Jon Mold brings home four second place trophies on the CB500 and Steve Long clinches a couple of podiums & fourth spots in the ultra competitive Honda Hornet 600cc class...Read on.....
An upbeat feeling came over the team after Double-Decks Dave (DDD) Walley, CEO of the global event services empire Arena Group, very generously decided to invest in the teams seasons campaign. Arriving in his shiny new Aston Martin DB9, DDD, clearly a man of his word, requested we simply "deliver the results". The team hopes to persuade DDD to wheel out one of his rapidly expanding collection of bikes on a track day soon.....
With a healthy wedge of petty cash now available and having never seen the Pembrey circuit before, Long & Mold decided to invest in some testing for a change; and in spite of a major hangover from excess Sambookas the night before in Brigend, the boys dialled themselves in against the local sheep shearers on a track day.
Pembrey is a great biking circuit comprising of flowing lefts and rights keeping the rider fully occupied throughout. There's a scary flat out, knee-down 120mph right-hander after the Speedway Straight that really takes some working up to. The left hander Dibeni's is like a reverse of Gerrards at Mallory - fast and long at maximum lean angle and the hairpins require serious heavy duty braking. Grip at the circuit is very good, both wet or dry....overall a truly awesome race track.
Timed Practice - The Hornet is Crushed!
Rain-sodden roads on the approach to Pembrey indicated the circuit would be true to form - wet, windy and full of sheep. However, as luck would have it, the circuit seemed to have its own eco-system and sunshine quickly broke through.
Tyre choice was difficult for qualifying with all the damp patches, so Long decided on dry tyres with slick edges, not much use in the wet, and Moldy the obligatory road tyres for the CB500. Unsure of grip, Long tip-toed around like the only gay in the village whilst Mold hammered the beast....so much so that he qualified within 3/100ths of a second of Long with 30bhp less...WAR was shortly declared between the two riders!!!
Races 1 & 2 (Saturday)
As Mold rolled the CB onto the grid alongside Long he makes it clear with a two finger salute that battle was about to commence....With a mix of 125's, 400's, CB's and Hornets on the grid this was going to be a manic 10 lap thrash to the finish....
A crash on lap 1 brings a red flag, however in the restart both riders get off well. Long then plunges his way through the pack from a 16th grid position to finish 4th in class and 5th in the overall race. Not a bad result from 30 odd starters - and not a mile off the race leaders Sean Hardwicke and Sam Read's lap times. Long goes one better in race 2 and bags a third after Joice blows a gearbox.
Mold meantime was flying ..and after nearly losing his composure when tussling for second spot in a three bike battle, he runs off the track, rejoins, then retakes the other CB500 blighters to finish second in class! Mold once again in Race 2, maintains his composure and brings home yet another 2nd spot - a fine day at the office.
Mold, with a Rossi'esk aura, returned to the team awning to provide race tips, sign autographs and drink cappuccino's whilst his fellow CB riders polished his machine in awe of his riding skill and bravery. Long meantime, whilst not "quite" matching Mold's class results, sought some consolation by reminding him of the returned two finger salute when lapping him at the flat out Woodlands kink...(Ok the Hornet has 30bhp more I admit...)
Races 3 & 4 (Sunday)
Sunday's racing brought some new challenges....the weather! A major downpour meant sporting full wets tyres, but when Long spotted his rear wheel bearing had seized, this meant a tortuous weekend of changing wet and dry tyres on a single rim as the weather kept fluctuating....in fact 13 Hornet wheel changes took place on the Sunday!
Race 3 was met with intrepidation - Long had not raced in the wet for two years and matters did not improve when a misted visor kicked in on the warm up lap. But hey ho...relying purely on circuit memory ride the course, Long's confidence started to grow by the lap lap as new wet tyres kicked in. And with 2nd spot almost within grasp, closing rapidly on John Hardwicke by nearly 1s per lap, the race was suddenly cut short at 4 laps due to yet another crash....another third place. The final race of the weekend brings yet another wheel change, and Long totally feeling worse for wear, manages just a 4th spot due to copious mistakes.
The imbalance of power meant between the CB500's, Hornets and 400's saw them shifted to race with the Earlystocks. These are big old Suzuki GSX1100, GS1000's and 750's from the 1970's pumping out over 100bhp. In a totally wet Race 3, Mold's mastery of the wet conditions sees his little CB500 with only 55bhp, fly past not just most of the CB's, but all the big Earlystocks - bar none! And after a race long battle with #230 the GSX1100 rider, he takes a superb 2nd spot in the actual race and another 2nd in class...awesome - in fact his best result ever! Mold rounds off his best weekends result on record by producing another second spot a dry race 4.
Returning 'ole rusty the van home to roost with a dash full of trophies, impresses DDD the new sponsor - to the point where he wants the riders featured in his corporate news letter! However, the team deliberates its future and decide that having mixed it with those big old Freddy Spencer replica Earlystocks, racing those just might be fun....and... well it's time for a change of class. Watch this space to see what develops as they try a new strategy to convince their new chief DDD to go Earlystocking!