|By Mental_Trev on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 02:56 am:|
The week leading up to this last weekend's racing for me could best be described as panic-stricken... my engine builder hadn't realised how quickly time had passed since the disaster that was Silverstone and hadn't checked his email for several days, where there were messages waiting for him from me expressing extreme alarm that my engine was not yet rebuilt.
My panic got worse when it became clear that the cylinder damaged at Silverstone needed to be completely replaced - fortunately, some last day telephone calls turned up the required part just in time and the tension in the air eased a little as the engine rebuild was completed the night before I was due to leave for testing... even then, though, the engine was not firing properly until a small electrical problem was finally tracked down and rectified on Thursday morning.
That done, everything was packed and I arrived at Snetterton late on Thursday evening and was able to park up fairly close to my preferred spot in the paddock.
Friday morning arrived and with it, excellent weather conditions. The format was changed from 6 20 minute sessions to 4 30 minute ones. I wasn't bothered, either way.
Since the front cylinder was brand new, I took things easy in the first session so as to run it in gently... this was ideal as I wanted to make sure the track was as I expected from having familiarised myself with it using video footage & computer games.
The only 'incident' was a Yamaha TZ highsiding directly in front of me in the middle of the Esses - fortunately I was already upright in the process of the left-to-right flip-flop and so was able to brake hard and avoid any mishap of my own before continuing... the red flags came out straight away, though, ending the session.
After returning from the first session, everything felt good and I was happy... the only sign of anything needing attention was a small amount of oil residue on one of the exhausts, which appeared to be due to a leak at the front of the silencer in question caused by an old 'scrape' - this was dealt with by sealing over the leak with tape.
Having learnt the track layout in the first session, I started to work a bit harder in the second but still far short of 'full on', so continuing to ease the running in of the new cylinder. Returning from that session, the exhaust repair seemed to have cured the oil leak.
In the third session after lunch, I began to push towards race pace a bit more... finding my various markers for gear changes, braking, turning in etc.. My session ended slightly prematurely as I ran out of fuel, thus providing me with the unplanned chance to calculate my consumption and determine the fuel load I would carry for racing.
The fourth session was then used to run at full race pace for almost twice race distance - there were no incidents and I was happy with all my lines, markers etc..
Unfortunately, I did not have anyone around to be timing my laps BUT everything felt smooth, fast & consistent.
I used to think I hated this circuit but by the end of my day of testing, I loved it... it's so fast!!!
After the final session, I took the bike for scrutineering - it failed due to three loose fixings which were fairly easily dealt with so that the bike passed on the next attempt the following morning.
I was entered into 4 races on Saturday...
SuperSport 400 (am)
Rookie 400 (am)
SuperSport 400 (pm)
Rookie 400 (pm)
in that order.
I was placed to start race 1 from 26th position out of 36.
I got an appalling start, falling to the very back by the first corner but then got my head down and had managed to repass 2 or 3 people by the end of lap 6 (out of 9).
On lap 7, going into Sears (turn 2, a 90 degree right hander onto the long fast back straight) I did nothing different to how I'd been doing it for throughout the final testing session the day before AND the previous 6 laps.
A ZXR400 shot inside me but outbraked himself, allowing me to repass straight away underneath on my usual line. Having apexed, I started to power out of the corner and the back came round on me violently & without warning... I lowsided, tumbled for a bit and my race was over.
Damage to me: slightly bruised right thumb.
Damage to kit: helmet had to be scrapped after gouging on the left hand side
Damage to bike: replace front brake lever & both exhausts, tape up scuffs on front fairing.
It was whilst replacing the exhausts that the probable cause of the accident was identified as oil seeping out near the exhaust headers going under my rear tyre as I applied power to drive out of the corner - taping over that exhaust leak the day before seemingly 'moved' the problem rather than curing it.
My laptimes were consistent 1'26"s, although I did clock an offical fastest of 1'24.62" which would have been quick enough for a points scoring finishing position (probably top 10 placing!) in the Rookie race, which I missed due to carrying out repairs.
I was ready for race 3, my SuperSport400 (pm) race but decided to sit that out so as not to risk the Rookie 400 (pm) race in which I stood more chance of scoring points.
I lined up for race 4 at the back of the grid (on account of having not taken part in the morning race) and was returning to my grid position after the warm up lap when the bike began to overheat seriously - I had no choice but to retire without starting.
This could have been avoided had I not been so stupid in the course of my post accident repairs as to forget the final thing - check the radiator water level!
