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Shane - Superlite (#43)

AMCC Round 1 @ Hampton Downs

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A couple of weeks ago I took the CBR over to Gary Pendleton for a dyno tune. Each time I've put a bike on the dyno I've gotten a great result and this time was no different.

Once again we'd gotten lucky with the ignition curve as not only did we find a few more horsepower we also cleaned up the power curve so it was no longer rough and lumpy, it was now much smoother and the holes were filled in. Usually Japanese sports bikes gain nothing from tuning the ignition but something on the CBR was different. Maybe it was because I'm running it on 98 Octane, or the K&N air filter, or the colder race spec spark plugs, or the Arata full Ti system. Whatever it was we made good gains from both fueling and ignition.

A couple of years ago I got hold of a dyno graph from another CBR 450 triple that had been on Gary's dyno. Comparing it with my bike I had about 1 horsepower more up to 11,000rpm, then 1 horsepower less up to 13,000rpm where mine then tailed off. The other bike kept pushing through to 14,000rpm, an extra 1000rpm that was worth almost 4 horsepower.

So that was the main difference between my bike - essentially a stock engine with a couple of injectors unplugged, PC3, ignition and air filter, and a bike that had the valves removed and some money spent on cams etc.

Seeing this sort of result pleased me very much. I haven't spent anything to extract horsepower other than off the shelf plugin bits trying, keeping the internals stock in favour of reliability and the only place I was losing out was too high up the rev range to do anything about without spending lots.

Not only had I found more horsepower and smoothed the curve out but I'd also gone for a 1 tooth larger sprocket on the rear as I was only barely getting sixth gear on the start/finish straight.

So I was definitely looking forward to racing it again. However, the weather looked like it was going to spoil things for me as the forecast for the weekend was looking terrible. Further south things had been apalling so it wasn't looking like I'd be continuing my run of great luck and get to leave the wets in the car again.

During the week I'd put the spare rims with the wets on so I could get some fresh tyres on for the weekend. I took them in to Craig, the new owner of Grey St Motors. He used to race various 2 strokes and we found we knew a few of the same people so he was happy to take up the same arrangement Alan (the former owner) and I had.

If you're in or near Hamilton and you need a WOF or any work done on your car/van/light commercial vehicle give Craig a call, I highly recommend it 856-7777

Seeing as the weather was looking so terrible and the wets were on the bike I left them on there, gambling that for once I'd arrive at the track and not have to change them for slicks. However, when I got to the Play Day on Saturday there was a strong breeze and all of the rain appeared to be staying further west so the track was drying rapidly and I ended up changing the wheels over anyway.

I had some things I wanted to work on at the Play Day but instead I ended up spending the entire thing trying to find out why the brakes had extremely bad chatter at high speed but were fine everywhere else. I'd changed to new brake pads beforehand so suspected they were glazed over or something. However, roughing up the pads and also running some sand paper over the disks helped a little but not much so I ended the day without fixing it. I really didn't want to race it in the wet with that sort of chatter as it was bad enough that the front wheel was leaving the ground.

On the positive side it was great to catch up with Chris Susich again. He was spending the day getting used to Biggles ZX6 as they were teamed up for the 3 hour at Manfeild in a couple of weeks. Even though he hadn't ridden for ages it looked like he was quickly getting back into the swing of things and even had a session entirely to himself when nobody else headed out.

Sunday I got to the track nice and early. Documentation weren't ready yet so I went off and did some things. My regular pit crew wasn't able to make it and odds were good he wouldn't be making many more in the next couple of years due to having a child so Cherie came along to help out and turned up just in time to help me set up. While Cherie started getting things set up I went back to documentation but by the time I got back there was a long queue of people waiting so I had to just get into line and wait with everyone else. It was the same at scrutineering, although they got through that surprisingly quickly considering how many people were lined up.

Despite the schedule saying we were to get underway at 8:30am we ended up starting quite a bit later than that due to the fact a whole bunch of people who were marshalling didn't turn up, probably due to the extremely heavy rain overnight. Fortunately enough volunteers were found to fulfill the requirements for an MNZ sanctioned race meeting.

Superlite was second up and I was keen to get out there, even though I had felt unusually out of sorts from the day before. I was feeling off colour enough that I managed to forget my Under Armor, all of my race day food and my end of the race day beer!! A couple of coffees and some McDonalds flavoured grease soon sorted me out but I knew getting through the day was going to be a challenge without the usual healthy (yeah actual healthy food rather than the sugar packed evilness of energy drinks etc) munchies but at least I had 4 litres of filtered water.

