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Team Front Row GB

Worst News for Front Row GB

After two years waiting for the Dakar Rally to get underway, Front Row GB have lost both their riders for the foreseeable future.

Jon Stamper crashed heavily on day 5 of Dakar 2009, where he sustained further damage to his left shoulder, which was injured during a five day test in Spain, prior to the Team heading to South America. Back in the UK, Jon's recovery has been slow due to fractures to the collar bone, dislocation of his left shoulder and damage to his shoulder blade. Jon is hoping to have a full season of road racing in 2009 on board his factory built Yamaha TZ250 two stroke, whilst continuing to prepare and practice for Dakar 2010 in South America. All racing will be dependent on his recovery rate.

Stan Watt, who also crashed heavily on day 5 of Dakar 2009, will be out for the most of 2009 after having x-rays and MRI scans to check potential damage to his left knee. It can be now assumed, Stan will need a lengthy operation and recovery, as it has been diagnosed he has multiple small fractures and chips to the top of his tibia and bottom of his fibula, where they meet in the knee joint. In addition he has torn his anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments plus sustained damage to his lateral and medial ligaments, causing further damage to his cartilage.

For those of us not medically minded, his left knee is basically f****d and if the operation doesn't go ahead then he will not continue to ride competitively or take part in any further forms of physical sport. Specialists are confident his knee can return to full strength without too much difficulty.

Worst case option is both riders will be out of action for the next 9-12 months but on a positive note, may be back in action at around the 6 month period. Recovery dependent. We will keep everyone informed. Outside plan is to have the riders back together and fully fit for Dakar 2010.


FRONT ROW GB RETURN FROM DAKAR 2009

The remainder of Front Row GB have today returned to the UK after the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile.

With two primary riders starting the rally, Jon Stamper unfortunately crashed heavily on Day 5 causing substantial damage to a recent injury sustained in Spain 8 weeks prior to the start of Dakar. Jon was unable to continue due to his injuries and would return early to the UK after assisting the remainder of the team to the rest day in Chile.

Stan Watt continued on his KTM690 maintaining a consistent pace but struggled with confidence in the bike for a few days after also crashing heavily on Day 5, injuring ligaments to his left knee. Towards the end of the rally, Stan started to pick up his normal pace pushing through a few days where luck wasn’t on his side and minor issues lost time throughout some stages.

Day 10 saw Stan pick up a 4 hour penalty on the final section to the bivouac where a number of riders missed a concealed waypoint. Stan’s situation differed to that of some riders who actually missed the waypoint. Stan’s bike took a 900ft drop over a sandy/rocky drop, damaging his GPS and Iritrack (amongst other items) locking the system some 100 metres from the concealed waypoint. In theory and in relation to official regulations, this is within the allocated radius to access the waypoint, the penalty was withdrawn by the motorcycle jury after 36hrs, but due to reasons yet to be confirmed was put back in place at the end of the rally, when the Team where unable to find the motorcycle officials to put in place an official protest.

There are a number of rumours why the penalty has been reinstated by the organisors but the Team are unable to confirm anything officially and are currently struggling to make contact with the official representatives now the Dakar has been completed. Stan finished 38th overall with the penalty in place and would be 21st overall if the penalty can be reversed. In addition on Day 11 Stan stopped to assist Francis Gadioux for 1hr who had sunk his KTM690 in the only ‘bog’ in Argentina. Again, with a reprieve, Stan would eventually have made it to 18th overall. All in all a disappointing state of affairs to finish the rally in 38th.

A great learning rally for the Team, we hope to get something together for Dakar 2010, which will be completely dependent on financial assistance.

We would like to apologise for the lack of communication from the Team throughout the rally due to sporadic internet access and would like to thank all those who have supported the team throughout and the fantastic messages put on the ‘blog’ (http://frontrowgb.blogspot.com) , on our website and by email.

Many thanks to Jo Allen at Savvy and Victor for updating the blog throughout and all the support from sponsors and well-wishers and to Dave Marton, Gordon MacDonald and Stuart Walker who without, the bikes would never have got started never mind getting to the finish.

Commiserations to Jon but he will be back with a finish on the cards.

We will be back in action soon and maybe have some information with what will be happening in the next year. If anyone requires further information on Dakar 2009 or for that matter Front Row GB then just ask!

Best regards

Jon, Stan, Dave, Gordon and Stuart


FINAL PREPARATIONS FOR DAKAR 2009

With Front Row GB 10 days away from departing for Argentina and Dakar 2009, the riders continue with their riding and physical preparation in an attempt to make the most out of the final two weeks before the start of the ’09 Dakar Rally.

With Jon Stamper’s recent injuries from testing in Spain improving daily, the riders are as prepared they can for the start of what will be an exceptional challenge in South America.

Both riders competed in the Track and Trail 3hr enduro at Slab Common on 14th December, where overnight rain made for a course that would take its toll on bikes and riders, with deep, water laden sand acting like grinding paste. Jon finished a commendable 16th and Stan Watt had to pull out just before the 2hr mark after contaminated fuel brought his KTM250 Six Days to a premature halt when lying in 4th overall.

Today some of the local guys in Dorset and Stan got together at an undisclosed enduro training facility for a fun and enjoyable day out. Ideal terrain with a mixture of woodland, sand, and open moorland. Jon was also able to put some time in on his KTM250 Six Days in Kent at his local training area.

Both riders would like to thank everyone that has assisted the Team throughout 2008 and look forward to further support during the forthcoming Dakar Rally in Argentina and Chile.

Big thanks today to (left to right on the main attached photograph) Phil, Simo, Simon, Dinger and Gary.


FRONT ROW GB BOARDS FOR SOUTH AMERICA

NEXT STOP BUENOS AIRES!

The administrative and technical scrutineering in Le Havre, France was completed for the European competitors and assistance on Thursday evening 27th November.

A total of 710 competition related vehicles passed through scrutineering successfully, with an additional 110 vehicles to be included from the organisors and media groups. All 820 vehicles have been stood in Parc Ferme until 6am this morning, when the boarding began onto the ‘Grande Benelux’, the ship that will make the distant crossing of the Atlantic to the east coast of Argentina and the city of Buenos Aires.

The Grande Benelux is expected to arrive in the Port of Zarate, Buenos Aires on 16th/17th December (weather dependent), and after customs formalities, will be unloaded for the competitors and assistance to collect their vehicles on 30th and 31st December.

Front Row GB depart the UK on 29th December, arriving mid morning in Buenos Aires on 30th, when the Team will move directly to the port and collect the Walker Ecosse MAN 6x6 support truck, containing the Team motorcycles and equipment. All vehicles will move to the assistance parc in the University of Buenos Aires where final upgrades and changes to equipment can be done before Front Row GB enter the second and final phase of scrutineering at 1645hrs local on 31st December.

The presence of the whole crew is compulsory for the final stages of technical and administration checks in Buenos Aires with the vehicles entering into the Parc Ferme for the final time before the start. Primary briefings for competitors, assistance, organisors and media take place throughout 2nd January with the start of the Dakar Rally 2009 set for 6am on 3rd January with a nice gentle 733km.

A big thanks to everyone who has assisted Front Row GB after the disappointment of the Dakar cancellation 12 months ago and remain an essential element to success at Dakar 2009.

Derrick Edmondson of Edmondson Racing - Rob Sartin at Talon Engineering - All at Voltcom Limited - Dave and Chris at Adventure Spec - Jo and Adam from Savvy and Victor - Steve Plain at Steve Plain Suspension and Motorcycles - Stuart Walker from Walker Ecosse - Rob Lovejoy at Insignia Signs - Danny Hall at Rogershill Raceway - Ian at EN Design for all the helmet paintwork - Gary Warr of SCEC - Audette and Leo at ISIS - Steve Whetman from Nookie


Front Row GB complete the next step to Buenos Aires

The pace of the Dakar Rally begins to gather momentum into a new era of challenges, as the competitors and support crews gather in the port of Le Havre, France for the technical and administrative scrutineering. Over the course of December their vehicles will be transported to Buenos Aires in Argentina for the start of the first Dakar Rally to be competed outside the African continent.

The obligatory early mornings and late nights have been part of Front Row GB’s build up, in order to prepare their bikes and support facility for the all important scrutineering stages of the rally. With Le Havre being as much of a home location as the Dakar Rally will ever be to Front Row GB, it was decided the use of the local ferry services from Portsmouth for the support truck, with the overnight sailing directly into Le Havre, while the rest of the Team would make use of the Channel Tunnel departing 3am hoping to convince the organisors if would be better to let them start scrutineering 7 hours earlier than expected.

Simon Pavey from BMW World and Off Road Skills is associated with Front Row GB and Walker Ecosse for the 2009 Dakar Rally and the group successfully made their way through scrutineering at 11am on 26th November rather than waiting to the designated time of 6.15pm. This proved to be a bonus with scrutineering for the 3 riders and support crew being completed in one day rather than being spread over two. Even though it is a reduced administration sector of the rally, with further scrutineering in Buenos Aires, the Team was not complete with vehicles ready to board the transport ships until 8.30pm, taking a total of 9 ½ hours.

Front Row GB is well prepared for the new adventures of South America with the new KTM 690 Rally being the motorcycles of choice. The manufacturers have made some minor but essential modifications to the 2009 model as the bike is still (in theory) in development after only being released to the public in 2007.

The Team have again put together an exceptional package with Walker Ecosse and their MAN 6x6 support truck including Stuart Walker, Gordon MacDonald and for the 2009 Dakar, Dave Marton fresh from the Yamaha Italia World Superbike squad. The ingredients of the Front Row GB recipe for South America will hopefully let them challenge the more financially supported factory teams and compete at the highest level.


Front Row complete testing in Spain

With scrutineering for Dakar ’09 only 3 weeks away, Front Row GB put together a short but effective four day test in Southern Spain, in order to experiment with specific aftermarket components and in particular a revised suspension setup.

For the first time, the Team would be hosted by Steve Goddard and his wife Shirley, based near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in a small town called Quesada. This would be an ideal location with off-road sections starting within a few hundred metres and the Team looking to imitate the fast tracks of North Africa.

Stan and Ivan started the first leg of the adventure, driving from the UK to Southern Spain in one go, with all the spares, equipment, personal gear and 6 bikes. After driving through the night, the smooth journey took a turn for the worse when the pair got navigationally embarrassed in Madrid, finding their way into the back streets with their 24ft trailer and pickup. Almost empty on fuel, a steaming clutch, the pair eventually got back on the highway only after damaging 3 Spanish cars only to be stopped by the local police for no apparent reason but to scam £120 from them.

With the clutch on its last legs Stan and Ivan eventually made it to Quesada after 33 hours on the road with the rest arriving a few hours later care of Easyjet.

