The dust has finally settled after the final round of the 2021 Freetech UK Endurance Championship. And despite the Factory Racing Suzuki by 44Teeth Team showing some decent pace throughout the year, we’ve had to relinquish the number one plate. We might not have won the Championship in 2021, but we’ll surely go down in history as being the team that took the inaugural British Championship, in 2020.
In all honesty, I’m not actually sure where we finished in the final standings. After a DNF and a few missed events, I can’t imagine it would have been very high up. But we had some laughs along the way. In fact, I think most people did. Because it’s a thoroughly enjoyable way to go racing.
But unfortunately, the Freetech UK Endurance Championship has become a bit of a victim of it’s own success. Because it’s so much fun, and you can do it on a relative shoestring budget, every Dick and their dog wants a piece of it. Which is great, until you try and do a Le Mans style start with 120-odd bikes at Mallory.
With the benefit of hindsight, it was always going to be a bit dangerous, and it would have been a miracle if everyone got to the first corner unscathed. As it happens, nobody got to the first corner. There wasn’t just a big pile-up, there was about three separate ones. It was utter carnage. There was even a bike doing that thing where the throttle sticks open and it spins round like a Catherin wheel, wiping everything out that goes near it! Luckily, I’m led to believe there were no serious injuries, but it could have been a lot worse.
And whilst there were a few people commenting on how daft the start was (after it happened), I don’t remember seeing anyone shouting and screaming about how dangerous it was before it the event; they were all quite happy to take part.
What there was a lot of shouting and screaming about though, was the lack of respect for the rules. Part of the problem was the fact that not everyone was 100% clear on what all of the rules were. Including, the organisers. Now, this isn’t me having a go at the organisers, but the fact is, there were a lot of very ambiguous rules that changed sometimes mid-race. An example is the rule about not wearing a dark visor past 4pm. It seemed to be made up on the spot at about 3:59pm at Mallory. I was able to see the funny side of it, but not everyone else was. Because although it’s supposed to be a bit of fun, sometimes you just can’t help getting competitive. It is a race, after all.
I think a lot of the teams regarded the rules as ‘guidelines’ rather than rules. Passing under yellow flags, refuelling without the correct safety gear, tuning superstock engines and ‘double stinting’ were all fairly commonplace, all season long.
But again, I’m not having a go at anyone. Hudson Kennaugh set up the championship as a cheap way to go racing, because he wanted a cheap way to go racing. And that’s exactly that it is. That’s why literally hundreds of people have signed up to race what is essentially a kid’s bike, for hours and hours on end.
If you want cheap as chips racing, on a little 125, the Freetech Endurance Championship delivers. The fact that the events aren’t run to the same standard as a BSB meeting is because there isn’t an army of officials making sure everything runs smoothly. And making sure everyone understands the rules and follows them. It’s run by a bunch of enthusiasts, some of whom are in the race themselves. That’s why it’s cheap.
If you want to go racing ‘properly’, where people are punished for breaking the rules and everyone has to have an ACU license (and are therefore at a reasonable standard of riding and knows the rules), then you can. But it’ll cost you a lot more money. And you won’t get any where near as much track time.
So if you’re considering a season of Freetech Endurance racing I’d say go for it. You’ll have a right laugh. But bear in mind that if you want to win, you’ll probably have to cheat; but you won’t be the only one.