Monday, 14 November 2016

2017

A year has passed since my last race at the Freestyle Hafren Rally 2015 and I've only ridden the bike twice since then.

I have to admit, I do miss my racing, but in all honesty, I haven't missed it as much as I thought I would. Don't get me wrong, I love the sport and I continue to follow it closely and try to be involved where I can, but for now, I have no plans to return to racing in the immediate future, other than a one-off outing, perhaps.

I had bimble a couple of months ago and although I hadn't been on the bike in a good 6 months, I felt as though I hadn't lost my skills, which was a relief. My bike fitness may or may not be up to scratch for an event these days, but I felt reasonably confident on the bike.

As I said, I'm tempted by the idea of returning for a cheeky race next year, so keep your eyes peeled for the ioracing steed at some point in 2017.

P.S. that'll be after I've had a chance to give my trusty EXC 300 the TLC she deserves! Time to fix all the niggling issues on my list.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

For sale: Rally parts

I have my large Acerbis 15L clear tank for sale (bought in 2015 £330) which is in fantastic condition having only done one event (Baja GB 2015) and also a GZ multiswitch (bought in 2015 £165) which is boxed and brand new (never used).

The Acerbis tank is great, it fits with radiator braces and it's simple to fit. It doesn't add much to the profile of the bike and handling wise it plants the front end a little more and feels good. Baja GB was the first time I'd ridden with it and I finished 2nd overall.

It would definitely fit a 2012 KTM EXC 300 2-stroke, but would also fit other models - please confirm with Acerbis for fitting guidelines before buying.

The Acerbis tank is now listed on ebay here.

The GZ multiswitch is really nice to use, and it's got mounting holes for the standard KTM light switch on top - really useful. One switch to control your roadbook and ICO and your lights/horn/kill switch on top. I used one at Pikes Peak Navigation rally 2015 and it was brilliant (along with an ICO and F2R RB750 roadbook).

The GZ multiswitch is now listed on ebay here.

If you are interested, please get in touch and make me an offer via email at info@ioracing.co.uk.






Tuesday, 1 March 2016

2016: A year off

I have loved every minute of my racing over the last couple of years, there's no doubt about it. I've made huge progress as far as my riding is concerned and I've made a lot of friends in the process. I'm extremely grateful for the support I've received from friends, fellow riders and supporters alike. I've won races (and prize money!), had TV interviews and even gained the support of sponsors along the way.

I've shared my racing woes and triumphs through the form of race reports, photos and of course the ioTube videos which proved to be very popular. I hope you've enjoyed keeping up with everything on IoRacing and that I've given something useful back to the off-road motorcycle racing community.

For now though, I have decided to take a year off from racing.

Please continue to ride safely and enjoy yourselves, and feel free to contribute to ioracing.co.uk if you feel like sharing race reports or any racing-related thoughts. You can of course always get in touch with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube or email - see the "get in touch" area on the right hand side of any page on ioracing.co.uk.

See you soon!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Winter bike maintenance

You know the drill, it's generally pretty quiet in the racing calendar over winter, so the downtime is a good opportunity for some much needed bike maintenance.

I spent some of the weekend finding out what needs to be done:
  • Air filter needs cleaning
  • Spark plug needs cleaning
  • Gearbox oil needs changing
  • Electric start needs a service
  • One of the fork seals needs re-seating
  • The gear lever needs replacing
  • The clutch perch needs fixing
  • The side-stand washer/spacer needs replacing
  • Throttle grips need replacing
  • There's an electrical fault that needs fixing
  • Battery needs charging
  • Rear mudguard sub-frame mounts need drilling out and tapping
  • Frame needs painting in some places
  • Lower shock bearing needs replacing
  • Suspension needs a service
  • Needs new tyres and mousses
  • Needs new chain
  • Needs new brake pads front and rear
  • Ideally needs a new piston as it's now at 180 hours (it had a full rebuild at 120) 
  • The whole bike needs a good thorough strip-down, clean and re-greasing
Then I set to work on a couple of those - I've already recharged the battery and serviced the electric start. More soon when I get a chance to work on it!




