Thrills And Spills As Forces Endurance Riders Finish Season In Style

The Army Endurance Motorcycle Race Team has been in action for the final time this season...

The Army Endurance Motorcycle Race Team has been in action for the final time this season.

The riders were competing in the 2017 National Endurance Championship at Donington Park, in Leicestershire.

They lined up on the other side of the circuit from their bikes alongside 40 other racers, in one of the more unusual starts in motorsport, before beginning the final three-hour endurance race of the season.

Army Endurance Motorcycle Race Team, Donington Park

It represented the ninth round of a punishing season, which began back in March and sees some races last eight hours.

Riders complete around 40 one-minute laps before swapping over to their team-mate - and then repeating the cycle twice.

The Army had four teams of two in action. Four riders took on the Clubman 600cc series, two were competing in the Clubman 1000cc series and 'Team 1' were racing in the National 1000cc championship.

Before the riders had even started the race, there was qualifying to contend with. It sees all the bikes on the circuit given a 40-minute window, to get their quickest laps in. You can see all the action below...

Racing in Team 1 for the Army this time out were two Warrant Officer Class 2s, Wayne Morgan and Carl Goodchild.

The latter, in his first season with the team, is technically a rookie. Despite that, though, he's had two podium finishes - including last time out at Snetterton Circuit. He told Forces Network:

"I've always had a passion for motorcycles. I've been on the road for a long time and racing's always been an aspiration.

"I never thought the opportunity would come up... [I'm] looking forward to next year and continuing on for the future."

WO2 Andy Day, who makes up Team 4 along with Corporal Jason Cooper, has had four years with the team, racing in three of them.

He's now set to take on managing the outfit next term. He says the team relies on a huge number of people to function:

"Really what makes it tick is the teamwork... [There's] the guys who get on the bikes, prep the bikes, ride them and really put in the financial effort and work ethic on track.

"But also the pit crew... are so essential in endurance. The speed and the quality of the pit changes, and the work they do on our bikes really sets us apart from the other teams in the paddock."

The race was stopped not long after it began, with the red flags brought out after an accident with two bikes coming off at the Old Hairpin down to Starkey's Bridge.

The riders involved weren't injured, but there's no disguising that bike racing is heart in the mouth stuff - which is part of the attraction for the Army racers and their understanding friends and families.

After the restart and halfway through the race, the rain came, making the circuit a very different proposition.

Suddenly there was frantic activity in the garages as teams prepared for a quick changeover to wet tyres, with the track becoming increasingly treacherous.

Despite the rain, and with no let-up in pace, Team 1 had cemented themselves well inside the top 10 by the end of the race, while the other three Army teams also performed as well as they have done all season.

Army Endurance Motorcycle Race Team, Donington Park

It's a great effort considering the professional opposition out on the track, with the forces riders having to fit racing in with their work commitments. Sergeant Richard Spencer-Fleet, the current team manager, said:

"We're full-time soldiers. The racing is... our spare time... It's a team effort."

The race marked the end of an era, with several members of the outfit ending their stints. 

They team would like to hear from anyone in the Army who's interested in this kind of motorbike racing - take a look at their Facebook page here, or they're on Twitter here.

But the majority of these riders will be back for more in March next year...

More - WATCH: White Helmets Go Out With Pride And Professionalism