|The Thundersprint Limited|
|Founded||October 8, 1997|
|Frank Melling, Carol Melling|
Organised by Carol and Frank Melling, the Thunderfest is a companion event to the now-defunct Thundersprint. A halfway house between full-on racing and parading, the Thunderfest is a time trial aimed primarily at riders.
The Thundersprint was a two-day event celebrating motorcycling held annually during the second weekend in May.The event comprised track sessions and sprint races with cavalcades, trade stands and funfair attractions.
The first Thundersprint was held at Hoghton Tower, near Blackburn, and then it moved to Wigan, Southport, Manchester and eventually Northwich, Cheshire as it grew in size. The Thundersprint stayed ten years in Northwich where it was promoted and organised by motorcycle journalist Frank Melling. Unusually for a motorsport event, the Thundersprint at Northwich was aimed as much at families as at 'hard-core' motorbike fans.
According to a report commissioned by Cheshire West and Chester Council , the Thundersprint attracted 145,000 visitors and brought £7.3 million into the local economy.These figures made the Thundersprint one of the largest motorcycling events in the world in terms of attendance and of significant economic importance to the area. In 2012 highlight for spectators was a display by an RAF Spitfire.
At the heart of the event were the sprint races and there were classes mainly for classic motorcycles but with some more-modern bikes. The races have attracted an entry list of notable stars, including Jim Redman, Giacomo Agostini, Sammy Miller, and more recent riders including James Toseland, Cal Crutchlow, Ryuichi Kiyonari, Chris Walker. Also, Top Gear's James May and Olympic athlete James Cracknell have ridden in the Thundersprint sprint races and cavalcade.
The Northwich time trials took place in a small town centre car park, so the scope of the racing was somewhat limited. Even so, the spectator attendance was large, as there was no entry cost and the event held appeal as a family day out. By 2013, the organisers found it too difficult to continue hosting a town-centre event, and the event moved to Anglesey's Trac Môn Circuit, North Wales.The 2013 Mona Thundersprint was not a great success because of torrential rain and the remote location from the Midlands.
In 2014, the Thundersprint moved to Derbyshire's Darley Moor circuit, which was at the time intended to become the event’s permanent home. Despite exceptionally heavy rainthroughout the weekend, the event was a success; but the Mona and Darley Moor venues changed the event from an attractive and accessible free family event (as in Northwich) to a somewhat standard pay-to-enter motorcycle race meeting.
In 2015, the Mellings announced that " this iconic event will not take place in 2015", adding that "in the final analysis, we are a two person business and we can’t continue to risk what we have built up over the last seventeen years on the bet that we will have good weather in 2015".In 2016 Frank Melling confirmed that they "are not running any more Thundersprints".
A companion event is the Thunderfest, first held in 2010. The events generally took place at Darley Moor but in 2015 it took place at the Anglesey Circuit. The event is a regularity trial where riders declare a target speed and then ride for 20 minutes plus two laps in an attempt to achieve it. The closeness to the target, not the actual speed, is the deciding factor. For example, a rider could declare a target of 61.15 mph and achieve 61.2 mph. He would beat a rider who declared 70 mph and then managed an average of 72 mph. This leads to the situation where riders of smaller, slower bikes can beat bigger and faster machines. The time trial demands a high degree of skill, without the intensity of flat-out racing. The event has attracted a number of classic bikes and has proved popular with spectators.
Grand Prix motorcycle racing is the premier class of motorcycle road racing events held on road circuits sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM). Independent motorcycle racing events have been held since the start of the twentieth century and large national events were often given the title Grand Prix. The foundation of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme as the international governing body for motorcycle sport in 1949 provided the opportunity to coordinate rules and regulations in order that selected events could count towards official World Championships. It is the oldest established motorsport world championship.
Cycle sport is competitive physical activity using bicycles. There are several categories of bicycle racing including road bicycle racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, mountain bike racing, track cycling, BMX, and cycle speedway. Non-racing cycling sports include artistic cycling, cycle polo, freestyle BMX and mountain bike trials. The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the world governing body for cycling and international competitive cycling events. The International Human Powered Vehicle Association is the governing body for human-powered vehicles that imposes far fewer restrictions on their design than does the UCI. The UltraMarathon Cycling Association is the governing body for many ultra-distance cycling races.
James Michael Toseland is an English former motorcycle racer and vocalist of his own rock band named Toseland. For 2020, he is team-manager of Wepol Racing with riders in World Supersport and Supersport 300.
