We may not have been blessed with beautiful sunshine for race day, but the weather was so much better than last year’s wet and very windy affair. What we were blessed with was a gathering of happy, friendly people and a veritable mixture of two-wheeled machinery – and Duke of London’s Barbie tricycle too. As with all Malle events, there’s a timetable of events, but that’s more suggestive than actual. Adding to this is the reliance on the tide to play ball too, but thankfully it was much more cooperative than last year.
With fresh tea and coffee drunk and the safety briefing over, riders move en mass across the beach over to the paddock area. The sight of 100 plus bikes riding along the golden sands is a fantastic sight. Every shape, size and style of bike and rider is represented, and everyone is welcome. It’s only a short journey across to the holding area, but the beach claims its first victims early with riders wheel spinning and getting stuck in soft sand. This gives the uninitiated a chance to come to terms with riding on sand, it’s very different to mud and commands another level of respect.
Sprint races are basic two-up dash over about an eighth of a mile, first across the line returns for the next heat, in a basic knock-out format. Startline rituals include bikes running, in neutral and riders clutch hand on their helmet (if the bike is electric or automatic then the riders throttle hand must be on their helmet). When the flag drops, go. It’s as simple as that, or not.
Stall on the line and you may have to deal with your embarrassment, but don’t worry as there are always wonderful words of encouragement that flow from the Channel9 commentary crew.
Walking around the paddock there was such an air of comradery, everyone chatting, helping and encouraging each other. The Malle team are super helpful, even the security folks make a real effort to ensure everything runs in a friendly way – which is not always the case with some other events.
Back to the racing and what really stands out is the wild mix of bikes racing within the same classes. There is no separation by engine size or power, just rough groupings. This makes for a great spectacle where a small moped has every chance to outrun a larger cc street fighter – the sand doesn’t care who you are or what you ride.
While the sprints were running the Malle Hundred was set up further down the beach to make the best use of the available time. This is another simple format, three laps of a short oval with a Le Mans style start for six riders at a time.
Getting the start right is one thing, but then riders also have to quickly master corners on drying sand. Plus, each lap rearranged the previous ruts for added entertainment. The guys from Surrey Speed Shop always have a smile on their faces and they thoroughly enjoy their racing. This year they left the classic Triumph sidecar at home, instead opting for a more modern motocross sidecar set-up. This new rig looked like a bit of a handful and the boys were doing great trying to tame this wild ride. Unfortunately, the bike decided it had had enough and decided to throw both the guys off in spectacular fashion. Both marshalls and medics were there instantly to attend to the chaps. This was a reminder to all that motorsport is dangerous and we all need to careful, riders and spectators alike.
Both rider and passenger were transported to the hospital and required an overnight stay due to broken collar bones. Thankfully both were in good spirits later using social media to let us all know how they were mending. Thanks to the amazing hospital staff, the quick-acting paramedics and marshalls the Surrey Speed Shop boys will be back out racing soon.
While all this was happening the Moto-polo matches had started further along the beach. This appeared to be a three-way battle; two teams versus the tide too. The pitch was reducing in size by the minute and team members resorted to revising rules as they played, much to the enjoyment of all.
With the tide quickly reclaiming the race track the sprints were moved further up the beach to allow everyone to get through all the races. As the racing day came to an end we wandered off to grab some food and reflect on a great day of fun with like-minded people. The Malle London team should feel rightly proud of another successful event. I’m already looking forward to next years beach race, will you be coming along too?