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Shane - Superlite (#43)

Paeroa Battle of the Streets 2014

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Paeroa's street races are a blast. It's such a fun event because of the great atmosphere, the weather is always good, the local businesses and residents get right behind it and we get to do stupid speeds down the main street without losing our licences. It's the only event that I want to do every year if possible and the only event where I don't care where I finish as long as I finish. My first time was in 2011 on the old Triumph. In my first ever street race I had some technical problems and got off the start line 10 seconds after everyone else because the bike wouldn't go into first gear so I finished dead last. In 2012 the Triumph threw a rod in the second practice when it missed fifth gear and over-revved into oblivion. 2013 I had 3 weddings on the same day as Paeroa, so 2014 is the first year I've had a proper go at Paeroa.

The weekend before I'd done the BRM Pacific club round at Taupo with the bike set up for Paeroa. The days between the two were very busy so there wouldn't be any time for me to alter the geometry to suit the streets as I don't have a steering damper, so at Taupo I had the front raked out with lots of trail, which made the steering very heavy and too lazy for the race track; but without a steering damper it's a good setup for the streets.

Saturday I turned up in the pits area about 12:30pm to find myself a spot to set up, sign in and do scrutineering. It seems that people are getting there earlier each year to secure their favoured spot. Apparently Toby Summers turned up at 8:00am and reserved a whole chunk of real estate for him and his mates, part of which was where I had hoped to set up. However, Greg Geossi, who had pitted with us in Taupo the weekend before, rocked up and told me where he was setting up so I wandered over for a look. Usually I didn't like to be so far from the dummy grid as the PA system can be terrible, but it looks like the organisers had put up a new system and we were going to be directly underneath one of the speakers so we set up right behind his van. I got the gazebo up and we hung a tarpaulin from that to the back of Greg's van so we had plenty of room for both bikes and us to sit out of the sun.

After signing in and doing scrutineering I chained the bikes and generators together then headed for home as Greg was off to catch up with friends at a cafe. First thing I did when I got back was to pull the wets out of the car. Out of habit I'd put them in but at Paeroa if it rains there's no racing so they were redundant and taking up space.

Next morning I'm in the car bright and early and headed for Paeroa with a coffee. The last couple of times out I haven't been so keen on having McDonalds for breakfast so this time I headed to the bakery I get my breakfast from on my way to work, except they're not open at 6:00am so I can't have my (work day) standard Chicken and Avocado sandwich with a coffee. I'll just have to wait until I arrive in Paeroa to get something to eat.

After unlocking the bikes and generators we got things set up for the rest of the day then I wandered off to find some breakfast. The Bacon and Egg pies from The Bake House aren't too bad at all. When we got back, though, I found I'd missed the first couple of minutes of the riders' briefing, but I caught the majority of it.

Soon after riders' briefing it was time for the newbies' laps. I'd gotten myself into it to get a look at the circuit before practice. We were released from pit lane but were then diverted back to the pits and told to reform, but I don't know why. Most likely the track wasn't clear around turn 1-2 or the esses.

The second time they let us go we had a good couple of laps to have a look at things and it was all as I remembered it, except that this time it felt comfortable and familiar and not the arse-clenching craziness I remembered from last time. I put this down to being on a different bike, as the old Triumph had been twitchy around the streets and felt much less composed. The only part that had changed was through the esses where previously you could get into the left hander a bit hot and you'd have some overrun. This year it was a solid line of haybails. This meant that you really couldn't mess up the braking and reinforced in me that the left hander is one of the two corners where slow is best, the other being the hairpin onto the main straight.

In the pits and Greg voices how mental it is compared to the Nelson street race, which he'd done a month earlier before heading up north for 3 weeks holiday/riding/racing. Lots of talking about how to approach things, where the best place is to be, what you can get away with and what you can't and he was starting to get a vague idea of how to get around the track at speed.

The first practice session I sit near the rear of the dummy grid wanting to let everyone go and get a bit of a gap to do some clear laps before the really fast guys catch up. They let us go and I cruise nice and easily out onto the track and let everyone else power off up the back straight. Around onto the front straight and the nearest bike, Greg, is more than three quarters along it so I start to wind up and get into the groove. A lap later and I've already caught Greg who sits up early for turn 1 so I dive right and easily out brake him then set off to figure out which gear I need to be in and where. He did the right thing by latching onto the back of me so I could show him around and he ends up setting a respectable time for a newbie.

Into the pits at the end of the session and the bike immediately in front of me drops it's chain on the ground!! Everybody is lucky that didn't happen out on the track, getting a chain in the face could well be fatal.

