Bermuda Charge launch qualifying criteria
Organisers of the Bermuda Charge motorcycle road race have launched qualifying criteria for local riders, which contain initiatives to encourage local road safety.
Antoine Richards, the Bermuda Charge committee member and former professional motorcycle racer, said the requirements are designed not only to ensure that participants hold the necessary riding skills, but also to quantifiable assist Bermuda's road safety movement, with entry policies demanding that local applicants produce a satisfactory traffic record for a period of six months leading up to the competition.
“In 2021 this will extend to a 12-month policy. Our racers must be ambassadors for road safety,” Richards said.
“This is a heavily regulated race, using specialised vehicles on closed roads with strategically placed impact barriers — qualifying is thorough.”
Competition requirements include local applicants taking seasonal membership with the Bermuda Motorcycle Racing Club (BMRA) and completing a minimum number of race days.
The riders must also pass an independent competency assessment, which will be overseen by race officials from the International North West 200.
This means more youths getting professional instruction, more of the community sharing advanced riding knowledge, more clean traffic records and ultimately, a higher percentage of advanced riders on public roads.
There are presently more than 40 local applicants across the 250cc and 600cc categories.
Richards added: “By setting in place this framework for development, we're enhancing the profile of our local motorsport talent.
“There is an avenue for youth development too — it starts with the Spark youth riding clinics at the Rubis Southside Raceway, designed to teach our school age children advanced riding skills and respect for the road.
“They can progress to compete in the adult classes with the Bermuda Motorcycle Racing Association, and further develop their skills.
“They even have the opportunity to attend international meets and training.
“Once they are 21 years old, BMRA members are eligible to apply for the road race via a stringent qualifying process. The age restriction allows the riders to have the advantage of a few years' experience on the road as well as the track.
“And the track training forces you to learn what a bike is trying to communicate to you.
“You start to hear and feel how far from the edge you are. We learn that by falling over, but we have suits and barriers and learn on a circuit.
“We learn by trial and error, not serious incident and injury. The experiences of track racing educated me sufficiently to keep my speed away from the roads — without that influence I may well have ended up as another statistic!”
David Cahill, the Bermuda Charge event director, said the event will actively encourage road safety groups, advanced riding schools and youth riding schools to have a presence at the race village during the event.
“It is in the interests of everyone involved to use this public platform to deliver road safety education,” Cahill said.
“We have previously consulted with the Road Safety Council and Drive for Change to discuss ways in which road safety behaviours can be assisted by the event.
“For example, the North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT have a strategic Police presence at their race events.
“The Police work alongside the promotion, offering services such as rider training. They also host fun activities and displays designed to engage children with safety, and help to get strong values instilled from an early age — children grow up associating positive experiences with the Police.
“This is an initiative that we would welcome, and it's clear it has an effect. Consider these figures: Bermuda has a three-year rolling average road fatality rate of 11 in 65,000. Northern Ireland, which hosts up to 12 motorcycle road races annually, has an equivalent three-year rolling average of 2 in 65,000.
“The Isle of Man, which doesn't have national speed limits in many parts, and hosts an influx of 44,000 bikers who go to watch the road racing each year, achieves an equivalent three-year rolling average of 3.9 in 65,000.
“In short, these regions which host high profile road races are performing better with public road safety.
“We anticipate that the carefully considered structure of the road race in Bermuda will have a very positive effect on our motoring community.”