Triumph Motorcycles has this week announced they will build and race enduro and motocross motorcycles with the help of five-time American Rider of the Year Ricky Carmichael (pictured above).
The official press release didn’t supply many details and it is unknown whether they will be produced in India or Thailand where most of their motorcycles are now made.
However, the British company did say it would return to dirt racing at the “top-tier” level.
The company also announced that Ricky will be joined by five-time Enduro World Champion Iván Cervantes to test and prepare the bikes for racing.
But they didn’t say whether they would race them and when the bikes or their racing prototypes would be available.
We suspect the bikes will be raced and tested before production versions are ready for the market.
They did the same thing with the 765cc Moto2 engine which has moved into their road bikes.
Ricky also doesn’t give away any clues, just stating that he will “be a part of the development and release of Triumph’s off-road motorcycles”.
Likewise, Ian simply says he “cannot wait to see the bikes competing at a world level”.
Whoever does race them, it will no doubt kick start a PR campaign based around the racing endeavours of Hollywood legend and Triumph fan Steve McQueen.
He raced Triumphs in the USA and represented his country in the 1964 International Six-Day Enduro Trials in Europe and was also famously depicted in The Great Escape jumping a TR6 over a barbed-wire fence to escape the Nazis.
No doubt the new-age Triumph dirt bikes will be a lot lighter than the heavy TR6 and other models used in dirt racing more than half a decade ago.
Company boss Nick Bloor says they are “100% committed to making a long-lasting impact in this highly competitive and demanding world”.
Talk to any biker over a few beers at the end of the day, the same old question comes up. ‘When did you first start riding?’ For myself and many, many other Aussies, the answer is quite different to those that you’d get in Europe, the USA or Asia. For these other countries, the answer will often be ‘motorcross’ or even ‘bombing around a quiet car park on Sundays.’ But for many an Aussie, the answer will almost inevitably be, ‘as a kid on a farm.’
In Farm’s Way
Farming is to Australia as cars are to the US; it’s the industry at the heart of the country and as such, it unavoidably burrows its way into many aspects of the country’s culture and being. So even a Sydney boy like me, born and bred 30 minutes from the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, spent many a school holiday fanging around on a bike in the dusty far western plains of New South Wales.
And while this ‘farm first’ approach to motorcycling does often feed young riders into the typical moto-cross, enduro and even track racing categories, this birth as an off-road rider from nothing but an empty paddock, an ‘ag bike’ and a whole day to waste in the dirt is uniquely Australian. With very little for learners to hit apart from wire fences and the barking Cattle Dog doing fervent loops around you, this approach affords many riders a broad foundation of basic skills that aren’t limited to the requirements of a single racing genre.
Old and Dirty
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The official birth of the Australian off-road scene took place on a warm night at the Maitland showground on the 15th of December, 1923. And while many international pundits from the US and the UK dispute this, it’s widely acknowledged that on this night, the first-ever speedway race in the world took place under the arena’s newly installed electric lights.
And it won’t surprise you to learn that – you guessed it – the local farmers were the ones on the bikes. Johnny Hoskins, the local who organised the yearly Agricultural show was looking for other events to broaden the event’s appeal. He noticed the local farmers on their bikes and speeds at which they were able to get across their paddocks, and the rest is history.
Horses for Courses
By the early 1970s, a full 25% of the 55,000 bikes purchased in Australia weren’t classed or registered as road-going vehicles, which really brings home just how large a part of the market the off-road sector was. Horses had been slowly replaced by farm bikes since the technology had come of age in the 1950s, meaning that it was easier and cheaper to maintain a bike than to pay for a horse’s feed and vet bills.
These ‘Ag’ bikes from the likes of BSA and other overseas firms were specially geared to allow riders to meander along while checking fences, rounding up sheep and to move cross country at the same speed as those on foot.
A ’70s Explosion
Following the global trend captured in Bruce Brown’s now famous ‘On Any Sunday’ starring Steve McQueen, the popularity of off-road riding in Australia exploded around this time, meaning that by the early 1970s, those suitably flush could partake in trail riding, enduro, sporting trials, moto-cross, minibikes and a whole raft of on-road moto pursuits, too.
And as supremely 70s as it may seem now, there was a growing interest in off-road trikes like the American-made ‘Dunecycle.’ Driven through a torque converter and made of lurid fibreglass, their ability to tackle most terrain with even the most basic of riders on board didn’t stop them from disappearing before the end of the decade.
Sand and Deliver
It’s also interesting to note that Sydney and her northern neighbor city, Newcastle, both had large, moto-friendly sand dunes nearby. With Kurnell to Sydney’s south and the Stockton Dunes to Newcastle’s north, the local inhabitants had free and easy access to sand riding right throughout the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
This included a dune buggy contingent that saw a ‘Baja Bug’ scene to rival the best that California or Mexico had to offer. After all, with a plethora of old VW Beetles available for chump change and the aftermarket parts scene booming, who in their right mind wouldn’t consider a little weekend sand sled to attract the opposite sex in their swimmers?
Scrambling for Meaning
But what about scrambling, you ask? Here’s the thing; scramblers weren’t always scramblers. ‘Scramble’ races were a popular event in the UK since the ’20s and ’30s, but in Australia – before the genre was really formalised – it was effectively split into two more discrete sports: trials riding and moto-cross. Australian publications from the ’70s seem to turn up very few, if any, mentions of the word.
