After making it two for two, with the win in race one yesterday and the Superpole race today, Toprak (Pata Yamaha) was looking in scintillating form in San Juan, and was looking to make it a clean sweep of wins.
Lights out and again Razgatlioglu gets the hole shot. Rea (KRT Kawasaki) second, Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) third, Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) fourth, vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) fifth and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) sixth.
Rea was keen not to allow Toprak to escape as he had in race one, and was putting the pressure on in search of a way up the inside of the Yamaha, but was unable to make a move stick. Bassani swooped by on Redding to take third. Toprak went wide out of the straight and allowed Rea to take over the lead.
With 19 laps to go, Rea had put the hammer down setting a new fastest lap of 1:38.256; the front four of Rea, Razgatlioglu, Bassani and Redding were pulling away from the rest. Toprak didn’t stay behind Rea long, before diving up the inside of the Irishman to retake the lead.
With 18 laps to go, Rea now found himself in third after Redding got by. The Ducatis were looking good and Bassani was all over the back of Rea now.
With 17 laps to go, Redding uses the Ducati power to get past Razgatlioglu down the back straight but subsequently goes wide into the next corner, allowing both Toprak and Rea through.
With 15 laps to go, it was Razgatlioglu leading, followed by Rea, Redding, vd Mark and Rinaldi. As they had all season, both Razgatlioglu and Rea were going faring to faring, and the lead swapped several times.
With 14 laps to go Razgatlioglu puts in a fastest lap of 1:37.968, but he can’t break Rea or Redding behind as he had in race one. Meanwhile further back, Davies (GoEleven Ducati) was sat in eigth, chased by Haslam (Honda HRC) and Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team).
With 12 laps to go Redding takes the lead, getting up the inside of Toprak having previously gone through on Rea. Would he be able to get away?
With 10 laps to go, Redding puts in a fastest lap of 1:37.716, steadily pulling away from both Razgatlioglu and Rea behind. Bassani fought back, and is now right on the back of Rea.
With six to go, Rea outbrakes Razgatlioglu into turn one to take 2nd. Meanwhile Redding was looking comfortable in the lead, and held a gap of over two seconds to Rea.
Last lap and Redding denies Razgatlioglu a clean sweep of wins, claiming his first win in Argentina. Rea came across the line for second, ahead of Razgatlioglu, Bassani, Rinaldi, vd Mark, Locatelli and Gerloff.
There’s definitely one thing the 2021 Moto2 season has not been, and that is predictable. Last weekend’s outing at the Red Bull Ring of the Americas was no exception, creating yet more twists and turns in a fascinating and entertaining season.
Over the last few rounds the championship has evolved into a two-horse race between the Ajo KTM teammates Remy Gardner and Raul Fernandez, with Gardner holding onto the top spot with a seemingly comfortable lead. Going into the weekend, Gardner, on 271 points, was 34 points ahead of Fernandez on 237 with Marco Bezzecchi in third place on 190.
Team Ajo KTM yet again dominated the front row with Raul Fernandez starting on pole (the sixth of his rookie season in Moto2), Gardner second and Fabio Di Giannantonio third. Behind them, Marco Bezzecchi started in fourth place, alongside American Cameron Beaubier in fifth, his best start of the season, and Augusto Fernandez in sixth.
Britain’s Jake Dixon started on row 5 in 13th place and Sam Lowes on row 6 in 16th.
Into turn 1 the local rider Cameron Beaubier slots through to take the lead, but only briefly as he runs wide, allowing both Ajo KTM riders through, with Raul taking the lead.
Beaubier drops back to fourth and then fifth as he is passed by Di Giannantonio and Bezzecchi, but comes back at Bezzecchi to regain fourth.
Gardner passes his teammate, but is unable to make it stick, and on lap 2 Gardner is passed by Di Giannantonio, then Beaubier passes both of them to edge back up into second. The ensuing battle allows Fernandez to stretch out a lead of almost 2 seconds at the front.
Lap 3, and Gardner is back up into second place, Beaubier is pushing hard and passes him on lap 4, but is unable to make it stick.
Everything changes on lap 6 as Gardner crashes out, losing the front end in the tight left hander of Turn 15. He tries desperately to restart his stalled machine, but eventually returns to his garage to watch the remainder of the race.
Raul Fernandez now leads by 2.2 seconds from Di Giannantonio, with Bezecchi, Beaubier and Italy’s Tony Arbolino battling for third.
Digiannantonio starts to make inroads into Fernandez’s lead, bringing it down to 1.7 seconds by lap 9.
Sam Lowes, who dropped back several places in the early stages of the race, suffered mechanical issues and limped his Elf Marc VDS machine back to the pitlane.
