There were megalolz, there were broken bones, there was some bloody serious racing to combat turkey comedowns and hangovers of monumental proportion: the annual post-xmas minimoto endurance race was a who’s who of MotoGP, WSB, BSB and TT paddocks rolled into an old hangar near Swindon. After a hurty leg and getting torpedoed several times during last years event, Baron pulled an absolute classic from the book of excuses. “I’m moving offices,” he said, which has to be one of the shittest excuses of all time.
That left myself and some carefully selected team-mates to man 44Teeth’s crumbling fort as the boys and girls at Swindon Karting Arena hosted around 150 riders and another few hundred spectators. ‘Motorsport is dangerous’ – three words splattered around venues across the globe that state the bleeding obvious. Crashing hurts, regardless of engine size, environment or speed.
Our competition winner, Liam Hale had a nasty introduction to the world of minimoto racing. With practice/qualifying limited to 15 minutes, we elected to send Liam out for some much-needed saddle time but his night ended after just one lap following an altercation with the pit wall. Broken foot. Welcome to big school. G’night.
“When I received the email from Fagan congratulating me on winning the 4th spot on the 44Teeth team, I hit the floor, the chance to fight it out with the big dogs,” Liam reckons.
“Arriving at the track there was a huge buzz, packed with riders and instantly it was obvious this wasn’t just a few mates out for a laugh. This was serious! After deciding that I should go out on track first to get a feel for it I sit on the start grid giggling like a girl. Leon taps me on the shoulder and reminds me that I have a Moto 3 world champion sat on my ass, no pressure! We shoot off down the straight into the first hairpin, through the second, round the chicane slowly but surely up to the final hairpin, I can see the straight. This is it, I thought. I’ve done a lap, I’m ready! Knee out I’m ready to nail the main straight throttle wide open out of the hairpin. BANG! I hit the barrier and nearly ended up in a young Doris’ lap trackside. My race is over hobbling to A+E like Albert Steptoe. Leon jumps on and makes it look like we’re playing Mario Kart.”
Suitable attire selection was also high on the pre-race agenda. Many prefer the lightweight flexibility provided by joggers, a hoodie and some strap-on knee sliders. Others insist on the safety of full one-piece leathers but add unwanted mass to an already unhealthy obese pilot like myself. Looking at the entry list and realising this wasn’t a toddlers’ soft play session, I, like many, opted for leathers.
There isn’t another sport so inherently affected by rider weight as minimotos, which was disturbingly palpable throughout the two-hour race. 14-year-old kids who weigh less than 50kg on bikes making 6bhp whizzing past you is depressing and a recipe for instant guilt trip dieting. Even Scott Redding – at well over 6ft – weighs 70kg, and I was giving away around two seconds a lap from being nearer the 100kg bracket.
Team 44Teeth – #11
With this in mind, and the fact I looked like Tyson Fury riding a Shetland Pony, the addition of featherweight pilots was essential. My team-mate of the past two years at BSB, Leon Morris weighs as much as my ball bag, though he lacked minimoto experience and boasts a tendency to finish second all the time. Our secret weapon was a lesser-known specimen by the name of Andy Yelland. Like Leon, Andy is a pint-sized jockey who has plenty of racing experience but is smoother than Jorge Lorenzo at a butter party.
There were 30 identical GRC RRs randomly allocated to the 30 teams, all with a fresh set of tyres and a brand-new clutch. The RRs produce 6.2bhp wrapped in a steel trellis frame and lightweight components, tipping the scales at 22kg. Contrary to naïve preconceptions, these aren’t cheap toys that rouse ASBOs in deprived areas. Although the Italian RR ‘Mix’ is a cheaper, diluted version of the full-fat racer, you’ll still need 1600 Great British pounds to purchase one and they’re the ideal tool to learn the concept of corner speed, no matter what age or level of ability.
30 teams, 30 bikes, 150 riders: a 15-minute ‘superpole’ session decided the grid for the Le Mans-style start and the ensuing 2-hour carnage endurance. After qualifying 16th, we were buried mid-pack. A pack of nutters. The Le Mans start was intimidating to say the least, and I wasn’t even starting, merely holding the bike for Andy to get the jump.
With 45 mins’ worth of petrol and two hours, tactics involved stopping for gas twice and allowing the much thinner, faster team-mates as much track time as possible. Plus, I couldn’t ride the bloody thing for more than 10 minutes before having to be craned off. It was a brutal race packed with brutal moves but hugely entertaining, and I was left wondering how someone could crash a minimoto as often and as violently as TT superstar, James Hillier. He was loose as a goose.
True to their word, Scott Redding and Danny Kent turned up (Redding in a pink Morphsuit) and, not surprisingly, won the event. When you consider the pair grew up riding minimotos and the small fact that Danny is the first British MotoGP world champion since Barry Sheene, it was hardly a shock victory. Joining the cheaty GP riders was Danny’s younger brother, Kieran Kent. One for the future, maybe? We managed to finish 7th overall – mainly down to the fast yet mantequilla style of Andy. He was elegant, like a swan or something.
Without turning this into a political manifesto, it was that night that I witnessed first-hand how the Tories are crippling the NHS. Granted, the race was smack-bang in the middle of the festive period – a period rife with drunk thundercunts doing their best to inundate A&E wards – but Jeremy Hunt rhymes with cunt runt.
Jack Baker – a lad who lost his right arm in an RTA – was competing on a specially modified bike with all the controls on the left. The majority of two-armed riders have difficulty riding a minimoto at the best of times, but Jack – who also rides motocross – was making it look easy…until crashing at the same place Liam stacked it, badly breaking his femur as a bonus.
It took 90 mins for a ‘rapid response’ unit to attend, you know, the one-man estate car that makes a decision on the casualty and administers lovely drugs but cannot transport patients. I’m not sure what part of ‘clearly broken femur’ was lost in translation during the numerous 999 calls but it took nearly three hours before Jack was en route to hospital.
Anyway, enough drabness. Big thanks to Swindon Karting Arena for hosting an immaculate even, Liam for turning up (briefly), Robbie Lab for the stunning photos, and every other team and rider competing. It was proper fun, the reason most of us started to ride bikes, eh? For those of you who don’t like reading, there’s a video coming shortly. Here’s a teaser…