It was a funny old day at Round 6 of the Earlystocks championship at Mallory Park and not the best of results for the Team SandM challenge for the prestigious Earlystocks 750 championship title. Team boss "M", chairman of S&M Motorcycles, had been fettling Longy's bike and a new clutch with "race springs" was being sported to resolve the horrendous clutch slip problems from the Oulton Park round.
The weather was basically rain, rain and well...rain... pretty much throughout the entire day. Pretty grim really. Anyway, Team SandM decided to try the standard semi-slick Pirelli Super Corsa Pro rear tyre instead of the rock hard Avon Road Legal wet; the theory being - what's good enough for "Jacko" #214, the demon 1,100cc stocker who can lap Mallory in 58s on the old grunt, is good enough for anyone else.
Racing in the wet is largely a mental thing and the thought of racing through puddles on a tyre designed for a nice hot dry track is a difficult thing to get your brain around. However, as Longy tip-toed out for practice, within a corner or two it was apparent these things actually did grip - and pretty good too. Indeed, in spite of the track being totally covered in a large oil slick mixed in with water, the little 750 managed to qualify pole - although it was evident 4secs would need to be shaved off the lap time in the race to keep up with the boy Jackson.....mmm..unlikely.
In a masochistic way, Longy was feeling marginally enthusiastic about race 1 with the new grip from the rear - in spite of the soaking wet track. However, literally as the bike rolled onto the start line, the thing died and would not re-start - a faulty kill switch......then suddenly the lights went OUT, Longy's hand went up immediately, and he turned to see 20 odd bikes hairing towards him at full chat. This is a seriously scary situation to be in - and most race incidents are caused at the start line. There is nothing you can basically do other than sit, wait and hope for the best. Anyway the bike had died and was wheeled off to the skip for some TLC.
Jacko once again cleared off in the race, but with a field of 22 bikes there was a lot of dicing going on in the treacherous conditions. Amazingly, the Pink Panther Mark Emuss #316 on his classic "pink" Yamaha 250LC completed a blinding race to finish 2nd on track. The thing must only put out 35bhp - that's over 100bhp less than the big 1,000cc bikes - so a fantastic piece of riding, although the some concerns were raised about the slightly gay colour scheme.
In the 750 championship, contender Neil Myatt, aka Mad, was popping around on 2 cylinders like the Domino's Pizza Express delivery man - determined to get more points for the title whatever the pace. Too embarrassed to even lower his chin on the tank at such a slow speed, and not realising Longy was in pit lane drinking a cuppa, he stuck out the 10 laps to break the record for the slowest 750 race time in history. To make matters worse, all the pizzas were cold by the time he arrived back in the pits.....
The most disappointing result though was had by Simon Holland #287. His first 750 win was "in the bag"- but unfortunately, on the last lap at the hairpin, thoughts of
bringing home the winners laurels to his new baby daughter....and imagining her first words of..."Daddy I'm so proud of you"...started to flash into his mind - he missed his brake point and the front end went down with 3 corners to go...and he bit the dust. Amazingly, he returned to the pits with a big smile - what a top man.
The DNF from race 1 meant Longy had to start in position 21 on the grid - right at the very back...sort of Billy-no-mates style. From the back it certainly looked a long way to the front row for sure.The tracked had dried a bit and a race line was appearing which was good. Longy's plan was to head for the only dry line around Gerrards - snick in front of Jacko and the rest of the boys (plus Cass the Earlystocks female race star of course) and then pull out a 35 second lead to the flag.....
The red lights went OUT, the clutch was dropped, no jump-start...good...nail it up through the gears...head for the dry line....but ohhhhhh....all of a sudden 20 other bikes had exactly the same idea. The words of, get in the queue and wait your turn, were heard inside Longy's head...And he had to - off the racing line were just puddles and damp patches - not nice - so only a single line to follow in convoy. In fact there was pretty much only one dry line around the whole circuit so overtaking was sort of limited to Edwinas and into the bus stop.
Any way, with the race cut from 10 to 8 laps, there wasn't much time, so Longy just nailed it and hoped the thing would grip as the bike wandered over all the damp patches. In actual fact, only a few slides were had throughout the race - so all credit to modern tyre technology. The smaller class stockers were easier to pass using the power on the straights, however once the 1,000's were caught up with, it was a different kettle of fish and only the entry into Edwinas seemed to be an overtake point - with even that a bit tight as braking had to take place over the damp patches.
With two laps to go, Longy had managed to get up to 5th spot, and on the penultimate lap a back marker just enabled his Eddie Lawson replica to sneak inside Alec #216 on his 1,100 into the bus stop to snick 3rd place. This left the Pink-Panther Mark Emuss #316, once again totally flying on his little LC250 as the next rider to catch, but with only 1 lap left and 4 seconds to gain it was too much to ask. A 3rd place finish resulting. The boy Jacko had by this time finished the race and was in the bar drinking his third pint of Stella. Not a bad result though considering the starting place and a 750 class win for a few more points.
With Longy's four DNF's, Mad-Myatt #275 can only lose his championship lead by delivering pizzas at all the remaining rounds so the title is out of reach for Team SandM.
Now there is a gap of 7 weeks until the next round, so all the Earlystockers will be wondering what they can do with themselves. Maybe time to fettle and tune some more, bore out the 750 to an 810cc and fit some Wiseco pistons, or paint the house or even lie on the beach (Team SandM's plan!). Or could it be that Moldy will be completing his new machine and wheeling it out at Darley....time will tell...