I was entered in the same pattern of races for Sunday but opted not to start either of the SuperSport races, instead concentrating on the Rookie 400 races where I was confident I could score points by the end of the day.
Again, on the basis of the previous days results, I lined up next to last for the first rookie race. I got another crap start but stuck at it and finally managed to complete my first race this year, having made up a number of places on track - the best was undoubtedly outbraking 3 people at once mid race and going underneath them into the first part of Russells chicane, which then feeds onto the start/finish straight... a move completed right in front of where my brother was spectating from!
One of those I passed then stayed with me for the remainder of the race and we swapped places 2 or three times on each of every remaining lap - he regularly got past me into the Esses but I was always able to stay with him and repass him through the long fast right hander of Corams into Russells Chicance... except on the last lap when I was obliged to stay behind him due to yellow flags being shown.
At the end of the race, counting non-starters, non-finishers and those I had passed, I finished 18th from 32. By the end, though, the bike was again starting to overheat... something was obviously wrong BUT I was confident the bike could go race distance provided the cooling system was filled to the brim immediately before setting out.
My lap times were a good 5 seconds slower than the those I'd put in during the first SuperSport race the day before - I put most of this down to me being rather cautious at Sears, the right hander were I'd lowsided.
So, I lined up for my last race in 18th position on the grid. At last, I got a good start, making up 3 places before/into/through turn 1 (into a points scoring position already!), another place into turn 2 and I then slip streamed down the straight, out braking the person who had 'towed' me AND the person who had 'towed' him into left hander of the Esses at the end of the straight.
I started to run a little wide, though - perhaps because I was on cold tyres since an electrical problem in the paddock had left me without the benefit of my tyre warmers?
Whatever the reason for me running just a little wide, though, there can be no excuse for the stupidity I displayed next when, in an effort to stay on line, I touched the front brake whilst already off throttle, decelerating and cranked over to the left.
No wonder, then, that even this slightest of touches on the brake overloaded the front tyre and I lowsided out of the race.
Damage to me: None
Damage to bike: bent clutch lever, scuffed top fairing.
Needless to say I was gutted to go out of the race at all, let alone so early on AND whilst clearly looking well set to finally score some championship points. I was FURIOUS at myself for having made such a stupidly basic error BUT at least I know what went wrong & that it was my fault so I can learn from it and know never to do such a thing again!
In summary, then, although I returned home with seemingly nothing to show for my efforts over the last 3 days, the reality is that I have LOADS to show... I had STACKS of fun and I learnt yet more, again, about this racing lark - it's all adding up to good experience and I hope quite soon to benfit from it & reap rewards as a result!
As for the bike, the cosmetic damage ican easily be dealt with, as can the bent clutch lever. The main issue is to sort out the overheating problem but I think that too will be straightforward since I believe I have already identified a leak in the cooling system which is to blame.
Thanks for all your ongoing support!
PS I forgot to mention the 2 or 3 times over the three days when I went grass tracking... typically on the exit from the Esses or Russells Chicance.
This seemed to be a bit of a crowd pleaser but just 'bugs' me all the more since each time, it involved me running wide & realising that fact early enough to be able to deal with it without even contemplating using the front brake - why couldn't I have done that during the race?
At worst, I may have lost one or two of the places I'd taken but they could have been recovered soon enough, at best my recovery would have been a perfect block to defend the position I'd just moved into.
STUPID STUPID STUPID!
|By Daz on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 04:00 am:|
Many congrats Trev! I was inching down the article dreading the bit where you'd describe the engine going bang.... how releaved was I when I got to the end and no engine troubles anywhere, fantastic!! :oD
Glad you enjoyed your weekend... when's the next one and where?
|By Crmc33 on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 04:23 am:|
sorry to hear that the weekend didnt go completely to plan Trev.
At least you didnt hurt yourself. My brother once crashed at Sears and bent the bike pretty badly. The marshall made sure he was alright and said "well done! the greatest riders of all crashed here...I saw Sheene crash here"
which I suppose almost helped!
Snett is a fast circuit and thats why I dont like it much. If you dont have a fast bike relative to the rest of the field then it gets very fustrating. It took me 5 years and 5 million hours in the workshop to win there!
Did you like the bum hole? err... I mean bomb hole? Thats a corner thats scarey to get wrong!
Did you know that the main entrance concrete slabbed road used to be part of the circuit? Yes really! Im not old enough to remember luckily.
You scared me when you said you ran out of fuel. Try not to do that on a two stroke. It often ends up with a loud 'pop----baaaaaa' noise when the piston seizes. I guess maybe Nicasil cylinders are not quite as sensitive to it as my old bikes iron bores. Still on the Silkolene?