The initial priority was to test the new suspension setup that had been installed on a test KTM690. As the group left for the first run of 30kms, Stan’s bike appeared to be struggling to drive constantly through the rev range and it was immediately thought that the common mistake of leaving a rag in the airbox was the problem. This proved not to be the case and thus commenced a 6 hour fault finding session with Stan, Oz Dave and Stuart working through the bike by means of elimination; from simple matters of airbox and carburetor, to ignition triggers and finally the regulator. The Team are still unable to completely understand the fault but it is in the regulator area with it unable to provide the required amps under load.

With this problem corrected, Jon Stamper, Stan, Paul and Steve headed for a 90 minute run before dark. Previous suspicions on how the suspension would perform were held up as Stan’s bike coped substantially better with the fast, rough trails, although the front forks did appear to be moving through the initial stroke too quickly.

Day 2 of testing had to be better, but this was not to be the case as after 20 minutes, Jon had a big crash, which seen him spend the rest of the day in hospital and unable to ride for the duration of testing. Recovery would now be paramount to get ready for Dakar itself.

The rest of the Team were able to get a short period of time testing with good front suspension changes and the primary test KTM690 now improving rapidly.

Day 3 seen all bikes out including Stuart, Oz Dave, Ivan, Paul, Stan and Steve, with Jon providing support. Slight rain the evening before left the initial trails heavy and tacky with surface mud and within 10kms, the 3 KTM690s had bust their front mudguards. Gladly, this was the only incident of the day and the group had an full day of testing with Steve leading the way. A good mixture of terrain with river crossings, flat out fast trails, rough rocky sections and dried river beds.

With the 690 riders swapping bikes regularly, it was obvious, the test KTM690’s suspension was working exceptionally well in comparison and finally a day of success for all.

A short, eventful but successful test by the end and Jon is on a good recovery and improving daily. Heavy bruising of the muscle and lung was the diagnosis and all should be back to normal for further ‘sand’ testing in the near future.

A special thanks to; Steve Goddard and Shirley (watch out for their new trail riding company based in Spain) The garage in Quesada who got a new clutch from Nissan and installed ready for the return trip. Oz Dave. Ivan. Stuart, Paul, 

Also many thanks to; Steve Plain of Steve Plain Motorcycles for the suspension modifications, Derrick at Edmondson Racing, Rob at Talon Engineering, Ian at EN Design for getting the new paint work together at the last minute, Adventure Spec, Voltcom Limited, Arai Helmets, Savvy and Victor, Pro-Seal


TRAINING DIRECTED TOWARDS DAKAR ‘09

Front Row GB builds towards Dakar ’09 with dedicated training between now and departing for Argentina towards the end of December.

With two new 2009 Factory KTM 690s due to arrive at the end of October, early November – riders Jon Stamper and Stan Watt were back together on their current KTM 690 Rally Replicas after, a season where both riders took on varying disciplines in motorcycle racing.

Jon kept his hand in on the dirt bike scene using his KTM 530 EXC for practice before a 2009 KTM250 EXC Six Day came along, while further concentrating on his Yamaha TZ250 GP road race machine at the National 250cc Championships, culminating in a podium finish at Donington Park in September.

Stan stayed on the dirt throughout the summer, taking part in the majority of the British Enduro Championship rounds with a best of 3rd in E3 and 10th overall at the Crychan round and then entered as a wildcard at the World Enduro Championship in Wales, gaining huge amounts of experience in the torrential rain. Local events has seen Stan fight it out at the front on a permanent basis but the win has eluded him after some extremely close finishes.

Dakar 2009 in South America is now the priority with scrutineering taking place in Le Havre, France on 26th and 27th November, prior to the racing machinery and support vehicles being transported to Buenos Aires in Argentina.

The most recent run out took Jon and Stan plus a few of the normal crew around the byways of Dorset and Wiltshire, completing 291kms in 6 hours of riding, so a good average for technical terrain. Not ideal terrain or conditions for 220kg motorcycles, but excellent to get back into the big machines at slow good pace.

After some training this week, Front Row GB will head to southern Spain for some controlled testing from 16th to 20th October. This will finalise equipment and parts that will be used at Dakar ’09.


A FRUSTRATING CLIMAX AT THE SCEC FINAL ROUND

Southern Counties Enduro Club held the concluding round of the SCEC Evening Hare and Hounds Championship at Rogershill Raceway, in Dorset on Wednesday 3rd September.

With 3 events already being run at Rogershill Raceway throughout the summer months, Gary Warr and his band of helpers decided the course would take a different approach, with a less technical outlook on the route, allowing a lap to take around 12 minutes so competitors were not running deep into the hours of darkness.

The 2 hour race was to start on time at 6pm with a few of the regular front runners missing, Danny Hall due to injury, Bradley King recovering from an injury and not willing to take the risk when lying in a dominant position in the British Enduro Championship and Gary Wright missing for some reason.

Mark Cornick has been winning everything in the local area on his KTM530 with Stan Watt putting him under excessive pressure during the last evening championship round and from the start, the likelihood would be that Mark and Stan would fight it out for the honours.

With the course considerably more flowing that normal, the machinery was able to stretch it legs on a number of occasions with the brave (or stupid) capable of finding the top end speed on the fastest sector. In theory, the KTM530 should outstretch the KTM 250EXC of Stan Watt but the reality would prove the 250cc 2-stroke was more than capable of hanging in with the big single cylinder 4-stroke of Mark Cornick.

Veterens, Experts and Championship riders set off together at 6pm, with Stan and Mark getting away at the front temporarily split by Andy Scudamore and Stephen Elford. Mark pulled clear on the first section of the main motocross circuit and on corner 5 lost front grip and went down on the fairly slow left hand bend. By the time he had recovered he was back in 5th, 4 seconds behind Stan who had already moved past the two front riders and into the lead.

Mark quickly recovered and moved into 2nd place half way through lap one and made a push to chase down Stan Watt. Stan pushed hard and extended his lead to almost 45 seconds at the end of lap one. As the pace heated up, both riders moved away and ended up in a two way battle for the next 2 hours. Stan knew Mark would be under pressure to catch him and with markers on the circuit, was able to assess Mark’s overall speed and kept the exact distance comfortably. There would be no room for error and it was only after when Stan had to pit for fuel that Mark moved into the lead. Unsure if Mark required a fuel stop, Stan pushed hard setting two fastest laps consecutively in an attempt to close the gap.

The KTM530 needed to pit three laps from the end and Stan went back into the lead with a 53 second gap over Mark and was sure of a win unless of a mechanical issue or something unknown would occur.

With one and half laps to go, the single tracked wooded section seen two riders crash blocking Stan’s route through and Mark Cornick closed the gap immediately. Passing the first obstacle of riders Stan then came across another downed rider with Mark right behind him. Stan stopped for the downed rider to prevent any further carnage, Mark took his opportunity and with a completely mad attempted overtake (if that is what it can be called) pushed through the foliage pushing over a waiting rider and moved into the lead.

A frustrated Stan Watt waited for the track to clear and again pushed hard to close onto the tail of Mark. Both riders were together on the fastest part of the track with not an inch to spare. Again, Mark made for a lunging pass, which took down two riders at speed, with him hitting a barbed wire fence, prior to making the turn. Stan decided at that point, someone was likely going to get hurt due to the exploits of taking the honours, so Stan held back to let Mark ride clear and then kept the distance on the last lap to cross the line in second place.

A frustrating end to the race after leading for 1hr 50mins, but Stan felt it appropriate to take second on the night rather than risk injury to Mark, or other riders that happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.


BRITISH AMCA HARE AND HOUND CHAMPIONSHIP 2008

After the change of dates with the WOR Ironman event in North Wales, Stan Watt was able to secure a last minute entry at the BRITISH AMCA H&H CHAMPIONSHIP, held at Rifton Barton, in Devon on 31st August.

As with the rest of the British summer this year, storm warnings and localized flooding had been distributed from the National Met Office and the compulsory use of trials tyres at all Xmoor Enduro Club organised events, didn’t make for a good combination.

The morning of the event consisted of torrential rain, lightning and thunder, with most vehicles having to be towed by the local farmer into the event parking area. The original start time of 12.30 was delayed to 1pm to ensure the event would run as normal.

The course was reported as one of the better locations in Devon, with a number of extreme sections for experts and championship riders, a lap of around 30 minutes and a good flowing route able to cope with all abilities.

The championship riders got underway at 1pm, with Stan Watt not getting his accustomed flash start after his bike failed to fire up in gear, (this later was identified as being the mixture screw set incorrectly) and exited the first corner near the rear of the championship pack. This proved to be an advantage as by the second corner most of the leading pack appeared confused which direction to take, went wide and Stan moved into 3rd position on a tight off-camber line. Danny Hall from Rogershill Raceway race finished there and then when he exited the 2nd corner, hitting a tree stump at a fair speed, throwing him from his Honda CR250 badly breaking his collarbone and a number of ribs.

Most of the championship riders were close for the first part of the lap until they attempted the first extreme climb. The grip was non-existent and most rides ended up pushing their bikes to the top where they had lost time to the expert riders. The atrocious conditions and severe lack of grip spread the rider ability very quickly. Stan Watt decided to play safe and refrained from attempting any further extreme sectons. This appeared to be the same for anyone who had any sense.

Although dry overhead, the damage had already been done by earlier thunder storms and the course remained treacherous especially on the numerous off-camber grass sections and the more relentless ascents and descents, where most riders struggled for any sort of traction with the trials tyres, with a main aim of just finishing the experience. Traction improved slightly towards the end of the event but the positions had been decided with Rob Pollard taking the honours, 12 seconds ahead of Wayne Mundell. Stan finished 5th overall behind Gary Wright and Adrian Heard.


2ND PLACE AT BORDON FOR FRONT ROW GB’s STAN WATT

It was a last minute decision for Stan Watt from Front Row GB to compete at round 3 of the ‘Team RLC’ enduro, staged at Bordon military training area in Hampshire, southern England, and a chance to continue some good practice prior to the forthcoming British Enduro Championship in Llandovery, Wales.

With the summer finally appearing in the UK, temperatures soared into the low 30’s with the 3 hour Hare and Hound event, set to be run through the hottest part of the day, on a course that would prove to be physically relentless, over the much used terrain with minor technical difficulties. The first half of the course would consist of fairly flowing but whooped sections following a 4x4 trail before heading into a rough open area with hard ground covered by fine sand, making for unsure grip. This would bring the competitors back into an extremely tight section near the start/finish line before finishing the lap with a fast flowing segment and back into a short tree lined run.

Pre-race timings expected close to 10 minute laps and this was eventually brought down to 7 minutes 48 seconds by Stan Watt, who set numerous fastest laps throughout the 3 hours.