By lap 14 Raul Fernandez has again stretched out a 2 second lead over Di Giannantonio, who is in turn 2.7 seconds ahead of 3rd place Bezzecchi, with Augusto Fernandez in 4th, Beaubier in 5th and Arbolino in 6th. These positions remained the same for the final few laps.
After an eventful weekend, Gardner’s championship lead is reduced to nine points, but with Raul Fernandez on a roll can he keep his place at the top as we return to Misano?
First fifteen riders:
1 Raul Fernandez SPA – Red Bull KTM Ajo – 25 points
2 Fabio Di Giannantonio ITA – Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 – 20
3 Marco Bezzecchi ITA – SKY Racing Team VR46 – 16
4 Augusto Fernandez SPA – Elf Marc VDS Racing Team – 13
5 Cameron Beaubier USA – American Racing – 11
6 Tony Arbolino ITA – Liqui Moly Intact GP – 10
7 Ai Ogura JPN – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 9
8 Xavi Vierge SPA – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 8
9 Marcos Ramirez SPA – American Racing – 7
10 Jake Dixon GBR – Petronas Sprinta Racing – 6
11 Aron Canet – SPA Inde Aspar Team – 5
12 Jorge Navarro SPA – MB Conveyors Speed Up – 4
13 Simone Corsi ITA – MV Agusta Forward Racing – 3
14 Somkiat Chantra THA – IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia – 2
15 Bo Bendsneyder NED – Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team – 1
Toprak Razgatlioglu claimed victory in Race One in Portimao after a thrilling race.
Superpole saw Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) claim top spot with an unbeaten lap of 1:40.219, followed by Rea (Kawasaki KRT) 2nd and Haslam (HRC Honda) in 3rd. The WorldSBK show would be bidding farewell to Europe after this weekend of racing ahead of the international races in Argentina and Indonesia.
Lights out and it was Razgatlioglu with the hole shot into turn 1, but he gets mugged by Jonathan Rea straight away after drifting wide. All the while Scott Redding (aruba.it Ducati) now in third is watching the action unfold in front of him. It is Razgatlioglu, followed by Rea in 2nd, Redding 3rd, Haslam 4th, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 5th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) 6th.
With 19 laps to go, Razgatlioglu again drifts wide into a corner, opening the door for Rea, who doesn’t hesitate and dives up the inside. Toprak is having none of it and forces his way up the inside of Rea the next corner, the two riders coming together and swapping paint. Only lap 2 and the “red mist” has already descended on these two title contenders, the action really heating up now.
With 18 laps to go, Redding puts in a fastest lap of 1:41.719, the pace of the front three already distancing Haslam and the group behind. Rea tries the same move on Razgatlioglu, this time making it stick to take the lead. Now it is the turn of Redding, who uses the slipstream of the two bikes in front to power past both of them into turn 1 and take over the lead for the first time. It was breathtaking racing and as dramatic as the whole season has been so far.
With 17 laps to go, it is the turn of Rea to put in a new fastest lap of 1:41.645 and he held a gap of 1.6 to Haslam behind in fourth. Further back it was Rinaldi 5th, Locatelli 6th, Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 7th and Baz (go Eleven Ducati) 8th, (still riding for the injured Chaz Davies. )
Rea then moves from 3rd to take the lead; both Redding and Razgatlioglu had gone wide in the previous corners and Rea was looking fired up. And then into the high speed turn 15, huge drama as Rea loses the front of his Kawasaki at around 150 MPH, viciously sending it cartwheeling down the track and into the gravel. Amazingly he gets back onto his feet, very lucky to walk away from a scary crash seemingly unhurt.
With 13 laps to go, Redding and Razgatlioglu had continued to pull away from the rest, the gap now at 4 seconds, There was now a large group of five riders who were all battling it out for 3rd. It was Haslam 3rd, Rinaldi 4th, Locatelli 5th, Baz 6th, Gerloff 7th, Bautista (HRC Honda) 8th and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) 9th.
A lap later, Bautista, again as in Jerez, was showing great pace late on and had moved up to 6th.
With 10 laps to go, Razgatlioglu makes his move on Redding into turn 1, coming from a long way out and out brakes the Ducati rider. Toprak looks to have the pace to push on further, while Redding looks to just be hanging on.
Shortly thereafter into turn 5, Locatelli runs into the back of vd Mark, taking them both out. The Dutchman was understandably furious as he was making good progress.
Into the final four now, and Redding has closed right onto the back of Razgatlioglu, but he can’t find a way past the Turkish rider on the brakes. He would have to find another option to have any chance of the win.
Last lap and Toprak now held a gap of 0.3 to Redding, but could he hold off the charging Ducati behind? Meanwhile further back it was Bautista and Baz fighting it out for 3rd.
