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Shane - Superlite (#43)

Hampton Downs Watersports Park - Round 3 of the AMCC series

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Talk about wet!! The ducks have more brains than motorcycle racers cos the stayed home.

5:30am is a ridiculous time of the night (even though there's light it's ridiculous to call it morning) to do anything, but that's the time I set my alarm for. A short while later I was out of bed and making a coffee for the road. Throw the rest of my gear into the car and I'm off to McDonalds for the traditional grease-fest that gets me through a race day.

Pulling into the drive through I see they've made changes so that they can run two lanes at once. But for now they were only running a single lane as it wasn't exactly rush hour. Despite the time there were three cars in front of me and it seems none of them could make up their minds. What should've taken 30 seconds was taking each of them a couple of minutes. When I finally ordered mine and drove up to the first window the chick couldn't figure out what was wrong with the console. After poking random bits of the screen she wandered off and found the dude she'd just taken over from who told her the computer had been changed to accomodate the double lane thing so "just push this". With that sorted I eventually got my Boston Deli Bagel Combo and headed off.

Heading to pick Michael up I'm almost there when I realize I'd left the battery and battery charger behind and had to turn around to go get it.

Fark I hate mornings.

With those balls up's out of the way I picked up Michael and we headed for the track. He thought I'd forgotten the bike as well because I didn't have the trailer on the back but I'd been at a track day the day before and there were people staying overnight so I left the bike in the shed with them.

Despite the delays we turned up at the track only 20 minutes later than I'd planned to.

Unloading and setting up was nice and quick. I wandered over to sign in, then I pulled one of the front calipers off to see how worn the brake pads were. They were getting low but would definitely last the day. Biggest problem might be overheating as there's less material there to act as a heat sink but it'd pass scrutineering. Pushed the bike over to scrutineering and got in the queue. Eddie K didn't realize that I'd done the 3/450 thing until he saw the breather and asked what it was. Then the unusual exhaust note suddenly made sense to him.

Really the only thing that I had to get Michael up to speed on was the battery. It's a lightweight Shorai LFX14A1 Lithium one with remote recharging (don't need to take the seat off). Wonderful little battery that's about 2/3 the volume and less than 1/3 the weight of the battery it replaces (830g vs 3.4kg). Can't say enough good things about it. Really the only problem I've got with it is that I should've gone for the higher rated one. The LFX14A1 is a direct replacement for the YTX12BS (found in pretty much everything). But that's if the bike still has the charging circuit in place. If, like my bike, you've got a total loss system that is coupled with early generation fuel injection bits (they're hungrier than more modern stuff) you've got a bike that destroys batteries in no time. The LFX14A1 handles the load nicely but because of the ridiculous demands my bike is placing on the electries I run the risk of running out of spark as there isn't an alternator topping the battery up as the engine etc drains it. I really should've gone for the LFX18A1 which will last a lot longer between charges.

If you don't make mistakes you don't learn anything though.

Anyone out there know of someone who wants to buy a cheap Lithium battery?? They're $250 retail but I'm willing to let it go for significantly cheaper as it's a second hand item now. Only used twice so far!!

Riders briefing was pretty straight forward, although we could see the hills on the other side of SH1 were disappearing as the weather moved toward us. By the time Riders Briefing was over it was pretty clear that it was about to piss down so I told Michael we're changing wheels. Ten minutes later the spare wheels had paid for themselves, although Michael started swearing when I pointed out the spacer he'd left out. For once I didn't get farked over by the weather. I hadn't used those wheels yet so I was going to be interested to see if there were any problems with them.

Formula 3 were second out so I didn't have to wait too long. First turn and the guy in front of me takes his normal line only to make a huge splash as he rides through a puddle. It was very bloody wet. Everyone wobbled around, trying to figure out how much grip there was. I took my time and didn't do anything silly, qualifying about 2/3rds of the way back.

The bike was feeling great, other than being very heavy in the steering. I debated whether to do something about it but they were blazing though qualifying so I decided to wait until after the first race to give us plenty of time.

First race and I'm chilled but keen.

Lining up and there's lots of confusion because there's no chalk markings because of the rain. It gets sorted after a bit and the lights come up. I kick arse off the line while others lick arse and find myself well ahead of my grid position.

I start getting on with business, chasing the bunch if front of me until I get to turn #6, the big sweeper. I scrub off speed, tip her in, dial up some throttle and gently start feeding it more and more. But it's really wet and I'm on old wets (picked them up second hand two years ago and I've done more wet races than dry) so she starts pushing the front. I'm trying to wrestle it back into line but have to button off although it's too late. I'm ploughing a big furrow through the kitty litter, still upright, and eventually slither my way back to the track.

I've lost a lot of ground and there's plenty of racing ahead of us so I ease up on things a bit. I ease up a bit too much though as a group of 3 bikes get past me on the last lap and I wasn't quite able to get it back together before the line.

We got into the rear ride height, lifting it a half turn and resetting the sag front and rear. It's amazing how much difference a half turn can make to a bike. I had to take 9mm out of the rear to get it back to the required.

Having adjusted the attitude of the bike I was going to take it very easy for a lap or two as there was now less weight on the rear and that means less grip. In hind sight it was a good move as the front had more feel and grip, but we should've softened the rear preload a bit more to transfer more weight.

Race two, we line up again and I try to find the happy place. Unfortunately my head isn't quite as into the start as it should be and I get a very average start. Instead of gaining places I lose a couple. I took it quite cautiously, keeping in mind the change in ride height. Coming out of turn #4 it's a good thing I was being a bit careful as the back end let go and the bike tied itself in knots. I was launched out of the seat and the guy on the RGV snuck past me. I figured I'd better be extra careful and pretty much just followed the dude until a couple of laps later when he went to deep into turn 5, lying it down under brakes.

A short while later Mark Percival on his FZR450 came past me around the outside of turn 6. I start to gain on him up the straight but he goes too quick into turn 1, running wide and spending the entire straight between turns 1 and 2 getting back onto the track. He must've gotten a hurry on though as he got past me on the second to last lap again, this time not making a balls up of turn 1.

Unfortunately my bike gets owned out of slow corners by anything with mid range (really widely spaced gearbox with all the power above 10,000rpm) and as I was having to really tip toe around the track I was dropping way below where the power is so my times suffered a lot, to the tune of 5 seconds a lap slower than race one. So I was considerably slower in the second race, whereas most of the field were between 1-2 seconds slower due to the huge amounts of water.

We packed as much away and into the car as we could so that we could make a quick get away once my last race was over. However, I predicted that we wouldn't get a last race as it was after 2:30pm and there were still 5 races of the second round left. Turns out I was right, although the reason given was there was even worse weather on the way. The AMCC really should start qualifying at 9:00am rather than 10:00am. A very reliable source said they always start at 10:00am as that's the earliest they can get on track at Pukekohe. I think someone needs to point out that Hampton Downs isn't Pukekohe.

So, absolutely everything was wet, there was lots of wobbling around the track with some big scary moments and I'd gotten slower rather than faster, but I'd had the most fun at a race day since Paeroa. I hadn't missed any races, no batteries died, everything off track had gone the way it was meant to and my bike hasn't tried to kill me for quite a while now. Things still went wrong - the ride height and suspension adjustments weren't quite right, the tyres have done about three times more races than they're probably meant to, we didn't get the third lot of races, but I don't care. I had a ball simply because the things that repeatedly went wrong in the past didn't this time and we've sorted them for good.

Shame I don't have any money to do the Hampton Downs Tri-Series round!!

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  1. Edbear's Avatar
    Nicely written! A bit of insight always helps us understand how tough it is to race effectively.