April 12, 2011

First race on the R6 as the Stocker burns another clutch!

Longy's first race on the R6 to 7th spot...awesome!
A perfect day for racing at Mallory park for the first (and possibly last) race of the 2011 season. Biting off more than was possible to chew, both the Yamaha R6 and the Suzuki post-classic 1100 stocker were entered for the day...that's 20 laps of qualifying, following by over 40 laps of racing over four races.....as said, with zero gym time this was always going to be a tall order. However, as predicted the 1100 stocker broke again after a few race laps, so the day was reduced somewhat by some 15 laps of racing.

The highlight of the day was racing the R6, a 'pukka' sports bike, in gloriously sunny racing conditions. Racing a full blown sports bike had been an ambition for some time and needless to say it was a pretty tense affair racing against guys who, let's say, have less concerns about attending work on a Monday morning than me!! Nevertheless, whilst a good bit off the pace of the top three, a 7th place on track finish first time out in the EMRA Roadstocks (4th in the 600 class) from a field of 21 was pretty good, especially as the bike has only been ridden twice before on a couple of track days.

Early-stockers Aidy & Rob's 110mph crash at Gerrards!
The R6 was something else compared the 30 year old Earlystocker where you feel you are teetering on the edge of road holding ability at all times. The 1100 is also HUGE, whereas the tiny R6 far exceeds my modest racing capabilities with razor sharp handling and fantastic power - in reality I am too big for it - it feels minuscule. With winning lap times at Mallory of 53 seconds (nearly 90 mph average) on the 600, I was some 6s a lap off the pace (a modest 59s best lap, or 84 mph average)! However, with practice it would not be hard to shave at least a couple of seconds a lap off to get into the 56-57s, which might secure a top 3 position but still some way off a podium pace in the Superstock 600s...mind blowing. Track day accessibility now means that even the Novices come out of the blocks flying as they have had all the prior track time - so there wee certainly a few quick orange jackets entered! The race itself was a good dice and after 10 laps of nip and tuck overtaking I just managed to hold off a guy on a somewhat faster GSXR750 Suzuki by one tenth of a second to the line to clinch the 7th spot - not bad. However, I'm not sure I breathed from the moment the lights changed and was gripping the bars so tight I could barely get round the hairpin. The seat also needs lowering as the steep rake of the R6 made me tower over the top of the tank - time to cut the seat foam down.

Getting a bit smoother on the R6

Race 2 on the R6 was Ok...for 3 laps, however having got up to 6th spot, I was baulked by another rider who'd run wide at the esses and rejoined nearly T-boning me. Annoyingly this created a gap and the the lack of track time on the R6 kicked and my concentration fell off a cliff edge. Suddenly, the sheer speed of the R6 exiting Gerrards at 130mph, knee down became apparent and the throttle started to roll gently the wrong way to get the rider home safely! A lot more laps are required on the R6 to make it click. A 12th place finish was not so good, but all back safely which was the main thing. Interestingly the lap time had been bettered from the first race - weird.

She lasted 4 laps...burnt clutch #2
The old 1100 stocker managed at least half a race, but stupidly the starting technique on the R6 (revs up, hold on the clutch until the red light goes out then drop it), burnt out the Suzuki's clutch....durr. So first bend the clutch is slipping like crazy. By lap 5, there was zero drive so had to pull in. The whole plate assembly was as black a as coal - just like Cadwell. Nevertheless, there was some action during the 5 laps in the form of Alec Gilfilan taking the win from a somewhat depleted field as Aidy Brennan and Rob Chambers had a major coming together in a spectacular crash on the 120mph exit of Gerrards with Rob's bike cartwheeling over the barrier....those boys were lucky to walk away from this big one. It was spectacular viewing from behind though as I was right in their wheel tracks!
Aidy Brennan crashing his GS1000  Earlystocker
at 110+mph at Gerrards.....!

Anyway...there's the update as the leathers are being hung up....who knows when (or if) the next racing blog will be!