Hated DEFRA Gets Pegged Back

On the news on Saturday morning I heard that DEFRA were looking to make £270 millions in savings in the future and if I interpret that in the way that is favourable for our sport, it could make some difference. I don’t know about you, but of all the government departments that one loves to hate, DEFRA comes out top by a country mile.

Since it was formed from the old Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 2001, it has become the department that most seems intent on deciding what we should eat, how we should live our lives and how they can adversely affect the management of the countryside that has successfully been managed by capable farmers for centuries before they came along.

From the mis-managed Farm Payment Scheme, to the Land Access Bill to the virtual banning of green lane use by vehicles amongst dozens of other, less publicised schemes, DEFRA have trodden roughshod over those activities and schemes that have lived comfortably side by side for years. I believe that the government, through DEFRA, have wanted to ban virtually all motorsport in the countryside, by fair means or foul. And if it means that in order to save £270million, some of the schemes that affect our sport are halted, then that has to be good news for us.

OK, so you were expecting me to lead about Dougie and whether he’s going to ride a Montesa or a Beta next year. Sorry to disappoint, but at the time of writing this (Saturday evening) no announcement has been made and I’ve been around journalism for too long to get drawn into saying something that might very quickly prove to be totally wrong. I did that once before with regard to Martin Lampkin – I wrote in TMX that Mart would never leave Bultaco and within the week he had signed for SWM! Some folks never let me forget that, now you all know!

So ignore the above, I started with an opinion that may get some folks chewing at the biyt!

No doubt those of you who religiously look at the results of the Spanish Championship will have seen that Adam Raga has become the 2007 Spanish Champion. Now I reckon that is some fair achievement because Adam (indeed everybody else in Woirld Championship events) was well and truly thrashed by Toni Bou on the Montesa this past year, both indoors and out. Bou became the champion of both and totally dominated the series. So you would rightly expect him to do the same in Spain.

But that didn’t happen and despite Bou winning the final round, Raga finished a fine second which was all that he had to do to achieve another Spanish Championship win. It must be difficult to get beaten just about everywhere when you have been the undisputed number one, and most would have expected Bou, in his current form, to do the same in Spain as he did everywhere else. But that didn’t happen so it’s only fair to offer up some congratulations to Raga on his fine championship success.

Whilst talking about Gas Gas – which of course is what Raga rides – the launch of the prototype four stroke Gas Gas in Milan will certainly have set the tongues wagging. Not because it’s a four stroke as they are now commonplace, and Gas Gas are now the last company to launch a thumper, but because they have gone for a side valve engine.

Never in one’s wildest dreams would any of us have considered a side valve – for those that don’t know, they are more associated with 70 years ago, stationary engines and low power, they just keep thumping away all day long. The difficulty is getting the combustion chamber right, but if rumours are to believed, they have got the engine to rev to around 8000 rpm, and presumably with modern technology and fuel injection, have been able to develop a motor that performs well enough for trials.

No doubt only time will tell, but the weight will be less with this design of engine and the centre of gravity will be much lower. And interpreting an article that I have recently rewritten for Trials Magazine (happy birthday), those that have ridden it are much impressed. All being well you’ll be able to look at it yourself at the Dirt Bike Show at Stoneleigh next month.

OK, if you insist, let’s just consider the Lampkin scenario. I do not know, in fact I can’t even guess what he will be riding next year, though I do have my own personal opinion as to what bike he should ride, yet I don’t suppose for one minute he is interested in what I think!

But what I do know is that at Hawkstone back in July I had a chat with a Mont man and reading between the lines, I detected some difference of opinion in what Montesa wanted Doug to do and what Doug wanted to do. So how will that be (has been?) resolved? Wait and see when a press release appears.