The Royal Automobile Club honoured three winners of its prestigious Torrens Trophy at a presentation dinner on Monday 14th March at the Pall Mall clubhouse in London. It was the first time the Trophy could be awarded in person since speedway legend Tai Woffinden was recognised for claiming his third Speedway World Championship in 2018.
Guests included James Toseland and Ian Kerr MBE – both past winners of the Torrens Trophy – plus a notable roll call of motorcycling personalities and industry figures, including 2021 British Superbike Champion Tarran Mackenzie.
Three trophies were awarded, the first being to 2019 winner Peter Hickman for his trio of Isle of Man TT victories that year, and for setting the world’s fastest motorcycle road lap record of 136.415mph at the Ulster Grand Prix. Staffordshire-born Hickman has become one of the leading road-racers and his TT wins were described by former racer Barrie Baxter – Chairman of the Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee – as being ‘pure poetry’.
Hickman said: ‘I’m obviously really proud to have won the Royal Automobile Club’s Torrens Trophy. It’s such a prestigious trophy that many great names have won over the years. A massive thank you to Alan, Rebecca and everyone at the former Smiths Racing Team.’
After a two-year hiatus, the Isle of Man TT returns this year and Hickman is looking forward to picking up where he left off in 2019. With five TT wins now under his belt, he’s determined to add to that, and has entered six races including Superbike, Supersport, Superstock and Supertwin.
The 2020 Torrens Trophy winner was Emma Bristow, who claimed her seventh consecutive FIM Women’s Trial World Championship. Bristow’s success marked the first time in more than 40 years that the Torrens Trophy has been awarded to a female motorcyclist. It’s also the first time that the trials world has been recognised, despite that discipline being close to the heart of Arthur Bourne. The former Editor of The Motor Cycle and Vice Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club wrote a column under the pen name ‘Torrens’, and it was in his honour that the trophy was inaugurated in 1979.
In 2014, Bristow became the first British rider to win the Women’s FIM Trial World Championship and continues to dominate the sport at an international level. In 2020, she won the title after going unbeaten in the TrialGP Women class, with six wins from six starts.
Having started riding motorcycles at the age of four, the 31-year-old from Louth, Lincolnshire is now a nine-times world champion, having also won two World SuperEnduro Championships. Add to her tally 10 Women’s British Trials Championships, two Women’s European Trials Championships, one Latin American Championship (mixed gender category) and she’s without doubt one of the UK’s most successful female athletes.
Bristow said: ‘I’m truly honoured to have won the Torrens Trophy – and to be the first female winner. I’m really looking forward to 2022 and I’m already working hard to try to win another World Championship and break the current record of 35 GP wins. I still want to keep improving and developing as a rider. Yes, I hope my success inspires more girls to get into two-wheeled motorsport, but for me it’s also about girls seeing it’s not just the men who can ride bikes at a high level. We can succeed if we work hard, and this is something I’m really passionate about.’
The final winner on the night was the Crescent Yamaha WorldSBK team, which was awarded the Torrens Trophy for becoming the first British team to win the Riders’, Teams’ and Manufacturers’ titles in the 2021 FIM World Superbike Championship.
Founded by Edward ‘Ted’ Denning – who rode his Triumph in Guernsey’s sand races before World War Two – Crescent Racing has been competing at the top level in national and international racing for the past 25 years. It has won races and Championships in everything from British Superbikes and World Superbikes to MotoGP, enduro and moto cross, and since 2016 it has run the official Yamaha team in World Superbikes from a state-of-the-art purpose-built facility in Dorset.
Paul Denning, Managing Director of Crescent and Team Principal, was delighted to receive the prestigious award: ‘We have been aware of the Torrens Trophy for many years and have greatly enjoyed seeing such British stars as Sam Sunderland and Cal Crutchlow receive it in the past. For Crescent Yamaha to be recognised by the Royal Automobile Club and the Torrens committee is a real honour and we are so proud to receive the 2021 award, which only adds to the satisfaction of the team’s achievements last year. We are now very much focused on looking forward towards the 2022 season and doing everything we can to again be competitive, but the Torrens Trophy is a great way to cap off 2021!’
