Following news of the launch of the Royal Enfield Slide School, in conjunction with Dirt Craft UK, Royal Enfield are also entering the DTRA Twins with a full factory Harris Performance Twin FT with Dirt Craft's Gary Birtwistle, the same bike johnny Lewis used to win on at the Daytona Short Track in the AFT Production Bike Class.
We interviewed Gary B about the forthcoming season.
SIDEBURN: Where will you be racing the Twin FT?
Gary Birtwistle: I will competing the DTRA national series and hopefully a handful of European races if travel becomes easier. I’m personally really looking forward to getting out on the the big loamy half-miles in Germany with the Krowdrace series.
How does the bike you will be racing differ, in spec, from the one Johnny Lewis is racing?
Same spec - Johnny and Royal Enfield have done a lot of development up to this point. Our short tracks are a lot different from a clay mile track you would find in the States. We decided to start with were Johnny is at and diverge from there to best suit my needs. Everything we learn here helps helps the overall programme, it’s the same with Johnny Lewis in AFT.
Johnny Lewis in action on the Harris Royal Enfield Twin FT
What kind of power are you expecting the Royal Enfield Twin FT to put out?
We are hoping fro a competitive power output but as we are still developing the motorcycle, we will be constantly changing things to find the right balance for every track. In other words, it’s top secret.
What do you think Enfield getting involved means for a series like the DTRA?
It can only be good thing. ‘A rising tide lifts all boats’ right? I feel like the DTRA and European flat track in general is in a position were more factory involvement and more sponsorship only helps to elevate the sport and all the riders involved. Hopefully this will translate into more events and bigger purses.
The bike will run in the DTRA Twins class, what can you tell us about that class and what bikes you expect to be up against?
It’s a complete unknown as it’s the first season with this class but I am hoping for some serious competition. I just want to race hard and put on a show. I’d love to line up next to Indian FTRs, Harley XGs and Yamaha MT07s but we will see. Hopefully other teams and riders have been putting bikes together this past year.
Will you have tech support at the races, or turn up with it in your van and do it yourself?
The option was there but I prefer to work on my own bikes I think I enjoy the rider/mechanic aspect of flat track. Of course I’ve always got my sponsor John Kay from Evolve in my corner when I need help so I’m not completely alone.
You are reigning DTRA Hooligan champ, will you miss the class?
Yes and no. It’s a hell of a rush wrestling those big bikes around, racing bar to bar with the other riders. The noise, the shapes the bikes make when things go wrong.. On the other hand I always felt lucky to have never been ridden over by a 200kg v-twin.
Gary Birtwistle on his Hooligan championship-winning Ducati Scrambler
How do you expect this twin to differ from the Ducati Scrambler hooligan you've had a lot of success on?
I think the Harris performance chassis is going to handle like a dream. It’s a small, light and compact package, so perfect for short tracks. The Ducati was never meant to do the things I was doing on it. Every corner was a fight, you’d come off the track feeling like you’d just gone 12 rounds with an Italian wrestling champion.
Will you still race a single in DTRA Pro Class?
For sure, I’m really fired up for this season and I’m hungry for wins in both classes. I got on the [DTX] bike for the first time in a while last week and I felt super strong.
Is yours a one-year deal to race the Enfield or more?
It’s a one year deal with the aim to continue into the future. I’m really happy with the support I’ve received from the team at Royal Enfield, they are passionate about what they do and I like that. We have a good relationship and I feel like this is just the beginning.
Will the Twin FT definitely be ready for DTRA round one?
The bike is still in build but we’ll be there.
It seems that the DTRA Twins class is mixed with the Thunderbikes, not the Hooligans. What do you think about that?
It’s probably a better match, I feel like a twin is somewhere in the middle of both classes. I’m just hoping more teams get involved and help grow the sport in this direction. I’d love to be lining up in a stacked field of roaring twins.
Any chance of you getting a chance to race in AFT on it?
It’s been in my mind since I was first approached by the guys at Royal Enfield. I guess now is as good a time to ask as any right? Maybe a wildcard at a short track or TT to test the waters? That would be a dream come true.
We can't wait to see the Harris Royal Enfield Twin FT in the flesh. The first DTRA round of the season is 8-9 May at King's Lynn, with the Twins class on Sunday. Find out more about the DTRA.
We covered the Twin FT and it's first national win extensively in Sideburn 43
We covered the development of the race bike in Sideburn 41