Pierre Fredet celebrated a second place in the Scooter class at this year’s Dark Dog Moto Tour in France. He rode his BMW C600 Sport more than 2,200 miles (3,500 km) in what is proclaimed the world’s greatest motorcycle road rally. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Dark Dog Moto Tour (DDMT) took place from October 6-14. Starting in northern France in Val-de-Reuil, and cheered on by thousands of spectators, 220 riders snaked their way through the picturesque French countryside across to Angers in the west and Thonon-les-Bains in the east before finishing over a week later in Toulon on the Mediterranean coast.
Each day the riders competed against the clock on a variety of special stages on closed roads. These technical stages tested the riders and their machines, not only on pure speed but also the ability to be consistent and smooth while navigating. There were also night stages and to test riders’ overall ability, track sessions were held at circuits.
As well as professional riders going for the outright victory there were other various classes that are equally well contested, including classics, sidecars, and of course, scooters. Regardless of the class, all the riders and their machines were pushed to their limit over the nine days of competition.
Pierre Fredet is a well known participant in the DDMT, having competed in the scooter category many times and known for developing scooters specifically for this rally. For 2012, he chose the C600 Sport because of its potential as a rally-winning scooter. Although he only received the BMW maxi-scooter a month before the DDMT, he was still able to put 2,500 miles (4,000 km) on it while practicing and commuting to his work as consultant for Coca-Cola. The 43-year-old father of four was amazed at how capable the C600 Sport was in this rally, with very little modification.
“I chose the C600 Sport for the Moto Tour because it has a very powerful motor (for the scooter category) and I like the challenge of developing a new scooter for rally racing, like I did with the TMAX in 2003 and for Gilera in 2008. We had very little that we needed to modify to prepare the C600 Sport for this rally. We worked on a rear shock absorber with Öhlins, a special foot base for extra ‘feel’ while riding, and navigation equipment such as a road book and trip master for ergonomic comfort. Because it rained pretty much every day, I am well qualified to comment on the C600 Sport’s weather protection and comfort, which was excellent. My feet stayed dry and the night riding visibility was very good too – as was the fuel efficiency. I used on average only 5.5 litres per 100 km [43 mph] on liaison, which is very low for this type of scooter under competition conditions.”
With a variety of weather, road and track conditions, as well as classic roadbook navigation, the margins for error are critical in the DDMT, with penalties awarded for arriving late at a checkpoint, or for breaking the speed limit on public roads. Having complete confidence in your machine is therefore vital, with so many different tasks to complete against the clock. For Pierre, despite the lack of preparation time, the new BMW maxi-scooter has definite development potential for this sport.
“It was easy to ride with its automatic gearbox, the strong brakes give you a chance to recover if you make a mistake such as arriving too fast in a corner, and it was very comfortable, especially for this type of race,” he said. “It also performed well on the racetrack. We raced on the Carole track in the north of Paris and also at Ales close to Montpelier in the south of France. The C600 Sport was great fun to ride on these circuits, especially with Öhlins developments we made, which gave lots of feedback. For sure, it is not an S1000RR or a K1300R, which are the bikes I own, but it is very efficient, compared to a scooter like a TMAX. In terms of future development, we just need to optimize the weight by about 10-15 kg to be truly competitive – as well as losing about 10 kg myself!”
After 2,200 miles of racing over nine days of the DDMT, Pierre missed out on the top spot of the podium in the scooter class by just 42 seconds behind Benjamin Colliaux on a Honda Integra. This was a bitter pill to swallow, especially when he knows what it is like to taste the victory champagne, as a former winner in 2008 and 2009. Therefore, he is already making plans to work on the C600 Sport’s rally specification. With 4,600 miles (7,500 km) under its wheels already, it could well be the most ridden BMW maxi-scooter in existence.