An armada of supercharged sport bikes is gearing up for the eleventh edition of the World Wheelie Championship. This year's contestants have their sights firmly set on Gary Rothwell's world record from last September, when he exited the one-kilometer run at almost 210 mph on his back wheel.
Up to 30 top competitors from the US, UK, France, Holland and Ireland will be competing for the world title at the ex-RAF Elvington Airfield in North Yorkshire, England on August 20-21. Organized by Straightliners Limited, the event has grown to become a permanent fixture in the annual motorcycle racing calendar and attracts thousands of spectators every year.
The objective is to complete a full kilometer (0.62 mi) solely on the back wheel; the fastest exit speed marks the winner. Bidding for the world title requires motorcycles that can reach at least 200+ mph (320+ km/h), so most contestants race customized turbo-charged sport bikes, with Suzuki Hayabusa being the most popular among the top contenders.
Last year's Championship went to Gary Rothwell from England and his 540-hp (403 kW) turbo Hayabusa after his 197.879 mph (317.041 km/h) run. One month later Rothwell returned to the Straightliners' final Top Speed event of 2015 for a shot at the world record, which he smashed masterfully with an unbelievable 209.822 mph (337.676 km/h) exit speed. This sets the bar for the 2016 World Championship, as all the usual suspects return to the scene for the coveted world title and a new record attempt in the back of their minds.
Apart from the current world champion and record holder, Gary Rothwell, last year's podium finishers Egbert Van Popta from Holland and Paddy O'Sullivan from Ireland will also be there, along with Dave "Dodge" Rogers – the previous World Wheelie Champion who conceived and is the original driving force behind the World Championship.
The event is also open to any motorcycle rider who would like to test their skills and their motorcycle against the best in a safe and controlled environment.
"In the early days of wheelie world records it was dominated by an elite few with high powered turbo bikes. Working with Straightliners we wanted to also involve the average guy on his sport bike. The rules for the World Wheelie Championship have achieved this by attracting serious motorcycle riders from all walks of life," said Dave Rogers.
Straightliners is an affiliate of the Auto-Cycle Union (ACU) and the International Organisation of Professional Drivers (IOPD). Rider participation including record ratification and timing is administered by the UK Timing Association (UKTA). Both Straightliners and UKTA were set up by renowned motorcycle racer Trevor Duckworth.
The following video gives us a sniff at the high-speed action typically associated with the World Wheelie Chamnpionship.
Championship website: Straightliners