Razgatlioglu crosses the line to take the win, holding off Redding who takes 2nd, Baz 3rd, after Bautista crashes into the last corner. Rinaldi 4th, Haslam 5th, Gerloff 6th and Bassani (motocorsa Ducati) 7th.
Thankfully we had blue skies and the sun was out for dry racing conditions on Sunday. For the Superpole race, Rea (Kawasaki KRT) decided on the harder Sc0 tyre, while most of the other riders went for the softer ScX rear tyre. After a restarted race due to a crash and subsequent red flag, Rea went on to take his first win of the weekend followed by Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha) in 2nd and Bautista (Honda HRC) in 3rd, who takes his first podium of the season.
For race 2, the riders were barely off before a big incident at turn 1 involving Sykes (BMW Motorrad) and Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) saw the race red flagged for the second time today. It was decided the restarted race would be brought down to 19 laps.
Lights out for the shortened race and its Razgatlioglu with the hole shot down into turn 1, followed by Rea in 2nd, Rinaldi (aruba.it Ducati) 3rd, Bautista 4th and Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) in 5th. Redding, as in race 1, was down in 10th.
Track temperature was around 40 degrees Celcius and the riders knew the second half of the race would be crucial in terms of managing tyre wear. Only the Ducati team mates of Rinaldi and Redding had gone with the harder Sc0 rear tyre, while everyone else went with a softer option.
With 17 laps to go, it was Rinaldi who set a new fastest lap of 1:42.566 and he was breathing down the neck of the Turkish rider in front after powering past Rea down the straight.
Next lap and Redding was now up to 6th and, as he had in race 1, he was now finding his groove and looking ready for a fight. Bautista was in front of Redding and feeling more confident on his Honda after his podium in the Superpole race. Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was in 7th and trying to hang onto the group in front of him.
Lap 6 of 19 now, and Rinaldi finds a way past Razgatlioglu and holds a lead of 0.4. Rea was in 3rd and Locatelli was in 4th, followed by the group of Bautista, Redding and Gerloff who was starting to slip backwards.
Redding was desperate to get past Bautista and tried several times to dive up the inside of the Honda rider although every time he tried, he was way too hot into the corner going wide which allowed Alvaro to respond and retake the position back.
With 11 laps to go Rea was dropping back to Locatelli, no doubt suffering tyre wear issues. Both Bautista and Redding were doing faster lap times and would soon catch him. Meanwhile further back it was Bassani (motocorsa racing Ducati) in 8th, Nozane (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 9th and vd Mark (BMW Motorrad) in 10th.
With 9 laps to go, Redding takes both Bautista and Rea, the latter who had himself been passed by Locatelli and was dropping back like a stone now really struggling with grip.
With 8 laps to go, Razgatlioglu fights back and dives up the inside of Rinaldi into turn 6 to retake the lead. If he was also suffering with tyre wear, the Yamaha rider was definitely handling it better. However the harder tyre choice seemed to be working very well for both of the Ducati riders.
With 5 laps to go, Rinaldi out brakes Razgatlioglu down the long straight and into turn 1 to retake the lead. The two holding a gap of 3 seconds to Locatelli in 3rd.
Three laps to go and Rinaldi was pulling away from Razgatlioglu and now held a gap of 1.5 to the Turkish rider. Meanwhile Redding moves up the inside of Locatelli down into turn 1 and was now hunting down the Yamaha rider in 2nd.
Onto the last lap now and Redding was within a second of Razgatlioglu. Further back Rea was still holding onto 6th, with Gerloff in 7th. Toprak was definitely falling back but would there be enough time for Redding to catch him?
Rinaldi crosses the line to take the win followed by Razgatlioglu who holds on for 2nd, Redding 3rd, Bautista 4th, Locatelli 5th, Rea 6th, Gerloff 7th and Bassani 8th.
And the result means Razgatlioglu retakes the top spot of the championship yet again, this time by a single point. This season is going down to the wire and is still too hard to call.
The earlier Superpole race finished an exact copy of race 1 with Redding (Aruba.it Ducati) taking the win, followed by 2nd Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)., and 3rd Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha).
Race 2 saw track temperatures rising to nearly 50 degrees celsius., with riders deciding on a wide range of tyre options. Redding choosing a softer front tyre, while Rea and Razgatlioglu opted for a harder tyre. Could Redding make it a clean sweep of wins at Navarra?
After a delayed start, it was lights out and Redding with another quick fire blast off the line, again got the hole shot, great start. The same couldn’t be said for Rea who slipped back to 5th from his 2nd on grid.
The gloves were definitely off with Locatelli (Pata Yamaha) slicing his way from nowhere briefly taking the lead from a stunned Redding before then going wide into a corner to concede the lead back to Redding.
Starting lap 2 and it stood: 1st Redding, 2nd Locatelli, 3rd Razgatlioglu, 4th Rea, 5th Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team), 6th Sykes (BMW Motorrad).
