NEED FOR SPEED : The Ariel's First Attempts at racing.......1931
Richard Somerville Sikes and some of his medals of honor....
Richard Somerville Sikes
A short biography.....
Richard Somerville Sikes, who was born in May 1907, and who completed his education at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he joined the University’s Air Squadron, was appointed a Pilot Officer on the Royal Air Force’s Reserve of Officers in June 1929. Advanced to Flying Officer in December of the following year, he transferred to non-flying duties in June 1933, possibly to pursue his other abiding interest - motor-cycling; accompanying newspaper cuttings indicate he was a talented driver and participated in a pre-war Isle of Man T.T. race. Recalled on the outbreak of hostilities, he attended the Central Flying School in July 1940 and was posted to No. 2 Service Flying Training School at Brize Norton as an instructor in August 1940, where he also fulfilled the duties of O.C., Fire Section. Advanced to Flight Lieutenant in May 1941, he removed to No. 17 Blind Approach Training School at Ipswich as Chief Flying Instructor that October, where he was advanced to the acting rank of Squadron Leader and was gazetted for his A.F.C. in the New Year. In June 1942, Sikes was transferred to an appointment in an Air Safety Department at the Air Ministry, gaining advancement to war substantive Squadron Leader in October 1943. Then in the following year he went out to Italy to improve the safety of assorted types of airstrip being used by the Mediterraean Allied Air Force (M.A.A.F.), but not in time to qualify for the Italy Star. Sykes eventually relinquished his commission on the Reserve in July 1954, when he was permitted to retain the rank of Wing Commander.
Richard Somerville Sikes , according to the website of the IOM TT (www.iomtt.com/) participated in the TT in the following years :
Well, obviously, that's the man we're lookin'for........Richard Somerville Sikes, and, marked above in red, he participated in the 1931 Isle of Man TT, on an Ariel in the senior races....and Did Not Finish........Too bad isn't it? What would have been the outcome if he had?. That would have meant the Square Four turned out to be a better bike then it actually was. Anyway, the above autobiographic information I found digging the internet, and some more is given in Peter Hartley's Ariel Story. Somerville Sikes was on the staff of Forced Induction Ltd, and he fitted the Square Four he was going to ride in the TT with one of their vane-type Zoller superchargers. It was mounted on the off-side of the engine, just above the gearbox, and chain-driven at 55% of the crankshaft speed. That resulted in an induction-pressure of some 15lbs/sq.in. The supercharger had it's own lubrication-system, with a separate mechanical oilpump and oilreservoir. Because of the position of the supercharger, the carburetor had to be placed near the rear wheel, and the air-fuel mixture was fed to the cylinders by means of a long finned induction-pipe that was curved around the cylinders. At this model the inlet to the cylinders, or where the carburettor would normally be positioned, was still on the front-side of the cylinder head. The engine was provided with Y-alloy pistons, that gave it a 5:1 compression-ratio, and a Vickers-Potts oil-cooler mounted directly above the front cylinders took care of the heat produced......The top gear was chosen rather high, limiting engine speeds to some 5500 rpm in order to increase reliability, and power output of the engine was claimed at some 37-40 bhp at 5000 rpm
1931 Supercharged Square Four...
Looking good, but not good enough.....
The Square Four was finished just in time for the event, actually on the day of the race itself. It had therefore not been possible to do the obviously nescessary testing.... Sikes had therefore to start on a completely untried engine, and of course, it shouldn't be surprising that he had to retire early with a seized engine.....So far for the Isle of Man TT adventures then.......and the rest is history.