Cadwell comeback

Classic motorcycle racing made a most welcome return at Cadwell Park, when the CRMC held the first meeting since lockdown began. Classic Racer was there, along with a few discerning and socially distanced spectators…

Words: Jono Yardley Captions: Graham Lawlor
Photographs: Pete Morris

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Way back on March 23 of this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the nationwide lockdown in a bid to stop the coronavirus outbreak.

As we all know, it immediately had a dramatic effect on all aspects of our lives, including all forms of sporting activity, which obviously included our beloved motorsport.

This pretty much stopped dead in the tracks all the preparation and planning for road racing and a full and fun season ahead.

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Prior to the lockdown, the Classic Racing Motorcycle Club had a full calendar planned of seven rounds, which of course was quickly scrapped.

Seventeen-year-old Tom Woodward, who made a big impression on an MT-125 Honda at Donington in 2019, was back out here on dad Symon’s, RD250, enjoying two great battles with the similarly mounted Andy Green (14). Green it was who edged out Woodward by inches in both races but there’s no doubt that the youngster has a potentially strong future in the sport

For many classic motorcycle racers, the thought of any racing taking place during 2020 was a non-starter, and for most the race bike stayed at the back of the garage or workshop.

The CRMC’s vice-chairman John Davidson is one of the key people who organise their race meetings, he said: “The calendar was put on hold as the ACU first suspended all permits until May 31 and later all permits were suspended indefinitely, as it was realised new safety routines would be required for meetings to take place.

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“Darley Moor was quickly rescheduled for August 22/23 as there was an available date in the Darley calendar.

“The CRMC would have preferred to postpone Cadwell until October and have more time to prepare, but this would have incurred a heavy loss on the July Cadwell booking, so this meant that as soon the Government and ACU allowed sporting events to take place, if at all possible we had to run the meeting.’’

The sport’s governing body – the Auto Cycle Union – kept a close eye on developments, and as things progressed produced a number of documents highlighting the implications and the likely restrictions that would be placed on racing in the short to medium term.

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Malc Sampson’s long journey from the West Country proved to be well worth it with two Production second places on his new Yamaha FZ600 and a brilliant brace of Superstock wins on his Honda VFR 750 plus a hard-earned seventh place in the ACU 1300 race.

These covered many aspects, including social distancing, increased hygiene procedures and the ban on overnight camping.

This restriction was probably the one thing that effectively stopped a racing club from running a race meeting, with the majority of meetings being held over two days.

The CRMC undertook a survey of its members and the results clearly showed that most would not be prepared to attend a meeting if they were unable to stay on site.

This was understandable – years ago when racing on a single day was the norm, clubs were much more locally based and their riders lived within relatively easy distance of the circuits their clubs raced at.

This has changed a lot over the years and the membership of National clubs such as the CRMC, now live across the UK.

For the second year running Tom Hayward (1, RS Honda) decimated the rest of the Cadwell P/C 125 field, with “Mr MT” Jerry Lodge also putting in a pair of strong rides to comfortably win the Piston Port class.

As the lockdown progressed, the CRMC were optimistic that the ‘no overnight camping’ restriction would be removed and the planning for a two-day race meeting was started.

John Davidson: “Putting this meeting together was quite a challenge for all involved. We never knew until quite late in the day how many competitors would actually enter or indeed if we could muster sufficient officials and marshals to actually run the event.’’

Detailed discussions with the ACU continued and their requirements for the issue of a race permit.

Part of this planning also included discussions with the management of circuits. Motor Sport Vision, who operate five circuits in the UK, were very supportive of the club’s wish to return to racing and the originally planned weekend for July 11/12 at Cadwell Park was very much back on the cards.

One of the things that the ACU wanted to see was the increased use of technology to reduce the amount of human contact and the CRMC’s new online membership and race entry system was used to great effect.

The system, although in relatively early stages of development, worked well and had the effect of reducing the amount of paperwork.

A Saturday night dash back to Lancashire for new ignition components transformed John Dieterman’s weekend on the Baxi Ducati TTF1 1078 as he enjoyed a Sunday to remember. The Preston rider narrowly defeated Ant Hart (Veryard/ Mec-a-Tec Suzuki XR69) in both P/C Superbikes/Superstocks club rounds but the icing on the cake was victory over Phil Atkinson (Rose TZ350) and Hart (Be Event Hire TZ350) in a thrilling Hercberg/ACU Post Classic race, a win that also earned him the Colin Breeze Trophy and the Rider of the Day award.

The ‘no overnight camping’ restriction was finally removed on July 4, by the Government and everything was in place for a weekend of classic motorcycle racing.

Amongst the many additional requirements was the need to ensure that everyone involved in running the event had correct Personal Protective Equipment, this in itself was not an easy task as sourcing PPE in the numbers required and at a reasonable cost is difficult.

In addition, all the officials and marshals required additional guidance and training on how to operate under the new guidelines, so that their safety was not compromised.

Only one person at a time was allowed in the race office, and a new system employed for signing on.

The Dawson side car team

For the bike technical inspection, this was done without the machine actually being touched – a challenge in itself – but a system was developed which worked and was sufficient to ensure that there was no physical contact with anything that could allow transmission of the virus, but still ensuring that every motorcycle conformed to the technical regulations.

It was decided that there would be no printed results. This is something that didn’t cause any issues as the club uses the services of Motorsport Timing UK Ltd.

As well as providing an excellent and accurate service, which provides almost instant official results through their online website, they also provide an online ‘Live Timing’ system, which can be accessed by anyone with access to a smart phone, tablet or PC – anywhere in the world.

This has proved to be very reliable, remarkably quick and accurate. Not only does their system provide race results, but also the progress of each and every rider during a race, including their current and fastest lap times.

