What an epic weekend that turned out to be! Against all the odds, Keith Terry, Mikey Bonett and their long-suffering partners not only pulled off a very successful mid-pandemic season opener but also managed to get the event aired live across the world.
This gave scooters a chance at being showcased to thousands of people as the race was aired live on YouTube, complete with drone footage, interviews, commentary and live timing.
Click on the video above to watch or dip into the full six hours.
British Scooter Endurance Club
Just in case you’ve not been paying attention for the past couple of years on SLUK, the British Scooter Endurance Club is new. It was set up in 2019 and BSEC ran their first event at Teesside in September of that year. After being forced to cancel Whilton Mill in spring 2020 (due to Covid) the next event was back at Teeside last September, behind closed doors.
What is endurance racing
Endurance racing is a team event with four classes catering for all types of classic scooter rider. You only need a road licence for most classes so it attracts complete track riding novices, as well as experienced racers. Scooter clubs can even enter a team. BSEC allows all full-bodied geared scooters, so at this event, you could see everything from a Moto Rumi and Maico to a couple of Lui’s and your ‘run of the mill’ Vespas and Lambrettas. With 33 teams entered it was going to be a busy time out on the relatively short 1250-metre kart track.
Being a team event run over a set time (six hours so far for BSEC, although they’ve hinted at longer meetings in the future) strategy plays a big part in how your team is likely to fare. Big horsepower won’t always be a big advantage, especially on a naddgery little track like Whilton Mill. Refuelling quickly and changing riders is just as important as rider ability, consistency and reliability.
Whilton Mill scooter endurance facts
Circuit length: 1250m
Number of corners: 13
Fastest Lap: John Chitoglou 58.151
Average speed: 37.748 mph
Distance covered: 204 laps = 236 miles
Practice makes perfect
Our weekend didn’t get off to a brilliant start, Shaun Hodgkin had a little crash in Friday practice and ended up tearing ligaments in his shoulder. He didn’t realise straight away that he was injured so got back up and carried on for about 15 laps. He was hurting afterwards though and took himself off to hospital and we were down to three riders. How very inconsiderate!
After a freezing cold (minus 3) night in the paddock, we were all up early and ready to rumble – once we’d thawing out a bit. 33 teams, including quite a few new ones, like the enthusiastic lads from Rushden Lambretta Club and those cheeky boys from the Sunday Sport S.C – riding under ‘The United Colours of Bemberton.’ Both teams riding 135cc Lambretta Luis with CP One35 motors, it’s good to see these machines being able to compete now that tuning stuff is readily available.
Gunson Baynes Racing are another team worth a mention. They usually compete in classic bike racing but fancied a go at scooter endurance, so they built a Quattrini-powered Lambretta and got a team together then entered in Pro Race class. Sue Gunson was the only female rider taking part and she’d never even ridden a scooter until she got to the track, neither had two other members of her team!
Before the event, Sticky had devised a forfeit for any rider in our team getting giddy enough to have an avoidable crash. Shaun was only able to wear the ‘special hat’ on Friday, thanks to his shoulder injury but after morning practice and qualifying, Sticky was forced to start the race wearing a full clown suit (morning frost, first lap, first corner, new tyres… you know how it goes). Other than pride, no harm done and it was soon time for the 11 am Le Man’s race start.
Our team strategy was to do as many laps as possible as quickly as we could, change over and refuel as fast as possible, not break anything and win the race. Simple!
All the racers had been warned by BSEC before the race that there would be lap and time penalties for being too aggressive on track and for a few other infractions (quite rightly so on a track with so many novices and different types of machinery). Our clown forgot about this though as he overtook on a yellow flag and we were deducted three laps, this dropped us from second in class and third overall to seventh in class. A fair enough penalty though so we can’t complain. Aside from that, Sticky rode the wheels off for us and started to claw back some laps during the rest of his first stint.
Litres per hour
Sam was soon taking over from his dad for the second hour, a quick pitstop for fuel and he was out on track. Interestingly we were only using five litres of fuel per hour so could, in theory, do two hours before refuelling. When I say ‘in theory’ that’s because none of us had actually measured the capacity of the new long-range fuel tank. We thought it was around 10-litres but were too scared to find out mid-race. Especially as we now needed to make some time up.
Sam is now into his third race meeting and his mature approach to learning a new track and lowering his lap times safely is great to watch. He works it all out, learns his way around and then gets his times down. All three of us were lapping within a second of each other during the race, with Sticky getting the fastest lap with a 1:03.008 on ‘Underdog’ the Quattrini-powered Vespa 90ss. With so much traffic and the use of penalties for being naughty it was hard to string together consistent laps. Sometimes losing a couple of seconds waiting for a safe place to overtake is worth much more in the long run. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
VIDEO | Fastest lap with Hornet Racing
Talking of lap times. Hornet Racing’s Greek God, Jon Chitoglou was under team orders not to go mental. Unsurprisingly the semi-tamed Mediterranean still got the fastest lap of the meeting with an awesome 58.151 on the blue and white Vespa PK. He’s a great talent for sure, you can watch an on-board video of his fastest lap above. He makes us mere mortals look very slow!
Interestingly though the fastest scooter on the track only got to a top speed of 59 mph, which goes to show just how tight this circuit is. It’s all corners, hard on bike, tyres and rider. The Dukes of Essex got the second-fastest lap with a 1:01.585 with British scooter racing Buddha, Mikey Bonett on board.
If you’re into your stats you can see the full breakdown of results/lap times and plenty more info on Alpha Timing.
London Lambretta Club
I don’t think it matters what scooterists get up to, there’s always a drama. London Lambretta Club entered a five-man team for the first time and on Thursday night they found out they didn’t have a van to get the scooter to the track. Early Friday morning they were still trying to find a replacement vehicle. Meanwhile, Jerry was riding to work in London on the freshly rebuilt and set up for the track Lambretta 240 they’d entered… and seized it up on the North Circular. He got recovered to work, stripped and rebuilt the scooter, got it running again and arrived at the track around 8 pm – well after practice had finished. Earlier in the day, Sticky lent the team our spare scooter, a Pinasco 251 LML for them to practice on, so at least most of the team got some track time.
Another scooter club that surprised anybody who knows them were the Sunday Sport lads. They’d had problems with their scooter on Thursday. On Friday it looked like they’d be forced to pull out on their multi-coloured Lui. Against all the odds though they arrived early on Saturday morning and did very well on track and behaved themselves off track as well. Their Lui certainly wasn’t slow and I’m sure they’ll be back for more.
The track falls silent
We battled ourselves back from seventh place after the penalty to third and that’s where we remained for most of the day. Our three riders all did an hour each of the first half of the race and tried to use some tactics just before 3 pm by bringing Sticky in from his second stint, refuelling and swapping riders. Sam went back out just in time for the yellow flag coming out to slow riders down, then a red to stop them for a moving (or in this case, stationary) minutes silence to mark the funeral of Prince Philip. An eerie calmness descended on the track, just the noise of the birds chirping and the nearby M1 could be heard. Before long the scooters were all started back up and the race was underway again. Sam put in a sterling performance again, nice consistent, quick riding and you could see he was enjoying himself.
SLUK Racing merchandise
You can help to support our Scooter Endurance efforts by wearing our SLUK Racing t-shirts. We’ve only got a few of these shirts left so get your order in soon. They’re printed on lovely (not cheap) t-shirts and come with front and back print.
You can get yours here:
Loads more racing images on pages 2 & 3