Heading out for qualifying I left pit lane last and hung back to let everyone else get a bit of a gap then started to wind it up. Unfortunately there were a few guys who were really taking their time getting up to speed and by the fourth lap I'd given up on finding clear track and just got on with things and ended up riding my way into clear track. However that meant that I really only got a single half decent lap in but it was good enough to put me on the third row, ahead of a whole lot of guys I was surprised to be in front of.

First race and I'm lined up directly behind Nigel Lennox on his new bike. I'm pleased to see he's finally done the right thing and given up on trying to run a heavily modified SV. The stock ones tend to be fine for a couple of seasons then they start turning into hand grenades. Eventually you can get them running reliably and putting out a decent amount of horsepower but in the meantime you're going through engines instead of racing.

Out on the grid, the lights came up and we were off!!

I got a great start but Nigel totally bogged down having never done a race start on the new bike so I blew past him and everyone else on the second row. Into the first corner and a couple of them got up the inside of me. Into turn 2 and there was a queue forming as everyone was being a bit cautious so I went around the outside but didn't have enough temperature in the front tyre yet so drifted a bit too wide to hold the line for turn 3.

Into turn 1 I was having a nightmare as the front chatter was so bad I was getting off the throttle much earlier, barely dragging the front brake. Even though my mid corner speed was higher than usual I was having to throttle off so early it was much slower over all.

On lap 3 Leelind Bennett, who I'd been following and trying to line up for a pass, went wide at turn 1. He then went wide at turn 2 as well, quickly followed by riding straight ahead into the sand pit at turn 4. At the same time Bryan Krzanich shot up the inside of me and made the mistake of looking at Leelind, target fixating on him and followed him into the sand pit. Meantime I buggered off and left them to empty the gravel out of their boots.

Soon after this Nigel Lennox powered past me on his new bike so I started chasing him. He was taking it easy through the corners but his bike has so much more grunt than mine, not to mention having to haul around fewer pies that it didn't matter how much I hauled back through the corners he always gapped me on the straights. In fact a couple of times he stuffed up turn 5, running across the ripple strip and clipping the grass, wobbling back onto the track, shaking his head, then opening the throttle and still managing to put 50m on me before turn 6.

Lap 5 and Marc-Antoine Jacquet came right around the outside of me at turn 6, the one place where those lightweight Moto3 type/125GP machines have a big advantage over me. However, I powered my way past him on the straight and proceeded to put so distance between us.

At the finish line I was getting quite annoyed at how many people had gotten past me exiting turn 5. My corner speed is the same as all of those around me, even a little faster than some. The problem being that my bike has no mid range to speak of so everyone gets an easy 30m on me and in the race I'd lost 3 positions out of that one corner. Slipping the clutch does nothing good on this bike because of the non-standard clutch in it and using first gear is craziness as the bike tries to kill me on the way out of the corner.

Onto race 2 and I got a good start, but this time Nigel got a much better start than his previous one. However he moved slightly right while James Jarman moved slightly left and the two of them completely filled the gap I was aiming for, making me back off a fraction then move to the outside of Nigel. Unfortunately that meant I'd lost the momentum I had so wasn't able to push past him and I wasn't able to make any ground at turn 2 as someone pushed wide and blocked me.

Into turn 5 and Bryan Krzanich was riding right around the outside of me, meaning I couldn't get on the throttle as I'd end up driving straight into the side of him on the exit. Unfortunately holding off the throttle for that fraction longer meant I dropped below the usual pathetic mid range and fully bogged down. Not only did Bryan get by me but 3 other bikes did as well!!!

Getting really annoyed I went after Bryan and Blair Lambarth, making up ground on them everywhere only to lose it at turn 5.

Into turn 6 on lap 4 and Blair Lambarth is trying to ride right around the outside of Bryan, but on the exit for some reason Blair dipped in, collided with Bryan and had a full feet-off-the-pegs moment which caused both of them to run off track. Leaving the track at the exit of turn 6 is not recommended. If you're going to crash somewhere don't do it there.

Bryan managed to get back on track without going down but he'd lost a lot of places. Blair was stuck in the sand until the end of the race though.

