Dreams do come true

Published: 20 November 2010

If like me you never enter competitions this might change your mind - it certainly has mine.

A few months ago I saw the Bennetts Insurance win a Biker Dream. I entered and forgot all about it as usual.

A couple of weeks ago when working late my wife rang me and said I would get a phone call in 5 minutes which I must answer, she would say no more and I racked my brains as to who it could be.

The mobile duly rang and a voice said, “Are you Keith Wicks?” I said “yes” and he said, “This is Bennetts and you have won your dream!”

My dream was to ride a modern 125 racer to compare it with the Honda MT125 I used to race 35 years ago, hopefully in the company of a recent champion.

I pinched myself to see if this was a dream, but no, sure enough it was actually happening to me.

“One possible problem, can you be at Donington next Thursday at 9am?” Could I, all the devils in hell couldn’t stop me, I would be there.

My wife and I drove to stay overnight at my son’s house in Nuneaton so as to get there early. The ride was to take place on a track day so that the circuit has all the safety marshals etc.

We arrived at 8:30am to be greeted by Joshua Van Den Bos from RBP International, Bennetts promotion company, who introduced me to Michael Mann the Bennett’s representative and Jason Critchell a motorcycle photography specialist.

The track briefing, all about flags and lights etc and safety rules, followed this. Then I was introduced to Niall MacKenzie, three times BrSB champion, who’s 14 year old son Tarren was lending me his British 125 Championship bike for the day.

We chatted about the spec of the bike and things I should bear in mind on the track, not least of all the fact that I was going to ride slicks for the first time.

Niall started the bike and warmed it up for a while and also got the tyre warmers sorted, cold slicks do not work! And cold 2 stroke engines seize.

Soon it was time to get on track and bearing in mind racing bike gearshifts are the opposite to road bikes I got under way.

A couple of fairly gentle laps to get a feel for the tyres and make sure all was up to temperature and then I opened up a bit more.

Although I never was a knee down rider the slicks gave me great confidence and I felt strangely at home instantly, almost like I never stopped riding a 125.

I didn’t break any lap records or bones, I was very conscious that it’s easy to get over confident, I haven’t ridden Donington for some years and never on a 125 so I didn’t want to bin it.

Niall and Tarren wouldn’t appreciate a bent bike, and my embarrassment would have lasted a lifetime.

Anyway I did some fair laps, enjoyed myself immensely, the comparison of my 1978 125 of 26bhp and tops of 120mph with this 45bhp 140mph rocket were most enjoyable and I dare say would have been even better had I not added two stone to my racing nine back then.

At the end of my first stint I came back in with a smile as wide as the track! Absolutely brilliant!

We finished off the morning as lunch guests of Bennetts and said a final farewell and enormous thanks to Niall MacKenzie for the loan of the bike.

Finally I have to thank Dean from Keith Martin Photography who is the official track photographer at Silverstone for Haslam Racing, he sent me a great personalised CD of excellent quality photos to remind me of the day for as long as I live.

My advice is enter every competition you can, from now on I will be.