TM UK’s annual pilgrimage to the ‘field of dreams’ began last Friday with the short trip to the legendary Farleigh Castle venue just outside of Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire.
Steve ‘The Dog’ Knight and myself arrived with a few bikes in tow, Steve’s 1982 TM 125 MX machine, a 98 ‘Puzar’ replica 125 MX and Mark Hucklebrige’ VOR 530 MX – a very special machine that was in attendance to display in the ‘Friends of Huck’ charity awning which raises so much money for a number of great charities, for those that ‘dug deep’ to support the charity over the course of the weekend, we thank you.
Riding in the now combined ‘125cc class’ it was a battle for the older twin-shock bikes (previously the ‘pre 1983’ class) of which there was only a handful of the older machines competing, with the class now being dominated by very late 80’s / bordering 90’s Honda machines and much more ‘modern’ equipment – and not all strictly 125’s I would say!. Out of the near 60 entrants in the 125cc class, Steve managed to get the old 1982 to a very respectable 41st in qualifying, just missing out on the ‘first’ gate.
Race one was hard work, a difficult start from gate number two already left him in arrears of the top 40 who had a 10 second advantage on gate one. Some good battles ensued and ‘The Dog’ pushed the entire race, the suspension changes made in the past week for sure paying some dividends on the already ‘rough-as’ track allowing ‘The Dog’ to only gain places, never lose them. At the drop of the flag ‘The Dog’ ended race one in 44th place, the second placed ‘twin-shock’ by some margin and beating some much more ‘up to date’ machinery.
Race two’ start was again a tough one, pushing hard for the first two laps and making ground it suddenly became evident that not all was well with the ‘ol girl’ on lap 3 as ‘The Dog’ began to lose time and struggled to maintain momentum. Then a ‘race’ became a ‘ride’ as something was not right, after completing another lap ‘The Dog’ cruised into retirement with a gear selection issue rearing its head. After returning to the awning we examined the bike, all the gears were there but upon dropping the gearbox oil it was it was time to accept the harsh reality that it was game over. With part of a gear tooth in the oil it was evident that something in the 37 year old gearbox had failed mid-race, to push this old bike anymore and cause more damage was pointless, and, would probably be ‘final’ with a lack of parts available.
A gutting end for all, but one that at least saw the bike ride off the track, some consolation, if only a very small one. With so many of these old machines over the course of the weekend suffering a similar, if not more catastrophic fate, our sympathy goes out to all who put so much into this event on these machines, especially the very old and ‘original’ ones, who suddenly have that incredible ‘Farleigh feeling’ torn away with some sort of problem.
We would also like to say well done to all the other TM riders at the event, it was great to see so many other TM’s there competing and some of the more modern ones being ridden super-hard in some of the evo classes. Adrian Lapping on his 1982 – sadly Adrian had a swing-arm spindle failure in race 3 – finished the race but it was sadly game over, James Farrell on his 1989, and the ‘Pink’ ones (94-96 variants in this instance in the ‘Evo’), Glen Whittock, Rory O’Neill, Tommy Merton and to anyone I have missed, well done to all. And, what an absolute joy it was to see Gini, the man who not only worked for TM Racing for many years helping them achieve some of their best work in the late 90’s, but also the same man that worked for VOR and made so many of the special components that adorn Mark’s VOR.
So, that wraps that up for another year. Thanks to all who support us and thanks for the memories once again, hopefully we can get a 2020 sticker on the ol’ girls front plate and see the decade out.
Thank you, TM UK.