However, I was starting to get really pissed off at how many got past me exiting turn 5 as I finish 6 places lower than I qualified. Every single pass on me that I didn't get back happened at turn 5. I was also resigned to losing a large amount of time in turn 1 as I wasn't able to brake properly.

By this time I needed something more substantial than water so I wandered over to the dodgy food truck and ordered an egg burger. Wandering over to Bryan's pit area I told him what I'd seen and talked about the race in general.

Race 3 and I got another good start, but Nigel got his best start of the day and managed to stay in front of me. Out of turn 5 and Bryan is driving up the left side of me but not enough to keep the place as I got off the throttle later into turn 6. However, Bryan didn't brake, instead firing it wide around the outside of me making me laugh and swear at the same time. Hard on the throttle fully leant over and I watch Bryan's back wheel spin up, with smoke pouring off as it stepped out a full 90 degrees before it hooked up and spat him well up above his bike. I had no where to go so picked it up and fired it straight at the kitty litter, all the time trying to stay to the left of Bryan and his bike as he did a few nasty looking somersaults when his helmet dug into the sand trap.

I was thankful for the deep sand as it washed off most of my speed before I got to the tyre wall, bumping into it at roughly 30kph and dumping me in the gravel. My bike was lying on top of my leg and had stopped running so I kicked it off me, got up and ran over to Bryan. His eyes were open and he had both hands in the air clenching and unclenching and also moving his legs a little so I knew he was with it enough to consciously go through the drill. He did try to get up but I told him to stay down and wait for the medics. Turning I waved to the marshalls over on the inside of turn 6 at the bottom of the hill and they immediately put the red flag out.

Telling Bryan to stay where he was I went back to my bike, checked there wasn't petrol leaking, turned the ignition off and with the help of a marshal got it upright while the other one attended to Bryan's bike. In the few seconds I was making sure my bike wasn't going to cause us a fire hazard Bryan had disappeared. Following the foot steps in the sand I saw two hands up in the air on the other side of the tyre wall, clenching and unclenching. So I climbed up over and started talking to him.

He was definitely lucid enough to do what he was asked to do, although the instinct to get to safety behind the tyre barrier had over ridden being told to stay still. The main thing he was worried about was his camera as it would've been an excellent view of the crash, being mounted to the side of his helmet. I told him not to worried we'd find it and sure enough one of the marshals gave it to me a little later on.

After talking to the medics explaining what happened I went over to the recovery crew as they'd loaded my bike onto the trailer. Seeing me they promptly unloaded it and put Bryan's on.

There was some gravel in the belly pan but very little anywhere else so I rode back to the pits off line trying not to spread any on the track. Into the pits and I stopped at my pit to tell Cherie I was alright then rode around to Bryan's pit to tell his crew what the story was and hand over his camera. He didn't appear to have broken anything but had landed heavily and had a hell of a tumble so there was no way he was going to be packing his own gear up or driving home.

Back to my own pit we quickly went over the bike to make sure it was all ok. However, because we were doing this I missed the warm up lap for the race and had to start from pit lane. I'd already decided I wasn't going to push things and would just circulate at the back and make sure everything with the bike was alright. But not only that I was high as a kite on adrenaline after being involved in Bryan's crash so I was either going to set a blazingly fast lap time or crash. Chances were it'd be the latter.

Funnily enough the 4 guys that were in front of me had all crashed earlier in the day.

After quickly packing everything up I rang my wife just on the off chance that someone told her I'd crashed.

A frustrating day. I actually qualified alright, even though I didn't get much clear track but the brakes were definitely upsetting things. Having thought it over after doing the usual - roughing up the pads and disks etc I'm thinking the vague feeling in the back of my mind that I forgot to clean one of the pistons in the brake calipers is the reason for the horrible chatter. It probably means one piston was sticking until I got a lot of pressure on the lever, then it'd pop out and feel perfectly normal. But when it was stuck the brake pad didn't have even pressure on it so would kind of stutter.

Obviously the other major part was the crash at the end. It's nasty seeing someone you know get into a massive high side and rag doll to a stand still while you're trying not to run him over. I think the lesson for Bryan is that he shouldn't pass me cos he'll end up in the sand pit.

I'd like to thank
  • Cherie for helping out in the pits
  • my wife for not freaking out
  • Auckland MCC for the great day
  • Stefan @ DL Consulting
  • Craig at Grey Street Motors
  • Tony, Diane, Boaz and Eve for looking after my bike


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