Sunday, 17 January 2016

Dakar 2016 bikes in brief

Well another Dakar is over, and not without its dramas I can assure you. That's always something you can rely on in this race.

There were high expectations of the HRC Honda factory team this year, and with a new Rockstar Energy Husqvarna factory team effectively bolstering the KTM squad, there were a good number of capable machines in the mix, not forgetting the Yamahas of course.

Machines aside, there was a huge amount of talent on the start line. New this year were some big-name rookies from other disciplines including Antoine Meo (5x World Enduro champion), Adrien Van Beveren, Kevin Benavides, Ricky Brabec, Pela Renet and Ivan Cervantes Montero.

We had two Brits representing us in the bikes category; Jamie Smith and a friend of mine, Chris "Corky" Cork. I followed Corky's race as closely as I could, and it was fantastic to see how much coverage he got on EuroSport thanks to the "My Dakar" feature. They were given helmet cameras each day to record their own footage, something I'd love to see a lot more of at future Dakars.

Chronologically, the dramatic events unfolded as follows (mostly withdrawals!). I'm sure I've forgotten a few, but here are the ones that come to mind:
  • Stage 4: Pela Renet suffered a dramatic crash on his Husqvarna and had to withdraw. He was unconscious but was attended to by the legendary Laia Sanz and safely transported to hospital
  • Stage 4: Corky's rear mousse disintegrated and the tyre soon went with it, leaving him to ride 70Km on the rim with cars and trucks passing
  • Stage 6: One of our Brits, Jamie Smith withdrew with broken ribs and a dislocated thumb after a bad crash
  • Stage 6: Ivan Jakes withdrew, and so did Ruben Faria after a big crash where he broke some bones
  • Stage 7: Joan Barreda Bort, after some dubious tactical racing to manipulate the start order (deliberately speeding), had major bike problems and had to withdraw
  • Stage 7: Matthias Walkner had a huge crash and broke his leg, but was attended to by Paulo "Speedy" Goncalves and transported to safety
  • Stage 8: Paulo Goncalves has a huge crash but manages to continue unharmed
  • Stage 10: Alessandro Botturi withdrew with mechanical problems
  • Stage 10: After a very dramatic stage in the super-soft sand dunes, where he had been helping others and struggling through, Corky was running late and phoned the organisation to let them know he would wait for first light to continue to the bivouac. They agreed. In the morning, they changed their mind and a chopper arrived to collect him. Needless to say the poor guy was devastated.
  • Stage 11: Paulo Goncalves crashes twice, the second time needing medical assistance and he was forced to withdraw


There are so many stories that could be told, congratulations to all the riders that took part - those who made it deserve every praise, comiserations to those who didn't. Those riders at the back of the field are the guys and girls that really earned and deserve every respect. By the end of the race, some of them have ridden over twice as long as the front runners. Amazing.

I'd also like to express my huge respect for the Malle Moto riders. What they do is incredible - riding the entire event with no assistance makes the toughest off-road race on earth that much tougher. Manuel Luchesse, the man who does "Dakar on a shoestring", finished a very impressive 2nd in this class, well done Manny.

There were quite a few complaints amongst fans this year due to numerous stages being shortened as a result of adverse weather conditions (extreme heat, heavy rain etc). Some of which appeared to play into the hands of some of the top riders and completely screwed over some of the others. The course was also deemed by many to be "too easy", particularly in the first week. I'm sure these will be discussed at length over the coming weeks. This year, 62% of the bikes finished, which is a significant increase on last year.

Here's my idea of the moments and people worth remembering this year.

Biggest surprise:
Kevin Benavides in his rookie year, what a great performance.

Best moment:
Watching the riders struggle through what can best be described as "Welsh" conditions early on in the event, paddling through a mud bath, enduro style.

Worst moment:
Corky's withdrawal. Crushing.

Biggest scandal:
Joan Barreda Bort's "tactical" riding.

Most memorable moment:
Paulo Goncalves' huge crash.

Best rider:
It has to be Toby Price. What a race he rode - calm at the start, phenominally fast and consistent throughout, what a rider, and a well deserved victory.

