Events: Festival

Pushing to the limit

DirtQuake VI

FTR report from the flat track

Riders in glittery outfits and lobster costumes on scooters and heavily customised motorcycles hitting the flat track – it can only be DirtQuake.

The event

From the average Joe to World Superbike champions and TT racers, DirtQuake brings them all together on a flat track: the Adrian Flux Arena in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, UK.

DirtQuake’s atmosphere is part-motorcycle race, part-carnival and completely eccentric – a live band plays themes from long-forgotten TV shows and national anthems, while racers blast around in the dirt.

Race classes included: Inappropriate Road Bike, Street Tracker/Scrambler, Ladies Race, Chopper, Harley Davidson, Best of British, Scooter and Leaner Legal 125.

For the first time, Triumph supported the event, bringing two Triumph ambassadors – Carl Fogarty and Gary Johnson – and some highly modified machines to it.

Fogarty gets ready to race

The motorcycles

Matt, from Triumph’s Research and Development team, gets involved with building special projects and fills us in on the DirtQuake bikes: “Gary’s motorcycle is based on the older Bonneville but with a number of changes. We removed all the fuel injection and put flat slide carbs on it. The front end is from a Tiger 800 and the rear subframe is modified. It’s also got a different seat unit and K-Teck performance shocks. Apart from that, it’s about standard, other than removing all the lights etc. We gave it a special paint job too.

“Carl’s scrambler was based on a Bonneville T120. But it’s now got a Thruxton R engine, with racing camshaft. It makes a lot of noise through its custom-made exhaust. There’s also a new seat, lengthened swing arm and Maxxis DTR Dirtrack tyres.”

A Street Triple on dirt? Alongside the purpose-built scrambler, Carl also to took a Street Triple with off road tyres around the track for the ‘Inappropriate Road Bike’ category.

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Carl and Gary go head-to-head

The racing

All the racing was wheel-to-wheel and you could see the concentration on the riders’ mud-spattered faces as they attempted to keep their motorcycles under control. After Saturday’s races, Carl came fourth and his reaction was: “It went all right really, with what we’ve got. The other guys are on little single cylinders, 600s, so being on a big heavy 1200 is a challenge. If I’d have been on a little bike, I’d have smashed it by a mile!”

Carl’s custom Scrambler made an almighty noise, echoing around the arena it was without a doubt the loudest bike in attendance. Next, Carl was to piloted his Street Triple in the appropriately named ‘Hooligans’ race, alongside Gary Johnson. Both riders were neck and neck, the bikes squirming beneath them on the loose dirt.

On Sunday Carl pushed hard, winning five out of six race heats. On several occasions the bike stepped out on the straights struggling to find grip – not many Street Triples have even seen the dirt, let alone raced on it…

Gary had less practice than Carl, as he only competed on the Sunday, but he got up to speed pretty quickly: “It’s been quite an eventful weekend! I enjoyed getting used to riding the dirt oval. I got a fourth in my first heat and did well in my second heat getting up to third. The competition was getting quite fierce between myself and Carl.

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Gary Johnson (left) and Carl Fogarty– friendly rivalry

“However, when it came to the final, the cream rose to the top,” Gary laughs. “I got in the lead and the red mist came down over Carl as he tried hard to keep up, but he took a massive tumble. He’s very competitive – even at his age! The bikes were very heavy and powerful, so it was easy to crash. I had a big fall myself in an earlier heat – Carl had warned me how slippery it would be and I gave it a bit too much throttle and I was off. It was a far cry from Carl’s accident though, he was going at serious speed when he came off.”

After a successful weekend winning five out of six heats on the Street Triple, Carl unfortunately sustained a number of injuries during an incident on the first corner of the final. Despite suffering two broken ribs and a punctured lung he is in good spirits and brushed it off as a “little crash”.

Relaxed and eccentric DirtQuake may be, but there’s always competition when you put world-class racers against each other. “Oh, it was great fun,” Gary states. “I’ll definitely be back next year.”

Tune in to ITV4 at 8pm tonight (12/7/17) to see how the action unfolded.