With a depleted field due to the sweltering conditions, the event got underway a few minutes past 11.00am. Stan got a prefect start and had an immediate gap to second placed ‘Mike Bailey’ from Team REME. The course was poorly marked with both front riders finding it difficult to set a flowing pace due to no warning of approaching turns and obstacles. Lap 1 seen Stan Watt and Mike Bailey the only riders complete a full lap and the 3 hour event was restarted due to course cutting, unavoidable with the poor course marking.

On the restart, Stan failed to fire his 2009 KTM250 EXC into life at the first attempt and departed the line in a close 3rd place. Within a few turns, Stan had moved into 2nd and closed quickly on Mike Bailey. The dusty conditions were difficult for Stan in 2nd place as he decided just to stay with Bailey rather than risk a pass in the dust ridden sections.

Both riders ended the first lap together with Stan looking comfortable with the current pace. Lap 2 and Stan made to pass Bailey and in the severe dust failed to notice an approaching obstacle and ended up into one of the few deep bog areas losing 3 minutes. On approaching the tight sector near the start/finish area, Stan missed the entrance to the section due to markings already being down from lap 1 and lost a further two minutes having to find his way back on course and dropped to 3rd place at the end of lap 2.

Stan knew he had to push hard to make up so much time to a regular British Championship contender, and moved back into second with ease before hunting down Bailey. Due to the issue with lap 1 and the restart, Stan decided to go for two refuels as he carried out his own support for the event, pitting early after 60 minutes. On arrival to the pits, Bailey was just exiting to start another lap. This meant Stan was making ground and had regained 3 minutes lost on lap 2 but unsure if Bailey would have to pit twice on the Yamaha 4 stroke or get away with once.

With 2 hours completed, Stan had closed to within 30 seconds of Bailey and on lap 17 had reduced this to under 10 seconds. Closing on the back of Bailey ending lap 17, Stan had to pull into the pits for a final splash of fuel and a fast dash to the finish. With no assistance on the event it was difficult for Stan to calculate exact fuel consumption and the additional fuel stop was to cost Stan the win.

Stan eventually closed the gap again to 20 seconds on the final lap but just couldn’t make enough time to clinch the win from Bailey and Team REME.

Stan will be competing at round 3 of the WOR/CF Racing Summer Cross Country Evening Series held at TYNO, near Llandegla, North Wales on Wednesday 30th July, completing 3 events in 10 days (including the WEC GP of Wales) as preparation for round 3 of the British Enduro Championship on 9th/10th August in Llandovery, Wales. Stan will be onboard his ’09 KTM250 EXC for both events.

You have been sent this news release as a recorded member of the Front Row GB distribution network. If you do not want to receive further information from Front Row GB, please got to www.frontrowgb.com and request to be removed from all distribution networks via email.


Podium  finish for Front Row GB & Stan Watts

Sunday 22nd June, saw the 3rd round of the Southern Counties Enduro Championship take place at Rogershill Raceway in Dorset, UK. The 3 hour hare and hounds event boasted a 7 mile loop, consisting of fast flowing sections linking a mixture of small woods (including an extreme climb for expert riders), two motocross areas, a multiple jump segment and manmade enduro obstacles.

The event was dedicated to Lee Wheatley, who tragically passed away after a recent motorcycle accident and whom over the years has been an avid supporter and competitor at the SCEC events.

The championship riders set off on the allotted time (11am) as Josie Warr dropped the flag to initiate proceedings. With the start line facing uphill, it always makes for an interesting first corner, which takes the competitors straight onto the main motocross circuit.

Mark Cornick on his 530 KTM took the holeshot, closely followed by Gary Wright on the 250 Yamaha, Stan Watt on his 250 Honda, Jeff Goss on the 250 Suzuki, Danny Hall 250 Honda, Brad King 250 Gas Gas. The first 3 riders appeared to make an initial break with Mark Cornick edging a gap between the battling pair of Gary Wright and Stan Watt.

Midway through lap1 Stan Watt moved into 2nd place in an attempt to close down the leader; this only made the encounter with Gary Wright more interesting as the pair consistently made do-or-die maneuvers on each other in an attempt to take control of 2nd place and settle their own race speed.

The pair continued to swap back and forth until lap5 when Gary opted out of the extreme section and Stan decided it was an opportunity to establish an additional few seconds. Although, Stan had cleared the extreme section on the preceding laps, unfortunately he made a mistake, dropping his 250 Honda at the top of the sheer climb handing the advantage to Gary.

Stan pushed hard on Lap6 pulling back 40 seconds but again on lap7 made the exact same mistake on the extreme section dropping off 2nd place by a further 2 minutes.

Over the next two laps Stan was unable to make any impact on Gary Wright’s 2nd place; only being capable of closing the gap by 30 seconds. Mark Cornick put together a series of fast and consistently impressive lap times to take the win from Gary Wright by 3mins 17secs, with Stan securing 3rd place a further 3mins 50secs back.

A good result for Stan and Front Row GB as everyone prepares for the Welsh Two Day enduro due to start in two days, Llandrindod Wells, Wales, UK where Stan will be back on his favoured KTM 250 2t.


FRONT ROW GB CONFIRM THEIR INTENTION FOR DAKAR 2009

Team Front Row GB have finalized their intention to compete in the 2009 Dakar event from Buenos Aires, in Argentina to Valparaiso, in Chile, before returning to finish line in Buenos Aires.

Application files and probably most importantly; payments; have been forwarded to the ASO where entry would be guaranteed prior to 15th June 2008.

The Team will virtually consist of the same personalities as have raced throughout 2007 and currently in 2008, but will be joined for this principal desert racing challenge, by Dave Marton who will act as a technician alongside Gordon MacDonald.

Dave, has a distinct abundance of experience at a number of world championship levels, plus with some of the most high-status motorcycle competitors seen in recent years and offers a considerable advantage to the whole Team, who will be expecting good results in January 2009.

Stuart Walker will still act as team co-ordinator including driving his remarkable 30ft MAN T5 6x6 support vehicle, whilst Derrick Edmondson continues advising and assisting the team in preparation for the coming World Enduro Round in Wales and further desert challenges later in the year.

Stan Watt will be competing at the WEC (World Enduro Championship) in Wales, UK on 19th and 20th July ’08. It is hoped we can organise the full desert Team of Front Row GB to be present including the support vehicles and the purposely built KTM690 Rally Replicas motorcycles.


Thanks to Sponsors

After standing on the podium in Tunisia and proving Front Row GB has depth within the team, demonstrating they can maintain their continuity over a lengthy competitive rally, with all 3 riders finishing inside the first 25%.

A big thanks has to go out to our support crew who are definitely the unsung heros when it comes to racing in the desert, as a lot of viewers are not aware with what is required to maintain a high level of assistance throughout a long and intense race over large distances. Not only does the support crew have to cover similar or longer distances, but need to be available at the official assistance points throughout the special stages. This means they are generally awake longer, up later and departing earlier, especially when having to travel up to 950kms in a 20ton MAN 6x6 T5 truck. In addition, these guys are away from home a lot longer as for Tunisia, it took 3 days extra to get to the start and 5 days extra to get home.

So our initial thanks goes to Stuart Walker of Walker Ecosse for maintaining the 6x6 MAN and driving all those distances at silly times of night and to Gordon MacDonald for another superb effort on the tools assisted by Scott Gardner from BUD Suspension and Planet Motocross.

Outside the operational end of riders and assistance throughout the rallies, Front Row GB would like to thank all its sponsors for sticking with the team after the disappointment of Dakar ’08, and look forward to taking results and efforts to another level throughout 2009 towards Dakar ’09.

Our appreciation goes to;  Voltcom International Limited – www.voltcom.co.uk Walker Ecosse – www.walker-dakar.co.uk  Adventure Spec – www.adventure-spec.com Edmondson Racing – www.edmondson-racing.com Talon Engineering – www.talon-eng.co.uk Savvy and Victor – www.savvyandvictor.com SCEC – www.enduro.org.uk Nookie – www.nookie.co.uk Rogershill Raceway – www.rogershill.co.uk Insignia Signs – www.insigniasigns.co.uk  Team Momentum – www.teammomentum.co.uk BUD Suspension EN Design – www.endesign.co.uk  A1 Graphics – www.a1grphics.co.uk

As always, Front Row GB support the efforts of the ISIS Foundation who continue with their benevolent activities throughout regions of Uganda and Nepal making a difference to the street children and children in a less fortunate situation. You can donate at www.isis.bm 

Stan Watts finishes on the podium
Report by Chris Colling Photo MaindruPhoto.com  

After over 4000 competitive km's Stan Watt of team FrontrowGB came 3rd overall in the 2008 Optic 2000 Rallye of Tunisia, the first round of the FIM Cross Country Rallies World Cup. Stan was also first in the production category and first KTM home aboard his 690 Rallye. More info and photos/video of the rally can be found at http://www.adventure-spec.com/frontrowgb/  and www.frontrowgb.com 

Update

Todays stage on the Optic 2000 Rallye of Tunisia has again proved cruel for some lead riders, but for the british contingent moves up the leader board have been compulsory! Stan Watt of Team FrontrowGB had a great run in spite of a disabling mechanical issue. The exhaust manifold bolts came loose with nearly 200k's of special to go, limiting top speed to about 100kmh, but luckily due to technical and sandy terrain this allowed him to come home fifth fastest on the stage, twelve minutes back. This moves him up to fourth overall and first in the production class with one day to go.

Stan Watt (G-B/KTM 690) : “ I knew I was doing well, no navigation problems, and I was thinking that I am going to be one of the day’s best time. Then I had a manifold problem that kept my last 200 km to 100 km/hour, It was still a good day for me”

Proving that consistency and experience counts for so much in rallying, veteran Derrick Edmondson's strong 13th place today moves him to the same position overall and fifth in class. JonStamper lies 23rd overall after todays stage.

Justin Carter also moves up to 20th overall today. Jonathon Walter is 28th with Scots John Whiteford and Ewan Buchan 33rdth and 39th respectively.

Factory Honda rider, Thierry Bethys, had aweful luck when his engine gave up not far from the finish. Having been second overall starting today he made it to the finish with assistance, incurring penalties and finishing 26 th overall.

Factory Yam rider Olivier Pain leads the rally with one day to go and a comfortable 48 minute lead, but rally is a cruel mistress and anything can happen!

Update

Its been an odd couple of days for the rally and FrontrowGB. Stage 6, the second day of the 'marathon' stage with no assistance and by far the longest of the rally, at 502k of special plus 135 liaison, ran with no timing! After the stage 5 there were quite a few retirements and the 'sweeper' truck which collects stranded competitors was full to bursting. Driving over the rough terrain it overturned with 8 people on board. Although no one was badly hurt, the organisers had a bit of a panic situation on and 'neutralized' the rally. As they couldn't get everyone back to the bivouac by morning and the sweeper truck was still out there, they felt they couldn't run the stage competitively without their full resources.

