June 03, 2008

Oulton Park - The Sun Shines Down for a Double Win!

Team SandM...well the one remaining rider (Longy) and his good wife Juliet...head to the team's favorite circuit in the UK - Oulton Park. This glorious rambling race track is set amongst lakes and forest is an absolute gem and with blazing sunshine this was lining up to be a cracking weekend. On arrival at the circuit, and for some bizarre reason, the Earlystockers had decided to camp down around a single large puddle of water in the pits. Longy, slightly bemused about this, assumed this was a strange tradition of the club, so politely unloaded his green machine and proceeded to stand in the quagmire with all the other riders for some friendly banter.

Race day was adorned with a sizable crowd of spectators and a blue sky. And after the smoothest scrutineering in history without even a mention of bar ends, preparation for timed practice began. It soon transpired that many of the loony modern classic racers had never been within 50 miles of the circuit having confined most of their racing existence to circulating Mallory Park - only Nige Griffiths , aka Professor Pat Pending, had taken the trouble to do some testing on a track day. This was beginning to sound like it could be a walk in park for Team SandM with four previous races there on the Honda Hornet.

Practice
Oulton Park has a habit of feeling very fast for the first 5 laps or so regardless of how often you visit the place. The swooping bends and undulations requiring good flowing lines to put in consistently low lap times. A year had passed since the last visit to this racing mecca and this time it was no different - a mixture of exhilaration and sheer terror hit home as Longy gradually tried to up his nerve to keep the throttle pinned over Clay Hill and the exit to Druids. Practice finished with massive arm pump, and fortunately Longy's quite sedate lap time of 2.06 was enough to get pole - a long way short of a 1m 56s best on the Hornet.

As the other Oulton Park "virgins" came back smiling from practice...Ed (#220), decided that lazing in the sun drinking Red Bull was slightly dull, and set about stripping his entire GPz750 engine down to validate the accuracy of his Haynes Manual. Pete (#229) meantime, his racing counterpart, remained in the van to do some accounting as they suddenly realised after purchasing their 3rd Earlystock bike in 2 months, the race budget had been well and truly blown to pieces!

The Championship
A significant points disadvantage in the 750 championship due to three DNF's meant Longy had to win both races to keep him in the hunt for the title. However, to maintain an advantage, Neil Myatt aka Mad, the 750 championship leader, had tried to psych out Longy with a new tattoo sporting the words..."Mad - #275 - Earlystocks Champion 2008".... fortunately this clever trick back-fired somewhat when Cass, club organizer and 400 Earlystocks racer, pointed out the race numbers were changing to single digits next year and #275 would never be used again....

Race 1
The race was greeted with a 10 minute session of musical chairs as the marshal inadvertently got his starting grid page the wrong way round. After a major reshuffle, Longy refocused by trying to remember how long the red light stayed on to avoid another jump start! However, forgetting it had been over 12 months since looking at the start lights, he got it completely wrong again causing the Kwacker to jump forward too early....

No advantage was gained but Longy's brain was convinced a 10 sec penalty would be incurred.....The race was then on to try and pull a 10 seconds lead from the rest of the chasing mob of Earlystockers to win it. Thankfully, the results revealed that no penalty was given, although surprisingly a 10 second advantage was just about gained at the flag. A very pleasing outright win to start the day.....

Lunch Break
As Ed (#220 ) continued to beaver away checking his Haynes manual against the spec of his GPz, oblivious to the fact he'd missed race 1, Moldy and his girlfriend Sam made a surprise appearance in the pits. Posing in their open top sports car like the Duke and Duchess of Chester, Moldy was then seen to be engaging with the graying race brigade and rumors started circulating that he might, just might , be making a comeback.......Meantime, Alec (#216) basked in the sun, determined to better resemble a Baboons ar** and top up his red faced tan...

Race 2
The warm up lap indicated a massive bout of clutch slip on Longy's green machine. The stocker could hardly hold any revs without wildly slipping up the rev range - but this was something that would have to be lived with for the 6 lapper......

Now paranoid about jump starting, Longy's race got off to an almost Honda Goldwing slow start. Every man and his dog seemed to go past and him, and ignoring the wildly fluctuating rev counter, Longy gradually picked his way through the field to gain an advantage on the Earlystock pack. With 1.5 laps to go, a quick look over the shoulder revealed an empty track - however Longy might want to apply to Vision Express for sponsorship because Pat Pending (#290) was actually hiding in his wake....

As Longy started to meander on the penultimate lap thinking of home baked bread and scones, Pending's incredible 1,170cc earlystock invention coasted up the inside of him into Old Hall - he was absolutely flying and started to pull out a gap on both the power and cornering advantage. It was only down to a dare devil "wall of death" style ride up the banking at Shell Hairpin where Longy managed to nudge back ahead and after absolutely nailing the bike to the finish, gained a 1.5s advantage over the Prof. A really exciting last lap and a great finish to the day to make it a double.

Epilogue
Moldy is spotted fettling his stocker in his back yard - the rumours continue to grow that he could be making a come back tour.....it is unsure whether Ed (#220) ever left the circuit and was last seen with the Editor of Haynes Manuals in the pits ironing out minor discrepancies in the book....his counter part Pete (#229) was last found in the gents toilets perfecting his bum sliding & knee out technique in the mirror....Cass & Steve the chiefs of the Earlystock club, have started a campaign to both introduce a water jump at Mallory and award rosettes rather than trophies in future.....Simon (#287) was last seen swearing profusely at Hizzy's corner where he leaped off the bike in race 1 and Dick one of the fly weight 1,100cc stockers, was spotted testing an LC racer up pit lane.....
Click for Race Results