Whens the next outing then?
Be interested in helping /watching. Ive years of experience of removing molten Alloy of cylinders! hehe
|By Mental_Trev on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 04:40 am:|
Thanks, guys... next races should be at Oulton Park & Mallory Park on 8-9th June.
CRMC33 - I like that quote about Sears... cheers!
It is indeed fast and I was pleased to see that my bike is also fast... I had no trouble staying with the ZXR & FZR 400s down the straights and I outdragged every other 250 I encountered there.
I was wary of the bombhole at first, especially the big dip right on the inside of the Apex - my initial line set me up to go through mid track, avoiding the worst of the dip and so avoiding loading the suspension right up.
Later on, though, I (mistakenly) went through and clipped the apex fully on the inside under full throttle, accelerating up through 3rd... the bike just ate it for breakfast and drove like a wild thing into Coram's on a perfect line - that was nice: good suspension on a light bike, see!
That gave me an immediate advantage over the 400s there - no way they could get away with the same thing due to their extra weight!
"I'll keep doing that then", thought I! Heh heh heh!
I saw an aerial photograph of the circuit that showed how that entrance bit used to be part of the circuit - yikes... no thanks!
When I say I ran out of fuel, I didn't completely run it dry, thankfully - I've had enough seizures to last a lifetime!
What happened was that I noticed the bike refusing to accept full throttle down the back straight in 4th, 5th & 6th. Even travelling at 100mph plus, there's enough time going down that straight to get the brain working on what's wrong and that's when I figured out my fuel load was as good as spent so I came in at the end of the lap, before any damage could be sustained.
Sorry but yes, I am still on the Silkolene - gonna use up the last 2 litres before switching over to Rock Oil, which is what the previous owner always ran on without any trouble.
Any help will always be gratefully received so don't be a stranger!
|By Befbever on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 10:06 am:|
Great thread, Trev. Finished my coffee reading it. So, fun was had and a lot of experience as well. That's what it's all about.
I think Crmc33 is trying to get you to do Hockenheim. Or the Salzburgring!
|By Mental_Trev on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 12:48 pm:|
Hockenheim - geez, how rich would I have to jet for that?!!!
Salzburgring... not so familiar with that one - have to get the games out again and remind myself what it's like!
|By Singlesman on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 01:13 pm:|
Excellent Trev, really glad you've got a race meeting under your belt. However, a smack on the wrist for not getting out in the F400 events. Nothing will get you up to speed quicker than proper "race" track time. Good luck for the next one. Paul.
|By Powermaster on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 01:30 pm:|
What about the "thanks to the sponsor"/ A racer always have to use the media to thank the sponsor, AHHHH. the cheque book is going to run dry, just a warning, I am already paying for it, no dinner, ahhhhhh
|By Titanpower on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 01:44 pm:|
That's what I wanted to hear that the engine stay working this time!!and I'm shore it will be alot more reliable now.
See you down the workshop soon and we can sort out the cooling problem!!.
well done anyway
|By Befbever on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 06:38 pm:|
Salzburgring: slipstream heaven.
" So, I'm berry happy and thanks for my team, they work so berry hard. So, and all my sponsors. Thank you berry much."
|By Mental_Trev on Tuesday, May 07, 2002 - 11:53 pm:|
LOL @ Bef!
Jorge, you're on a diet anyway, whether you like it or not!!!
Heh heh heh
Of course, he's absolutely right, though (but hey, I AM still only learning, you know, OK? )
I owe a HUUUUUUGGGGGGGEEEEE thanks to Jorge & Tomo at RENEGADE for all the help they provide me with - workshop facilities, luxury race transport & accomodation, financial & product backing, years of expertise (not that Jorge is old enough to have acquired years of wisdom, you understand? ), shoulders to cry on etc. etc. - without which it simply wouldn't have been possible to come this far, let alone go further!
|By Mental_Trev on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 03:58 am:|
I got the dates for the next races wrong earlier - here's the correct details:
Mallory 2nd June
Oulton 3rd June
|By Crmc33 on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 04:21 am:|
as in 'full' circuit Oulton?
|By Mental_Trev on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 05:25 am:|
Yes, full circuit
|By Crmc33 on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 06:37 am:|
Best of luck. You lucky boy!
What a great scary circuit! I love it!
....all the best round Knickerbrook, Shell hairpin n Druids. What exhilarating corners. I wish I could be there racing too.
|By Mental_Trev on Wednesday, May 22, 2002 - 07:47 am:|
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