For Team FrontrowGB this was somewhat of a blow, with the big stage the only real chance to make up a lot of time on the leaders. Stan Watt's phone-in updates for the last few days are here - http://www.adventure-spec.com/rallyraidio/index.html 

Another blow was their unsuccessful protest against losing time a couple of days ago, due to the badly edited roadbook. The car competitors had their protests upheld and were given their lost time back, but as not enough bike competitors complained (the helicopter showed up to direct competitors just after stan and derrick passed) Stan and Derrick didnt get their time back!

Stage 7 took place yesterday and passed through the dune sea of Tatouine in southern Tunisia, the area upon which Luke Skywalker's homeworld of Tatooine was based. Lots of sand!

Stan Watt was in impressive form again, upping his pace as the rally goes on and really stretching the legs of his KTM 690 Rally. Coming through CP1 Stan was leader on the road but then crashed heavily damaging his rear fuel lines and GPS, costing about 15 mins. He pushed hard for the rest of the stage coming home fourth fastest, leaving him sixth overall, just 2mins 28secs behind the production class leader.

Leader of the rally from the start, Michel Marchini, retired on stage 7 after his factory Yamaha succumbed to engine failure.

Derrick Edmondson also fought hard on the 350km soft sandy special. Tough navigation and technical riding made for a hard day but 16th place on the stage only 10mins behind Stan puts Derrick at a highly respectable 15 overall and 7th in class.

Jon Stamper's time placed him 32nd on the stage and 25th overall.

The other british competitors are mostly still running, with only Calum Mckenzie going out. Justin Carter lies 22nd, Jonathon Walter is 28th, John Whiteford is 33rd and Ewan Buchan is 42nd. There are 48 riders still in the rally with two stages to go.

Watts - a good day in the sand

Report by Chris Colling Photo MaindruPhoto.com  

Stan Watts of Team FrontrowGB had an excellent day out in the dunes yesterday, coming in a really strong sixth place on the stage! This places him a strong seventh overall (1h 57' 44 from the lead) and second in the production class only 17'33 back. The stage comprised some of the hardest dunes of the rally with some over 300ft tall. Rally leader Michel Marchini had a bit of a shock and left himself with slight concussion after a big unplanned jump off a dune face, although he got up and carried on immediately. Stan left another detailed audio update on the day at www.adventure-spec.com/rallyraidio/ 

Quote from rally news site - Stan Watt (G-B/KTM 690) : «At last a great result on the Rallye de Tunisie. Two days ago I had such a great start but ended up loosing mysel. … I love these high speed sections as my bike really finds its rhythm, as was the case today. But I didn’t take too many risks, as in this terrain an accident can quickly happen”.

Tuesday and Wednesday are 'marathon' stages with no help allowed from support crews and only an hour to work on bikes (riders only) before they are locked up in parc ferme. This should leave Stan in a strong position going into todays epic stage with over 500km's of special stage. Full of tricky navigation and high speed pistes it should suit Stan and the rest of FrontrowGB on their KTM 690 Rallyes.

Derrick Edmondson came home in 23rd today, the big 80km dune section slowing him down a bit after a strong start. Derrick now lies in a strong 15th position overall with four days of the rally remaining.

Jon Stamper came in 27th, leaving him in the same position overall.

We had news of Craig Bounds retirement, which was unfortunately due to a mechanical failure when the big end let go. I'm sure he's gutted, but he'll be back on the dark continent soon enough after his great debut performance.

Worst luck of the day (decade) goes to Ludivine Puy, the events only lady competitor, who after a storming run to tenth place overall had her rally come to a dramatic end. One of the flares competitors must carry to help in a rescue ignited itself in the small compartment in the rear fender. It quickly burnt into the rear tanks of here KTM 690 and she had to make a quick get-off before the £25,000 bike exploded and was completely destroyed. Luckily Ludivine was unhurt.

The other brits are still all running good. Justin Carter is in 23rd, with Jonathon Walter 30th and John Whiteford 37th. John's Scottish team mates Ewan Buchan and Calum Mckenzie somehow picked up 5hr penalties today and are 46th and 47th. Calum had a breakdown at km91 so i imagine the penalties were associated to having assistance on the marathon days.

Today's stage should sort out the men from the boys and is pretty much the crux of the whole event. You can follow it live by clicking on the 'click here to follow competitor' link at http://www.npolive.com/en/tracking.php 

Boundsy Retires Report by Chris Colling Photo MaindruPhoto.com  

The sad news from Tunisia is that Craig Bounds has retired. We're not sure what happened yet, but after a storming run yesterday (ended up 2nd in Enduro Cup class) he didn't start this morning. The rally website said he had an off at KM225 but he rode another couple of hundred k's after that and was going really well. We're hoping he's okay, but something is obviously not right. Trying to call stan tonight to see if he knows what happened

Stan and Derrick Ed were flying yesterday and passed the whole field to actually lead the rally on the road, but then there was a badly described edit to the roadbook and they got lost. A helicopter arrived at the dodgy junction shortly after they passed and directed the rest of the field correctly. Stan and Derrick lost over an hour dropping down to 29th and 30th overall from what should realistically have been top 5. They have lodged a protest with race direction and hope to get some time back. I think the only way this will happen is if they depoll their names to Didier le Watt and Denis Le Tetmonson. There is an audio update on this at the web address above.

Stan came in 13th today and moved back up to 13th overall(2h 01m 57secs back), but is only 23 mins off the production class lead (5th in class). The 450s are all at the top of the field, the first KTM is in 5th! In fact there are only three 690's in the top ten, with seven 450's. Honda and Yam sent their factory boys rather than doing the Central Europe Rally fiasco. We'll see if the little motors can stay in one piece for the remaining 5 days Derrick was 20th today, moving up to 17th overall, 2h 20mins 46 secs back and 8th in class.

Jon Stamper was going really good and looked to be catching Derrick on the satellite tracking, but then slowed dramatically when they hit the dunes, so i imagine he got somewhat stuck. He finally finished 30th which takes him to 30th overall.

With regards to the other brits we know of, Justin Carter is 27th, Jonathon Walter is 29th and the scottish trio of John Whiteford, Ewan Buchan and Calum Mckenzie are 40, 41 and 42 respectively. There were 66 due to start today and only 57 made it to the finish of the special, so the first day of dunes has taken its toll already. Tommorrow's stage of 300k's looks to be mostly sand, with 80k's of full-on sand sea, which im sure will take no prisoners.

All in all a good day for FrontrowGB, but a bad one for Boundsy, we hope he's okay.

Stan Watt from FrontrowGB is giving daily phone-in updates from the rally at http://www.adventure-spec.com/rallyraidio 

21st April 2008  LATEST NEWS

TEAM FRONT ROW GB ARRIVE IN MARSEILLE

Team Front Row GB arrive in the sun and heat of Marseille.

With temperatures already reaching 270 C in Marseille and resembling 380 C in Tunisia and Libya, the Team carry out final preparations on their 3 KTM690 Rally motorcycles prior to the official scrutineering within the next 24hrs.

You can following the Team on www.frontrowgb.com  or live tracking during the rally at www.npo.fr  and listen to daily audio updates on www.rallyradio.com 

Final Training for the Rally of Tunisia

With just one week left prior to Front Row GB arriving in Marseille for the start of the Optic 2000 Rally of Tunisia, the riders minus Derrick Edmondson got together for some final training.

Using their local haunts of the Dorset and Wiltshire countryside, Jon Stamper and Stan Watt were joined by their long-term riding buddy, Ivan F. for two days of distance training on three KTM530 EXCs.

Overhead the weather held good, but a lot of the routes were still holding plenty of water from recent rain. The attached pictures shows how the terrain and conditions over the last couple of days resembles that of Tunisia and Libya: NOT!

Unfortunately the camera was not ready quick enough to catch Ivan F., submerged on his back and his bike upside-down after realizing his legs were just a little too short.

With plenty of time on the bikes over the two days the three riders covered 400kms on day one, from the south coast to Oxford and back then a further 250kms on day two.

With just a few sessions of individual training and riding left, the team as a whole are well prepared to take on the challenges of Tunisia and Libya. The riders will be collating information and finishing final preparations at Derrick Edmondson’s establishment on Friday 18th April, with the support crew and truck from Walker Ecosse arriving Saturday 19th April to load the KTM690’s prior sailing to Calais, France and then travelling on to meet the riders in Marseille on 21st April.

You will be able to track the team live on our website and receive daily updates on their progress throughout the rally.

The Team as a whole will scrutineer all vehicles including their support vehicle on Tuesday 22nd April at 1200 hours.

The riders have been confirmed as; Jon Stamper no21 – KTM 690 Rally Replica Derrick Edmondson no24 – KTM 690 Rally Replica Stan Watt no3 - KTM 690 Rally Replica

The Support Crew is confirmed as;  Gordon MacDonald – technician 1 Scott Gardner – technician 2 Stuart Walker – driver/technician 3


Team Front Row complete preparations for Tunisia & Libya

With less than 3 weeks before Front Row GB’s departure for Marseille and the night prologue that will start the Optic 2000, Rally of Tunisia. Both riders, Jon Stamper and Stan Watt carried out their final training on the KTM 690 Rally bikes prior to the bikes being prepared for the first main international desert rally since the cancellation of Dakar ’08.

For the first time, the Rally of Tunisia will incorporate 4 days in Libya before returning to Tunisia for the closing stages of the Rally. The NPO (rally organisers) have put together an exceptional event that will also include an enduro cup category for standard enduro motorcycles to experience some of the skills needed to compete in a true international rally.

All Front Row GB riders to also include Derrick Edmondson, will be competing in the main marathon class with the KTM690 Rally Replica, being supported by Walker Ecosse with their MAN T5 6x6 assistance vehicle and technicians, Gordon MacDonald and Scott Gardner.

The final training was not orientated around the deserts of North Africa, but to the contrary, torrential rain and gale force wind on the byways and green lanes of southern England. This made for sloppy and more technical riding than normally undertaken on the big KTMs but beneficial nonetheless. The riders spent their final day of training covering 260kms on terrain more accustomed to the trail riders of Dorset and Wiltshire.