Royal Automobile Club Chairman Ben Cussons said: ‘The Royal Automobile Club has always had a close association with the motorcycling world since the Club formed the Auto Cycle Club in 1903, which went on to become the Auto Cycle Union in 1947. I would like to extend a huge congratulations to our Torrens Trophy winners for the past three years and thank Peter, Emma and the Crescent Yamaha team for their outstanding achievements and contribution to the motorcycling scene – they are everything the Torrens Trophy represents; each of them providing a true showcase of British motorcycling skill and technical excellence’
In addition to Ben Cussons, the Club’s Torrens Trophy Nominations Committee consists of ex-motorbike and car racer Barrie Baxter, respected motorcycle journalist and TT winner Mat Oxley, commentator and former racer Steve Parrish, Club member Richard Bourne (son of Arthur Bourne), and ‘Queen of Bikers’ Maria Costello MBE, who has held the Guinness World Record for being the fastest woman to lap the Isle of Man TT course.
The Torrens Trophy
The Torrens Trophy recognises an individual or organisation considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of safe and skilful motorcycling in the United Kingdom, or to have made an outstanding contribution of technical excellence to further the cause of motorcycling in the UK, or to have shown outstanding skill in international motorcycling sporting events.
The Torrens Trophy was first awarded in 1978 in memory of Arthur Bourne, a motorcycling journalist who wrote a column under the name ‘Torrens’. Arthur Bourne was also a Vice-Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club. It is awarded only when the Club feels that the achievement justifies it. Previous winners of the Torrens Trophy include:
2018 Tai Woffinden for being the most successful British speedway rider in history. 2017 Jonathan Rea MBE for being the first rider to win three consecutive World Superbike Championships. 2016 MotoGP racer Cal Crutchlow for being first British rider to win a premier class World Championship Motorcycle Grand Prix in 35 years. 2015 Eleven-time TT winner Ian Hutchinson for his outstanding determination, courage and overcoming adversity to win multiple TTs. 2014 Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne for becoming the first man in history to be crowned British Superbike Championship on four occasions (2003, 2008, 2012 and 2014). 2013 Tom Sykes for being crowned the 15th World Superbike Champion, the fourth from Great Britain and only the second rider to win for Kawasaki in the series for 20 years. 2008 World Superbike Champion James Toseland was awarded the Trophy for his immense contribution to raising the profile of motorcycle racing in this country. 1998 Ian Kerr of the Metropolitan Police for 20 years of tireless work in promoting safe and responsible motorcycling. 1989 BMW in recognition for its contribution to motorcycle safety through the development of its anti-lock braking system. 1981 Dave Taylor MBE for his vast contribution to motorcycle road safety. 1980 Transport and Road Laboratory. 1979 Lieutenant-Colonel Fredrick Lovegrove OBE.
The Royal Automobile Club
The Royal Automobile Club was founded in 1897 and its distinguished history mirrors that of motoring itself. In 1907, the Club was awarded its Royal title by King Edward VII, sealing the Club’s status as Britain’s oldest and most influential motoring organisation.
The Club’s early years were focused on promoting the motor car and its place in society, which developed into motoring events such as the 1000 Mile Trial, first held in 1900. In 1905, the Club held the first Tourist Trophy, which remains the oldest continuously competed-for motorsport event. The Club promoted the first pre-war and post-war Grands Prix at Brooklands in 1926 and Silverstone in 1948 respectively, while continuing to campaign for the rights of the motorist, including introducing the first driving licences.
Today, the Club continues to develop and support automobilism through representation on the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and RAC Foundation while promoting its own motoring events including London Motor Week, which features the free-to-attend Regent Street Motor Show and the RM Sotheby’s London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.
The Royal Automobile Club also awards a series of historic trophies and medals celebrating motoring achievements. These include the Segrave Trophy, the Tourist Trophy, the Dewar Trophy, the Simms Medal, the Torrens Trophy and the Diamond Jubilee Trophy.