Moped Endurance

Step aside MotoGP, cheap-as-chips supermoto moped endurance racing is about to hit the big time. Mark Forsyth took a real racer and factory mechanic to the job - and still didn't win

It's 8am. The pits are a literal translation of the word and the paddock looks like a 20-year-old Frank Thomas catalogue. And the 'race machinery'? It's not a pretty sight.

Welcome to RAF Wittering's bi-annual six-hour Supamotoped endurance race - a last bastion of two-wheeled stupidity, albeit with a hefty serving of common sense organisation and clockwork efficiency. It's a heady mixture of, ahem, highly tuned 50cc two-smoke scoots and Honda C90s with top speeds approaching 100mph. Maybe.

For £20 a rider this has to be the best laughing gland stimulant available. The rules are simple. You must start and finish six hours of 'racing' on either a 50cc twist-and-go scooter or the venerable Honda C90 step-thru. To keep the costs down you're not allowed to use anything that wasn't manufactured for road use. Lovely. Cheap as chips.

The event is the rapidly growing baby of the bike nuts at RAF Wittering on the Lincs/Cambs border. And it's a breath of fresh air; this self-insured, self-run, self-promoted event ploughs its profits back into local charities. How unique is that?

A glance down the entry list (48 teams, four riders per team) gives the inkling this is far from dead-pan. There's Hugh Jardon Racing, PMT Racing (strapline: 'she's got it, we're off racing'), Jockass (they're from Scotland dontchaknow), 50 Bent etc.

The day starts with practice, which sees the three-quarters Tarmac, quarter dirt track littered with K+N filters, exhaust downpipes, jubilee clips, airboxes and prosthetic limbs. Then it's Superpole. The technology leaves no room for error. The organiser's daughter has a stopwatch. And a thumb. Foolproof.

With our top speed severely limited by an errant transmission our Superpole effort is pitiful. Despite being positively 'squirrely' everywhere and at times even 'loose' we end up 35th on the grid. The atmosphere in the Wafty Crank 'race workshop' is black, and to make matters even better our windy gun strips the thread on the clutch centre nut. After some deft filing work by Nobby the mechanic, the nut is 'secured' by a few blows with a chisel.

At precisely (or thereabouts) 11am the 'race' starts. Forty-eight smoking, wheezing, farting machines streak into the first corner. From the touchlines it's hilarious. The first tyre-lined turn is bedlam; arms, legs, crunched gears, howling tyres, the stench of burning Halfords' engine oil and riders swearing at fellow 'competitors'. The C90 dressed up like an aeroplane with it's damping-free shocks wimpering as the rear wheel scrabbles for grip stands out in the chaos largely because it needs twice as much track space as anything else. Its proud owner, Manic, is clearly in possession of a lift that doesn't quite reach the top floor.

And so it continues. Relentlessly. For six hours. Six whole hours where grown men and women shirk the responsibilities of life and immerse themselves in high speed 'competition' and death defying acts of bravery and quick witted skill. Perhaps.

The attrition rate is high. Pit lane, even after just a few minutes, is a frenzied centre of activity as 'technicians' straighten out the damage cause by too much enthusiasm and not enough talent. Some teams, obviously expecting the worst, have even brought their own generators and welders. That's the spirit, boys.

Our race is consistently slow but slowly consistent. Our 'ped groans its way around 238 laps with impressive regularity and unimpressive speed - particularly galling considering the extensive array of go-faster Metrakit engine internals installed just before the event. Then our star rider Midge Smart, who happens to be lighter than Dani Pedrosa, bails, ending up in the back of an ambulance with a fractured collarbone. Bloody
lightweight. All I can say is that he deserved it after the damage he did to our bodywork and Metrakit stickers. Kids. Tsk.

On lap 168, down to just two unbroken riders, our sprits are lifted by events at the ultra high-speed right/left/Tarmac/dirt/Tarmac flick. There, on its side, is a C90, engine screaming forlornly, back wheel spitting dirt and debris all over the 'racing' line. Across the track is a metallic blue helmet still rolling and there, in the distance, a red-faced, lid-less rider running after another bike. Clearly far from happy.

Yes, step forward Tony Hoare from RiDE magazine, excluded - nay, banned - from the event for his involvement in alleged foul practices and the seeking, thereof, of evil revenge. Just like a normal day in the office, so we're reliably informed...

The subsequent human fireball/C90/hairpin incident paled into insignificance by comparison, despite singeing my knee slider Velcro. Don't get me wrong, I love a good bonfire, especially with a bit of Shell Optimax involved, but there's no way I wanted to be a part of an external combustion engine. Good work Team Vipers C90 feller. If you're going to crash make it a big 'un!

As the six hours wear on (and boy, is it wearing) so does the organiser's face. Sergeant Stokes and his family have borne the brunt of a day's worth of complaints, protests, arguments and minor handbag hissy fits. Thankfully Stokes has a weapon up his sleeve. No, not a Harrier missile, he's smarter than that. Stokesey's ammunition is his blonde, teenage daughter with strategically un-buttoned top and an unwillingness to take any shit whatsoever - a perfect disarming foil to any potentially explosive event if ever there was. All of a sudden, riders wishing to air their grievances struggle to even make eye contact. Genius.

At the front of the 'pack' there's an eclectic assortment of highly tuned beasts. The well-ridden C90 of Team Bikebits R Us has run and run at white-hot pace all day with nothing but a few spectacular offs to dent their relentless progress. There's a smattering of twist 'n' go scoots up there but today looks like being a C90 whitewash, their awesome power coping well with the off-road gradients and terrifyingly fast straights.

To cap off an exceedingly entertaining and extremely good value day, the Flying Aardvarks Motorcycle Club (Wittering) open their club house and bar, wheel out a couple of local bands and party hearty into the depths of the following day.

How did we do? Er, second in class. Let's leave it at that...

Thanks to: Wittering RAF Station for letting it all happen, Lauren Stokes for running it all, The Flying Aardvarks MCC, Roger at Fab Racing for help and support ( Go to for future dates