As the team put their final planning together for Tunisia and Libya, you will be able to follow the riders and results on the Front Row GB website and at www.npo.fr

Front Row GB boast top results at 6hr DAWN TO DUSK

Last weekend seen the inauguration of the first 6hr Dawn to Dusk based at the usual in South Wales. Front Row GB consisted of 3 riders with Jon Stamper, Stan Watt and Derrick Edmondson running under a Edmondson Racing/Front Row GB banner, with Jon and Stan on the KTM530 ECR with larger tanks to improve fuel capacity and Derrick onboard the KTM300 ECW. In addition, Stan was to trial a completely new concept wheel and tyre system supplied by Rob Sartin of Talon Engineering, which if put into full manufacture will be a revolutionary step forward in off-road motorcycling.

On arrival in Wales it looked like the weather was to hold and make for a fairly dry and fast race the next day. Within a couple of hours this completely changed, the heavens opened, the wind howled and horizontal rain kicked in throughout the night until the sun appeared first thing the next morning. The organisors provided some excellent onboard camera work to show the competitors the variety of the course and with the bikes scrutineered it was only a matter of waiting for the start time of 10am. All Front Row GB riders were in the marathon class, which depicts those who would ride the complete 6 hours, while most competitors shared the experience with another rider where they would chose to swap out at their team’s chosen time to rest and in theory put together a series of faster laps. A number of extreme routes were marked where the course would be substantially more technical (generally long rocky, steep climbs) and riders of a lesser ability could forfeit these sections to ride a longer easier route.

With a Le Mans start, all riders got away cleanly with Derrick pitching in front of Stan in the arena area as they made their way past the front runners and into 3rd and 4th position. Both riders circulated in close proximity of each other until the first ‘’bog’’ section where Derrick decided to slow and make a calculated crossing while Stan went for the more aggressive stance, which worked and put him into 2nd place. Jon had got a good start in the clubman class and was well away in the arena area and settling down to make for a good result after a disappointing end to the 12 hour Dawn to Dusk in 2007 where a bent gear lever only 500m from the end prevented him finishing the event. After the overnight rain, it wasn’t long before the continuous rocks started to became somewhat slippy as each rider dragged water along rocky trails, descents and ascents. Any dirt areas soon became rutted and greasy and in some sections the course would need to be altered, as less experienced riders would struggle to cross the difficult areas making for unnatural obstacles in their own right.

Lap one would consist of Derrick following closely behind Stan waiting for the inevitable mistake. With the second bog being of a much larger expanse, Stan would approach this to initially navigate the crossing. With Derrick closing quickly a guaranteed route was selected and on the exit of the bog area, Stan overrun the entrance to an extreme section and on turning around was to see the back of Derrick’s KTM300 move ahead. Both riders stayed in close proximity until lap 3 when Stan fell in the bog area allowing Derrick out of his sight and this was the last the two riders would be together until refueling at around the 3hr mark. Jon continued to push his KTM530 and was making his way through the field for a good result overall. His KTM was working well and with his suspension recently developed by Scott Gardner at BUD Suspension, he found it working in his favour over the arduous, rocky terrain. As Stan stopped to refuel, he was surprised to be ahead of Derrick Edmondson, leading the Marathon event and second overall only to Wynn Hughes and Edd Jones, the only Pro riders in the event. Derrick was soon to follow into the refueling area and both riders would leave virtually together after taking on fuel, food and liquids.

The concept package from Talon Engineering was working exceptionally well and had transformed the handling of the KTM530 plus assisted the BUD Suspension when traversing the rocky terrain at high speeds. This package would prove to be the difference between winning and losing as the front wheel needed to be changed on the 4hr 20min mark. Stan pitted and changed the front complete for a standard KTM rim with BIB mousse and Michelin S12. Losing 7 minutes on the wheel change, Stan pushed hard to make up time, even though he was still in the dominating position over Derrick with 90 minutes to run. Straight away it was obvious the handling of the bike had completely changed and it was not long before Stan crashed on a fast downhill section. On remounting, his concerns were raised again when at high speed he lost control of the KTM530 and luckily was able to avoid what would have been a monstrous crash over rocks and through trees.

With the bike now struggling to cope with the terrain at high speed, Stan needed to slow his pace considerably in order to prevent further crashes and this was his downfall as Derrick easily passed Stan with 1 hour remaining along with Neil Thomas. Stan had consistently been putting together 29min laps and after the wheel change this steadily slowed to 37 & 38min laps pushing him down the order. Jon kept a great pace throughout, traversing the extreme sections flawlessly and feeling comfortable riding the KTM530 over what turned out to be difficult going with the rain the evening previous and as the course started to cut up. Derrick eventually took the Marathon win with a faultless display and finishing 3rd overall, just missing out on 2nd by 30 seconds. His laps remained exceptionally consistent throughout. Jon finished 18th and remains happy with the improvements from last year as sights are set for Tunisia next month, maintaining good consistent laps throughout the event. Stan finished 3rd in the Marathon section and 5th overall missing out on 2nd and 4th respectively by under a minute

 

A BUSY PERIOD FOR FRONT ROW GB

As Front Row GB prepare for the ‘Optic 2000’ International Desert Rally in Tunisia and Libya, the team approaches a busy period of training and racing in the United Kingdom.

After a good result at the Great Britain Cross Country Championship, the team head to Wales in the coming days for the ‘Son of Dawn to Dusk’ with both riders taking part in the main 6hr marathon event and as previously, will be joined by Derrick Edmondson of Edmondson Racing.

Jon Stamper and Stan Watt from Front Row GB will be competing on the KTM 530 while Derrick Edmondson will have his first time out on a modified KTM 300.

After some initial suspension testing, all riders will be using bespoke suspension built and maintained by Scott Gardner of BUD Racing. Scott has spent considerable time over the last few months with the team, building and developing suspension for the Team’s KTM 690 Rally bikes and has been taken on as one of the primary technicians during each rally.

Stan Watt and Derrick Edmondson will be making the journey to Lossiemouth for the Scottish based British Enduro Championship where both riders will be competing on their KTM 300s. The event will take place over Easter weekend and the Team will be developing suspension immediately prior to the event with Scott Gardner at a determined Scottish location.

Front Row GB with Walker Ecosse will be present at the Scottish Motorcycle Show on the 8th and 9th March and the T56x6 MAN Motorsport truck and rally bikes will be present at the next British Enduro round at Lossiemouth.

Our new website will be available soon so keep checking for some big changes and news releases concerning the forthcoming rally season.

FRONT ROW GB TAKE HONOURS AT GBXC ROUND 1

Matchams Park in Hampshire, was the location for round 1 of the Great Britain Cross Country series, put together by Paul Edmondson from the Fast Eddy series and Steve Ireland from the Wirral Off-Road series. The course was made up of the traditional Matchams motocross and supercross circuits plus an abundance of wooded areas making for excellent viewing for all spectators.

The event had gathered much interest nationally, since the entries first opened and the main afternoon race was to see the likes of David Knight, Jason Thomas, Tom Sagar, Greg Evans, Ewen O’connell and many more fight for the top spot. The supporting race was an AM start and boasted a fairly strong field of riders at the front of the pack and set to last for a duration of 2 hours compared to 3 hours for the afternoon event. The Front Row GB riders of Jon Stamper and Stan Watt made the ‘intelligent suggestion’ that they would take part in both races, using the AM 2 hour race as a test of endurance and speed and the 3 hour PM race as a matter of fitness and completing a total of 5 hours on a fairly arduous course.

AM RACE

With temperatures not far above freezing, the sun was shining and the course in perfect condition; the support event got underway at 10am. Jon was in amongst the front series of riders with Stan starting in the second batch, 1 minute behind. The initial lap was basically a fact finding mission making for a safe lap before trying to make ground. Stan had a fair start, moving into the lead of his pack on the third corner only to slide out and crash leaving the main motocross circuit heading into the first wooded section. This was to slow the initial advance but by the end of lap one Stan had already closed on much of the first riders away.

Jon maintained a good pace throughout and started to move up the field reducing lap times every circulation of the course. Stan was also gaining good lap times and by the time the last 30 minutes was signaled, Stan had an untouchable lead and eased back saving some energy for the PM race. Jon unfortunately had crashed on the last lap not only damaging his KTM530 sustaining mild concussion that would not allow for him to start the PM race. By the end of the AM race the course had held up well and generally it was looking good for finishing the second race and just maybe bringing in a half reasonable result for the second time in the same day.

PM RACE

With 60 minutes between races, Stan did some minor adjustments to his KTM300, put it back on the start line, fed his own engine and prepared for what would be a grueling 2hours 45 minutes. The 15 minute reduction of race duration would be an unforeseen welcome by the end. The initial 45 minutes went well with Stan pushing hard to maintain his good start but the course was soon to take its toll physically as the lap times started to lengthen and tiredness was evident. The course started to whoop and cut up drastically making for demanding riding, not technical; but physically draining to the point it was apparent finishing would be a challenge in its own right.

With the last 40 minutes looming Stan caught a second breath and was able to put together some fairly good laps to finish on a high but without doubt was definitely aware he had been put through his paces for this excessive training exercise. The main event was totally dominated by none other than David Knight lapping every rider on the circuit plus a further 7 minutes. An outstanding display without any doubt. All-in-all, the organisors have to be praised for putting together an excellent event at one of the best locations in Britain, which will also be hosting the British Enduro Championship in September.

We are unaware of anyone else competed in both races on Sunday but from Stan’s reaction it may not be a regular occurrence.

Anyone interested in competing or supporting the GBXC, you can find their details at – www.gbxc.co.uk

Photographs can be viewed at www.foto-x.co.uk


FRONT ROW GB MAKE PLANS FOR 2008 AND DAKAR 2009

After the disappointment and frustration with the cancellation of Dakar ’08, Front Row GB have put together a plan of action for 2008 and the potential of the 2009 Dakar Rally.

With the World Cross Country Rally season due to start in April with the Optic 2000 in Tunisia, Team Front Row GB have secured a place in the rally to compete against the best in the world.

With information now starting to filter through from the ASO (Dakar organisors);

‘’DAKAR ’09 WILL GO AHEAD AND WILL INVOLVE AFRICA’’

Exact details are yet to be announced and likely not to emerge until the end of February 2008, but information has been distributed to the competitors of Dakar 2008 stating the Dakar will go ahead in ’09, it will involve Africa and with will be made a ‘very large Dakar’. What that exactly means will become apparent with time.

The Dakar entrants from 2008 have been given priority to another ASO organized event towards the end of April, starting in Budapest, Hungary; racing through Hungary and Romania before making its way back to Hungary and finishing on the shores of Lake Balington. This will be a rally style event with two specials each day ranging up to 250kms and a total of nearly 3000kms for the duration of the rally.

The dates of both the Optic 2000 and the Hungarian Rally clash, so the final decision has yet to be taken on which races to do in April.

Later in the year Front Row GB will also attempt to go back to Africa to compete in the Pharaohs Rally of Egypt and possibly the UAE Dubai Rally culminating with Dakar 2009.