Then more drama for Davies (GoEleven Ducati) who was having a miserable weekend. He lost the front end of his bike into turn 9, subsequently sending it ploughing into the back of Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) who found himself helplessly sliding into the gravel. Both riders were out of the race.
Onto lap 3 and Razgatlioglu, showing impressive speed, gets through on Redding to take the lead. Then it’s the turn of Rea, who cuts under Redding into the hairpin corner to take 2nd. As in race 1 this trio was again pulling clear of the rest.
The northern Irishman had his sights on the Turk, and wasn’t letting him escape, setting a new fastest lap of 1:37.609. Meanwhile Redding was looking like he was struggling to match the pace and was slipping further back.
Further down the field it was the BMW team mates of Sykes and Vd Mark in 5th and 6th respectively, with Lowes in 7th and Bautista (Honda HRC) further back in 10th.
With 15 laps to go, Lowes comes through on Vd Mark into turn 15 to take 6th.
Rea was closing in on Razgatlioglu, but looked like he was really struggling with front end chatter, the bike visibly bouncing into some corners. Rea held a gap of 0.5 to Redding in 3rd.
With 11 laps to go, Razgatlioglu had a gap of 0.5 to Rea in 2nd. Meanwhile Redding had found something, and was now right within striking distance of Rea.
Nine laps to go and Razgatlioglu found a second wind and was pulling clear of Rea, pushing the gap out to 1.0. Meanwhile Honda continued their poor weekend, with Haslam (Honda HRC) sending his bike sliding in a shower of sparks into the gravel. He cut a dejected figure trudging back.
Rea was really under pressure from Redding now and only had a gap 0.3 to the Ducati. The pressure was telling with Rea losing the front end, but as he had in race 1, he somehow managed to save it. Rea was fighting the Kawasaki into the corners and subsequently went wide, letting Redding through.
Redding now had his sights firmly on the Yamaha but with only 3 laps left could he catch Razgatlioglu who was looking comfortable, and held a 1.0 advantage.
Last lap and Razgatlioglu was holding his nerve keeping Redding at bay. He crosses the line to deny Redding a hat trick of wins, Redding getting 2nd while Rea crossed further down in 3rd.
Amazingly enough, the result means there is a two way tie for the lead of the championship between Rea and Razgatlioglu. Surely this season will come down to the wire. Expect more fireworks!
My previous article described just how badly things could go wrong. In this piece, I described some of the things we experienced with various ‘incidents’ that took place over two consecutive practices. Some fairly typical events, albeit circumstances will vary by incident. Others are slightly less common. It’s fair to say those two nights were eventful! These events were the Thursday and Friday evenings in practice week…
Well thankfully the weather was a bit kinder than previous days, and that meant that at last we would get a proper practice, and finally the big beasts would get out and stretch their legs. It was also the second clear run for the sidecars, but more about that later.
Again, I made my way to Kirk Michael, and got myself settled in at my friends house. She has guests arriving Saturday, so had stuff to do, so I got my brew and took my spot outside. I had my instructions to look out for various people and let them know how they looked, so I had my eyes peeled. It was so great to see the bikes finally flying past – no wet, no controlled laps, just a proper full on practice session. It was just a shame we had to wait until so late in the week. In the Superbikes, the usual suspects were all at the top of the table – John McGuinness at the head of the list with a lap time of 17:30.299 with Anstey, Rutter, Guy Martin and Michael Dunlop hot on his heels. He really is a joy to watch round here, smooth as you like, and seems to hit the same line without fail. Superstocks, Supersport & Lightweights were also out, and then Sidecars were out.
If you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll know this year my best mates brother is racing his outfit for the first time, so as they started to come through, she left the housework behind and joined me outside to watch them through. We mentally ticked the numbers off waiting for him to appear and saw him through on his first lap. As usual we had various media set up (the app, the website, Manx RadioTT and Twitter) to keep an eye on their progress. We clocked them back through the Grandstand, and before too long they were passing us again. As they were towards the back of the pack, we headed inside to get a fresh brew and a warm (it gets very chilly as the sun goes down!) and saw them through the Ramsey on the live timings. Then we heard the words we dread at the TT….. session red flagged.
At first, the reports said due to an incident at Ramsey, so our initial feeling was relief as we knew they had gone through there. However, information then came through that the incident had been by Graham’s and the relief turned to a sick fear….the boys were likely to be near there, and all we could do was wait. We put word out on Twitter for any sightings of the boys, and sent numerous texts and messages to anyone we could think of that may have seen anything. Whereas on Monday we were cursing the use of social media to speculate on the sad events of Monday evening, on Thursday it was most definitely our friend. Finally word came through that the incident involved outfit #57 and that the team of David Saunders & Anne Garnish were conscious and talking to medics at the scene. I can’t describe the feeling of utter relief once we found out our boys were okay (suffice to say there were almost tears!)
