Review: Michelin Power Cup club races

Michelin's rookie-friendly race series. So, is it any good?

Starting club racing can be a bit tricky. Let's assume you've sorted the finances, the bike, the transport and found the time to do it. The hard part is choosing a series to enter because this can be the make or break of all your efforts.

Despite the myriad of choices, the way I see it there are two types of club racing; racing that's as much about having fun as putting in fast lap times and racing that's about putting in fast lap times and being unhappy with anything but a trophy.

The Michelin Power Cup is firmly in the fun camp. In it's second year, the series is still growing but proving popular for those who want good racing with a competitive field but without crazy budgets. The emphasis is on club, with Michelin throwing on a BBQ in the evening before the race and handing out a whole range of prizes for the best riders of the weekend.

The classes couldn't be simpler: 600s and 1000s and that's it. Everyone runs on Michelin Power One competition treaded tyres or slicks. If it's raining (and this is the UK) you can run on Wets. The rules for bikes are fairly loose when it comes to tuning. On the grid most of the bikes are running full systems, aftermarket suspension and upgraded brakes but you could turn up on a stock bike with a few tweaks and you'd fit right in. I did.

In 2011, the championship runs at 8 rounds: Brands, Mallory, Anglesey, Snetterton 300 (twice), Pembrey, Cadwell and Oulton.

Typically, the event runs over a 2-day weekend and costs £199 per rider. This includes warm-up and qualifying on the Saturday and warm-up and 3 races on the Sunday.

The series is run by Hottrax Motorsport. The Michelin 600 and 1000 races are fully supported by Michelin and are the cheapest ones to enter and are among the cheapest entry fees to any race series in the UK. Good work Michelin.

I entered the series for the Anglesey round on my 848 Challenge bike; a stock road bike with Termignoni cans. It's a bit of a lemon when it comes to fitting into convential race categories, too big for the 600s so I entered the Power Cup 1000 category.

A lot of club racing organiser's offices look like a paper grenade's just gone off but Hottrax had it well organised and signing on was easy.

Scrutineering was brief but professional, I even had the soles of my boots checked which is a first for me. I suppose if I went for a two-footed tackle at the first corner I could hurt someone..

The Michelin races run alongside 5 other classes and despite the horrendous weather, everything managed to run very close to the schedule. There's nothing more annoying than getting your bike ready to go out and then realising there's half a race left before you're even allowed in the holding area.

I didn't go out on the Saturday due to the weather which was more suited to sailing than riding motorcycles. Despite this, the Clerk of the Course let me line-up on the back of the grid on the Sunday.

Staring at the 12 bikes ahead of me, I realised I was the only one running on the Michelin Power One treaded tyres, everyone else was running a slick of some sort. So that's worth bearing in mind if you choose to enter a race in this series.

So, 40 horsepower down, running road tyres and having never lapped Anglesey in my life, I did wonder what else I could do to make this even harder. Aside from wearing football boots (which might have failed scrutineering) the answer was not much.

Into the first corner I found myself in 8th place and rather optimistically thought I'd squeeze my way up the order from there. The trouble is, my 848 was seriously under-engined and by the end of the back straight I was in near-last place.

During the 12-lap race I could see groups of riders ahead who were having good battles but were just too quick for me to latch onto. Mind you, I didn't have an easy time of trying to keep the remaining guys behind me. After a handful of laps my laptimes started to tumble as I got to grips with the circuit, the trouble is, so did everyone elses. I spent the last few laps in a good battle with Darren Blackwell who was riding an R1. He pipped me to the line by a few hundredths of a second, meaning I finished 10th out of 13.

Race two was more of the same, except this time I didn't get a clean start. I was running in 9th for most of the race but a near-highside moment coming onto the straight meant Darren Blackwell got past me and again, I finished 10th.

I didn't run in the third race as I felt I was carrying too much corner speed trying to make up for my lack of straight-line speed. One near-highside a day is plenty for me!

If you're holding your own in the intermediate group on a trackday then you've got more than enough pace to get stuck into the Michelin Power Cup. The 600s had a larger field than the 1000s which reflects the fact that the Power Cup is fast becoming the place to go for your first season of racing. Factor in the friendly paddock, evening BBQ and low entry fees and the Michelin Power Cup comes highly recommended.

All you've got to do now is find the finances, the bike, the transport and the time to do it..

Check out Michelin Power Cup for more info.

Thanks to BritishSportPhotography for the pics.

If you want to see my picture blog of the weekend click here: Anglesey 848 blog

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