The British Enduro Championship gets underway at the end of February with the Muntjac Enduro, held in Norfolk. Due to excessive entries Front Row GB riders have been unable to secure an entry to the first BEC round.

Changes to the Team website are currently taking place but updates will continue to be broadcasted. These changes will be complete in the next few weeks and the current website will work as normal where you can check out what is happening with Front Row GB.


 


2007 DIRT BIKE SHOW

With the last minute confirmation of a placement at the UK Dirt Bike Show, Front Row GB were literally still finalising their stand layouts as the show was about to officially open.

It was the intention for Front Row GB to be complete for at least the first day of the show as prior commitments would restrict both riders over the weekend.

The Walker Ecosse MAN 6x6 T5 Support vehicle had arrived a few days in advance to be dressed in its livery for Dakar 2008, get a prime location as the public entered the main entrance to the show and to primarily load its cargo from Edmondson Racing for the support of the two team riders.

Four KTM690s were rebuilt after being sprayed and lacquered in the team colours and arrived the night before the show opened.

Many thanks goes to all who pushed their limits to get everything ready on time; not only for the show but also realising this would be the last chance to get things together for the start of the Dakar itself.

It was excellent to see Adventure Spec with a good range of clothing that caught the eye of many customers and produced some superb interest from the public

With the only Dakar ready, KTM690 Factory Rally bikes in the UK; substantial interest was continuous throughout the show with the two motorcycles on the Front Row GB stand, the single bike on the Talon/Michelin stand and the showpiece at the entrance of the show with one bike and the T5 MAN Support truck.

Front Row GB are currently finalizing administration for an expected departure for Lisbon between Christmas and the New Year with the team being complete in the Portuguese city by early morning 1st January ’08.

Expect some changes to the website in preparation for the race to Dakar with continuous updates and information on how to follow the team.


TEAM FRONT ROW GB SET THE PACE IN MOROCCO

Front Row GB return to the UK after a week of testing in southeastern Morocco, followed by the international Guy Hoquet Rallye Maroc. After a successful 7 day official test in Er Chebi, the complete Team moved to Zagora near the Mauritanian, Algeria and Moroccan borders for the start of Guy Hoquet Rallye Maroc.

After 3 of 6 stages, Stan Watt lay in 4th place after picking up a 1hr 43min penalty although from scratch would have led the rallye by 21mins after taking victory in 2 of the 3 stages. Stage 2 saw Jon Stamper take a heavy crash on his KTM 690, breaking bones in his left hand and picking up a 2hr penalty. Finishing the first day in 14th, Jon bravely pushed on with the task-in-hand (excuse the pun) and improved gradually from his initial position to 10th by the end of stage 3 and from scratch would have been lying in 6th.

Stage 4

Stage 4 was classed as being the most demanding of the event with a total of 409kms made up primarily of 60kms soft powdered sand (fesh fesh), 180kms of sand dunes prior to the potentially fast rocky tracks to the finish line. With the Front Row GB riders needing to make up time after receiving heavy penalties, both knew the difficult terrain could be the make or break for a good result. Both Stan and Jon made substantial suspension modifications for stage 4. Stan set off in front after taking victory in Stage 3 and was quickly caught by Ruben Faria and the now 3rd placed Alexy Kolomytsyn from Russia. Stan decided to ensure navigation was impeccable in the winding trails of fesh fesh and the expanse of sand dunes. This decision was to set the results for the day. Arriving in the dunes and the first of many hidden waypoints, it was immediately apparent Faria and Kolomytsyn were having navigation difficulties with Stan now 4mins in front; pushing hard to expand on his early stage lead Stan ensured there was no navigation errors, exiting the dune section with a lead of over 15mins. Making his way along the final rocky tracks Stan was caught by the front runners of the cars and in the pursuing dust cloud crashed heavily terminally damaging his Arai helmet and suffering substantial damage to his left shoulder. This did not deter a stage win for Stan of 10mins 5secs over Kolomytsyn and 28mins 39secs over the leader Faria. Jon continued to suffer from a broken left hand, but as always made his way through the technical difficulties of the fesh fesh and dunes making up places on his closest competitors. A complete navigation equipment failure made the stage more complex for Jon and he decided today would be better to make minimal errors and get the bike back to the finish for essential replacement of his navigation tools. Jon finished a admirable 11th due to the circumstances moving to 10th overall.

Stage 5

Stage 5 was to be the longest stage of the Rallye with a total of 546kms, as the complete Rallye made its way to Ourzarzate. Both Front Row GB riders were suffering from substantial injuries but this would not effect their decision to compete. With their Michelin Desert tyres starting to run out, Stan opted to run the harder compound Michelin Baja front tyre, which was to be the undoing of another stage victory. With long expenses of rocky mountain trails through the Atlas mountains, Stan struggled with front grip at slow speeds, with the weight of the KTM690 pushing grip past the limit of his Michelin Baja, Stan struggled to keep on the leaders pace, dropping 10mins 40secs to Faria and Kolomytsyn, finishing the stage in 3rd and remaining in 3rd overall. Jon pushed on with his broken left hand picking up positions on a daily basis, even though the injury was worsening with the continuous pounding of the rocky sections. Jon again was to finish a respectable 11th position and moving to 8th overall and 7th position from scratch.

Stage 6

Stage 6 was the final day of the Guy Hoquet Rallye Maroc and a tall order for the Front Row GB riders to take an overall victory unless the two front runners make drastic errors. Stan set off in 3rd place behind Faria and Kolomytsyn, after having to use worn tyres on the last day due to supplies running out. The first 30kms were difficult and at times dangerous with the navigation equipment not able to be marked with all potential hazards. Stan aired on the side of caution through this section, losing time to the first two riders but this was quickly made up into CP1 where Stan led the final stage by 10mins on Faria and 12mins on Kolomytsyn. With 100kms left to run, Stan held fast to the finish line with his rear tyre worn through to the core taking his 4th stage victory from 6 by 6mins 57secs. Jon pushed hard on the final day to make up some essential time and completed the stage on a high finishing 7th only 34mins down on the leaders. Jon spent 5 of the 6 stages of the Rallye with a broken left hand and finished overall in 8th which recalculated without his penalty meant he would have finished in a commendable top 5 position. Stan completed the Rallye 3rd overall and from scratch would have taken victory by 13mins 42secs.

The support work of Walker Ecosse, (Stuart Walker, Gordon MacDonald and Brent Walker) has to be mentioned as they worked incessantly to prepare the KTM 690s for each day and carried out exceptional work on the machinery.

Team Front Row GB would like to thank Walker Ecosse, Edmondson Racing, Talon Engineering, Nookie, ISIS, Foundation, Arai Helmets, MSR clothing, Oxtar, 

You can view highlights of the Guy Hoquet Rallye Maroc on French Eurosport, Eurosport UK and a number of other European TV channels where Front Row GB has already received exceptional coverage.


FRONT ROW GB DEPART FOR NORTH AFRICA

Team Front Row GB has departed for North Africa in preparation for the 2008 Euromilhoes Lisbon – Dakar Rally. With the recent delivery of the Team’s chosen racing machinery, the KTM 690 Rally Replica; Front Row GB will be carrying out training and competing in the international Guy Hoquet Rallye with a full team compliment of riders and supporting crew.

For the training itinerary only, Team Front Row GB will be assisted by Derrick Edmondson and will be accompanied by Rob Sarton from Talon Engineering. Official testing and training will begin with the support crew and T5 MAN Motorsport departing the UK on the evening of the 11th September ’07. The support crew will make its way to Southern Spain where they will be joined by the two riders; Jon Stamper and Stan Watt.

The group will then utilize the local ferry crossing to Nador in Morocco where the off-road starts and following the road book and using their navigation techniques, the riders will make their way to Messuga where they will again meet with the support, Derrick Edmondson and Rob Sarton.

Messuga will be where Team will locate its base for 6 days prior to moving on to the Guy Hoquet International Rallye and will test the new KTM 690 Rallye Replica and in addition will give the new KTM 530 EXCR a good run out.

Detailed close-up photographs of the Team’s KTM 690 Rallye Replicas will be on their website very soon


KTM 690 RALLYE REPLICAS ARRIVE WITH FRONT ROW GB

Team Front Row GB has finally taken delivery of the ‘new’ KTM 690 Rallye Replica in preparation for the 2008 Euromilhoes Lisbon – Dakar Rally.

With the bikes originally planned for a July manufacture at KTM, time was of the essence with the approaching international Guy Hoquet Rallye Maroc at the end of September and the Team’s official test period in Morocco from mid-September.

With compete torment for a number of weeks with the regard to a final delivery date and the bikes being delivered last Thursday by the aptly named ‘’On Time Logistics’’ (not a joke), the riders were at least able to have an short insight into what the potential of their machinery would be for Dakar 2008.

The 690’s were picked up by on the Thursday evening, derestricted with the assistance of Derrick Edmondson from Edmondson Racing and a 5am finish on the Friday meant it was not until 8am when the first 690 would fire into life for 100 miles of local road work.

By Monday both riders had put 200 miles on their respective bikes around the green lanes of Dorset and Wiltshire followed by an immediate return of the bikes to Edmondson Racing where the T5 MAN 6x6 support truck would be waiting to load for a departure to Spain the following day.

Another early morning finish of 4am seen the bikes back in good shape and ready for over two weeks in Morocco where the full contingent of Front Row GB and Rob Sarton from Talon Engineering would assemble for official team practice.


Guy Hoquet Rallye Maroc

Team Front Row GB confirms entry for the international Guy Hoquet Rallye in Southern Morocco, to take place between 23rd September ’07 and 1st October ’07.

Front Row GB will take part in the Rallye as per their team status for the 2008 Euromilhoes Lisbon – Dakar Rally. The race itself will take place after the Team’s planned test of the new KTM 690 Factory Rally and official training package in Morocco.

If tests and plans with the KTM 690 Factory materialise, these machines will be used to race the Guy Hoquet Rallye Maroc by both Team riders.

Rallye Background and Details

Following the successful Optic Tunisia Rally 2007, Cyril NEVEU (NPO) is now working to organize the Morocco Rally and the Morocco Desert Tracking which will take place from September 24th to 30th around two stage towns in the south of the country.

Orpi will not back the event as per normal. After this decision, the first thing to do was to find a new major sponsor. Thanks to the Business agency, this mission has been completed since the national real estate office group Guy Hoquet will be the new major partner. So the Morocco Rally becomes the Guy Hoquet Morocco Rally.

The second stage in the organization deals with the features of the Rally. Since it was taken over by NPO in 2000, the former Atlas Rally, widely revised to put an end to its “backbreaking” fame, has been evolving for six years to become one of the flagship events of the discipline by proposing a varied route, conveniences for the competitors and a major media cover.