Second practice and I'm heading for the dummy grid when I see my brother and stop to tell him where we are in the pits etc. By the time I get to the dummy grid there's nobody there and they send me out before closing the pit exit. Seeing as I was the last one out of the pits I don't bugger around and get my head down. I have a target up ahead that I can chase down to help bring my lap times down. I've pretty much got gears sorted - second for turn 1 and 2, carry it all the way down to the esses at 14,000rpm, through the left and right, up to third for the back straight, carry that through turn 6, super slow around the hairpin in first and fire it up the straight to fourth gear and carry that through the kink. Having a 15,000rpm red line means I can hold a gear a lot longer than everyone else so there's fewer gear changes and therefore I can brake later.

Second to last lap I hear Hayden Fitzgerald behind me going into the hairpin. Interestingly, he's on a bloody fast bike but doesn't catch me until the very end of the straight and blows past me just before the braking area for turn 1. Next time through the hairpin I hear Scott Moir who passes me just before the kink. Both of those guys are on bikes that are much faster than mine but neither of them could pass me on acceleration out of turn 1, they had to do it on top end power. Considering my bike is terrible out of slow corners this is very positive for me and it means going down to first (Paeroa hairpin is the only corner I ever use first) is working very well.

By this time I've caught the SV I used as a target and it turns out it's Greg.

Talking to him in the pits he thought that session felt a lot smoother. Looking at the times it turned out he was smoother because he was riding slower than in the first session, not faster because he was smoother.

I wasn't quite sure of where I was meant to be on the grid as they didn't post grid positions for each class but they were going to organise us on the dummy grid so we knew where to be. On the timing sheets I was just a tiny bit slower than Ryan Firn so I lined up beside him, which must've been correct as the guy with the printout walked past me and talked to a couple of others. So I figured I'd just line up beside Ryan and hope he didn't get the wrong spot and screw us both up.

Out on the start grid I'm sitting waiting with the bike in gear (learnt that lesson with flag starts) when the green flag goes up. I'm ready for it but when it drops I'm still a little bit late off the line. Even so, I'm away just as quickly as the SV's around me, except for Gavin Oxtoby on a rocket ship. Even though he qualified on the back row he comes through hard into the kink on my left side, the bike shaking and weaving. I'm there for a good time, not a fast time so I don't go after him.

Into turn 1 and Richard Martinson on a VFR400 goes flying up the inside of me and Ryan and they get close as Richard takes the spot. I fall in behind those two, content to let things settle down before picking them off. I'm following Ryan, happy that I can pass him sometime when I miss shifting to first gear at the hairpin, bogging down on the exit in second gear. I kick it into first and take off after Ryan but that little mistake cost me big time. I start chasing after the other two but a couple of laps later I don't pick up the throttle into turn 6, going into it with a closed throttle and the front is understeering its way towards the hay bales. I pick up the throttle in time to avoid crashing in front of the crowd on the stop bank and again set off after them. By now Ryan has gotten the spot back and on the last lap I'm getting close to Richard. Unfortunately the flag comes out before I can find a place to pass him.

I'm not too worried about where I finished the race (17th position) as I go to Paeroa with the attitude that finishing the day without being lapped (surprisingly easy on a sub 1 minute lap if you make a mistake) and being able to drive myself home is a win, both of which I have easily accomplished at the end of race 1.

At this point it starts to get really hot but a while later, owing to a racing incident in the Sidecars, there's oil over more than half the track. The officials get busy trying to clean it up but they gather a group of senior riders together and all go out and take a look. It's decided that continuing will be too dangerous so the rest of the day's racing is cancelled.

Now that it's all over I'm starving, having had a single pie many hours before and then survived on water and muesli bars. I get out of my leathers and go in search of something fried and slapped between bread. Unfortunately, the nearest vendors are packing up so I head back to our pit area and pull out my newest, and currently most treasured, toy a Waeco cooler bin. It's literally a miniture fridge and provided you don't go opening it every 2 minutes it keeps the beer and anything else in it very cold. I'd always wanted something like it because having to stop for ice was always a pain and having your lunch end up soggy is never good.

It was a great day even though it was shortened and I'm looking forward to next year's event already.

  • my wife for
  • AMCC, Paeroa Promotions and all of the crew, marshalls and ambulance crew that made for such a good day
  • Cherie for helping out in the pits
  • Craig @ Grey Street Motors
  • Stefan @ DL Consulting
  • Tony, Diane, Boaz and Eve for looking after my bike


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  1. Gremlin's Avatar
    You were sent back to the pits as the track hadn't been signed off yet... Not quite sure how that all happened
  2. Mental Trousers's Avatar
    Ah is that what it was, thanks for that.
  3. Goblin's Avatar
    Another epic race report! Great to catch up with you Shane.
  4. Mental Trousers's Avatar
    Was great to see you too mate. Caught up with a few people I hadn't seen for a while. Paeroa is good like that.