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22nd June 2016

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Thunderfest 2016

Could you set a certain speed, at or around the national limit, and then ride your classic bike to exactly that velocity? That’s the challenge of the Thunderfest...

The 2016 Thunderfest at Darley Moor saw a packed grid of classic riders striving to reach their personal target times in a tough ten-lap competition. Thunderfest is Britain’s only track-based time trial – a test of riding skill as well as speed. Competitors decide what their own average speed will be and then battle to ride smoothly and consistently to achieve it.

Thunderfest 2016 It could only happen at Thunderfest; here's No.35 and winner of Class A Rob Head on his mighty BSA/Norton in close company with Keith Ruddock who won class B on his 250 Honda

With bikes ranging from early 50cc Honda classic race bikes to late post classics, there was a great display of biking nostalgia in the Darley Moor paddock. The riders were equally diverse with current classic racers and hill-climbers mixing it with gentleman riders who had very limited track experience. One of the attractions of Thunderfest is the wide range of participants and their relaxed attitude to motorcycle sport.

Thunderfest 2016 Little and large with No.49 Robin Carter and his 1000cc K1 BMW, cuddling up to No.25 Brian Jackson riding a 50cc Honda Dream racer

After two extensive free practice and qualifying sessions, it was time for riders to declare their target speed for the timed trial of 15 minutes plus one lap. When the time sheets were handed out the serious riders got down to studying their lap times from practice and decided on a target they could hit with laser accuracy – and the best Thunderfesters really are good at riding fast but with total self-discipline.

Thunderfest 2016 Tony Head, 740 BSA/Norton

Class A winner Rob Head, riding his home-prepared BSA-engined Norton, did something never achieved before at Thunderfest. He rode the whole event precisely to his declared time of 63.25mph – accurate to 1/100 of a mph – and this from a standing start, on a busy track! The Head family really dominated this year’s Thunderfest with Rob’s son, Tony, taking fourth place in the class won by his father!

Thunderfest 2016 Keith Ruddock, 250 Honda - Class B Winner

Keith ‘Razor’ Ruddock was almost as good in winning Class B on board his beautiful little Honda. Keith declared a target speed of 53.87mph and achieved 53.93mph. At the other end of the scale, some riders showed just how difficult time trials are. Thunderfest organiser, Frank Melling, failed miserably coming in 18th place – a whopping 1.8mph over his declared speed. Frank said: ‘I got distracted playing with Dave McCoy and John Tucker so there was never going to be a chance of doing well. Thunderfest winners have brains and discipline – and I’m a bit lacking in both respects when I’m out on the track.

‘The truth is that I am not at all bothered about my results. Thunderfesters are such lovely people to work with and we did not have a single accident, or incident, throughout the day. The Darley Moor Club makes us feel very welcome and we had some great trophies thanks to Harleyworld at Chesterfield. What more could anyone want?’

Thunderfest 2016 Brian Sadler, 750 Dresda Triumph
Track Tools, on Now...

2016 Thunderfest Results

Class A

  • 1st - Rob Head – 740 BSA Norton
  • 2nd – Graham Dickinson – 500 Suzuki
  • 3rd – Chris Bunce – 500 Gilera
  • 4th – Tony Head 740 BSA Norton

    Class B

  • 1st – Keith Ruddock – 250 BSA
  • 2nd – Matt Long – 350 Honda
  • 3rd – Frank Jones – 535 Royal Enfield
  • 4th – Mike Hunt – 400 Yamaha

    See for more pics and info about future events

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