Usually organised by NPO the first week of June, the GUY HOQUET Morocco Rally will change dates for 2007.

This rally, which since 2006 has been run over six days; An excellent opportunity for Cyril Neveu to offer an even more varied route than on previous editions, since at the end of September the temperature is lower than in June and the rally can once again go into the south of Morocco where one finds all the types of African terrain.

These new dates also allow the factory teams their last tests under race conditions normally carried out at this time of year.

For further information go to – www.npo.fr 


Tywi – Round 2 Metzeler ACU British Enduro Championship

After the reputation of the 2006 event, the Tywi; round 2 of the Metzeler ACU British Enduro Championship, was expected to be difficult without incorporating the wettest summer on record. Friday was the arrival day for Front Row GB and their sole rider for the event Stan Watt. After some initial confusion on where and which special tests would be used, it was confirmed the cross country test would not be in place and instead the event was centred around the MX Test, as the sole timed test, literally on the edge of Pontrhydfengiad. With the release of the checkpoint times, it was apparent there would be a number of tight checks to make up for the missing cross country test and fuelling locations suggested some hard going. The facilities are excellent for the paddock at the Eisteddfordd Pavilion and as with the Hafren, all ‘’well dones’’ must go to the organisors for even being able to put on an event, with such difficult climatic conditions the UK has received in the last 10 weeks.

DAY 1 – Saturday 28th July  With clear skies overhead, the event got underway on time at 9.00am with the Front Row GB rider, leaving the start line at 9.16.  It was a matter of minutes until the riders arrived at the MX test and what was to be one of the two refueling locations. Most riders felt it unnecessary to top-up over such a short distance but for some this would be a significant decision that would have disastrous consequences. Stan posted a good test time of 4mins 11secs that was set him up for his best day yet at the British Championships. The lap set off from the MX test area out towards Strata Florida and beyond with what initial was fairly good going over the duty bogs and soft ground, which was yet to see its full impact. Lap 1 would see those with smaller fuel tanks struggle and even run out of fuel within 10 minutes riding from the refueling area. Stan and his KTM 250 EXC were literally on fumes as the bike choked on empty as they cleared the check. The tight check on the return to the MX test would be prevalent in settling the scores for the day and with the intended two laps for Championship and Expert groups everyone got a feel of how difficult this check could be. Only in Wales can you leave a low lying forestry trail and ascend on a 300 climb through a bog. This would be the start of a 20 minute check that would be reduced by a further 3 minutes for lap two with the course deteriorating through the volume of bikes. Lap 1 had seen Stan Watt make on time and on arrival back at the MX test area was instructed the test would not take place due to a wedding in the village. Lap 2 would be crucial and Stan remained on time as he started, what was now a renowned tight check back to the MX test to finish the day. Although the check didn’t appear to be that quick, Stan completed losing 5 minutes. Straight onto the MX test and Stan posted an improved time of 4mins 3secs finishing the day in 12th position.

DAY 2 – Sunday 29th July After heavy overnight rain, Day 2 would see a lesser number of riders start due to non-finishes on Day 1. Statistics state 52 riders failed to complete the event. Stan was in good shape for Day 2 and purely wanted to maintain his position. With the event reduced to one lap, some changes made to certain checkpoints and a double MX test to finish, spirits were high to achieve a good result. With the condition of the course considerably poorer from Day 1, it was initiated as per the previous day with a timed lap of the MX test. Slick going made for slower test times but a good performance kept Stan well within touch for the desired outcome. With two tight checks on the one and only lap, Stan pushed hard to maintain his overall position. Making all the checks prior to what again would be the principal deciding check for the overall results as the riders made their way back to a double MX test. Stan set off well pushing to maintain a good pace. With what appeared to be the most difficult sections removed, Stan set a good time leading those riders on his check. Passing numerous stranded riders in bogs that had been destroyed over the two days, Stan made a fatal mistake. Approaching 2 stranded riders on a narrow bog section decided not to wait and attempted to clear a long section of water, which in turn swallowed his KTM 250 into the handlebars. With no alternative but to wade into the water, (thigh deep) Stan had to manually topple his bike end over end numerous times using anything on the bike as leverage. As Stan eventually reached the final check prior to the MX tests, he was already 6 minutes down on his nearest competitors. Two good timed MX tests finished what was a good event overall apart from the simplest of mistakes that cost the Team what would have been a well earned top 10 finish but instead made for 20th position. 

Thanks to; Al King and family, Sean and his wife, Danny Hall and family for looking after me and taking part in the refueling process


DAKAR MACHINERY CONFIRMED

KTM have confirmed the arrival of the Team Front GB motorcycles for Dakar 2008. The two factory built KTM 690 Dakar bikes with be on a production date of 30th August ’07 and arriving with Front Row GB by the first week of September. The arrival of the bikes will be in time for the Team’s official test in Morocco for mid-September.

British Enduro Championship 2007

The British Enduro Championship finally got underway with the Putoline sponsored Hafren 2 Day on 14th & 15th July 2007, based at Llanidloes in Wales. One of the wettest summers in history made for may changes to the course and at one stage a possible cancellation of the event. All credit must go to the organisors to even get an event started and completed.

Friday 13th hosted the scrutineering and assessment of the special tests. The MX test was located close to the start and consisted of multiple flat and off-camber grass corners, with excellent viewing for spectators, while the cross country test located in the Hafren Forest, was fast, flowing and undulating; both tests allowing plenty of opportunity to lose and gain time.

DAY 1 – Saturday 14th July

After continuous torrential rain on the Friday, Saturday started fair although the MX test remained slick, especially with a start place of 94. A short ride from the start led to the MX test but poor mental preparation proved for a dire result on this first special test for Stan Watt.

A steady ride through Llanidloes to the Hafren Forest led to the start of what would be the majority of riding for the rest of the day and into the first lap and checkpoints. There was generally ample time throughout the day to make all the checkpoints, especially with the drying overhead conditions and even the sun showed its face for the afternoon. Certain sections of the lap were removed and changed due to damage.

With 3 circulations of the 42 mile lap intended, it was only those with mechanical difficulties who would have missed checkpoint times, even as they got tighter throughout the day.

The cross country test would be a principal factor for Day 1, and due to a miserable MX test in the morning, Stan Watt was aware a substantial amount of time needed to be made up throughout each of the 3 cross country special tests, especially with most riders more than capable of making their checkpoint times.

The first cross country test proved to be the best of Day 1, with a crash on the second and slower times for most riders on the third due to more difficult terrain after a fair amount of erosion with the stage multiplying the whoops and ruts.

A return ride back through Llanidloes to the initial MX test to finish the day; improved weather enhanced the condition of the MX special test and Stan Watt completed the day within all checkpoint times and a massive special test improvement, cross the timing beam, 1min 38secs quicker than in the morning.

DAY 2 – Sunday 15th July

The rain returned to Llanidloes to make for difficult conditions for Day 2 of the British Enduro Championship. As the day progressed the conditions deteriorated for both special test areas and the full 42 mile course, which was identical to Day 1 with some of the more difficult areas brought into play.

Potential for vast improvements on his 38th position after Day 1, Stan improved on the MX test by another 17secs with worsening conditions, prior to making his way to the Hafren Forest for the intended 2 laps of the day.

Times were reduced on certain stages by the organisors, with continuous rain and deterioration of the course, checkpoint times would be tight. A fair amount of riders failed to make their checkpoint times throughout the day while Stan Watt was able to make all entry times.

The opportunity was available for Stan to dramatically improve results and an initial excellent start on the first cross country test of the day, catching and passing two riders by mid-test. Towards the end of the test another rider had been caught and as the rider attempted to make a clear path for the Front Row GB rider, he fell at slow speed jamming a handlebar into the front spokes of Stan Watt’s KTM, losing essential time as the two riders tried separate the bikes.

The second cross country test failed to improve for Stan after a high speed crash again lost valuable seconds. With the weather continuing to provide difficult conditions, the riders made their way back to the start area and the MX test. Stan had a good start to the MX test even in the difficult conditions and at the midway point his bike threw its chain due to the rear wheel moving forward. With a ‘quick-fix’ to finish the test, Stan’s completed test time was still fairly respectable. No improvement in position was made with Stan Watt finishing in 38th position but the Team look forward to the round 2 on 28th & 29th July ’07.

Many thanks to Derrick Edmondson of Edmondson Racing and Rob Sarton of Talon Engineering for all the assistance throughout the event.

ASO OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCE MOTORCYCLE ENTRY FOR 2008 EUROMILHOES LISBON – DAKAR RALLY

The Dakar organisors have officially announced the motorcycle entrants for the 2008 Euromilhoes Lisbon – Dakar Rally. Both riders of Team Front Row GB have been confirmed entries, thus strengthening their training regime for the rest of 2007 in preparation. As Front Row GB maintains their preparation for Dakar 2008, the registration process continues for quad bikes, cars and trucks with support vehicle information being released by September 2007.

FRONT ROW GB PERFORM AT PORTSMOUTH

The Team Front Row GB riders used the hare and hounds race meeting near Emsworth, to acquire some much needed and valuable race practice prior to the forthcoming British Enduro Championship. Organised by the Portsmouth Motorcycle Racing Club, the meeting is held monthly and the Front Row GB riders were all too aware of some local, regular talent who would be more than fair competition on the day.

After their recent Dakar preparation in Romania, the riders required to get back to performing on their KTM 250 EXC 2T. Expectations for a dry race were soon quashed with numerous heavy downpours before the event got underway. This led initially to extremely greasy conditions on a tight course with little positive camber, minimal undulating terrain and no use for anything past 3rd gear.

Both riders had difficult starts with their machines not firing into life from the dead engine start. Within 10 minutes Stan Watt had made his way to the front of the pack and led into the main wooded section. With the course poorly marked, Stan and the second placed rider missed a route pointer, dramatically altering his position to 6 minutes behind what was now the leading pack.

At the half way point Stan still remained 4 minutes behind the leaders and team mate Jon Stamper was running well with the leaders of his respective start group.

As the ground dried and grip improved significantly, Jon remained well in touch with his group leaders and Stan began to reel in the front runners passing the bulk of leading riders. With 2 minutes to spare, Stan made it onto his final lap with one other rider and finally made his pass stick 5 minutes from the finish line.

FRONT ROW GB COMPLETE DAKAR PREPARATION IN ROMANIA

Team Front Row GB has completed their first major Dakar preparation camp of 2007 with 8 days training in the mountains of Romania.

Based in the village of Brebu Nou in southwest Romania the Front Row GB group consisted of 6 riders, including the primary Dakar riders, Jon Stamper and Stan Watt. The services of Steve Palmer of Adventuromania, were engaged for the 8 days in order to have long and consistent riding in the foothills and mountains of the local area, where there is a huge expanse of trails and extreme technical routes.

