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Shane - Superlite (#43)

AMCC Round 4 @ Hampton Downs

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This year's Paeroa had been a lot of fun even though it was cut short. However, I'd had to set the bike up so that it was stable as I don't have a steering damper and the last time this bike had been to Paeroa it had suffered from lots of head shakes.

To quicken the steering I lifted the forks up through the triple clamps by 8mm then measured the static and rider sag, adjusting preload as necessary. However, it was looking like the change in geometry might require a change in springs as I was using a lot of preload on the front and the measurements at the rear gave too much static sag but had the optimum rider sag. But I won't know until I've ridden the bike and confirmed things.

Recently we've had a lot of problems around out area owing to the presence of a legal highs shop across the road from us. Since it opened the number of drop kicks and arseholes hanging around has sky rocketed so I'm really reluctant to have the bike around home. This time I backed the trailer into the mother-in-law's shed for the night, which is on our way out of town and will take no more than 10 minutes to pick it up.

For some reason I'm over having McDonalds on the way to the track. I guess I've been having it too often as McDonalds twice in a month is a lot for me. Not only don't I get any McD's but my wife left the milk at her mother's the night before so I couldn't make a coffee for the trip to the track. Talk about tragic - no coffee, no food and out of bed at a ridiculous hour of the night (it's still dark!!).

I finally pull into the Zed at Huntly and grab a coffee and sausage roll each. The coffee's acceptable but a sausage roll is too spicy for breakfast, not that this stopped me.

At the track and only a couple of sheds are open and nobody has seen Gary. Turns out he's away and the guy doing the sheds has instructions, so instead of $25 per bike we have to take half a shed for $150. That's always how it's advertised but at Hampton Downs we've always been able to turn up and we'd get a spot in a shed. If we didn't have a full shed that was fine.

This time, however, it's not.

In the end Peter Woodford and I move into shed 3, after our qualifying, with Rory Garvey and Dave Smith who were in the same boat as us.

Qualifying for F3 was the second session on track. It was a bit chilly so once the tyres were up to temperature on the warmers I dropped the pressures to 30psi front and 26psi rear before heading out. Down pit lane exit and it's feeling slippery so I decide to take it easy for the first couple of laps and gradually start to wind up but I just can't get into it. No matter what I do I can't get comfortable and can't find any grip. Turn 6 I'm getting my knee down so there's enough grip there but that corner is so long that the tyre warms up enough through the first half of the corner to lean it over that far. The rest of the track, especially at turn 2 is just terrible. I have a moment at turn 4 where I lose the front but it grips again and I head butt the screen. My last lap I end up sliding all the way out to the outside edge of turn 2 and decide to pack it in and wobble slowly back to the pits where I head straight to see Dave Moss. Not surprisingly after the slow in lap the tyres are cold again so Dave tells me to add 2 turns of preload to the front and drop the tyre pressures by 2psi front and rear.

Before race 1 I do as Dave said and drop the tyre pressures but only get 1.5 turns of preload so it's likely I'm going to have to change the front springs.

Lining up on the grid for the first race and I'm feeling a bit apprehensive because of how terrible it was in qualifying so I decide to take it a little easy and make sure the changes I made are working.

The lights come up and we're off!!

I bog down a little off the line but still get an ok start, better than Neil Slater beside me and I'm almost close enough to Grant Douglas to overtake him, but not quite. Into the first turn and I back off a bit too early, allowing Neil Slater up the inside of me. That's alright cos I don't want to get involved yet. Into turn 4 somebody tries to stick their nose up the inside of me but they're not far enough forward so I stuff it into the corner in front of them. Turn 5 I hear at least one SV behind me and out on the straight the first one is trying to drive up the left side but doesn't make it far enough for me to see him. I start chasing Matt Ferguson but at turn 4 I hear an SV again so take a defensive line into turn 5. Out on the straight and Adam Field manages to get a wheel in front on my left side but further down the straight I pull him back and get my wheel in front, both of us backing off and braking for turn 6 in the same place.