Later, we realised that what had felt like hours was just 22 minutes. They were easily the longest 22 minutes of my entire life, and it’s not an experience I wished to repeat in a hurry…. We would later discover that the incident had happened just in front of our lads, and they did what they could to help at the scene. There but for the grace of god (or whatever else you believe in)…. We wish David and Anne a speedy and full recovery.
Move the clock on 24 hours and after a day that started out with the Island bathed in glorious sunshine, which turned to cloud & drizzle, and then back to the sun again, Friday evening practice gets underway. We have tickets to see Foggy and Whit at the Gaiety Theatre at 9pm, so given the logistics of closed roads and child care we decide we will venture up to the Grandstand and base camp, and then head to the Theatre from there. Due to a slight delay on my part (I fell asleep!) we don’t leave Peel until gone 6pm.
As the sidecars are out first, we tune the car radio to Manx RadioTT and I bring up the live timings on my phone. We see that the team are making decent time, and complete a lap, and go straight through for a second. As we make our way through Douglas we hear those dreaded words again….red flag sectors 1-6…..we know they are out there somewhere. Oh my god, 2 nights in a row…why does this keep happening?! The next announcement is a surprise – the reason for the red flag is a house fire in Kirk Michael. Bestie makes a joke about leaving the gas on, and as she’s driving I’m scrolling through Twitter. I’m seeing tweets indicating that the fire is in the vicinity of her house, so seeing as she’s driving I lie that there is no more information….
After parking at the Grandstand and arranging the handover of a batch of Krispy Kreme doughnuts that my dear friends Bruce and Keri have brought over for me (we can’t get them here!!!) Bestie is looking a bit worried. She’s got her phone in her hand, and tells me she’s looking at a picture of a fire engine….OUTSIDE HER HOUSE!!!! It turns out that it is actually her next door neighbours house that has had a fire. Honestly, you couldn’t make this stuff up. Thankfully the family who live there have got out okay, but there is damage to the house.
My Twitter friends who know I’ve started blogging about TT are asking me if I have enough to write about, will there be a sitcom, and will it all become a book. Some of my friends are texting me asking if I’ve had quite enough drama now….believe me, I have! As all this is going on, we’re wondering where the lads had got to, when another Twitter friend asks us what number our boys are. I tell her, and in return get a picture of them parked outside the pub she’s watching at (not far before the house, and handy for them to be there as the flags were waved)! At least we know they’re safe! With that in mind, Bestie and I head off to the theatre, we’ve had quite enough for one night. Foggy and Whit were very funny, and the G&T in the interval was most welcome, I can tell you.
So for now, I’m off to bed. It’s first race day tomorrow, but due to lack of track time, the decision has been made to put an additional practice session for the solos in tomorrow morning, and run the first sidecar race at 12.30. There will then be more track time for solo classes, and the first Superbike will be run on Sunday. It must be noted that the job of Clerk of Course this year so far has not been easy, and I don’t think many would disagree he’s doing his utmost to ensure we get good, safe racing. He’s had some tough calls to make, and I for one don’t envy him.
Here’s hoping the weekend runs smoothly, and we can get back on track for the rest of race week.
Following on from the last piece, this is the second of my ‘TT 2013: revisited’ articles. In this collection, instead of writing about all things TT happening this year (there are none!) I have been back to a series of blogs I wrote during the TT in 2013, the first year I spent in the paddock with friends racing, and probably the most involved I’d been up to that point.
I decided to write these blogs back then as there were already dozens of people reporting on the racing, the top 10, the big names and so on, but I wanted to remind people that the TT is so much more than that. It means so much to so many for a plethora of reasons. With thousands of visitors each year, from all corners of the globe it is quite unlike anything else. Racing on public roads, closed only hours before racing starts and reopened to the population and visitors soon after racing is completed for the day. Bikes reaching speeds of 200mph plus with no run off, no kitty litter, lots of trees and stone walls, wild life and umpteen other things that make it hair raising exciting, also means that sometimes, things do go badly and sadly wrong.
The blog I’m sharing today was one I wrote following the sad death of Yoshi Matsushita on 27th May 2013. He was a popular figure around the paddock, albeit not a ‘headline’ name he was well known and liked…
It’s been a strange day today, the sort that none of us like to see. The weather on the Island cast a shadow over whether or not the practice session would go ahead. I was so sure it wouldn’t that at 3.30pm I was still making the most of a soggy Bank Holiday Monday by lounging on the couch in my pyjamas catching up on my Sky+! However, as is often the way here, almost in the blink of an eye the sun had come out & the roads were drying. Visibility was improving on the mountain and the decision was made that practice would go ahead, but untimed and only for Superstock, Supersport & then the Sidecars. A quick phone call with best buddy and I was showered, dried, dressed and in the car heading up to Kirk Michael before the roads closed.
