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Hawkins’ Collision Investigators Back on Track at Brands Hatch & Cadwell

Road traffic Collisions

Two of Hawkins’ mechanical engineers, Charles Murdoch and James Wade, not only investigate road traffic collisions, but also take to the track themselves during motorcycle club races.

After a good start to the 2022 Classic Racing Motorcycle Club season at the Welsh Classic meeting in Pembrey over the Easter weekend, Charles and James raced at both the Brands Hatch meeting in May and the Anglesey meeting in June. Charles also most recently took part in races at Cadwell Park on 2 and 3 July.

At Brands Hatch, Charles was again contesting the 250 cc and 350 cc Classic classes and James the Post-Classic production class aboard his Yamaha FZ600. James had not visited the circuit since 2019, and Charles last visited in 2017. With the unfamiliarity in mind, James secured an evening test, however Charles was giving evidence during a weeklong trial in Cambridge before the race. The benefit of James’ test was immediately apparent; he set a very respectable time during the Saturday qualifying session. A damp track meant that Charles’ qualifying times were moderate, but he hoped to overcome the initial setbacks. Active races in both classes saw Charles finish Saturday with two 2nd in class places in the 250 class (finishing the first race 0.024 seconds off the class leader) and two 3rd in class results on his 350 cc machine. Despite James making somewhat of an error and lining up for his first race two rows back on the grid from where he should have been, by the end of the race he had made excellent progress to retake those spots and even a few ahead. During his charge in the second race of the day, James was consistently improving his lap times until an electrical malfunction stopped play. As Charles and James are forensic engineers used to diagnosing mechanical and electrical faults, the generator was swiftly removed, repaired and replaced that evening.

On Sunday morning Charles repeatedly traded places with #50 Louie Allfrey (Ducati 250) in the first race of the day, only for backmarkers on the final lap to slow progress through Paddock Hill, allowing Louie to slip past and take the victory by just under a second. With one of the club’s top riders, #70 Harley Rushton, inexplicably managing to fall off during the sighting lap for the 350 cc race, Charles was able to do one better in Sunday’s first 350 cc race and finished second in class. With the electrical gremlins banished, James’ progress continued and he was able to further reduce his lap time by a second a lap. Racing within the Production class is very close, but with competitive lap times, James was now more than capable of lapping within the ‘main pack’ and well ahead of the other novice riders.
Charles was pushed back one spot to finish 3rd in class on his 350 cc race. In the final outing of the weekend, James picked up some excellent points finishing 6th in class. With two of the seven rounds now completed, Charles was leading the 250 cc Classic class by 71 points, and was comfortably 2nd in the 350 cc Classic class. An excellent haul of points had also allowed James to climb to 17th position on the leader board in one of the club’s most competitive classes.

Charles Murdoch riding as #113 and James Wade as #155

At the Anglesey meeting in May, James unfortunately broke his collar bone during a spill, so only Charles was racing at the latest Classic Racing Motorcycle Club meeting, held at Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire.

The fearsome leap over The Mountain, where most bikes will lift the front wheel and larger bikes will become fully airborne, makes Cadwell Park unique in short circuits. The collection of 18 bends, little run off and substantial elevation changes make it almost impossible to achieve a perfect lap.

On what was unanimously agreed to be a very slippery track, Charles managed 3rd in the Classic 350 cc class aboard the Honda CB350 K4 prepared by T.T. Engineering, and 2nd in the Classic 250 cc class. Sunday provided mostly dry weather all day and in the morning races Charles was not able to do any better than 3rd in the 250 cc class, albeit, the race was stopped on lap 3 of 7 due to an accident. A race-long battle between Charles and Andy Guy in the 350 cc class ended when they hauled in Steve Mason and Guy lost control of his Aermacchi on the flat-out entry to Charlies 1 corner. Although Charles then passed Mason to take 3rd in class, the race was stopped and the count-back resulted in Charles being classified 4th in class on the results sheet. The initial dry start to the final 250 cc race ended in rain. It is always hard to judge just how wet the circuit gets as it starts to rain, and Charles initially decided not to back off in an attempt to catch and pass class leader, Iain Green. Green, however, rode a brilliantly defensive line to inhibit any possibility of Charles being able to sneak pass for a class win. Nevertheless, 2nd in class was sufficient for Charles to maintain a lead of 41 points at the top of the Classic 250 cc tables. By the time the 350 cc class was called, the circuit was fully dry and although Charles was not able to do any better than 4th in class, that was sufficient to move him back into 3rd in the Classic 350 cc championship.

Charles, a little disappointed, has said: “Given that through the speed trap, my speed on the 250 was higher than before, I’ve lost corner speed which is critical on the little bikes. I suppose the conditions in the last race prohibited hard riding in the wooded part of the circuit and in the second race I didn’t really get going until the red flags came out”.

Charles was, however, pleased with his work in the 350cc Honda, “my lap times in the dry were consistent and almost the same as last year, which is good considering I pushed so hard last year I ended up bouncing onto the grass!”

The next meeting will be held at Donington Park on 30 and 31 July. If you would like to come and watch the spectacle, please do not hesitate to contact Charles Murdoch or James Wade in the Hawkins London and Reigate offices, respectively. Hawkins also wishes James Wade the kind of recovery all racers would want after any injury—speedy.

Charles Murdoch racing as #113 in Cadwell Park

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