Saturday, 4th July
Picked up a gear lever from my local friendly breakers yard to replace the one borrowed from Phil. Sadly it doesn’t fit. Bum.
Cost so far:
Gear lever: £5
Sunday, 5th July
Entered for the last three meetings of the year at Mallory, Snett and Silverstone. So that’s it – All my race entries are paid for. Just as well really, as I’ve run out of money now.
Cost so far:
Mallory race entry: £70
Snetterton race entry: £115
Silverstone race entry: £70
Saturday, 11th July
Spent the day in the garage getting the bike fully set up for tomorrows meeting at Brands. I’ve dropped the rear pre-load this time, as now that I’ve actually got some damping I probably won’t need to have it set up for a 38 stone rider. Drove to Brands in the evening, and it started raining. Getting the tent up was a test of patience and character as by this time there was a high wind to accompany the driving rain. Eventually the tent was erect, and I went to find comfort (and a cup of tea) in the back of Rogers palatial race transporter. As usual, BHL had decided to make life as difficult as possible for the less well equipped competitor by closing the lower paddock toilets due to ‘vandalism’. However, this situation rapidly changed when Daz’s girlfriend gave BHL security a polite bit of advice.
Sunday, 12th July
Woke early to the sound of no rain whatsoever! It was 6:30am, and the sky was clear and blue. To celebrate I got the kettle on the go and had a quick cuppa with Phil, who had by now woken up and noticed someone else making tea. It was looking like being a good day. Scrooting was the normal trial at Brands, due to the large hill we all have to push our bikes up. Whilst in the queue I bumped into Rik who gave me a piece of advice: “It never rains at Brands when it’s windy”. At that moment the heavens opened, and the wind picked up again. Thanks Rik. I got my waterproofs on and queued up for practice:
Practice – Brands in the wet is slippery. Not as bad as it used to be, but still slippy enough to make you think twice before wrenching the throttle open. However, there was only one place I was having any real problems with, the left hander of Graham Hill. The reason for this was simple – There was a river flowing across it. At least I wasn’t the only one suffering there. After a couple of laps it went like this: Past start line flat in top. Down two for Paddock Hill and take a very wide, slow line in. The reason for this was that on the exit, at the bottom of the hill there was a large puddle forming on the left of the track. Those who took the ‘normal’ line around Paddock Hill Bend were thrown directly into this puddle, with subsequent nasty effects on the handling. Hold fourth up the hill, and brake hard for Druids. I was surprised to find that I could brake as hard here as I was in the dry last year, so obviously I need a new braking marker in dry weather. Down one, and round Druids in third. Get the power on smoothly on the exit, and shortshift to fourth down the hill. Get around Graham Hill Bend any old how, and accelerate along the Cooper straight. Up one, then down one again into the left hander at Surtees. Hit the apex bang in the middle, and straight line the entry into Clearways. Down another gear and peel in at the centre of the kerb. Hold a tight line, and gradually get on the gas as the turn unwinds. 4th, 5th, 6th, over the start line, and do it all again.