As is usually the way, we had Manx Radio TT, the website, the app & the usual social networks going to see what was happening. The webcams showed it clearing up top, and apart from a delay in the start (due in part to a broken down coach on the Mountain) it looked like everything was to go ahead ok. As the start time approached, we added the layers of clothes and made a cuppa and once we knew the first bikes were through Glen Helen we headed outside. As we were up at the Grandstand on Saturday, this was our first experience of TT2013 bikes at close quarters, and the thrill as they flew past, just feet from us, was as powerful as ever. No words will ever truly describe what it is to see it, and if you are a racing fan who has never been to watch a road race, there are quite simply two words – do it. The bikes continued past, and I shot a couple of short videos on my phone to share with all my Twitter pals. We watched through a couple of our racing friends and felt that relieved feeling to see them circulating on good lines & looking well.
As best buddy pops in to check the info, in prep for the sideys outing, the marshals up and down the road are waving the yellow flags… Then, we hear that the red flag is out at the Grandstand and the session has been stopped. My heart sinks & my stomach knots. This is not usually a good sign. An announcement comes through about an incident at Ballacrye and the feeling of impending sadness worsens.
Three or 4 years ago, that would have been that until news came to us through the website or on the radio. However, with the event of social media its very different today. Of course we all want to know everyone we have an interest in is safe, be it our favourite rider, a friend or a relative. What we don’t want is the ghoulish curiosity & people trying to fill in the gaps about who it is, and how severe the incident could be, and all the misinformation that comes with that. If you’ve been around the event before there are certain things you recognise as bad signs – no further information, bikes escorted back around the course by the TM’s and the like don’t bode well. The tweets start flying round – some of genuine concern by people wanting reassurance about friends – as well as those where people are guessing who it could be, or what could have happened. And then the worst possible news comes through the official lines. TT2013 has suffered it’s first fatality. In the main, everybody is respectful and there is a feeling of sadness that our sport has again lost one of its own.
The harsh reality hits home. One of the main reasons we love this sport is the thrill, the challenge, and the seemingly superhuman strength shown by our riders. But this has a cost, and tonight Yoshinari Matsushita has paid the ultimate price. There is no doubt he died doing something that he loved. There is no doubt that he knew the risks. Every rider who signs up to race the Mountain Course is acutely aware of the worst that could happen. Of course, most of them don’t go out thinking ‘I could be about to die’ but they know the risk is there. Their families & friends know. It’s not something that we dwell on though. If we did, then I doubt there would be any racing. It’s part of the package, but it’s the part that we don’t really talk about, which is why when it happens we all feel the same shock and sadness.
As fans, we are generally a respectful bunch, we all have our thoughts of condolence for the fallen riders, family & friends, and in all honesty a fleeting thanks to the racing gods that our own are safe. But in these sad times we also then hear the voice of the ‘anti’ who seem to be on the sidelines, waiting for something like this to happen in order to start with their cries of ‘See? We knew this would happen! It’s dangerous! Ban it!’ It’s easy to get drawn into discussion (argument) as we’re a passionate lot, but we must always remember we also know when to show respect and be dignified.
Of course we feel frustration that this is perpetuated by the main stream news media – this evenings sad loss has already been reported by the main news channels. But will they mention the TT when records are being broken? I doubt it. If McGuinness makes it 20? Or more? Unlikely. Because that’s not in the common interest. There’s only a small percentage of the population who care. But there’s the thing you see. We do care. The biking community are a caring & respectful bunch – I was proud to see multiple Rides of Respect in honour of the fallen soldier Lee Rigby (RIP), as I am when I see Egg Runs at Easter, Toy Runs at Christmas, the RBLR events and so many other examples of charity & community support. This is why we shouldn’t engage in arguments with those who don’t understand it, we should continue to stand together, support each other during the sad times and celebrate during the good times. Remember those no longer with us and celebrate their achievements. Respect where it is due.
RIP Yoshinari Matsushita and all the other riders who have fallen before him.
I had the absolute privilege of speaking with Kirsten and was able to ask some questions which she very kindly took the time to answer.
Kirsten is South Africa’s top female enduro racer and has been riding since the age of 8 years old when she started riding dirt bikes for fun with her uncle and cousin round their garden and then her dad started to take her to the track on a Sunday which quickly progressed to both Saturdays and Sundays. Kirsten started riding professionally at the age of 22 and has now truly made a name for herself worldwide in the hard enduro racing scene.
