3 min read
27 Dec

Ask Nigel Moore, how many races have you won across your career, he will just smile and say nothing, he won't answer you, not because he's extremely modest, which in fact he is, he will say nothing because he himself won't know. He's just not the type to keep score, its not that race wins mean nothing, they clearly do. But it's the competition he loves, the fight, out braking a competitor and seeing who can get the drive out of the corner best. That's what I think drives him. As for his race wins, well lets say it must easily be in the triple figures.

He's had some great years in the saddle, years like in 2012 when he won the Manx Grand Prix in the Supertwins Class. His fastest lap that year was over 111 mph, and his total time for the 4 laps was 1:22.09.61. Amazing when compared to the Senior Manx winners time that year. The senior was won by John Simpson on a 675cc Triumph, his average speed was 106.5 mph and he completed the 4 laps in 1:25.00.25. 

Incidentally another local classic rider, Brian Mateer finished 3rd in that Supertwin race. Brian was riding a 249cc Honda and clocked an incredible 107+ mph average. Second place went to Micko Sweeney on a Kawasaki 650, Micko also averaged 107+ mph during the race, what a podium for Irish Road Racing. 

In that same year, Nigel finished on the podium in the Classic 350 race. Riding a Honda to P3 with an average lap time of 96.434 mph. The race was won by Chris Palmer (Honda) at 98.818 mph. Second place went to Chris Swallow (Aermacchi) with a pace of 97.996 mph. A good fortnight on the Island by anyone's standard. 

So back to 2023. I got chatting to John Allen last summer in Gedinne. Gedinne is a wonderful pure road racing circuit deep in the Ardennes of Belgium. It is the home of The Belgian Classic Trophy and we were there to compete. Its without doubt the best Classic Meeting on the calendar. 3 days of action with over 300 of Europe's best riders on nearly 500 of Europe's fastest classic race bikes and sidecars. John Allen and his good friend John Reed are huge fans of Nigel and had supplied him with 2 bikes to race for them in Belgium. As we chatted I ask them how they got involved with Nigel.  

John Allen takes up the story. I first met John Reed in the late 90's when I got him to do one or two engineering jobs on the K4, I had built and was racing. He started coming to meetings with me occasionally and a few years later his son Paul started racing on a 250 Ducati. I told John he could have first refusal on my K4 and spare engines when I eventually finished racing at the end of 2008. 

Paul went on to have many successful years riding the Honda winning the North East Motorcycle Racing Club Championship and in 2017 finishing third in the CRMC championship. He also won both group 2 350 races at Gedinne that year. All the time Paul had been racing the bike JR, had been developing it to a point where it was lighter, handled better, stopped better and produced more power (thanks to a John Sunter tuned engine) than it ever did under my ownership. John R added another bike to the stable (mainly to give Paul another ride at CRMC meetings) when he bought a 500 Nourish Seeley of our old friend and NEMCRC stalwart Matty Barkess.

At the start of 2018, Paul brought an end to his racing. John wanted to continue (as did I) so he offered the bikes to a good friend of ours Colin Stockdale to run alongside Colin's own 500 Honda four. Gary Long (a near neighbor of ours) also had the odd ride on the K4. At the 2019 Classic TT, Colin was racing his own 500 as well as John Reed's 350. Colin has been doing the Manx for years and keeps a big tent/marquee there. His tent is a hive of activity, always has cold beer in the fridge, comfy seats and people drop in and out at anytime, day or night. 

It was there in 2019 where we met Nigel for the first time. We were both impressed with how modest and unassuming he was given his impressive racing career. Racing was suspended due to Covid for a couple of years and when things started up again both John R, and myself had come to the same opinion. Nigel was the right man for John to ask to ride his bikes. So it was with that, we turned up at Tandragee in 2022, where Nigel sat on the Honda for the first time. He immediately headed out for a few laps of dry and sunny practice. Race day dawned with completely different weather, incessant rain and mist being the order of the day. Nigel made a cracking start and lead for virtually the whole race before being passed by Barry Davidson on the very last corner. To say we were overjoyed would be an understatement, but when we got back to the paddock all we could get out of Nigel were apologies for not winning !

Ian Ambler gives Nigel the chequred flag at East Fortune during the Bob Mac Races of 2022

A few weeks later, Nigel came over to Scotland to race the Honda at the Bob Mac meeting at East Fortune. The chequered flag waver might look familiar to Irish fans as it's fellow Cumbrian Ian Ambler who rode at Irish meetings for years (Ian's son Anthony is carrying on the tradition now with a podium last time he was at Armoy). Next we headed to Armoy with the 350 for Nigel and the 500 (now fitted with a G50 engine). Unfortunately Nigel had a rare "off" in an earlier race and never got to ride the k4 while Colin had a good top six finish on his first visit to Armoy. We wondered if Nigel's injuries would stop him making the Manx but they obviously make them tough in Tyrone, and sure as rain, he appeared on the Island, ready to ride the 350. We had Colin lined up to ride the 500. Issues with chronic vibration in practice meant we parked the Seeley and Colin used his own 500 four in the race . In the 350 race, Nigel was out of the blocks like a rocket and had settled in to a nice rhythm. He was lying second to Nathan Harrison with the laps counting down. But as we all know, racing a classic is a lottery, coming off the mountain and about to start the last lap. Things went bang, the chain broke and the podium was gone. Nigel been Nigel, shrugs his shoulders and says "what can you do, it is what it is"

John Reed left, centre, Nigel Moore with John Allen to the right. On the bikes, Nigel's trophy haul from his first trip to Gedinne

For 2023 it was decided that Nigel would do the roads (+Bob Mac at East Fortune) and Gary Long would do several CRMC meetings. Nigel sat on the 500 for the first time just before going out to practice at the Cookstown 100. He qualified well and would go on to finish third in the 500 race. The 350 race saw battle resume with Barry Davidson again. Barry would take the win, with Nigel coming home in second. Next up we headed to the pre TT at the Billown circuit, here we had good placings on both bikes, despite the 500 not running at all well. Meanwhile back in England Gary was racking up top three placings on the 350 and an outright win at Donnington in CRMC meetings. 

The Belgian Classic proved to be the highlight of the year, we took both bikes to Gedinne for Nigel to ride. He had never been before and would start as a newcomer. Despite this, he had two outright wins with the 350 and a second and third on the 500. We where delighted as the only bikes to beat him were Patons, both ridden by two of Europe's top pilots.

So whats in store for 24 ? John would love it, if next season could bring more of the same. The hopes are, that they stick with the same riders. John Reed puts so much time, money and effort into preparing the bikes i can only say it's a pleasure and honour for me to go along, help where I can and enjoy the ride.

Photos John Allen

Words Gavan Duffy

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