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Shane - Superlite (#43)

BRM round 3

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Now that was a good weekend cos I learnt a hell of a lot.

Saturday my wife and I rolled out of bed a bit later than we should've, buggered around for longer than we should've and generally dragged our arses. Neither of us wanted to get out of bed at such a ridiculous time, her because she doesn't ride bikes (working on correcting that particular failing but a fix is gonna take a while) and me because it'd been a long week. After I'd made us both a decent cup of coffee in travel mugs we jumped in the car and started heading south, stopping at Macca's on the way (have to have the obligatory bagel/muffin with deep fried grease trap stuffed in the middle).

Getting to the track the first vehicle I see is Chairman Billy's van so I pull up by it and go see if he's got space in a shed. Turns out he'd forgotten to book one, although Anthony Montgomery was going to be in shed #3 so he was going to move into there. But seeing as I was there we went halves on shed #4. So that was easy.

I moved all my crap into the front of shed #4 to find Travis Moan wandering around. After a quick chat he was going to jump into the shed for the track day but we were full for the race day so he'd have to find a different one later.

The morning had started out with "I can't be arsed" and it carried on in the same vein. It was damp, and Taupo on a cold, damp day can be a skating rink so I decided to go with the flow and skip the first session, which meant I got to walk around talking shit a lot. I saw Bill and Clint, the Dutch tourist who was staying at Bill's place. They'd spent 4 days getting the old air cooled GSXR750 together so Clint would have something to ride at the track day before he left the country. The rings were shot and a couple of seals were totalled but it ran, although everyone would've been expecting the thing to expire at any moment because of the cloud of blue smoke that followed it around.

Eventually I went to sign in and the sheet said that I owed money but I was sure I'd paid. After talking to Nigel he recalled an email conversation we'd had earlier in the week and said that I'd paid.

After more walking and talking and drinking coffee I started to feel motivated to get on my bike so I climbed into my gear and tagged onto the back of the group. I'd ended up in the medium group cos the race and fast groups were very full and I wanted to practice some things that meant I wasn't going to go fast. So I took things quite leisurely and didn't actually leave pit lane until the first bikes were onto the main straight. That meant I had the track to myself for almost the entire session before I caught up to the main group.

Sitting in the pit shed just staring at my bike I eventually realised I'd forgotten to check my tyre pressures. Grabbing the gauge I found out they were sitting at 52psi front and rear!! Whoops. I thought it was feeling a bit wierd but I was doing some exercises so was only going relatively slowly

I'd redesigned some of the stickers on my bike as I'd made the originals too fine so they would peel off all the time. MSTRS made them up and we put them on the bike. They looked great.

The rest of the track day went without a hitch. I'd originally planned to change groups once I'd done a couple of sessions doing the exercises on track but it turned out that I didn't need to as I was timing it perfectly and had clear track until the very end of the sessions.

By the time I'd climbed out of my gear after the last session it was time to sign in and get scrutineered for the next day. At sign in I had the same problem with payment until we found Nigel again. I'd forgotten to take the belly pan off for scrutineering so had to go away and do that. They also wanted to see the catch bottle, which would be visible once I'd taken the bottom fairing off.

Chairman Billy was staying there in his van and said he was going to shoot off to the supermarket. Travis and Jason were moving stuff while my wife was talking with Jan about knitting

Sleeping at the track wasn't an option because I had my wife with me. We left so I could go find a shower cos it was damn hot and I didn't smell very nice.

Once I'd had a wash and sat down neither of us wanted to move but we needed dinner and I knew having a beer would be good for both of us so we headed over to Jolly Goodfella's. A pint of stout for her and a Pilsener from a Hawkes Bay micro brewery for me while we looked at the menu. She wasn't all that hungry so an entre as a main was ordered while I got the Lamb's Fry & Bacon on Mashed Potato with an Onion Gravy. The waiter asked if I was aware that Lamb's Fry is liver as they have had many people order it then screw their noses up when they find out what they're eating. Idiots!

Dinner was delicious. The waiter came over to take our plates but grinned and walked away when he saw me mopping up the gravy with the bread that came with it. After that, a Sticky Date pudding with two spoons finished things off just nicely so we retired to our room and didn't last long. It'd been a long, hot day and we were both knackered so we were fast asleep five minutes after dark.

Race day dawned and we rolled out of bed a bit late (again). I wanted to be at the track with plenty of time to spare because often I'd end up having to do something to the bike and would be frantically putting it back together as they were calling us to the grid. So after the stop at McDonalds we headed to the track.

Only thing that needed doing was flicking the switch so the battery would charge. Someone had turned it off at some point but with the fast recharger hooked up it wasn't a problem.

I'd cross entered AB/BEARS and F3, deciding I'd have a look at the BEARS class and see how that went. Other than Abby Mes my bike was the smallest capacity so I'm always conscious of the S1000s, RSV4s and Ducatis closing on us at a hell of a rate of knots.

It wasn't too bad in the Qualifying session. The problem turned out to be recharging the battery for F3. Because there was only a single session between AB/BEARS and F3 it only had about 12 minutes on the charger which would bring it up to approximately 60%. Not enough for me to be certain I'd make it to the end of the F3 race so I decided I'd pull the plug on AB/BEARS and just race F3.