Indeed Kirsten has been the first female rider to finish races such as Redbull Romaniacs silver class, Redbull Sea to Sky, Redbull Megawatt 111, Redbull Braveman & the Roof of Africa. Whilst competing at the top level of her sport all over the world, and most times being the only lady to do do, Kirsten has achieved her South African Springbok colours!
As a tomboy growing up and wanting to keep up with the boys, Kirsten loves the challenge of being a female rider competing against the boys on rough terrain and describes herself as very competitive even off the track – she will race to the front door and even race the dogs to the swimming pool! To say Kirsten excels in her sport is an understatement and the list of achievements is pretty impressive!
X-Race Namibia, Expert Class : 2nd overall, 1st lady
Redbull Romaniacs, Bronze Class : 15th overall, 1stlady
Sea to Sky, Turkey : 31st overall, only lady competitor in the Gold Class
WildWood Rock : 6th overall, 1st lady
Roof of Africa Gold class Finisher : 25th overall, 1st lady
Powasol Timberland Extreme Enduro : 14th overall in gold class, first lady finisher
Redbull Romaniacs Silver Class : 45th overall, first lady finisher
South African Overall Silver Class National Champion in a male dominated class
Roof of Africa Gold class : 33rd overall
King of the Hill : 28th overall in expert class; made history being the first lady to ever finish expert class
FIM Super Enduro World Series, Prague: 4th in world championship
Alfie Cox Redbull Invitational Extreme Enduro:Kirsten was the only female to compete, making it into the semi- final and ranked 15th amongst the best male extreme enduro riders in South Africa
Redbull Romaniacs : 48th overall; the first Female in history to finish the race in silver Class
Redbull Braveman : 2nd in Silver class; only female to finish
Redbull 111 Megawatt Poland : 30th overall out of over 1000 entries, only female to qualify and finish
Redbull Sea to Sky : 24th overall in Gold class, reaching the top of Mount Olympus, bettering her previous years position by over 30 positions
South African National Enduro Championship:Kirsten raced a consistent season finishing on the podium at all rounds, but finished 2nd overall. This is the best Kirsten has done in all her years racing the National Enduros.
Roof Of Africa : This was Kirsten’s first attempt at Gold class, going out on a whim & no expectations, Kirsten made history again and became the first ever woman in the 49 year history of the Roof Of Africa and finished the Gold class, completely unassisted
Redbull Romaniacs : Kirsten attempted silver for the first time but due to complications, she didn’t manage to finish.
Redbull Sea to Sky : 56th overall, becoming the only woman in history to ever finish a gold class at any extreme hard enduro event
Redbull Braveman : 1st overall in silver class (only riding against men)
Roof of Africa : 32nd overall in the silver class, first lady finisher
National Enduro Series : 3rd overall in the mens silver class
Redbull Romaniacs : 47th place in bronze class out of 160 bronze riders and first lady home
Roof of Africa : 23rd in silver class, first placed female finisher unassisted
National Enduro Championship : 4th place in silver class
In 2020 Kirsten competed in the Dakar and finished 55th overall and was the 3rd female finisher. What is the Dakar, I hear you ask?
The Dakar Rally, or “The Dakar” was formerly known as the “Paris–Dakar Rally” and is an annual rally raid organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were staged from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, events from 2009 to 2019 were held in South America. Since 2020, the race has been entirely in Saudi Arabia. The rally is open to amateur and professional entries, amateurs typically making up about eighty percent of the participants.
The rally is an off-road endurance event and the terrain is much tougher than that used in conventional rallying. The vehicles used are typically true off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rather than modified on-road vehicles. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometres per day.
In the Dakar 2021 there were 108 bike entries, only 63 of which finished the event. Just to finish the event is an achievement in its self.
Kirsten was considering taking part in Dakar 2021 but was unsure about doing the Dakar back to back and then due to the Covid pandemic the economy in South Africa took a downturn and Kirsten was unable to get the funding she needed to take part. As it turned out Kirsten may have been unable to take part had she got the funding as whilst training on the bike one session, Kirsten took a nasty fall and dislocated her shoulder which put her out of action for four months.
Kirsten’s next challenge is to compete in the Dakar 2022 in the Malle Moto class. What is that, I hear you say!
Malle Moto, which is French for ‘Trunk Motorbike’, is a category in the Dakar which riders of motorcycles and quads are almost completely unassisted. There are very few riders who take on this added challenge and it is considered to be the toughest category you can possibly compete in.
Competitors are allowed to pack one Malle (trunk) (there are restrictions on the maximum dimensions) which the organisers will transport to each bivouac. The trunk should contain their spare parts, tools, equipment and any necessary personal belongings. The organisers will also transport one spare headlight, one set of wheels and tyres, a tent and a travel bag.