The group was split in half with an advance party arriving by vehicle carrying all the motorcycles plus equipment and the rest by aircraft via Munich.

There was no rest period for the Team, as day one was straight into a long day of extreme technical ascents and descents in continuous torrential rain and flooded conditions. Trails had changed dramatically due to soil erosion and the worsening conditions made for a day of extremely difficult riding.

The next seven days would see a spectacular improvement in the weather allowing the expanse of the Romanian mountains and forestry to be exposed. As the ground dried the terrain to be crossed would become more extreme, testing each rider’s ability to the limit.

No trail would be used twice and the group would attempt to cover as much ground as possible with a mix of fast endurance riding to physical and mental torture on the technical ascents of the surrounding mountains and dried stream beds. Stamina training would mean 9 to 10 hours on the bikes everyday; food, sleep and a repeat would follow daily. The group worked well together assisting when necessary and no complaints no matter how harsh and difficult the riding would become, including the ascent of Mount Tarcu at nearly 12,000 feet above sea level.

The intended 8 days were completed with minimal incidents, injuries or mechanical problems. The Team’s KTM 525 MXC motorcycles worked well although would be classed as too unwieldy for the terrain; but this added to the physical ability required and meant the technical riding needed to be accurate and precise.

Romania is an excellent venue for difficult technical and long endurance riding with a limitless amount of off-road terrain for the novice or the most talented enduro rider; with most yet to be discovered.

Our many thanks to;

Steve Palmer from Adventuromania (www.adventuromania.co.uk)

Steve Whetman from Nookie (www.nookie.co.uk)

Scotty, Kenny and Ivan

TEAM FRONT ROW GB REGISTER FOR DAKAR

Team Front Row GB has registered their entry for the Euromilhoes Lisbon-Dakar Rally 2008.

The Team structure has been confirmed as follows;

Stuart Walker – Team Coordinator/T5 Pilot-Navigator

Derrick Edmondson – Team Advisor

Stan Watt – Rider

Jon Stamper – Rider

Gordon McDonald – Technician/T5 Pilot-Navigator

Brent Walker – Technician/T5 Pilot-Navigator

DAKAR 2008 MOTORCYCLES CONFIRMED

Team Front Row GB has confirmed the delivery of their purposely prepared Dakar motorcycles for July ’07.

Front Row GB will be using the exclusive KTM 690 Dakar Rally, which will be hand built at the KTM factory in Austria.

The KTM 690 will arrive completely equipped to race Dakar 2008.

TEAM FRONT ROW GB HEAD FOR ROMANIA

Team Front Row GB has departed for their Dakar preparation camp in Romania. The advance party of the main group is due to arrive in Romania on Friday 18th May with the main party arriving on Saturday 19th.

The schedule is for the riders to carry out extensive training for 7 days covering long hours on their practice machinery, the KTM 525 MXC, incorporating a mixture of terrain and technical difficulty.

TEAM FRONT ROW GB TRAINING AT ‘SLAB COMMON’

The Team Front Row GB riders and some selected individuals gathered at Borden for a days training on ‘Slab Common’, prior to their departure to Romania for their initial Dakar preparation camp on 17th May.

Slab Common boasts some excellent terrain of deep static sand, open forest and already laid out enduro loops. With the weather forecast predicting heavy rain for the day then there was the potential of deep water crossings and bottomless ‘tank traps’ for those who strayed off the beaten path.

For once the weather forecast rang true and from the start of the day the group experienced torrential downpours, continuous showers and even a good batch of thunder and lightening. It was KTM machinery all-round with two 250 EXC 2T, two 300 EXC 2T, two 450 4T, a 250 SX 4T and a big wheeled 85 2T ridden by the young Elliot Davis.

The primary aim of the day was to give the Team Front Row GB riders additional experience in varying conditions of sand, from hard packed and plenty of grip, to deep and tightly undulating that will bog down the strongest of bikes and, which requires a variety of techniques to maintain usable momentum.

The opening warm-up was spent trail riding the immediate area followed by some deep sand practice in the form of a short ‘special stage’ type circuits. With no break in the rain, the group moved on to use the entire area, setting out an excellent 15 minute enduro circuit incorporating the complete mixture of terrain contained within Slab Common.

With the mix of rain and sweat, everyone struggled with goggles that didn’t steam up and these were eventually either left in the vehicles or spun onto the back of the helmets. The risk of eye damage was less than the potential physical damage with crashing because if vision difficulties.

Torrential rain and a decent thunderstorm in the immediate area made for an extended lunch with everyone taking cover in their respective vehicles. The majority of the afternoon was spent exploring the area as the group took turns in leading a continuous trail ride through all aspects of what Slab Common could offer. A clutch problem with the big wheeled 85 made for good towing practice and as fatigue set in, mistakes began to develop and the relentless deep sand took no prisoners with Mark Cornick getting all of the top 5 crashes, the last eventually ending his day with a dead leg, after a spectacular dismount straight over the handlebars in deep sand.

A great day under difficult weather conditions but as always, something more to learn.

ROUND 2; SOUTHERN COUNTIES ENDURO CHAMPIONSHIP – Shillingstone Forest, Dorset. United Kingdom 6th April 2007

Due to unforeseen circumstances, Team Front Row GB fielded one rider instead of two for round 2 of the Southern Counties Enduro Championship. A restriction of space on the start line meant the championship group would be split and set off in two groups at one minute intervals.

Stan Watt (no. 62) was in the second row of championship riders for the start, getting an excellent launch of the line, to lead the pack; chasing down the first set of championship riders, closely followed by Mik Hill (no. 2) on his 250 Gas Gas.

Pushing hard on lap one it was only a matter of 10 minutes before Stan and Mik caught the tail end riders of the first championship group. Stan spread the gap to his nearest rival and pursued the leading pack running in 3rd by the end of lap one. Things were about to go wrong when Stan missed the transponder/timer posts at the end of lap one and literally had to jump off the bike and run back to register his lap allowing a number of riders to move ahead.

The pressure was then on not to lose touch with the front runners and this in turn made for taking chances in impractical passing places as the championship riders were now starting to catch and lap the slower groups early in lap two. With leaves and overgrown vegetation covering hazards to the side of the main racing lines in the forested areas and on the fast forestry lanes, Stan was taking too many chances in an attempt to pass slower riders. This led to some fast, hard crashes at speed, from hitting submerged and hidden obstacles, luckily not damaging the bike but losing a lot of time in the first hour on those now leading the race.

Taking stock of the situation and assessing the fact that eventually damage would be done to either racing machinery or rider or both, Stan decided it would be more productive to settle into a steady rhythm in an attempt to pick up places than trying too hard in passing slower riders in erratic maneuvers and continue the spate of crashes trying to get back in touch with the race leaders.

By the end of hour 2, Stan had moved up seven positions from 18th to 11th overall and was starting to make up for time lost earlier in the race. With some extremely fast sections, the KTM 250cc EXC was pushed to maximum speed along fast and rutted forest trails. The initial suspension setup was struggling to cope on these fast sections and in the last hour of the race Stan was experiencing harsh ‘tank slappers’ while hitting speeds of 75 and 80mph.

The penultimate lap seen Stan put in his fastest time as he moved up to 5th in the Championship Class, as he tried to get in on time for an extra lap, which would have moved him up to 2nd. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be and Team Front Row GB would have to settle for 5th on the day.

Although a good result, Stan was disappointed with his own errors, which undoubtedly cost him a top three finish. His KTM 250 EXC performed immaculately throughout the 3 hour race and sets the Team up for their forthcoming trip to Romania for their Dakar preparation training camp.

Championship Results; 1st – Andy Frost, 2nd – Gary Player, 3rd – Gary Wright, 4th – Andy Scudamore, 5th – Stan Watt


2008 Euromilhoes Lisboa-Dakar Rally

With the approaching registration on 15th May 2007, Team Front Row GB is delighted to confirm their objective for preparation and competing in the 2008 Euromilhoes Lisboa-Dakar Rally.

Initial grounding began in October 2006, where riders, preferred manufacturer and support structure was presented to Front Row GB and their supporting partnerships.

January ’07 witnessed the progression from a productive idea to the confirmation Front Row GB would produce a competitive motorcycle team for Dakar 2008.

With success in 2006, at the Turareg Cross Country Rally in Morocco, Team Front Row GB intend to be the most competitive UK based team that has entered the Dakar for some period of time.

Configuration for the Dakar project has already been established;

Team Front Row GB are first to confirm and utilize the exclusively prepared KTM 690 Desert Factory Rally motorcycle, due to be distributed to the team location by the Austrian manufacturer in July 2007. Only ‘100’ machines will be assembled for Dakar 2008, and KTM have limited their support to these 100 exceptional machines.

Primary riders will be Jon Stamper and Stan Watt. Both riders have taken 2007 to prepare exclusively for Dakar 2008. The ‘Team’ is based at Rogershill Raceway in Dorset, where they have the ability to train on the 30 acres of motocross circuits, 300 acres of idyllic enduro landscape of farmland and woodland, plus specifically designed technical training areas. In addition, the riders receive exclusive access to some of Britain’s foremost off-road training areas, purposely chosen to mimic conditions that can be expected during the Dakar, as best that can be realistically done in the United Kingdom.

Aside from training in the UK, Team Front Row GB will be traveling to Romania in May, Morocco in September, Morocco and Mauritania in October plus competing at the World Cross Country Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Competition will be continuous throughout 2007 at the British Enduro Championships, when not interrupting preparation for Dakar ’08, plus local and national off-road events. The primary riders will be using the KTM 250 EXC 2T and the KTM 525 MXC 4T throughout the 2007 season.

Front Row GB would not be complete without their dedicated supporting group for Dakar preparation and the 2008 Euromilhoes Lisboa-Dakar Rally. This dominant support structure is the innovation of Team Walker Ecosse and Team Front Row GB are elated with this long-term partnership extending to Dakar 2009.

Walker Ecosse is due to take possession of a new MAN Motorsport 6x6 T5 support truck by mid-May 2007. This vehicle will be the dedicated supporting transportation for Team Front Row GB, carrying all essential spares and equipment, plus the Team Coordinator, Stuart Walker and the both KTM 690 technicians, Gordon McDonald and Brent Walker.

In order to maximize preparation for Dakar 2008, Team Front Row GB will be assisted by ex-British Champion and Dakar expert, Derrick Edmondson, in an advisory and instructional role.

Team Front Row GB will be posting regular News and Updates through their website and by email via their distribution list. You can follow the Team’s progression throughout 2007 by logging onto their website www.frontrowgb.com  or request to be placed on their distribution list by emailing mail@frontrowgb.com