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Shane - Superlite (#43)

2015 AMCC Round 1 @ Hampton Downs

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The AMCC Round 1 at Hampton Downs is the proper start of the summer racing season. Iíd been hanging out for it as Iíd had almost 15 months of recovering from the broken collarbone and very little racing.

Packing the car was a new adventure as weíd replaced the Golf with an Audi A3 this was itís first time as a race wagon. Itís about 60mm longer but itís not as tall as the Golf. It does, however, seem to have considerably more room inside it than the VW. Most of that is from the engine and firewall being pushed forward and a lower floor so everything fits in with room to spare.

I stopped having McDonalds for breakfast on race days quite a while back but a few months ago they started doing the Chicken McMuffin and I love it. One of those with a Hash Brown in the middle and a decent coffee from home is the perfect way to start the day.

Getting to the track I was wondering what the story with the sheds is now as Gary Stirling was no longer the Track Manager. I was assured by quite a few people that the new guy was carrying on the practice Gary started and was charging $25.00 for a spot in a shed so I started moving my gear into shed 4. Iíd taken the generator and Eze Up just in case but I was relieved that I didnít have to use them. Generators banging away all day just pisses me off. Itís not loud bike/car engines and all the racing and tyre squealing that gets to me, itís the incessant drone of the generators that wears me down.

Pro Twin Junior has been folded in with us as has the 125ís so Iím expecting quite a few bikes but as I roll out of the shed for Qualifying Iím surprised there arenít many bikes. Iím out on the track with nobody else around me. Things are cold and thereís a few drops of moisture on my visor. Iíd changed the rear sprocket but I knew half way to turn 2 that two teeth smaller was wrong as the engine felt too lazy and I was going to be losing a heap of metres out of turn 5 again. I also realized Iíd left all of my rear sprockets at home even though Iíd brought a grinder and chain breaker/riverter with me.

The engine felt slow and the chassis felt vaguely like a chopper, front end high/back end low. I figured it was the cold rear tyre so eased up to speed but the feeling never quite went away. A couple of laps from the end Nathan Jane came past me into turn 2. Watching guys who learnt to race 2 strokes is great. The 2 stroke corner speed with the 4 stroke drive off the corner is fast. Soon after Qualifying is over and it feels like it was shorter than usual, but it isnít.

Sometime later I wander over to see where I am on the grid but the times arenít up yet. Quite a while later the final Qualifying session is about to finish and there still arenít any times up. The Posties Qualifying ends and thereís a delay announced due to technical difficulties with the timing system.

Eventually the grid for the first race is up but the rest of us have to wait. Finally our grid positions are put up and itís worse than I thought it was, head of the fourth row of four.

Out for race 1 and Iím not too concerned about somebody stealing my spot this time so I take my time getting around to the grid.

The lights come up and weíre off!!

I get a crap start, probably because the different sprocket needs a lot more clutch slipping to get moving. I have to clutch it a bit but that pops the front up so Iím already behind. I pull back what I lost but lose it all again in turn 3 when I almost ram Matt Raichenbach as he closes the throttle to avoid someone else. Now the gap is even bigger than it was off the line. I gain a little bit back through turn 5 but on the exit I lose 25 meters, this is going to be a crap day.

The rest of the race I spend pulling back a few meters through most of the track, only to lose a lot more out of turn 5. I could gain more but it wonít hold a line through the fast turns 6 and 1. Changing the sprocket altered the rear axle position which lowered the back end and raked out the front and thatís why it feels like it up in the air.

By the end of the race Iím 4 seconds behind and annoyed.

After the race I need to fix the handling so I pull the forks up through the triple clamps by 2mm. It doesnít seem like much but itís enough to put a little more weight on the front, which lowers the front more and reduces the trail so the bike turns.

It seems that lately Iíve spent far too much time sitting around waiting between races. This time thereís a few delays for accidents, including a 6 bike pile up that probably earnt the entire 250 class a loud telling off for ignoring flags. Also Iím very aware that I let myself get dehydrated in Taupo and it completely ruined the rest of the day for me so this time Iíve walking around sipping on my water bottle.

Eventually we get to our second race so I head out to the grid.

This time I get a better start and Iím with the group all the way through to turn 5 where, predictably, I lose a whole bunch of ground. The bike is feeling much better and I gain ground back everywhere, especially through the fast turns but itís nowhere near enough to make up for what I lose out of that one turn.

By lap 5 the group in front have pulled a large gap on me and I keep hearing another engine but when I glance back I canít see the bike. Out of turn 5 I look to my left but Rod Gibson appears on my right, leading through 6 before I blow past him on the start/finish straight.

Last lap and this time Rod squeezes around the outside of me in turn 5 before pulling it back to the apex, forcing me to back out of the throttle. I get level with him into turn 6, taking the inside and pushing him out wide. The 125ís can carry enormous corner speed so he manages to get all the way around and across the front of me. Itís close but Iíve got the horsepower to get past him on the drag to the line, finishing just 2 hundredths of a second ahead of him.

The bike felt a lot better and I felt good but it turns out I was fractionally slower than in the first race. I put it down to getting on the throttle later in corners as it felt like it wanted to run wide when I gassed but it shouldíve done exactly the opposite. Maybe I needed to lift the forks a bit more but I decide to leave it as itís probably me rather than the bike.

Third race I get my best start of the day, sticking to the back of the group before repeating the same pattern as the earlier races, gain a little everywhere but lose a lot more out of turn 5. However, this time Iím able to put a decent gap between me and Rod Gibson so itís just a lonely, rather boring and very frustrating ride to the finish line.

This was one of the most disappointing race days Iíve had. Certainly not the worst as I had some absolute shockers with the Triumph, but I left the track feeling like I had lost a lot of feel and speed since breaking my collarbone. On the plus side dropping the footpegs has made things a lot more comfortable and Iím in considerably better shape at the end of the day. The new seat has turned up so once I fit that it should feel positively luxurious.

Next up, Round 2 and my first race on a 600!!

  • my wife for not yelling at me too much for racing with titanium bits in me
  • Cherie for all the help in the pits and putting up with me when I got too much caffeine in my system
  • Stefan @ DL Consulting
  • Tony, Diane, Boaz and Eve for looking after my bike
  • Craig @ Grey Street Motors
  • Dusty @ Leda Leathers for the awesome custom race suit
  • Steve @ SPJ Art and Design for painting my helmets

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  1. MadDuck's Avatar
    Always a privilege to be part of your team. The construction at the track, the uncertainty about the pits and long delays made for a rather odd day.

    Bring on the 600, the 31st and the Endurance day ...
  2. Stirts's Avatar
    You had me at Chicken McMuffin!!
  3. Mental Trousers's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Stirts
    You had me at Chicken McMuffin!!
    They're so good. I don't know why they didn't do them years ago
  4. nings400's Avatar
    im confused it says on my laps rob gibson was 7th and you were 13th?
  5. Mental Trousers's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by nings400
    im confused it says on my laps rob gibson was 7th and you were 13th?
    Looks like it's been fixed now. It originally had them around the other way, which confused the hell out of me but that's what I went with when I wrote that up.