Bikes Are Back
Riders get ready for a new season of Scottish Championship Motorcycle Racing at Knockhill
The final pre-season test took place at Knockhill in Fife on Friday, ahead of the 2018 season opener this weekend. It was the last chance for the riders to get themselves and their machines ready for another action packed race calendar. We caught up with two men who will be racing in the Formula 600 class, Jim Purvis from Cowdenbeath and Glasgow's William Bergin, to see how their preparations are going, and find out their expectations for the season ahead.
It was a cold & damp afternoon in Fife, and although there were plenty of riders on track determined to get a few more miles under their belt before the action proper starts, both Jim and William are content to sit the session out and save themselves for qualifying on Saturday morning.
"We went to Cartagena in March to do some warm weather testing" explains Jim, "so we know that the bikes are ready".
"In these conditions, you're not going to learn anything you don't already know" adds William, "and there's no point in risking an injury at this point of the season"
The 3-day test at the circuit in south-east Spain gave both riders plenty of time on the bikes. "We got as much track time in the three days as we would in half a season back here" Jim tells me, "and some sunshine and warm track temperatures allowed us to really push hard. We had a bit of rain one morning, but the track dried out within half an hour and there was still plenty of grip. I followed William for the first session after the rain, and he was up to speed straight away. He's going to be the man to beat this year"
It's only the second year of the newly created Formula 600 class, and the grid looks like it will be full again this season. Purvis had a tough inaugural season after stepping up from the Lightweight class the previous year on his Yamaha FZRF400. Now on a Yamaha R6, he admits that the new bike has bags more power than the lightweight. He spent most of last year learning his new bike, but his season was ended prematurely when he was knocked off his bike twice in the same day. At the same corner. By the same rider! The second crash left him with a broken wrist, three broken ribs and a punctured lung, and meant that he had to miss the final round a month later.
"I didn't even know about the punctured lung" he laughs. "It wasn't until I collapsed at work couple of days later that I thought I'd better go to hospital and I ended up in there for two weeks. The broken wrist was the worst bit though. We were due to go on holiday Turkey a few weeks later and I was worried they wouldn't let me fly with my arm in a stookie. So I got a friend who's a vet to cut it off before I went". Bike racers are definitely made of tougher stuff.
They have a soft side too though, as William reveals he will miss the second round of the Scottish Championship at East Fortune because he's getting married. He offers to send Jim some pictures of him sunning himself on honeymoon in Jamaica, to cheer him up when he's freezing at the east Lothian track.
So what are the two racers, expectations for the season ahead?
"If I can get into the top 10, I'll be happy" says Jim, "but I'm pretty sure William will be champion".
Bergin finished third in the class last season, despite missing out a couple of race weekends, so it's not out of the question that him and his with his Kawasaki ZX6R could be in the hunt when the last meeting comes around in September. "That's the plan" William says "I'll know within the first coupe of races if I've got the pace to challenge for the title".
We wish the guys all the best for the new season, and leave them to tinker with the bikes a bit more. Jim uses up the last of his Spanish fuel from the Cartegana trip (it's blue!) and makes sure his race numbers are regulation size & spacing, while William gives us a tip for the best curry in Glasgow.
The Knockhill Motorsports Club and Scottish Championship meetings are run once a month between April and September. Practice and qualifying is held on Saturday morning, while the racing starts after lunch and continues all day Sunday. There are classes for bikes of all shapes and sizes including Formula 600, 125cc, sidecars and of course Superbikes.
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