WINDS of change are blowing in Supertwin paddocks around the country, and everyone’s talking about new machinery that’s arrived to shake up the order this year.
New bikes have not only hit the short circuits, but they’ve also taken to the roads as teams push the boundaries of development to chase power, speed and ultimately lap times.
Less than two weeks ago, North West 200 Supertwin winner Martin Jessopp proclaimed he was on a ‘proper supertwin’ after having to contend with Joey Thompson and the Paton S1R for victory, a machine which took the win at last year’s Lightweight TT and, by all accounts, organisers have deemed rules compliant.
Just last night, TT star Michael Dunlop scorched the Mountain Course in the first practice session, as well as his first competitive outing on the Paton, to break James Hillier’s 2015 lap record and set a speed of 120.875mph.
North West 200 commentators mentioned on multiple occasions that the Italian 650 costs a whopping £75,000, but Team ILR boss Ian Lougher put paid to rumours and confirmed that the bike could be purchased for £35,000 – close to what some some teams are spending on Twins already.
Over in short circuit city, Scottish championship riders are pedalling close to £25,000 already on bikes, and other club racers have claimed to spend nearly double that between parts, testing and development of the production-based machinery. For an out-of-the-box NW200 podium bike, surely then £35k isn’t so bad?
Some Supertwin riders claim that reigning Thundersport GB champ Jonny Towers is ‘ruining the class’ with the amount of time and money he’s putting into his and Ryan Farquhar’s development of the KMR Kawasaki.
Former Thundersport championship-winning team boss Paul Jinks, who’s debuting a brand new bike with title-winning rider John Simpson this weekend at Cadwell, has also pulled no punches in pushing the boundaries of speed with his 650s in recent years.
To add to the mix, series newcomer Lukas Wimmer has been giving everyone a run for their money with wins and podiums aboard the Krämer 690 single, a bike which riders and teams alike have been questioning the legality of.
Yes, the Supertwin class was built as somewhat of a ‘budget’ category where people could take commuter bikes and turn them into racers. But times change, and no one can lay blame for bounds being stretched.
If you want a one-make series, don’t go Supertwin racing. This is one of the very few classes, if not the only modern class in the UK, nay the world, where production-based machinery can be developed to a nearly-unlimited degree.
Are teams to blame if the rules say they can do something and they do it? No, they’re pushing the development in an attempt to be the best, and if organisers say it’s legal, then it’s legal. And if it’s homologated, it’s homologated – end of.
We asked one of the current class trailblazers, Towers, about those rivals who say his machine is so much more advanced than the rest that they can’t possibly keep up – is this something that troubles him?
“The nature of this class is to get the very best you can out of the bike, and this is what I love about it,” he said. “This is as near you can get to prototype racing at this level, and the boundaries exist to be pushed.
“I absolutely love Supertwins and Supertwin racing and it’s a class I want to see grow and grow.”
If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen – or at least out of the class.
*Main and Krämer image: Paul Soulby
*Jonny Towers image: Ian Boldy