I have had a few things alter the race schedule for this year. Hence, after rebuilt motors and suspensions, we finally ventured out again this weekend for the third round of the Victorian Interclub Series.
I drove to Broadford yesterday with my wife, had the bike scrutineered, and set up the pit bay in readyness for an early start Sunday Morning. If this process isn't stuck too, you end up out in the rain with no pit bay and no power for the tyre warmers. Which at a race meet with the way tyres are these days makes things a tad harder.
That night we ventured into the local pub for a traditional country pub Bistro meal, and were not dissapointed one bit. Great atmoshpere, and a couple of people we know a bit turned up to make it a bit of fun over dinner. Top stuff so far. We trundled off home about 9.00pm and turned the TV onto sleep, and I doubt if I made it to the first add break before I was most probably snoring my little heart out, tucked up inside a warm cosy room at the Sugarloaf motel in Broadford.
The day dawned icy cold, but at least looking like it would clear. It took a bucket full of water to clear the Ice off the Windscreen. We warmed it up and arrived at the circuit about 7.30am. Already the pits were a hive of activity. I signed on and unloaded the pit gear we didn't leave behind last night, and set the tyre pressures, fuelled the bike, and turned on the tyre warmers in readyness for the first qualifying session.
It had rained overnight and the track was saturated, and as it was only about 3 degrees when first practice started, the water was going to take some time to clear. I wobbled around wheelspinning everywhere for three laps to keep the officials happy (They get grumpy if you don't suss out the track condition) and then pulled in, refuelled, and put the bike back on the warmers ready for the first race.
Race#1, Preston over 500cc club race.
Start position p10.
Starting from the third row of the grid was going to make it difficult to to make up the time with only 5 laps available, so a good start was critical. I used my normal starting technique, however perhaps due to nerves or maybe lack of practice, as it had been 10 months since I last raced, I fluffed the start, wheelieing and having to back it orf a tad to get it all happy and pointing in the right direction again. Note to self....Don't do that again you twat.
I entered turn 1 in about 7th or 8th, making up some ground as people tangled or missed gears. It was frantic as 20+ bikes jossled for a clear line thru turn 1. I made up some places outside a couple of riders going up the first third of the turn, then tucked it tight out of the exit and got a really good drive from turn one onto the back straight. 5th into crash corner as we all tried desperately to grow big ones and brake as late as possible into the turn. I might point out at this stage that the majority of the track was still damp, with turn one, and the turn onto the straight in particular very very wet still. Most of us were sliding about under brakes into crash corner. It was a bit sketchy I must say. I made up another place and found my self in 4th as we went down the hill into the chicane.
Turn 1 was scary stuff every lap after the start. The bars were tucking in every lap thru here, with me just managing do dig the knee in, and hold enough power to get the back to go with it. I hate riding in wet or damp conditions, it's just soooo easy to crash. The fact that I have never finished (till today) a wet race also added to me confidence!!
I was getting mad drive from the little 600 out of here and onto the pit straight, but the two bikes in front of me in 2nd and 3rd, were very very late on the brakes, with me catching them mid turn but unable to get them into the turns. The guy in 2nd was on a GSXR750 with a full race spec Hallam SBK motor. It fairly flew, and both myself, and the guy in third were constantly catching him mid turn and exiting, only to have him absolutely hose us down the chute. I was having a ball at this stage, trying to calculate where I was quicker and where I could get a run on them for a few corners to pull a gap. I was looking at 2nd and getting a little red mist descending the Visor. The guy leading had absolutely pulled a massive and unbeatable gap, so 2nd was the best i could hope for, so I settled a bit for laps 3 and 4.
I was quicker thru most of the turns than 2nd or 3rd, but just didn't have quite the power to draft them along the longer straights. But from Crash corner back to the main straight, I knew that if I get get past 3rd into the pit hairpin, that I could do an over under on the GSXR thru the left onto the main straight, and hopefully he would not have a big enough power advantage to mug me before the line.
I got a sensational run down the hill and into the chicane, almost running into 3rd but slowing it down and then really mega late apexing the pit straight exit and by 1/3 down the chute I had 3rd.
2nd was now on the menu for the old ZX6R, and some lapped traffic came into play. Which way was 2nd going to go. He decided he was going to hold a tight line into the left and go around the outside of the lapped rider. I went the other way, with another crazy late apex and pulled it tighter than a fish on the exit and I mugged both of them. Woohoo 2nd!!! Or so I thought................. The guy on the GSXR just opened the taps, and I heard this growl as 190 (thats what the guy reckons it's got???? He talked to me after the race!!!) Horsepower nearly sucked my fairings off as he went past. So in the end it was to greet the flag in 3rd place! The track was wet so I didn't bother with the lap timer. so not sure how quick we were running, but i would estimate by the bum watch @ 65's
Race#2 Formula 1B (basically anything under 600cc. mainly Supersport bikes).
Start Position P16.
Grid positions were based on the series points for the year, so I got gridded waaaaaay back with those who either hadn't done the first two rounds like me, or were not good enough to score points. It was a struggle to see the starters lights from way back where I was. But we got on with it.
The lights went out and we were away. This time i got my usual start and actually made up so places, only to have so loopy numb nuts wobble all over the track and park his bike in front of me and then proceed to brake into turn 1 Top Class DH this guy must be For those who don't know broadford, even on a 200HP moto GP bike you DO NOT NEED TO BRAKE INTO TURN ONE OFF THE START LINE........Grrrrrrrrrr
Anyways I settled into making up ground. I had two guys on newer 600's in front of me and I must have been stuck back something like 10th place or something silly, I had no Idea at this stage as there were just bikes everywhere and none that I recognised (that means I was waaaaay back)
The track was basically dry now, with just a few damp patches thru some turns and along the straights, but not enough to compromise grip too much.
I managed to pass a couple of guys around turn 1 on lap two, and then made up another place on the next lap, so I must have been somewhere around 8th i think at this stage. The pace with the three guys I was riding with was hot. I wasn't looking as we rode around, but i can tell you that the bike was walking alll over the track, so thought we must have been doing 65's maybe 64's even.
Lap 4 and I had passed the guys in front and now had my eye on 5th 6th and 7th places. A top ten from 16th would be respectable I thought, and at this point I was first Pre-modern too. As I cam over the crest on the back straight, there was still a little water. The bikes back wheel hit a bump while almost fully extended and popped the rear wheel off the ground momentarily. the bike revved to the moon before the wheel touched back down and I clicked 5th. Immediately the bike lost power, I pulled to the left and tucked down behind the screen to listen to what horrible noises it mught be making, and sure enough, it had dropped a valve!!!
I hit the Kill switch, and rolled back into pit lane. As you could imagine, at this point I was very dissapointed. This is a motor that I had only rebuilt three meetings ago, and had been treating it with kid gloves only revving it to 12 or 13 rather than all the way to redline. But meh??
I have another engine which has just been rebuilt and it's ready to go in, so I will hopefully make the next round at Winton.
Having said all that I am not dissapointed with the day despite the mechanical DNF. The pleasing thing was my lap times. Lap 2 was a 63.7, lap 3 was a 63.3, lap 4 was a 63.0 and lord knows what the last one would have been had the motor stayed together!!!! As it reached a max of 9 degrees celcius today the track temp was not conducive to quick lap times which pleased me even more!
Here are a coupla pics to satisfy your visual senses.