Team AWR flat out for start of new race season

Whitby's Dave Atkinson and passenger Phil Knapton look forward to a successful campaign in 2013'picture: Derek Donsworth
Whitby's Dave Atkinson and passenger Phil Knapton look forward to a successful campaign in 2013'picture: Derek Donsworth
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After finishing a fabulous 7th overall in the 2012 British FII Sidecar Championship despite only racing in just over half the races, Team AWR are flat out for the start of the 2013 season.

There were mixed fortunes for the team of Whitby driver Dave Atkinson and Selby passenger Phil “Gromit” Knapton at the end of the 2012 season.

Whitby's Dave Atkinson and passenger Phil Knapton look forward to a successful campaign in 2013'picture: Derek Donsworth

Whitby's Dave Atkinson and passenger Phil Knapton look forward to a successful campaign in 2013'picture: Derek Donsworth

After recording their first ever British Championship win at Croft they then made their return to the challenge that is Oliver’s Mount in Scarborough.

Although it was just their second visit to the UK mainland’s only road racing circuit, the team were confident they could build on their encouraging results from their début visit.

However, during the first race on the Sunday, a rare driver error saw Dave and Phil flip the bike, causing considerable damage to the fairing and peripheral parts of the bike. Luckily the boys hobbled away from the crash with a few cuts, bumps and bruises and between their knocks and the damage caused to the bike they had no choice but to sit out the feature Gold Cup race.

The crash had caused enough damage to both Dave and the bike that meant competing in the remaining rounds of the British Championship was not possible. However, before the 2012 season was brought to a close, Team AWR pushed hard to get the bike back out on circuit for the last meeting of the race calendar, the International Sidecar Festival, at Mallory Park.

This meeting for the team was just to make sure the boys and bike were back racing fit and any mental gremlins from the Scarborough crash had been banished.

Weather conditions were far from ideal and on old wet tyres the team were happy to come away with two second places in qualifying and two podium finishes.

Dave said: “If we had invested in a set of new wet tyres, I think we could have taken both victories but we are delighted with our two thirds, especially as this is the first time we have raced since our crash.”

Since the end of the season the boys have been flat out getting everything prepared for 2013. Phil has been working hard to secure sponsorship for the new season, saying “our dream is to win the 2013 British Championship, but we need to secure as much sponsorship as we can.

“We have a great team and great potential, Dave and I are hungry for this title and I know it is within our reach.

“A season costs in excess of £20,000 and the more we can raise to help with this, the more we can spend on developing the bike and making sure we are as competitive as possible.

“On that note, I would like to thank our 2012 sponsors Passage to India, Lewis Tanker Transport, Whitby Cottages, DE O’Reilly Transport, ABC Storage Solutions, York Timber Products, Appy Trans and MJD Race Paints”.

While Phil has been busy with sponsorship, Dave has been working on getting the team’s hardware ready for the new season.

A new fairing has been ordered, race engines need to be prepared, the bike has to be stripped down to the last nut and then cleaned and checked thoroughly before putting it back together again.

As well as the work that has to be done to the bike, with the original race van getting older, the team need to make sure they have transport to and from the race meetings.

Dave said: “Last year we were lucky enough to be offered for a minimal cost an ex-library lorry that had been fitted out by the last owner to demonstrate computer equipment.

“To keep costs down we are in the process of converting it into a race transporter ourselves. This is a massive amount of work and also time consuming, but once finished it will make a world of difference just being able to load the bike in the back and go.”

Although the team missed parts of the 2012 due to the crash it was a valuable building block of experience which they plan to build on for 2013 with the ultimate goal to lift the title of British FII Sidecar Champions.

If you would like to help the boys on their quest to be British Champions then the team can be contacted at team_awr@hotmail.co.uk