Or maybe more to the point, the distinction between the various sports wasn’t completely clear, even to those taking part in them. I found this quote from a 1974 motorcycling publication, stating that ‘It is difficult to make clear distinctions between such events as ‘trials’, ‘sporting trials’, ‘scrambles’, ‘enduros’, ‘moto-cross and ‘cross country racing’ because there are shades of meanings, varying from State to State and even club to club.’
Of course, the last five years have seen a real renaissance of scramblers after the 21st Century cafe racing boom has had its run. This has also seen a crystallisation of the concept where previously there was much assumption, legends and endless photos of a very dusty-looking Steve McQueen. But if you’re anything like me, that’s got to be a good thing. Let’s face it; once you’ve been bitten by the dirt bug, too many moto off-roading options are barely enough.
The Yamaha Australian Off-Road Championship (AORC) presented by MXstore, has made the decision to cancel Round 9 and 10 of the Championship which was to be held at Wynyard Tasmania on October 17 and 18.
Due to the recent announcement by the Tasmanian Government of state border restrictions and closure until December, unfortunately this has made the Tasmanian round impossible to go ahead.
AORC will continue to monitor State Government COVID-19 restrictions and their potential impacts this may have on the current remaining 2020 championship date.
Earlier rounds 5-6 at Murray Bridge, rounds 7-8 at Nowra, and rounds 9-10 at Omeo had already been cancelled.
KTM had also earlier released a statement that due to the complications of the pandemic they will not race AORC for the remainder of the year with their factory squad.
At this stage there is one final weekend scheduled for AORC on November 14 and 15 and the final venue is yet to be confirmed although is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
AORC with the Tasmanian Government remains committed to having the Championship Event in Tasmania and will look to explore this for the future.
Nowak and Robertson earn all expenses paid trip to Morocco.
The first-ever KTM Ultimate Race qualification event in Australia was hosted alongside the Transmoto 12-Hour at Batemans Bay in New South Wales last weekend, with two extremely capable and fortunate Australians set to take off to Morocco at the end of this month.
Set to compete against a selection of KTM adventure riders from around the world in an exclusive class at the Merzouga Rally event within the Dakar series, Robert Nowak and Steve Robertson will represent Australia after delivering strong performances in the national qualifier.
Both Nowak and Robertson have won all-expenses paid trips to Morocco for the 2019 KTM Ultimate Race, to be contested on 31 March-5 April. Each will receive factory rider treatment and will be equipped with factory-prepared KTM 790 Adventure R models throughout the event’s duration, while also benefiting from coaching by KTM adventure ambassadors.
The winner of the KTM Ultimate Race in the Merzouga Rally will go on to receive the incredible prize of being awarded their own KTM 790 Adventure R to keep, as well as being provided two VIP tickets to next year’s Dakar Rally.
It’s an initiative introduced by the KTM factory to bring together global KTM adventure communities including Australia, New Zealand, Italy, South Africa, Canada and USA.
Last weekend’s KTM Ultimate Race qualification event at Batemans Bay, operated by the Transmoto Events team, featured an exclusive and limited entry list of just 15 riders. They engaged in a series of off-bike challenges including the Bike Lift, Wheel Change and Navigation/Waypoints that were scored accordingly, as well as a pair of timed on-bike Special Tests.
Once each of those tasks were completed, resulting in incredibly close scores, the field was narrowed down to five top riders who each carried out a ‘hot lap’ timed Special Test of the entire Transmoto 12-Hour circuit that was used for the prestigious enduro event on the following day. In the end it was Nowak and Robertson who emerged as the inaugural KTM Ultimate Race qualifiers from Australia.
The FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship calendar has been revealed for 2019, confirming four rallies will take place between March and October.
The series will kick off with the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in the United Arab Emirates on 30 March-4 April, before heading to Russia, Mongolia and China for the Silk Way Rally on 6-16 July.
The championship will recommence in Chile on 1-7 September for the Atacama Rally, followed by the season-finale Rally du Maroc in Morocco, pencilled in for 3-9 October.
In 2018, Australian Toby Price (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) emerged victorious to lift the crown, adding to his list of achievements that include winning the Dakar Rally in 2016.
2019 FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship calendar:
Rd1 – 30 March-4 April – Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, United Arab Emirates
Rd2 – 6-16 July – Silk Way Rally, Russia-Mongolia-China
Rd3 – 1-7 September – Atacama Rally, Chile
Rd4 – 3-9 October – Rally du Maroc, Morocco
Motorcycling Australia (MA) has confirmed Moruya in New South Wales will host the 2019 Australian Four-Day Enduro (A4DE) on 1-4 May, marking the 41st edition of the prestigious off-road event.
It’s not since 2006 that the A4DE has been held in the Bateman’s Bay area, where Mogo played host to an action packed four days that was hailed as one of the best editions of A4DE in years.
Following on from an emotional 40th anniversary earlier in 2018, next year’s edition is set to be bigger and better than ever, as reflected in Australia’s success over in Chile for the 2018 ISDE.
Conceived in 1978, the A4DE is renowned for its fierce competition nationwide, and the Moruya location will provide a picturesque backdrop for the highly anticipated event. Parc ferme will be located at the Moruya Showgrounds, while the event will include excellent spectator vantage points, plus easy access from the township.