First race I lined up on my spot and waited for the lights. They came up, brought the revs up, lights went out and we were off. I got a good start, picking up quite a few places and had to dodge Gav Pelham as he'd stalled starting from Pole position. I'd talked to him earlier and he'd said he hated starting from pole. Seems he psyches himself out and managed to do exactly that this time.

First corner I'm locked into the inside as my start position was hard up against the left side of the track so a couple of people get around the outside and side by side with another bike. He has the line for turn two so I slot in behind him. Gav is making up for lost time and fires around the outside of me. Turn four and somebody else gets up the inside of me. Turn five, another one; turn six, yet another one. At this point I'm getting pissed off, especially when I realise the last bike to pass me is a 250.

Seems there are four of us, me, Peter Woodford, Chris Beames and Sarah Elliot all having a great time swapping places until Sarah drops it exiting turn four right in front of Peter. By this time I'm starting to get my shit together and a while later I slip past Peter and make tracks. I set about chasing down the bike in front of me but he's just got too much of a lead and finish in that position.

That first race was a bit of an eye opener and I learnt something about my bike and tyres. It seems that riding smoothly and trying not to overwork the tyres is the opposite of what I should be doing; as my bike is incredibly easy on tyres I haven't been getting enough heat into them. I'd get them fairly hot but they'd still be sliding around so I'd back off a fraction thinking they were close to their limit. I hadn't realised they weren't getting enough heat in them to make the things work properly until I started throwing it around a bit in that first race, getting it sliding and shaking and doing things I would normally avoid. Once I started doing that I was able to get into corners far faster than previously without the tyre squirming and nervousness that I usually get.

With that in mind I looked forward to race 2.

The lunch break was after the second F1 race so we had to wait for quite a while before lining up again.

Second race I bogged off the line, losing places instead of gaining them. However, I was much more committed and was soon in front of Corey Mudge and getting on with business. I was feeling good, except I was getting false neutrals on down changes. First Corey got through at the end of the straight when I ran on because of a false neutral. Next time around (or maybe another lap later) Peter Woodford got through because of a false neutral, again at the end of the main straight. Those two had put a bit of a gap on me while I got everything gathered back up, so I got after them. Unfortunately, I ran out of laps before I could get close enough to have a go at either of them so finished the race there.

The false neutrals were mainly happening on left hand corners where I had to go down multiple gears, although one was on a left hander where I only go down one gear. However, it never happened on a right hander at all. Seems to be a combination of the famously average Triumph gearboxes, seating and footpeg positions. Usually I'll get off the side of the bike before throttling off, braking and going down the gearbox. Unfortunately, doing this on the left handers means I can't lift my foot to release the gear lever after changing down (shift pattern is normal road type because the lever is directly on the end of the shaft), so it's only coming up half way and choosing nothing instead of something.

Traditionally I get slower through the day. It's partly a fitness thing and partly because I always peak late morning then tail off through the day, doesn't matter if it's riding bikes or at work. So usually the third race is my worst and that ran true to form.

I got an average start but Peter Woodford got past me on the second corner. Seems he was doing what most people do and giving it heaps in the last race because a crash doesn't matter as much as the bike is going on the trailer at the end of the race whether it's broken or not. Chris Beames also snuck past me somewhere but a few corners later I stuffed it up the inside going into the sweeper. Would've thought he'd have learnt to block that as it was about the fourth time that day I'd passed him there. I started chasing Peter but I was making mistakes, running wide here, missing a marker there, hitting a false neutral a couple of times and generally getting shitty because I was making mistakes. Which led to more mistakes. Which made me shittier. Also, I was having to sit on the seat and very deliberately change down gears before moving into left handers, which was making the bike move around a lot more. End result was I couldn't catch him so that's how we finished the day.

Michael had things half packed already so I rode the bike straight to the car, loading it directly onto the trailer.

A quick pack up, a quick couple of beers and chat, good byes and we were out of there. I finally convinced my wife to drive with the trailer on and she found it wasn't actually that hard.

Good weekend. Learnt tons because I wasn't having to put up with mechanical and setup issues anymore so I could just settle down and ride. The false neutrals are new but not that surprising as I've never felt that comfortable with the footpegs/seating. The pegs are too high and too close to the seat for me. I've already put 2 lots of 15mm foam on the seat but what I really need is fully adjustable rearsets with race shift pattern. One thing that worked extremely well are the bits I made up to change the shape of the rear of the petrol tank. I was having trouble with not being able to grab the tank under brakes or when cornering. Stomp Grip is one solution but I felt it would be better to change the shape of the tank and add Stomp Grip to that afterwards, so I made a couple of fillers out of some plastic dinner plates covered in fibreglass. Turns out they're the wrong shape but they still worked brilliantly. Once I get the shape right I can get a couple of good ones made up and then put Stomp Grip on them.

Thanks to
  • my wife for not complaining too much about being stuck at the track all weekend
  • Michael for keeping me safe by making sure things are done and not forgotten
  • MSTRS for the fabulous stickers
  • Nigela and the rest of the crew from the PMCC that made the day possible
  • Kiwifruit for some great pictures
  • Stefan @ DL Consulting
  • Bruce and Doesjka @ The Cloud


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Comments

  1. chanceyy's Avatar
    Awesome Read Shane, sounds like its coming together just a time and practice