Monday 20th & Tuesday 21st August: The tracks are closed on Mondays & Tuesdays.

Wet is Best for Beach Racing

Winter is the season.

maddix park mx

Berck Beach in France has recently hosted the opening event of the European sand beach trophy season which culminates with the big daddy of them all, the 15km beach circuit at  Le Touquet on the weekend of February 2nd 2013. (Click here for the 2013 video clip). Le Touquet Beach race is held annually - mid winter in France, so you can expect snow, rain, wind and cold temperatures- and brings the best sand riders together for one of the toughest, largest, and most globally recognised beach races.

The 2012 event contained over 1,200 Bikes and riders and lasted 3 hours. The race may start on the beach where the damp sand is super hard and great for racing but the circuit soon heads up into the drier and more challenging dunes. Click here for some footage.

So what happens in the southern hemisphere? We do them in the winter too but probably under milder conditions.

Australia:

If you were in Australia on Sunday the 29th August and you weren’t watching Coppins and Cooper and Lamont take podium places at the MX Nationals at Caloundra, you could have been a little further north at the annual Mackay beach race. 

The atmosphere was similar to our NZ road race events in Wanganui & Paeroa – great community support, a $20 per vehicle charge to enter the normally quiet and tranquil settlement of Grasstree Beach and spectators in tents close to the track or relaxing under the shady trees.

For competitors, it was an early 9am start to coincide with the outgoing tide and after a few practice runs the elimination rounds began. As the day progressed the outside pole was extended from 250 meters to 500 meters & then to 750 meters. Motorcycles were graded into various classes & heats including Juniors, 250cc, 450cc, open MX, quads & Open capacity road bikes with the top finishers all going forward to the main race. Any kind of bike was welcome but dirt tyres are always recommended. Riders dogged the saltwater crocks and wildlife that frequent the tropical north beaches (just kidding!) and battled for the honour of being "King of the beach" for 2012.

The highest speed recorded this year at Grasstree was by a 1000cc Yamaha R1 (224 kph) ridden by local rider Jeff Richards who, after unluckily falling & remounting with only 2 laps to the finish line, finished 2nd to another local rider Clint Blackmur on a Honda CR500. If Richards had won the race it would have been the first time a "roadie" had won the King of the Beach event and it would have ended the Honda CR500 domination of recent years. Bring on next year !

 All in all a great day was had by everyone and no rider appeared to leave with a sour taste in their mouth ....just a bit of sand maybe… who knows?    

(Click here to view race clips).

New Zealand:

Because of smaller populations and fewer environmental restrictions, beach racing used to be extremely popular and relatively widespread in New Zealand.  60 years ago, Tauranga Motorcycle Club members used to cut tracks through the lupins so they could race scrambles in the dunes and beaches along the Mount - Papamoa coastal strip - a total impossibility nowadays.  The Ohope Beach Race organized by the Whakatane Club also attracted riders from the wider Bay of Plenty.

Currently there are mainly two clubs that organize beach events in NZ.

Bert Munro Memorial Event

   The first takes place at the beginning of summer and is the Mile Beach Race at Orakei made famous by the Bert Munro movie and which is one of the 6 different events over 5 days that form part of the Bert Munro Memorial Event which takes place in November.  Too late for this year but keep it in mind for 2013. Click here for footage.

Gisborne Beach Series   However, closer to home, there is Gisborne.  Executive member Nigel Mogford says the Gisborne Motorcycle Club is lucky to operate under an “existing usage” clause.  “Our beaches down here are not so populated. We don’t have the residential housing and it has been happening for so long that now the locals and the council have come to expect it to happen. We are respectful and if there are issues with cars parking on sand dunes, then we ensure the affected area is re-grassed”.

Gisborne does a winter beach series at Makorori Beach (see top picture) but, even though all you need is a bike in sound condition, riding gear, $25 and your fuel, the day at the beach is no picnic. It’s beach racing with a straight length over measured distances ranging from 50 metres for the mini 50s to 400 metres for the seniors. The races operate between tides. The wet winter sand is hard-packed like tarmac with hollows and seaweed and odd rocks to make it interesting.  The racing is hard and fast and hard on the bikes too. MX bikes in particular are not designed for non-stop full throttle. Plus there’s the salt water and the sand that goes through the bikes and quads which have to be thoroughly stripped down and greased up after the racing.

But the race days are great fun ,entertaining for spectators and any bike or quad can take part. “The times were particularly fast over the wet winter we’ve just had,” reports Nigel. “There was one person on an R1 (yes, another one) with knobbly tyres doing 200km/hr!”

If you’re interested in doing the Gisborne Beach Series, check out the club website for all the info.

For some pics, click here.  

 
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