We caught up with Adrian Sellers, Royal Enfield's Group Manager of Industrial Design (below), and the driving force behind the company's Twin FT race project, to ask him about Royal Enfield's dirt track effort going into the new AFT Production Twins season. The Moto Anatomy x Royal Enfield team remain a one rider set-up with Johnny Lewis operating as rider and team leader.
Sideburn: With two wins under its belt, the Twin FT project is ahead of your early projected timescale, what are the hopes for 2022?
Adrian Sellers: We've been encouraged by the wins and solid placements throughout the rest of the races, so we really hope to be able to regularly podium throughout the season and a couple of wins thrown in for good measure.
Will Enfield be contesting the Miles this year?
We've been working on the bikes ability to handle the miles, and recently did a mile track test with encouraging results. So yes, we plan to contest the miles.
You've been stuck in England for the length of the racing project, do you think you'll get out to the USA to see it race this season?
Definitely. With travel opening up between the US and UK and quarantine times going down or being eliminated, I'm planning to come for a few of the races.
Which track would you most like to see it at and why?
That's a tough one. I'd love to see the first race of the season at Volusia - it's always the most exciting as the work we've been doing over the off-season gets put to the test for the first time. After that, the Atlanta TT and for sure at least one of the miles.
How is the engine development progressing?
Engine development is going strong and we've just shipped Johnny and the team a bunch of new parts to try out. We don't have a target power, as such - it's more about giving Johnny a bike with the most usable balance of torque and horsepower - and we think we are in the ball park.
I feel Enfield have really energised AFT, but since I read the rules brought in to unify the Twins classes I'm worried about the future of the project. How do RE feel about the changes?
AFT consulted with participating teams regarding the class unification and changes for 2023.
We appreciate AFT's focus on trying to make the sport more entertaining to watch - after all, without the fans' interest, the sport goes away. So unifying the classes makes sense in that context - it should lead to some exciting racing. We hope that the package we have, and which we will continue to develop over the next year, will put us in a competitive position for when that change happens in 2023.
AFT seem to have changed some rules to try attract a factory (KTM) while making it much more difficult for a company that has already invested heavily in their series - or do I have that wrong?
More competition is always good for a sport, so if AFT are able to get another manufacturer in, it benefits us all. Having said that, we have some reservations about some of the rule changes and are working through them with AFT. As a manufacturer focused on the mid segment, we obviously prefer to keep cc size down, as it's more relevant to our production products - and tends to make for more fun and scrappy racing.
Do you feel hung out to dry?
It's the prerogative of AFT to set the rules for the series to the best benefit of the series. While some of them may present challenges for us, we hope that they have made the right call and that it will result in more exciting racing.
Royal Enfield also competed with a two-rider team in the UK DTRA series, will you be back for 2022?
For DTRA we're hoping to defend our title with the same team as last year, but an announcement on this will be going out soon, once everything is formalised. Machinery will be similar, albeit with some modifications from last year. AFT has taken precedence in our planning as it tends to start earlier and - as you've noted - is a bit more of a 'complex' thing.
What is the future of the RE Twin FT project beyond the end of 2022?
We're continuing to develop the bike in 2022, and we'll keep evaluating our performance as the season goes on. The one advantage of the rules change for 2022 is that we will be able to get a better idea of our relative competitiveness for 2023 and understand what we need to change or how we approach or participate for 2023 and beyond. Hopefully we do well, and are able to expand our presence on the track in future years.
Photos: Tristan Afre, Royal Enfield, Gary Inman
READ MORE ABOUT THE TWIN FT
Sideburn 41 - Early testing and development by Johnny Lewis
Sideburn 43 - First race, first win, Adrian Sellers interview
Sideburn 47 - Exclusive Sideburn track test, blueprint