Every day, the riders must prep their bike for the next stage without any outside assistance which may take a few hours, depending on the condition of the bike. They must also prepare their own road books before every stage and there is a common canteen to eat from. This all has to be done by the rider after each stage, which can run for many gruelling hours. After the rider has done all this, they then need to get enough sleep to be ready for the next stage. It is not uncommon for competitors to survive on just two or three hours of sleep everyday, for two weeks!
Although Kirsten can do a lot of her own bike maintenance already, she is unable to take apart an engine and fix it or work on anything electrical so preparation is already underway with Kirsten learning these new skills in preparation for Malle Moto.
Kirsten knows that time management will play an important role in this. I asked if she was worried about taking part in such an arduos event by herself with no assistance – Kirsten is not really worried about doing it by herself as knows the route having taken part in Dakar 2020 and she is really looking forward to the challenge of doing the event by herself. New challenges excite Kirsten, the harder the challenge is, the better it is.
I asked Kirsten who her inspiration was and she said it was Laia Sanz who is known as The Queen of the Desert. Laia is the best female motorcycle rally racer in history, has won the title of best Dakar racer five years in a row and was the only woman to finish the race at all in two separate years. She is also the three-time Women’s World Enduro Champion. WoW!
Surprisingly, well to me anyway, Kirsten does not ride her motorbike on the road, she finds road bikes uncomfortable and feels that riding on the roads local to her to be somewhat dangerous. Kirsten is far more at home on her dirt bike riding through the mud. Although Kirsten lives in a beautiful place, her two most favourite places to ride are Romania, where she has competed five times and went back again just for some casual riding and La Sutu, which is a country within her country with beautiful mountain ranges and extreme riding.
Kirsten’s best feeling about being on a motorbike is the feeling of accomplishment, knowing that she has achieved the end of the race and got to the finish line. It is the sense of adventure she loves, the fact that she is outdoors, loving the nature around her and being lucky to have such great roads to ride on and travelled the world in the process. Kirsten has made some very passionate lifelong friends through her love of riding with that unspoken rule that as you ride a motorbike, you just get along, the people are just so cool.
So Kirsten, what is the one thing people would never know about you just by looking at you? Baking. Kirsten loves to bake cakes, muffins and cooking in general, she is a big foodie and finds that when she is baking she can switch off from her riding and relax. I, myself can totally relate to that but unfortunately I like to eat my baking too!
Kirsten’s most embarrassing moment on a motorbike came when she was competing in an event and was absolutely desperate for a wee so she pulled over, popped the bike on the stand and walked round to a bush. Just as she was mid flow, another competitor stopped to see if she was okay and walked round and caught her peeing! Ooops!!!
As a youngster Kirsten was a tomboy and used to live in a big smallholding which had a massive garden. When she was around 8 or 9 years she was running around the garden with a friend pretending they were characters from the Jungle Book, they got hold of some matches and decided to make a fire like their characters. When they finished playing they thought they had put the fire out but during the night the wind caught up and the whole garden ended up on fire nearly spreading to the next door property. The fire brigade came and put the fire out thankfully but that is probably the worst thing Kirsten’s mum caught her doing as a kid!
I asked Kirsten if she has a lucky thing/ritual before the start of a race as it seems a lot of racers do. Kirsten is no exception, she always puts her left knee brace on first and then her right one and then puts her right boot on first and then her left one. Kirsten will then sit on the bike, put her head on the handlebars and say a prayer.
The first motorbike Kirsten owned was a Yamaha PW80 which was a limited edition bike. Unfortunately the bike was sold many years ago and has now become a collectors item. Kirsten has been looking for one for a while now with the idea of restoring it and then putting it in her house on display. I definitely like that idea, how cool would that be to have your bike on display in your house.
If Kirsten hadn’t been a racer, she would have liked to become a vet. Kirsten is an animal lover and has five rescue dogs that live with her and has re-homed so many more animals. Kirsten is part of the Saving Animals Movement (SAM) and raises money to help animals who are malnourished, overbred or in dire need of help and helps provide them with medical assistance and finding them new forever homes.
Would Kirsten ride pillion? Even if Valentino Rossi offered to take her out pillion on the road, she would say no! She is absolutely terrified of going out on the road! Now if you were to offer Kirsten a pillion ride on the track, she would happily go with you as long as you were an experienced rider on track.
I asked Kirsten what her friends and family would assume she had done if she got arrested and there was no hesitation in saying that it would be because she had got into an argument with someone over an animal. If Kirsten sees an animal being treated unfairly, she does get very emotional which may have led to one or two arguments in the past ……..
You can check out Kirsten’s website at Kirsten Landman and follow her progress with her preparations for the Malle Moto 2021. You can also follow Kirsten on Facebook and Instagram at : Kirsten Landman.
Thank you Kirsten for taking the time to speak with me, I really appreciate it and wish you good luck for the Dakar next year.