1st race – My second row grid position looked good. Normally I’d line up for an outside line into Paddock Hill, but in the wet I decided to go for the inside on the grounds that the first lap melee might result in someone locking a front wheel and skittling everyone outside. However, I was a bit sharp on the clutch, and span the back away from the line allowing my old rival Scott past from row 3. The chase began… The normal first lap chaos occured at Surtees, with 5 bikes down. Luckily I was far enough behind not to get caught up in it all, and settled in behind Scott round Clearways. Down the straight, and again I took the wide line into Paddock Hill. Scott hit the puddle, and I just drove past up the hill to claim 4th place. Next lap round, I was behind Daz, and did exactly the same thing to elevate myself to 3rd. One lap later I was closing on Phil and Simon in front, peeled in for Druids, and hit the deck like a sack of spuds. I stayed in the middle of the track until the chasing pack had all gone past, then tried to get off the track. This simple act was made somewhat more challenging by the fact my left leg no longer seemed to work. Undeterred by this I hopped into the gravel, and behind the tyres. Matt Jones, an RD250 rider ran over and apologised. Apparently he’d run up the inside of me, then locked the front when I peeled in, neatly twatting me. My helmet was trashed, and my leg hurt like hell. After the race I got a lift back to the paddock in the recovery van, gave my lid to the chief scroot, and set about repairing the damage. The steering damper was scrap, so off it came. The footrest hanger had snapped, so I replaced it with a spare. The exhaust was bent, the fairing smashed, the fairing stays bent, clutch lever bent, gear lever bent, etc. etc. Eventually I had patched the thing up to a point where I thought I might be in with an outside chance of getting out for the second race. I tried to get on the bike to ride it back up to scrutineering, and realised that I couldn’t move my left leg. So instead of going to scrutineering I took a trip to the medical centre. They promptly diagnosed a fractured pelvis and sent me off to hospital for X-rays.
Luckily, the diagnosis was wrong – Nothing was fractured. However, I still cannot move my leg (two days later). My ribs that I hurt at Lydden earlier are hurting again, and I’ve injured my neck (presumably when I trashed my crash helmet). All in all, not a terribly successful days racing really. I got three laps, a large repair bill, and a lot of pain for my money. However, I’ve got to take the highs with the lows. I’ll be back out for the next round at Cadwell, and I’ll repair the bike to the best of my abilities to make sure it’s competitive still.
Wednesday, 15th July
Stripped the bike to see what needed repairing/replacing after the weekends fun & games:
Gearlever – Bent. Straightened with large hammer.
Upper fairing stay – Bent. Straightened with large hammer and mole grips.
Footrest – Ground down to about 3mm long. Replace.
Footrest hanger – Snapped. Replace with spare.
Choke mounting place – Mangled. Make new one from ally plate.
Fairing – Scuffed and cracked. Patch up for now. Repaint during winter.
Seat unit – Same as fairing.
Exhaust – Bent. Try and straighten.
Clutch lever – Scuffed. Leave it alone.
And that seems to be about that. At the same time I do all the above work I’ll also replace the standard Yamahaha fuel tap arrangement with a fuel coupling & shut-off valve.
Thursday, 16th July
Ordered a few bits and bobs to replace the mangled ones
Cost so far:
Saturday, 18th July
Spent all day in the garage attempting to repair things ready for Cadwell Park. Everything went back together pretty nicely, but it appeared the new footrest hanger was bent. No worries, I simply replaced it with one from my other TZR. I then noticed that this one appeared bent too. Eh? I put it back on the road bike, and it was fine. There was a slow dawning of realisation. Either the frame or swinging arm were bent… If it was the swinging arm, I had a spare. If it was the frame, I was out for the rest of the season. In a fit of panic I stripped the old swinging arm out, replaced it, and breathed a large sigh of relief.
The fairing is still tatty, and my new footpegs haven’t turned up yet, but at least it looks like I’ll be able to get things running for Cadwell.
Wednesday, 22nd July
Trailered the stricken TZR and Fayes ZX-4 up to Cadwell for the Ixion track day. The idea was to get the TZR set up for next weekends racing there, and to have a bloody good time aboard Fayes ZX-4. The trip up to Cadwell was a long one, and I arrived there in the dark. Just to make life that little more entertaining it was by now cold, windy and raining. Ideal conditions for attempting to put a tent up. I mused to myself that things had to get better for tomorrow.
Thursday, 23rd July
Well, I managed the grand total of two laps aboard the TZR before the bloody thing seized on me. I have a feeling it’s the same problem I had a Pembrey last year when a ring peg let go. I don’t have the enthusiasm to look at it right at the moment.
On a more positive note, I did manage to get in quite a few laps on the ZX-4, and even managed to borrow a fireblade for a couple of sessions.