Next lap and there's yellows out at turn 4 as Gavin Veltmeyer seems to have hit the bumps at the apex and lost it on the cold surface. I know that Adam can't try and pass me so I carry that advantage out onto the straight where he isn't close enough.

Laps 4 & 5 I'm well aware of Adam and he tries to pass me a couple more times out of turn 4 and out of turn 5 but isn't able to and he doesn't have the power to get beside me into turn 6.

Onto the last lap and I know he's going to try for the best possible drive out of turn 5 and beat me down to 6. I hear him go deep into the hairpin but instead of driving up the left side of me, which is where I've left room to tempt him, he drives it hard down the white line on the right so he can have the inside for the sweeper. It's a smart move and I know to get him back I have to get on the the throttle early out of the last turn and use the straight line speed to get him before the line. However, I push slightly too hard in the start of the corner and can't get it back to the inside for the exit, getting on the throttle later than I wanted to. I tuck in and push it hard up the hill just missing out on passing Adam by less than a bike length, exactly 0.1 second apart.

Great race and the bike was improved heaps just because I was able to get heat into the tyres, but now it's squirming around on top of the tyre cos the pressures are too low. So I set the pressures back to where I started the day and Dave took a quarter turn of rebound out of the forks.

Race 2 and I'm a lot more confident in the grip levels so I fire it off the line and into turn 1 with a lot more enthusiasm, just behind Matt Ferguson. Turn 4 and Neil Slater stuffs it up the inside. I'm chasing Matt but Adam Field goes hard into turn 6 on the inside of me, going all the way out to the white line on the outside so I cut under him and take off after Matt. Next lap the superior drive of the SV gets Adam past me up the hill from turn 4. Over the start line and I'm past Matt and looking to put some distance between us but he's hanging in there. Every time out of turn 4 I see him close behind me driving hard to try and get past, other places I can hear him. I'm having to ride a defensive line into turn 5 each lap to make sure he's not able to get up the inside of me but he's trying everywhere he can to get past. In the end I hold him off for 4 laps and cross the line ahead of Karl Messiter who snuck past Matt while he was trying to find a way past me.

Another good race and the bike was feeling a whole heap better. It's got grip and it isn't squirming around anymore.

Lining up for race 3 I get off to another great start. I'm behind Neil Slater into turn 5 when Matt Ferguson surprises the hell out of me with a sweet pass right around the outside, almost losing the front across the rough patch. I have to tighten my line so I don't hit him and consequently I get on the throttle later so he pulls a little gap. He's riding hard and I have to push to pull him back. He gaps me again but I reel him back in until we get the white flag and I know exactly where I'm going to get him.

Into the last corner and I hit the early apex, drift out wide a little then pull it back in to the second apex and feed it full throttle. He's made a mistake and is a gear too high so I almost ram him from behind but I drift to the outside and squeeze through the small gap between him and the grass, taking the place.

The most enjoyable race for me yet but Matt is a bit dejected. He deserved a much better outcome for that excellent move he put on me.

Adam Field seems to be very quick when he gets a clear track but he had to follow a lot which slowed him right down. Matt Ferguson has improved a whole heap and is about 5 seconds faster than he was last time I saw him in October. Peter Woodford had a below average day, not able to get comfortable on the bike and consequently not able to continue our immensely enjoyable battles. Recently I've started wearing ear plugs and the ones I've got make it significantly easier to hear where people are behind me. I'm sold on them and now have 3 pairs.

All in all it ended up being another great day of racing. The problems with the temperature were exacerbated by changing the geometry of the bike, but once it was sorted (mostly) I had a great day and some of the best races so far.

  • my wife for filling in as pit crew and not looking at the bank balance
  • AMCC, marshalls and ambulance crew that made for such a good day
  • Dave Moss for the great advice and expertise with bike set up
  • Craig @ Grey Street Motors
  • Stefan @ DL Consulting
  • Tony, Diane, Boaz and Eve for looking after my bike


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