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Weston Beach Race - 12 October 2018
Groves talks track masterplan at the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Powered by KTM
Johnny Groves is well-known as one of the UK’s best dirtbike track builders. The circuit sculpting ace from Cornwall has prepared tracks from backyard set-ups to World Championship level, and he is back again this year to build the enormous dune course for the HydroGarden Weston Beach Race Powered by KTM on October 19-21.
“The aim this year is to get a little bit more time out of the circuit, to make the lap longer,”said Groves when talking about his plan for the 2018 race.
“It never used to be the speed it is with the top riders doing sub 10-minute laps like we’ve seen in the last few years. So, it will be tighter in some sections, and the back straight that is normally full of lots of dunes will have some bigger dunes. It should slow parts of it down, and the main big dune will still be in place, but with a little bit of a difference this year.”
Groves explained he wants the tracks to be in two halves. The top of the beach will flow more, it will be quite racy and will give people to the chance to carry more speed. This part, closer to the promenade, should give riders a chance for a breather. Groves has been building tracks all of his life, and he formed his track building company in the mid-2000s, so he definitely knows how to get the best out of the available space.
“The beach is a bit of everything on a bigger scale. It’s a bit of motocross, a bit of enduro, and with the big dunes, it’s basically a track on a giant scale. They say there’s a million tonnes of sand moved for the course, but I’d say there’s more than that.”
“This year we’re running two D6T Bulldozers, two loading shovels, a 20-tonne digger and we’ve got a dumper truck as well. We’ve changed things around, which means we can move more sand around than previously. We have five men who have already started building, and they will be there until Tuesday after the event, and we will then prepare the track for the Judd KTM British Youth National Championship.”
Groves has a lot to consider. The bottlenecks, which are part of the race, especially in the first two laps, as well as the health and safety elements. The track builders have to consider the ambulance lanes and marshal viewing points, so it’s not as simple as letting lose on a big machine and building a few huge mounds!
“Weston is very different to other beaches – we’ve worked elsewhere for buggy races and in comparison, Weston doesn’t have a lot of depth of sand. It’s then like a black clay underneath. It’s different to anywhere else we work. We are governed by the tides, and the water table. Last year the water table was particularly high having had such a wet summer, whereas this year the summer has been drier – hopefully there will be more sand and less water in it this year.”
“Obviously there is a lot to consider from a build point of view, and the health and safety side – we’re hoping that although there are always bottlenecks in the first two laps of carnage, they might be a bit smaller this year in the back section. There will be some harder stuff before the riders get to the big dune, which will help them funnel out a little bit more.”
Groves said he wouldn’t want to race here again, but it will definitely be extreme, it will be tough, it will be fun, and it will be challenging. Bring it on we say!
“I rode the beach race many, many years ago. I wouldn’t want to do it now! (laughs). However, the riders have definitely got a less scary job than the guys that let the gates go at the start!”
“Planning for the track isn’t easy, and some of it will be decided when we get there, but we’re looking forward to getting on the beach. The track will be longer, at the very least; Weston used to be 13-14 minute laps, and I don’t think bikes are that much faster now - the track isn’t really smaller, so maybe the riders are getting better! It’s our challenge to make a longer lap!”
For more information on the maddest, baddest and biggest motorsport event in the UK please visit www.rhlactivites.com
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