Sunday, 1st April
Stripped the bike in an attempt to find yesterdays electical gremlins. No sign of them yet, but it’s pretty obvious that my clutch wasn’t long for this world… Good job I stripped it when I did. Have to order some new clutch plates.
Tuesday, 17th April
Well, I guess it’s about time I got this up to date with what’s been going on since the Snetterton test, so here goes… Firstly, the clutch: Oh dear. I thought it was slightly knackered, but a complete strip has shown the true extent of the damage. Should be recoverable though. To this end I ordered up a new set of plates from the helpful chaps at Cambridge Motorcycles, which duly arrived two days later. This would have been very helpful had they fitted, but it appears the importers decided that they didn’t have any TZ plates in stock, so just picked a random set of plates and sent those instead. Very useful. I now have three days to sort out a new set of plates before this weekends fun and games at Snett. Oh well…
I also spent a useful evening sorting out the wiring for the quickshifter, and attempting to re-mount it somewhere else where it would be less prone to vibration. After about 5 hours of snipping, cutting and soldering I ended up with it back where it started. Another triumph of electrical ingenuity on my part I feel. At least the wiring is a little better now though.
The seat unit has finally been treated to a bit of glass fibre around the mounting points, which were looking a little the worse for wear. Some people seem able to craft exquisitely formed repairs to the most badly damaged bodywork using glass fibre. I seem only able to end up with big lumps of it thrown randomly in the direction of the crack, with a large amount of the stuff under my fingernails, up my arms, over my trousers etc. etc. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of it one day.
One success though. I mananged to change the rear sprocket without bolloxing anything up.
Saturday, 21st April
I like Snetterton. Not only for the track itself, which is pretty uninspirational really, but more for the fact that I can get a good nights kip in my own bed the night before the race. This is possibly the only advantage to living in the fens, unless you have a phobia of hills. So it was on Friday night as I spoke to Simon, Colin, and Scotty who all told me that I’d not missed a great deal in the practise day, as the weather was so appalling that nothing really was learned, and lots of people got rather soggy and/or muddy. Saturday morning I trundled up to the circuit, nice and warm and rested after a night in my favourite Italian (There’s just *so* many smutty innuendos there that I won’t bother) and ready to rock and roll.
Practise was on full wets, and the track seemed to be pretty much as I left it a couple of weeks ago. No surprises there. I completed my minimum of three laps, and pulled off as I couldn’t get the temperature above 30 degrees. No point in killing a motor in practise.
Scotty DNFd on lap one with a flat tyre, leaving me to have an alimighty scrap with Brett Randall, Ben Brewerton, Nick Sansome Matt Ford-Dunn, and a couple of seconds ahead, Andy Hyde and Jason Browning. Somewhere in that little lot was Rikki Owen on his ‘prilly RSV250. What a laugh! Every lap I’d power past Matt (national 125 rider) on the straights, only to be given a lesson in cornering and braking at the end of the straight. At the same time, Rikki would power past all of us, every lap, but seemed to be suffering handling problems. Eventually we dropped Brett off the back of the group, and I set about Ben. A couple of passes and re-passes later, and I found myself on the tail of Rikki – who I knew I could pass at Russels on the last lap. However, a waved yellow at the Esses (still sore Paul?) saw me back off, rather than risk a potentially dodgy overtake on the way into them on a backmarker. Ben was having none of it, and dived up the inside of both of us. Grrrrrr. This *really* got my race head on, as I’d lost the tow on Rikki, Nick and Matt in this little delay, so set about Ben. Eventaully I caught him when he ran out of fuel on lap 9. A shame, ‘cos I reckon I could have got the place back legitimately. Still, one of my best races on a GP250 to date.
A pretty pants start, followed by some loony passing on the first couple of corners to reclaim the places I’d lost soon had me on the tail of Jason Browning and try as I might, I just couldn’t make a pass stick. He was faster than me at Riches, and that was that – I was faster at Corams, and knew that if I could make a pass hold until Corams next lap I could bugger off, but every lap he’d dive up the inside again at Riches. On about lap 8, trying to ride defensively, I comprehensively missed by turn-in point, and gifted him about 2s. And that was that. A good race, quicker than the first one, but not as much fun.
After the race I went straight to scrooting, and got everything scrooted and signed on for tomorrows race. Lovely – an extra hour in bed…
I went home, pleased with the days results, and sat in the bath.
Sunday, 22nd April
Sunday dawned dry and bright, so I scooted back to the circuit, and after swapping my trusty Rover 820 for a TZ250 I scooted out onto the circuit for untimed practise. Yup, the track was still the same.
Woohoo! The track was dry, and I was feeling g-o-o-d… Reeled off a couple of low 1:19.1s, before hitting the 1:18.8s on about lap 4 or 5. A couple more l:19s before I backed off for a lap just to have a look around. Jeremy Goodall and Loz Hopper flew past into the bombhole in a highly impressive manner, and I decided to stick with them through Corams to try and see what line they took. I went into Corams fully 10mph faster than I ever have before, and noticed a slightly vague feeling from the rear of the bike. Bearing in mind that my rear tyre has been on there since July I pulled off at the pit lane for a breather before any more red mist caused an untimely exit. I carried on, but couldn’t improve on my previous times.
Had I qualified? There were 48 entrants, and 40 spaces on the grid. And some very, very good riders among them. Eventually, my questions were answered. Yes, I’d qualified. No, I wasn’t last. I wasn’t even on the back row :o)
The Big Race
My best start of the weekend saw me make up about 6 places, and some pretty, um, determined passing saw me gain a couple more. An almighty battle with Paul Streets was pulling us both up to the group in front of Ian Kimberly, the Sansome brothers, and a couple more. However, all was not well… Coming out of Russels the motor bogged, and felt like it was nipping up. Dammit and blast. I stuck my hand up, and was immediately rewarded with full forward motion again. I set off in pursuit, but at Riches something *very* odd happened. The motor cut out altogether, and simultaneously appeared to find a false neutral. I was convinced that I’d lunched the transmission. I sat and glumly watched the rest of the race from Sear. At the end of the race, faced with the prospect of having to wait until the end of the next race before rescue, I tried to fire the bike up. It started first time and I rode back to the paddock.
I was disappointed that the race ended that way, but bloody impressed with what I’d achieved: Qualification for a national race, improving on my grid position, and the (rather remote) possibility of a top 20 finish.
A good days work.
Pressure: 1001 mbar
Mains: 430/420 – Slightly rich, but safe for Snett.
Gearing 15/40. Need low second for Esses.
Saturday, 28th April
Well, the post race stripdown revealed hasn’t really answered why the bike let me down in the last race, but has revealed some other problems. Mainly, I’ve cracked my top barrel. Bum. There’s a large crack between the exhaust port one of the transfer ports on one side, and a hairline crack on the other side. Ho hum. I’ve stripped the barrel off, and given it to the lovely chaps at Cambridge motorcycles, who’ve promised to bend over backwards to try and get it back to me in time for the next round at Brands. In the meantime, I’ve put my spare barrels and pistons on there to see what happens – the squish has dropped to .45mm, which is far too small, so I’ve ordered up some new base gaskets to suit. In truth, it was about time I ordered some new ones anyway.
I’ve also remounted the quickshifter to a spot less prone to vibration, just in case that was the problem last week. This was a bit of a trial, but I found a nice little gap next to the ignition unit that suited nicely. Hopefully this will keep the thing running next time.