posted Feb 23, 2013, 1:16 AM by Baja Off-Road
updated Feb 23, 2013, 1:18 AM
Le Touquet Enduropale is, quite simply, one of the greatest spectacles in motorcycling. Run across the beaches of Touquet, Stella and Merlimont coastlines in northern France, around 1000 bikes and 800 quads take to the sandy shores for a race of epic mental and physical proportions. 250,000 devoted fans line the 17km long course as man and machine tear away from the start as one, the clacking soundtrack erupting amid a blur of sand, sweat, hopes and fears.
The brainchild of local press agent Thierry Sabine after witnessing first-hand the great mass enduros of America, a modest 286 riders took the start of the inaugural event in 1975. Three decades and five times as many riders later, it’s more comparable to a motorized marathon than a bike race as each rider jostles and weaves seeking a personal space amid the dunes to call their own.
Each race lasts just over three hours. The rider who reaches the first
corner of the opening lap first wins the “Holeshot” award. This
prestigious prize sees competitors go all out from the start with bikes
often hitting speeds of 100mph racing and jumping at close quarters on
the run down to the first turn.
- Class 1 – up to 250cc
- Class 2 – 251cc up to 1000cc
There are three classes of rider taking part: International (those with a full FIM race license), National (a French motorsport license holder), and Amateur (someone who fancies a challenge).
- Class 1 – up to 125cc 2 Stroke / up to 250cc 4 Stroke
- Class 2 – above 125cc 2 stroke / 250cc+ 4 Stroke
- Class 3 – above 250cc 2 Stroke / 450cc+ 4 Stroke
Frenchman Arnoud Demeester holds the Bike record for number of victories having triumphed seven times since 1995. Indeed, 2009 will see him bid to make it a hat-trick of wins in as many years.
Quad rider Paul Winrow is the only British competitor to have won either category in the event’s 34 year history after triumphing along with team mate Pascal Rochereau on board a Yamaha in 2001.