Carlos Checa is a Spanish former professional motorcycle road racer and winner of the 2011 Superbike World Championship. After racing in 500 cc and MotoGP for over a decade, mostly on Honda and Yamaha machinery with and without full manufacturer support, he moved to the Superbike World Championship on a Honda for 2008. He has two Grand Prix victories. He has a younger brother, David Checa, also a motorcycle racer who competed in the Superbike World Championship for 2008.
Ryuichi Kiyonari (清成龍一) is a professional motorcycle road racer. For 2019 he is competing in World Superbikes with a new team formed by Honda Racing Corporation and Moriwaki Engineering, using the 2019 Honda Fireblade and teammate Leon Camier.
The 1967 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy was a motorcycle road racing event held on the 37-mile Snaefell Mountain course on the Isle of Man. Five races, in different engine capacity classes of 50, 125, 250, 350 and the 500 cc Senior TT, made up the second round of the FIM World Grand Prix motorcycling championship season. Mike Hailwood, on the four-cylinder Honda RC181, duelled with Giacomo Agostini's MV Agusta 500 Three.
The British Superbike Championship (BSB), currently known for sponsorship reasons as the Bennetts British Superbike Championship, is the leading road racing superbike championship in the United Kingdom, and was once widely acknowledged as the premier domestic superbike racing series in the world.
A motorcycle rally is a gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts. Rallies can be large or small, and one-time or recurring. Some rallies are ride-in events, whereas some like the Iron Butt Rally involve days of riding and an actual gathering only at the end of the ride.
Joshua Brookes is a professional motorcycle road racer with experience of Superbike and Supersport racing, both domestically and internationally. In 2020, he raced in the British Superbike Championship aboard a Ducati Panigale where he won his second British title.
Cal Crutchlow is an English former road racer of motorcycles, who competed in the MotoGP World Championship. He ended regular competitions as a Honda rider in late 2020, having a contract to become a test development rider for Yamaha Motor Racing during 2021, with possible occasional appearances as a wild card or replacement rider.
Superbike World Championship is a motorsport road racing series for modified production motorcycles also known as superbike racing. The championship was founded in 1988. The Superbike World Championship consists of a series of rounds held on permanent racing facilities. Each round has two full length races and, from 2019, an additional ten-lap sprint race known as the Superpole race. The results of all three races are combined to determine two annual World Championships, one for riders and one for manufacturers.
Beach racing is a motorsport offshoot of enduro and motocross racing. As the name implies, riders on solo motorcycles, quad bikes, or sidecar combinations compete on a course marked out on a beach, often with man made jumps and sand dunes being constructed to make the course tougher.
Tech3 is a motorcycle racing team competing in the MotoGP, and from 2020 in Moto3 World Championships under the name Red Bull KTM Tech3. They also enter the MotoE World Cup under the name Tech3 E-Racing.
Derek Minter was an English Grand Prix motorcycle and short-circuit road racer. A versatile rider, he rode a variety of machinery between 1955 and 1967 at increasing levels of expertise and in varying capacities and classes. His best season was in 1958 when he finished the year in fifth place in the 500 cc World Championship. In 1960, Minter won the North West 200 race in Northern Ireland. In 1962, he won the Isle of Man 250 cc Lightweight TT.
Ten Kate Racing is a motorcycle racing team, currently competing in the Superbike World Championship with 2019 rider Loris Baz, previously with Gulf Althea Racing BMW Motorrad. The re-built team will participate in a part-season from June.
Craig Jones was an English motorcycle racer. He grew up in the town of Northwich in Cheshire and attended Charles Darwin Primary School, and later Hartford High School. He died in 2008, shortly after a racing accident when he fell and was struck by another motorcycle.
Superbike racing is a category of motorcycle racing that employs highly modified production motorcycles, as opposed to MotoGP in which purpose-built motorcycles are used. The Superbike World Championship is the official world championship series, though national Superbike championships are held in many countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, Australia and Canada. Superbike racing is generally popular with manufacturers, since it helps promote and sell their product, as captured by the slogan "Win on Sunday; Sell on Monday".
The Honda RC213V is a Japanese road racing motorcycle developed by Honda Racing Corporation to race in the MotoGP series from the 2012 season and onwards. Rules for 2012 allow motorcycles up to 1,000 cc (61 cu in) in capacity, with a limit of 4 cylinders and a maximum 81mm cylinder bore.
Frank Melling is an English motoring journalist and author, based in northwest England. He is an accomplished motorcyclist and motorcycle racer who has competed in motocross, enduro and road racing events. He rode an exhibition lap at the Isle of Man TT in 2008 aboard a modern Ducati Classic.