Best rookie:
Antoine Meo. Although Benavides pipped him in the end, Meo's performance was really impressive and he helped his teammate in the final stages.

Spirit of the Dakar:
Sylvain Espinasse, completing the entire event on a 2-stroke 125cc Husqvarna, what a hero!

Best moment of camaraderie:

Laia Sanz tending to Pela Renet after his huge crash, what a great lady and an incredible rider to boot.


Best skills demonstration (showing off):
Adrien Van Beveren and his monster wheelie on the desert trails. Magic.

Funniest moment:
Joan Barreda Bort and Paulo Goncalves bickering over tactics at the end of one of the stages!

Top 20 finishers:
  1. Toby Price
  2. Stefan Svitko
  3. Pablo Quintanilla
  4. Kevin Benavides
  5. Helder Rodrigues 
  6. Adrien Van Beveren
  7. Antoine Meo
  8. Gerard Farres Guell
  9. Ricky Brabec
  10. Armand Monleon
  11. Adrien Metge
  12. Jacopo Cerutti
  13. Mario Patrao
  14. Emanuel Gyenes
  15. Laia Sanz
  16. Ivan Cervantes Montero
  17. Jordi Viladoms
  18. David Casteu
  19. Frans Verhoeven
  20. Jakub Piatek
As always I have thoroughly enjoyed following the race, maybe one day I'll be there, participating in the bike race.

Looking forward to next year already!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy new year and welcome to the Dakar rally 2016

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year with your family, friends and loved ones.

Now that all the fun and games are over, it's time to embrace the wonderful spectacle that is the Dakar Rally. For the next couple of weeks, avid rally fans such as myself will be fully immersed in the world of Dakar!

Bikes, cars, trucks and quads set off from Buenos Aires, Argentina on the 2nd January to complete the prologue to determine the (reverse) starting order for the first Special Stage on the 3rd of January.

There are some big names and big teams competing as usual this year, notably the addition of the Rockstar Energy Factory Husqvarna racing team and the absence of Dakar legend Marc Coma, who this year has joined the Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) in organising the event as Sporting Director.

We have some British riders competing (unfortunately not Red Bull KTM's Sam Sunderland after suffering a broken leg a couple of months ago) who will be giving everything they've got, including my mate Chris 'Corky' Cork, who's off-road riding roots were formed in the ATRC.

Good luck to absolutely everybody competing, have a safe race, and enjoy yourselves! I will be following the race in great detail as always.

If you'd like any tips on how to best follow the race, get in touch!

Monday, 21 December 2015

Results: 2015 All Terrain Rally Challenge

The results are out for the 2015 All Terrain Rally Challenge and there have been some great battles in several classes. I'm happy to see that in my class (Rally Lite 2 stroke over 250cc), all round good guy Rob Loupart was able to wrap up the championship at the Freestyle Hafren Rally by finishing 2nd to me, congratulations Rob!

Having only completed 2 rounds (and one mechanical DNF at the Brechfa), my 2 wins gave me 40 points and 7th place in my class.

A huge congratulations to all the winners, it's been another great year of racing in the ATRC, here's to another in 2016!

The top 3 finishers from each class are as follows:

Rally class:
  1. Lee Green
  2. Mike Wells
  3. Richard Morgan

Rally Lite 2T over 250cc:
  1. Rob Loupart
  2. Andy Myers
  3. Andrew Sillence

Trail class:
  1. Ant Ireland
  2. Matt Abel
  3. Steven Noble

Rally Lite 2T under 250cc:
  1. Iain Davis
  2. Meirion Scourfield
  3. Josh Allen

Rally Lite 4T over 350cc:
  1. Adrian Middleton
  2. Chris Foster
  3. Dave Leach

Rally Lite 4T under 350cc:
  1. Tony Whitehead
  2. Peter Marriott
  3. Peter Rough

Big Bikes Multi Cylinder over 575cc:
  1. Dave Watson
  2. Lee Salt
  3. Richard Griffin

Big Bikes Single Cylinder over 575cc:
  1. Paul Robson
  2. Bryn Long
  3. Paul Davies