This is in addition to clearly showing a rider’s position in their class, as well as the overall race positions. For those that require a hard copy, this is easily achieved at home via a suitable printer.

Lynn and Caroline from CRMC doing it right!

A revised programme of events was drawn up and the main change was that no racing would take place on the Saturday, just two sessions of untimed practice and a single session of timed practice for each class.

It was a schedule that was very well received by the riders, with all appreciating the extra track time with little pressure to perform well right from the start.

The additional requirements for increased social distancing were met and followed in all areas, including signing on, technical and noise inspections and of course within the actual race paddock itself.

Everyone who attended was happy to comply, just being pleased to be going racing again.

ACU Deputy Clerk of the Course Ben Robinson describes some of the challenges he faced: “I think probably the main challenge was ensuring that everything had been thought of prior to the meeting.

Rare, beautiful and quick. The 750cc two-stroke three cylinder JPR/DKW ran beautifully in the hands of Jon Perkins and Ian Nickels, who went home with a first and a second place finish.

Making sure that you were happy and confident that all the processes you had developed would be effective and ensure that a second spike wasn’t as the result of a CRMC meeting!

“Alongside that, I think another challenge was recovery. Having to run with limited resources, and having multiple assets to pick up sometimes (as much as it pains me to say it, sidecars were the worst), ensuring that you utilised your resource in an effective, yet safe way, proved challenging.

“Other than that, it was ensuring that you didn’t lose your focus and inadvertently revert back to ‘normal’ and you had to remember that you were working under Covid regulations.

“Whereas normally you’d go and hug someone you’d not seen for a long time, or shake their hand, standing back and thinking ‘hang on, we can’t do that anymore!’ was another challenge.

Dominic Clegg (FZ600 Yamaha) saw off a strong 1300 Production field to win both races by a distance.

“In terms of meeting efficiency, it’s our names above the door, but it’s all the teams that make up the meeting that make it run. For me personally, very little felt different, however I know that the teams struggled at times, but, as we always do at CRMC, we got through!’’

And the club not only got through, it got through in style. It was a brilliantly successful weekend. The club’s email inbox quickly filled up following the weekend, full of supportive and positive comments:
“Thank you very much for putting on a great weekend – we’re so glad to be back, and that was the sentiment in the paddock from everyone we spoke with.’’

“First of all, well done to you and the whole team for the Cadwell weekend. I’m sure that was a major hassle for you to organise but it all looked incredibly easy and normal from my side of the fence.

“Great meeting at the weekend, thought you all did a great job in difficult circumstances.’’

“Just a quick one to say a big thank you for putting on the meeting at Cadwell. Please pass this on to everyone concerned in giving us all a great start.’’

George Hogton-Rusling was back in action on Peter Hercberg’s 750 triple after a near two-year absence. The popular Yorkshireman was quickly back to winning ways in the combined Classic and P/C 750 event but not without difficulty as impressive CRMC newcomer Scott Carson (24, TZR Yamaha 250) hassled and harried him all the way.
Richard Molnar narrowly leads his new Molnar Precision team-mate, Phil Atkinson, through the Woodland section on Andy Molnar’s matching pair of TTF1 1078 Ducatis.

One of the concerns was additional delays due to enforced stoppages when dealing with those that had fallen from their machines. In fact there were very few red flag incidents, and credit must go to the marshals who performed an excellent job.

There were several relatively minor spills, where an inexperienced marshal could have asked for a race stop, but they kept a cool head and allowed the racing to continue whilst a proper assessment was made.

The weather helped too, with just about perfect conditions on both days. Any doubts about how many would enter were quickly put to bed, and as the message got out that the meeting was on and that overnight stays were allowed the entries came in thick and fast.

Certainly one of the things that benefited the CRMC was the fact that other clubs had decided not to race this year.

Market Rasen’s Mr Versatile, Pete Boast, was competing on three different machines, including this Tigcraft KTM 690 Supermono.
Dom Herbertson (Davies Motorsport K4) was in dominant form in the Classic 350 club races and also took top honours in the new ACU Classic 350 championship race.

One of the big surprises was that spectators were allowed. This was achieved by MSV limiting the numbers and keeping close control on them, which included segregating them from competitors and their teams, by not allowing them access to the paddock or Grandstands.

This is not an issue at Cadwell Park as the wonderful flowing circuit is bounded by large grassy banks, all of which provide excellent viewing from a range of viewpoints.

Those that came were all very keen to see some brilliant racing action, and they were not disappointed: race record speeds, some of the best classic riders anywhere in the world battling for the same piece of tarmac, ultra-close finishes, beautifully prepared exotic machinery being used as it was intended. Who could ask for more?

Mike Russell (Suzuki XR69) going hard at it over the Mountain on his way to sixth place in the ACU/Hercberg International Post Classic race.

The Classic Racing Motorcycle Club has a further three meetings planned for the rest of the year:
August 22/23 – Darley Moor
September 5/6 – Anglesey
September 26/27 – Pembrey

This will be a total of 12 championship races for each class, with every round counting for points, i.e. no dropped rounds this year.

Also there will be two ACU championship rounds at each meeting, the Classic and Post Classic bikes have a race each.

For more information visit: www.crmc.co.uk

Pete Bardell’s (Seeley G50) lightning start allowed him to control the ACU Classic 500 race from flag to flag a couple of seconds ahead of the hard battling Alan Oversby (Ireland Honda) and Richard Molnar (Molnar Manx), the latter man just making it home after his crankcases let go on the run in.

Read more News and Features online at www.classicracer.com and in the September/October 2020 issue of Classic Racer – on sale now!

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