Superbly Sunny Sunday and I’m at Donington Park photographing the BMCRC – “BEMSEE” - Motorcycle races, which includes the F1 & F2 sidecar races which are something of a personal favourite.
There is something wonderfully awkward about sidecar racing. Three wheels, only one of which steers, constantly changing weight distribution, different lines to the solos and you can’t lean the “bike”, unless you lift the 3rd wheel in the air and that only works for right hand corners.
Sadly, I don’t get to cover these as much as I would like. I can hear the fake sympathy now, when I say that next weekend I have to return to Silverstone to cover WEC (World Endurance), the ELMS (European Le Mans Series) and the brilliant Porsche Carrera Cup GB, which comes without an acronym.
But, back to motorcycle racing. Some of the bikes racing in the BMCRC Championship this year are works of art and are being ridden by people who know what they are doing. Making Coppice, the corner that leads on to the Exhibition straight at Donington, one constantly accelerating bend, rather than two (or sometimes three) corners does take skill and confidence in the machine.
Pots of money is not required though if you wish to race. Getting involved in racing an MZ 250cc (yes MZ not TZ) with the British MZ Racing Club (BMZRC) and you are unlikely to need a fortune. The German 250cc single cylinder motorcycle has been around since before Barry Sheene won his first World Championship and hasn’t changed much in all that time. The most complicated electronics on the bike are likely to be the compulsory rain light and the battery that powers it. Yet, don’t be tempted to think that it will be boring.
Watching the race on Sunday and Peter Woodall is the man to beat, winning both races by a comfortable margin, on equipment that is comparable to everyone else’s. Reading the Technical Regulations, all two pages of them, and they clearly indicate that having a large budget isn’t going to get you further up the grid. What is needed is a blend of being able to ride well, manage the momentum and having half an idea about setup. I say half an idea because there isn’t much that the regulations will allow you to change. The tyres used in qualifying by just one of the MotoGP teams will most likely cost more than an entire season in BMZRC.
So what am I going on about? Essentially it is this question which I’m unable to answer. "What is the difference between racing that costs millions and racing that costs substantially less?"
If it's creating a bike that is so powerful that only the few can ride it on the limit, then that argument would have to conclude that the bikes must always evolve beyond the riders ability to make interesting racing and that I can’t agree with. Sunday’s racing had everything I could hope for in a motor race and all for a few quid.
Trust me, club racing is the new MotoGP (queue letter from Dorna Lawyers) and while I'm waiting, the photos can be found <here>