Taking it to the roads
The excitement derived from motorcycle racing as a spectator isn’t hard to understand; as bike riders we have greater insight to what is required physically, mentally and mechanically to win a race. Even so, we here at Evotech Performance are still, after all our years, surprised by the amount of people who haven’t a clue how to ride a bike but still get involved if a race is shown live on television. Crikey, even mother used to cheer on “the green one” when a race was shown on Sunday TV. In case you were wondering, it was a Kawasaki-mounted John Reynolds up against the Norton rotaries. Being within a stone’s throw of the action adds to the spectating experience.
While the spectating areas of the UK and rest of the world’s awesome short-circuits are safe and offer good vantage points albeit from a distance, road racing delivers added flavour of noise, smell and occasional buffeting of turbulent air as a 130mph-plus bike hurtles past not many metres from the end of your nose. If you’re really lucky you’ll savour all of the aforementioned to get one big rush of adrenaline from concentrated sensation of speed.
Oh yes, road racing in its truest sense is literally that; racing motorcycles on public roads that pass within inches of dry stone walling, road side furniture such as bale covered telegraph poles, electric pylons, hedges and more, like kerbs, phone company distribution boxes and, If you’re really lucky your front garden. How’s that for a vantage point?
Road racing occurs across the globe, but two of the biggest known events happen in our own back garden, so as to speak. The North West 200 and IoM TT are literally racing events on public roads. The NW200 can be considered a precursor to the TT and delivers a royal mix of short-circuit stars, road racing specialists and locals keen to show good on home soil. The 8.97 mile NW200 course – “The Triangle”, so-called because the route is a triangular shape – is a fearsome mix of corners, sweeping bends, undulations and manmade chicanes but still delivers mind-shocking 200mph top speeds.
One of the main combatants at this year’s NW200 was BSB rider and demon road racer Peter Hickman. His fastest and record setting lap of 135.452mph during the Senior TT shows the calibre of this 32 year-old, with more to come. Riding for Smiths Racing BMW – one of the Evotech Performance supported teams – there were an awful lot of eyes watching him in practice as he tackled the Triangle on his Superstock BMW S 1000 RR.
Hickman and the Smiths Racing BMW team didn’t disappoint and went on to top the timing sheets for the two Superstock qualifying sessions. As for the actual race, Race 2 The Bayview Hotel Superstock, close racing was expected and was given. After six laps (26min: 25.199sec) Peter Hickman crossed the finish line in first place ahead of Glenn Irwin (2nd) and Michael Dunlop (3rd). Smiths Racing BMW had reason to celebrate on a grand scale. We here at Evotech Performance simply raised a mug or two of Yorkshire Tea. Like we do.
Barely three weeks later and Smiths Racing BMW are back in the thick of road racing at the Isle of Man. Once again Peter Hickman is at the bars of the Superstock BMW S 1000 RR as practice week for the 2019 IoM TT gets underway… or rather it doesn’t because of the weather.
Rain, fog and yet more rain has so far (Friday 31st June) has caused numerous practice sessions to be cancelled and today’s qualifying session is another to add to the list. There may be a chance of the evening session going ahead but nobody is prepared to put money on it. Time required for machine set-up will now eat into qualifying sessions that have now been allocated for Saturday, the day when the TT traditionally kicks off with the opening TT races. These have also been pushed back a day to Sunday, which makes Mad Sunday a non-starter.
“There’s only so much preparation you can do to a bike that’s been stuck on paddock stands for most of practice week,” said one TT attending teams’ technician. “Our bike should be quite quick with the amount of polishing that’s been done to it…” Of course, British humour abounds when things don’t go to plan. “We’ve drunk more tea this week than the bikes have used petrol and the Irish racers have drunk beer. That’s a first!” said one rider who wished to remain anonymous.
At the Smiths Racing BMW camp, Peter Hickman’s Superstock BMW S 1000 RR is also ready for action complete with EP Radiator and Oil Cooler guards and Paddock Stand Bobbins. It is on road circuits where the EP cooler guards will earn their keep more than ever.
If you’ve felt, seen or heard the impact of a stone or chipping flung hard and fast from a car travelling at 60mph, it’s not difficult to imagine what damage is likely to be caused when one competitor gets in the slipstream of another at double this speed and more. At the NW200, after the Supersport race, we saw the end result of a stone that punched its way through an EP rad guard and pierced the radiator. It wasn’t pretty. We were a little shocked to be honest but placated somewhat when the team assured us nothing would have stopped that stone doing what it did.
There will hopefully be another addition for the Smiths Racing BMW Superstock machine from our Lincolnshire-based company – shipment allowing – and that will be an EP Front Brake Lever protector with matching left-hand bar end weight. Again, these are components that help deliver the same race-specification build quality in all our products. Fingers crossed the courier is on the ball.
Quality in design and fabrication are what we strive to deliver but, of course, for our supported teams, we like to go that little further as Darren Jones of Smiths Racing can testify: “The good thing is, whenever we are in the shit a little bit and need something, even if it’s a part to be powder coated – Evotech Performance do quite a bit of powder coating for us – they pretty much do it at the drop of a hat. Of course, in the racing season, if you need something doing, you need it done then. EP is very good at that; Dan and Chris are always accommodating and willing to help.”
Until the next feature, we at Evotech Performance wish everyone on the historic IoM a safe and celebratory TT race week.