Thursday, 1st March
Well, it’s March, which means the race season is just around the corner, and looking out the window I can see this is the case. There’s about an inch of snow on the ground and it’s a couple of degrees below freezing out there. This is a personal bummer, as sitting in my garage at the moment along with my TZ is a very posh R1, which I’ve borrowed for a few days from James just to get me into the swing of riding again.
On the racing front, well, it’s been pretty busy, as usual. First up, I secured a late entry into the Brands Hatch race on 18th March, just for fun. I like Brands, but I’m crap there, so I guess the only solution to this dilemma is to keep going there until I get better. I’ve also spent many hours in the garage making sure everything is lovely with the bike. The new quickshifter arrived, and in a fit of excitement was fitted while waiting for my pancakes on Tuesday. Given my level of mechanical expertise I’m waiting for it to burst into flames or catch scurvy.
Life is not so rosy for my mates in the GP250 class though… Colin took his TZ out for it’s first shakedown run at Lydden last weekend, and promptly shattered both pistons, possibly due to the abnormally cold temperature. Sol, on the other hand, never even made it to the track before engine problems appeared… A quick stripdown last night revealed that the previous myopic engine builder had carelessly left a washer in there, which had predictably disastrous effects on the piston and barrel. The fact it made 78bhp on the dyno in this state bodes well though.
GP bikes… All about highs and lows.
Saturday, 3rd March
Up with the lark, to start the season down at Lydden. Despite it being a good two and a half hour drive away, I elected to kip at home on the Friday night as it was so bloody cold. The wisdom of this choice became apparent as I meandered down the M2 avoiding the snowdrifts and blizzards. I think I saw a couple of frolicking polar bears, but I may have been mistaken. I got to Lydden at around 7:30, and promptly bumped into James and Nick. My job this weekend was primary mechanic for Nick, and backup mechanic and food taster for James. Things started off well enough, with both bikes flying through scrooting, and so it was off to practise. James and Nick went out together, with the experienced James due to show Nick around for a few laps.
“Just tuck in behind me and follow me round for a few laps” were James’ last words as they headed to the collecting area.
About 5 minutes later they headed out of the collecting area, and within 5 yards James was on his arse, victim of cold tyres and rusty throttle control.
Did I mention it was cold?
Anyway, the practise finished, and we set about patching up James’ bike to get him out for another practise session. The damage was realy limited to a few dents and scratches, so no real problems there. Nick proclaimed himself happy, if a little chilly, and proceeded to shiver in the back of the van. James went out again to complete his mandatory 3 laps, and decided that all was well.
First race up for us was Nicks rookie 600s. Due to being second reserve Nick had a back row start. Not that it seemed to bother him as he tore past half the field to reach 8th place before the race was red-flagged, as is the tradition of the 600s. From the restart he made it from last to 5th in two corners.
“He looks like he’s about to crash” I said to Simon Tomlinson, just as he crashed at the hairpin.
Damage was the usual sticky out things, footpegs, levers etc. This was all patched up in the usual way with cable ties and duct tape, until we realised that neither brake worked. Bugger. This was all sorted soon enough though, so we went and got a cuppa.
The second race was a rather timid affair, netting 12th place or something. Hardly surprising really after the events of the first…
James, on the other hand, had a great time in the Supersport 600s and powerbikes, racking up a few good solid top 10 finishes and easing himself back into competition.
For the evening we retired to the local pub, as the temperature dropped well below freezing for the night. A few pints and good stories later it was time for a kip in the back of James’ van. Zzzzzzzzz.
Sunday, 4th March
Monday, 26th March
All sorts of things to write about, as I’ve just not had chance to keep this up to date recently. First things first, was last weekends race at Brands, my first of the season. All in all, a top day out, and the finer details can be found here. Laziness precludes me from typing it all up again, and besides, there seems little point in having the same information clogging up my web space twice… It has to be said, one of the most notable things was how bloody brilliant my quickshifter proved to be. Very good. (Even if it turned out to cost a whole load more than advertised. The company in question seem to be unable to provide me with any breakdown of shipping and handling costs to account for the difference either. Oh well).
Aside from the track, an awful lot of my time has been taken up on the new bemsee site which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Still a bit of work to do, but I’m pretty pleased with the work so far.
And a rather significant event at the weekend… Went into Cambridge on Saturday to do some shopping, and spent 15 minutes and 10 quid in McKays, my favourite tool shop, and 35 minutes and 160 quid in Mothercare. I’m sure there’s a pattern emerging here.
Saturday, 31st March
Off to Snetterton for a days testing. Things started well enough, with Scotty and myself arriving nice and early, and grabbing a quick bacon roll and cuppa before signing on and getting ready to go out. The weather was pretty changeable, with plenty of water around in the paddock, but a nice dry line on the track, and the famous Snetterton breeze to dry it still further. The first session was pretty uneventful really – just rolling it around, trying to remember which way the track went, and noting that my gearing was well out to lunch, with me revving out about a third of the way along the back straight. However, all was not well… Coming up to the end of the session I gave it a big handful on the Revett straight, only to be greeted with a ‘bluuurgghhhh’ sound, and complete lack of forward motion – thinking it had nipped up I whipped the clutch in, and coasted off the track at the end of the straight.
Back in the garage, it was plainly obvious that nothing had nipped up, but I jetted it up a couple of sizes to be on the safe side. Snett is famous for killing engines. Session two was cut to four laps after being delayed for an hour while the oil slick from yet another sidecar blowup was treated. I reckon that sidecars should pay at least double for there tracktime, as every practise session I go to seems to be delayed while an oil slick that the Exxon Valdez would have been proud of is cleared off the racing line.
Session three was an absolute scream – I completely forgot that this was only a practise session, and got into a nice rhythm pretty quickly on, picking people off pretty much at will. My favourite move was simply riding around the outside of them at Corams, where I seemed to be able to hold a nice line. My new Michelin inters really seem to suit the bike, giving me enough confidence to scoot past practically anyone I came across. Apart from Steve Ruth… After a nice little tussle I got him on the brakes into Sear, and upped the pace a little to try and make a clean break. Steve, however, had other ideas, and popped past me into Russels. Hmmmm… A good drive out of Russels soon had me back past into Riches, only to have Steve nip up the inside into the Esses. Rather than lob the bike in practise I pulled in, with a big smile on my face.
The third session was pretty uneventful really, apart from the re- emergence of the cutting out problem – thinking it may have been my recently installed quickshifter doing something to the electrics I switched it off, and carried on. I’d switched to slicks, as by now it was bone dry, but could no longer hold a nice line at Corams, as I was suffering chronic patter from the rear of the bike. Ho hum.
The fourth session started off as a real hoon, as Scotty, James on his CBR600 and myself all set off together for a bit of fun. Sadly, after three laps my mysterious misfire recurred, and I had to pull off. This time it was more serious, and there was no way of restarting the bike for the fifth session.
A bit of a parsons egg of a day – when the bike was running well, it was flying, and I felt comfortable and pretty confident. The mysterious misfire is a major pain in the bum, as I’ve now had to cancel my test session booked for 20th April due to work commitments. So, I’ve got to try and find the cause of things and fix them in my garage.
Pressure: 1006 mbar
Mains: 430/420 – Slightly rich, but safe for Snett.
Gearing 15/39. Too long. Need more drive out of Esses.