formed up a small part of the overall entry, where the classic / twinshocks were 10-15 in number, with David Goddards RM400, Mick Maskelyne’s Rotax engine beast and a couple of Bultaco’s proving that you really can ride anything at these events. The Automatic eventually started, though it, like me was plastered in black mud before going 50m. Needless to say there was a significant queue waiting for the hill, but the Automatic made it straight up with some legwork at the earliest opportunity. Though changing gear, it wasn’t getting out of 1st easily but was changing up on a couple of firm straights.

The 2nd hillclimb and the bottom of the course was shorter than the first, but more challenging and again a queue was forming with people who were deciding where to tackle it or not, watching a scene from Dante’s Inferno (the circle of hell reserved for idiots on twinshocks riding what is essentially a Classic event) spread out in front of you. Dan Evans, who was marshalling on the hill commented that it would have been less knackering to ride rather help haul up a continuous stream of bikes. The cheapo kill switch on the Husky meant it keep shutting of, so I removed the spring and cover and back to a working bike. Managed to lose the tools from my bag but made 2 clean ascents of the hill, and 1 not so clean during the first 1.15 minute session.

A good finish

During a quick walk of the track (looking for tools) I thought I’d knock it on the head as the rain was getting heavier, but on the return to the van and some left over stew from Saturday nights dinner, decided that at least another lap was in order. The bike (on its inaugural outing in anger) happily fired up, so back to the start and time to join the queue back at the hill. The 80 odd riders from the morning, had somewhat reduced in number, but still a wait at the bottom of Hill #1; the Automatic duly obliged and the ascent was made without too much bother. Dante’s Hill had been removed from the loop, as had the awkward off camber section above it. A shorter lap meant a shorter time back to Hill #1, where conditions had deterioated, so much so some of the top boys were struggling to get up. After 10 minutes, the course was redirected again, with a even shorter lap, keeping tricky downhill section in place. This was more like it, as everything was moving and you could get some pace and rhythym on the bike. The Automatic wasn’t changing gear correctly and the bike was indeed down on compression and making a bit of top end noise. Managed 6-7 laps easily enough, but the bottom bolts on the handlebar clamps were working loose, so gentle finished the last tap, towards the end of 1h15 minute seconf session.

Rider before cleaning

Bike and rider throughly soaked and black with mud, but the bike had of sorts finished and provided an insight on what needed to be done. As for the event, Gentle is wasn’t and the only dangerous thing was the riding style of some of the modern bike riders, but they are used to it. Thanks to the Narberth club and really appreciate the efforts made to complete the event. Not easy given the conditions.

Some thoughts though, in that there is a danger than these events are appealing to the top 6-10 modern riders, who have both the skill, queue jumping abilities and the competitive spirit (aka aggression) to get round any course. That 50% of the field didn’t finish the first 1.25 hours is partly weather, experience etc, but these will be the people paying the money. Lets see what happens going forward but obviously its West Wales and you cannot predict the weather.

Bike after cleaning