Photo: Ian Osborne. DTRA
The only DTRA round to run at Hells Race was the Indian-sponsored Hooligan race. Having missed King's Lynn, because of a long-booked family holiday, it was my first hooligan race of the season, and boy have things progressed a lot since my last one.
All the riders, except two, were from the UK. There were effectively seven 'sponsored' riders, those are riders on bikes they hadn't bought themselves.
Photo: Ian Osborne. DTRA
Lee Kirkpatrick (Krazy Horse Indian Scout Sixty 983cc)
Jonathan Falkman (Krazy Horse Indian Scout Sixty 983cc)
Leah Tokelove (Krazy Horse Indian Scout Sixty 983cc)
Chris Hatton (Krazy Horse Indian Scout Sixty 983cc)
Dimitri Coste (Indian Scout 1130cc)
Gary Birtwistle (Ducati UK Bike Shed Survivor Scrambler)
Grant Martin (Maidstone Harley-Davidson Sideburn Street Rod 750)
Plus there were five Evo Sportsters (me, James Smith, Chas Challis, James Jordan and Amaury Cibot), another Ducati Scrambler (Max Hunt) and one KTM (Martin Mills).
The races were split into two heats. Leah won all the three heats she competed in, coming past me in one like a steam train. I got a 1, 2 and 3 from my heats (Leah wasn't in the one I won). Putting me on the front row, third pick. Leah pole, Gary B in 2nd, Lee KP in 4th.
Max Hunt was flying on the Ducati, but crashed a looked like he'd damaged the oil cooler beyond repair. I've been told he's a two-time Dakar finisher and he can certainly ride that Italian hooligan. It helps their significantly lighter than the US twins.
Gary B looked fast all day. Grant looked uncharacteristically out of sorts. Slid off, made the second row in the main, with three Indians.
Gary B seemed to line up very close to Leah in the final, leaving me loads of room. I'd been getting decent starts all day, and made another good one, but Gary was up the inside, Lee Kp on the outside and Leah missed out. Birty extended the gap going into Turn 3 and I settled into racing a tidy line, no heroics.
Lee KP was putting the pressure on, but I wasn't sure it was him, because I didn't look back. I guessed it was though. I was sticking to my line, not making mistakes so if he wanted the place it would be a brave line around the outside (which he might not have fancied, having crashed out of second at Rnd 1). Grant put a pass on Leah into fourth and it stayed like that.
Photo: Tom Moth
I'm not the most bullish racer. I do my own thing. Lose the front once or twice a year, scrape a podium once a year if I'm lucky, so I'd set my target to try beat two of the KH Indians. I didn't know who, it depended who was on it that day, but it was my target. To beat all of them was close to unbelievable.
Photo: Tom Bing
Part of me wondered if I was holding up the train, but Gary B was only 1.7s ahead after 8 laps (he on a new bike, me on basically a new bike, because I've done that many mods) and the transponders showed that four of the 11 finalists did sub-17s laps and I was one of them, so I was happy about that too.
Grant's Race Report
The Sideburn-supported hooligan
'I arrived at Hells Race after a long drive from Croatia, tired but buzzing to race. It's an event I've been excited to race for some time and it was awesome that the DTRA has integrated the Hooligan series into it.
'I felt I was riding well in practice, but rode a little tight in the first heat. I came from the back row in heat two and put on a charge, but ended up slipping off out of third place. The modified Maidstone Harley-Davidson Street Rod survived the crash well enough for me to finish second in my third heat.
Photo: Black Dots Video
'The track was freshly prepped and watered for us. I knew I would have to fight on the first lap or two to make passes as the track quickly became one line for the big hooligan bikes. I managed to pass a couple of riders and slot into fourth place and after that it was follow the leader until the flag with us all running a very similar pace.'
Grant left Hells Race as the series leader. Talking about the Dutch round, Grant said, 'The event has a really chilled, friendly vibe, sun shining, music blasting, and great racing. I will be back next year.'
The Indian DTRA Hooligan Championship returns this weekend for round three and four, at the MCN Festival, Peterborough on 19-20 May.
Hell's Race Result
1. Gary Birtwistle (Ducati Scrambler)
2. Gary Inman (H-D Sportster)
3. Lee Kirkpatrick (Indian Scout 60)
4. Grant Martin (H-D Street Rod)
5. Leah Tokelove (Indian Scout 60)