D Bergstrom- In my scenario, you still get 22 hours to finish, you just have a bigger gap between the last bike and the first car. 5-6 hours would have prevented the first TT from catching the first sportsman quad by a couple hours. If the minimum speed for a bike to finish within the time limit is 22 hours in a 550 mile race, that is 25mph. If you fall below that average, you should pull off the course. If you can't make that average to begin with, you shouldn't have entered. I don't think you can disagree with that. Reality is almost anyone with minor skills should be able to run 25-30mph average on a car course when on a bike. Maybe not 45-60 for an average, but you aren't talking about those guys, you are talking about the sportsman racer who isn't a pro and isn't running pro speeds. Or they are a sand bagger! I think expecting an average speed between 25 and 30mph for the slowest bike classes is reasonable. It is for the car guys in a class 11 or stock build truck and bikes are mush easier to run faster than those. FWIW I have raced both 3 wheelers (when they were legal) and Class 11 over the years.
Starting bikes/quads behind four wheel vehicles is suicide for the bikes/quads. Yes, many of the faster teams will never be caught, but remember, there are other classes beside Trophy Trucks and unlimited cars, the bikes and quads will catch many of them. Also remember, the time limit for this race is 22 hours, even if you go with a 5 hour gap, we will catch some of them.
The bike has no way to let a vehicle know we are behind them. We can’t honk, we can’t nerf, and the vehicle is kicking up so much dust they probably won’t see us in their mirrors. (Plus people on here complain all the time co-drivers don’t seem to watch their mirrors anyway.) So I find a place I can pass which will also take time on a one lane road, a bike or quad doesn’t have 35” to 39” tall tires, so we just can’t bomb out through the surrounding area to get around. I make my move to go around, but since the vehicle doesn’t know I am there, he decides to change his line. Yeah, I am sure you can imagine how that will end.
Second issue, while I am trying to pass vehicle number 1, vehicle number 2 comes up from behind us trying to get around. With all the dust, he probably won’t see the bike or quad. Same as the situation above, it’s not going to end well for the bike or quad.
My only experience trying to pass four wheel vehicles on my quad is passing UTV’s years ago when the Parker 250 was one race. It’s not fun at all, and that was just UTV’s. You ever tell me I have to start behind all the four wheel classes, I quit, no way am I going to do that.
As far as the condition of the course after all the four wheel vehicles, yes, it will be a lot rougher. Sure, it is desert racing; it is supposed to be rough, but rough and high speeds lead to crashes for the handlebar guys. Start us after the four wheel vehicles, and I guarantee the number of injuries and helicopter flights will go up.
How about a hybrid of separate courses? Drawing on what NORRA does. Same course for say the first 250 miles. Then separate bike/quad and 4 wheel course but merging at the pits and then out on separate courses to the finish? (I do see several problems with this but thought I'd throw it out anyway.)
David, yep I know there are big challenges but as some have advocated completely separate courses I'm just throwing out an alternative.
Now, just thinking out loud here, it seems one of the points of greatest danger is when the fast TT's first come up on the slower handlebars. Add in that the top TT are closer together and, in the instance of the quad this year, have increased chances of being in each others dust which obscures the handlebars.
When I was sitting at pit 14 the gap between most of the TT was several minutes so towards the later stages things are for the most part pretty spread out. It seems to me the place for the greatest risk is in the second third of the course. (Again I could be completely off-base.) If the middle section has an alternative route could that at least be an area for separate bike/quad and 4 wheel route?
Start the bikes an hour early and have their checkered flag at the 300 mile point or close to that. Advertise the race at that distance.
Bikes would have a shorter distance..