Wednesday, 15 August 2012

2012 Round Six: Darley Moor Sunday

Sunday morning came far too quickly. It was cold and before long, the leathers were slid into to finish the mending of dads bike. Even with the previous nights preparation, the shimming still took a while and with both of us aiming to get out for the practice, we were really pushed to get out. Everything came together with minutes spare and we both got a bit of practice. For me this was great as for the first time all weekend there was just clear track and I could learn like I should have the preceding morning.

Aside from fuel and the usual consumables and checks, there wasn't much done before the first of Sundays races. I had yet another close battle with Gary Biddle (58) and dropped my lap times and despite a jumping 2nd gear out of Park Corner, I still managed to keep it going. I had a great race, however, it appeared that dad (43) was in for yet more poor luck with a conrod failure that destroyed everything but the cylinder head.

Unfortunately, the condition of the barrel was beyond track side repair and potentially beyond repair at all so dad was going to be missing the last race. I felt great after my last race and after speaking to Mike Bonnet (98) about my gear jumping, he advised I push the lever as it might be jumping down. However, the oil leak I had been chasing all weekend was still not solved so this would need looking into.

As the final race approached, everyone knew it was going to be a damp race. As I mentioned in  an earlier post, I had replaced my front tyre with a Duro and had got some real confidence in it again. I opted for a Sava MC31 Soft on the rear as it would heat up quicker and I kept the front with Duro. I had been told confidence was the only thing needed for the wet race and I pushed a bit on the warm up lap but didn't feel the bike slip or slide at all.

I had a usual manic start but by lap two I was lapping sub 1m30s which gave me a great chance to get up to a good place in group four. On the last three laps, I ended lapping 1m24s. To put this into perspective, this was faster than my fastest lap of the weekends first race. I very nearly passed Steve Conneely (99) but settled for 7th in group four which felt great for my first wet race.

This weekend went much better for me than the previous meeting and even for dad, there was the silver lining that he had ridden really well and deserved better than he had achieved. A massive thanks goes out to him for his advice and help and to those at Replay Scooters and JB Tuning who gave us some great racing and plenty of laughs.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 12th August 2012

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

2012 Round Six: Darley Moor Saturday

As mentioned in my last post, I had decided to partake in the Darley Moor race meeting. I think that mostly I thought back to the race at Lydden Hill where I had to spectate and that gave me the motivation to make sure I was out racing again.

We arrived on the Friday evening - well more correctly - afternoon. This was an achievement in itself as for the first time all season, we both felt prepared. So much so that after setting up our gazebo, getting scuiteneered and fully unpacking, we still had a few hours before it was dark. So, armed with some drink, we decided to walk the circuit twice. It was quite nice to see the track at low speed as you feel like you notice things more than in the frantic practice session.

However, unfortunately, my practice session on the Saturday morning did indeed become more frantic. My clutch was massively slipping as soon as I delivered any real power. I was passed numerous times but stuck out there for the entire session as the engine didn't give me too much trouble in the corners.

After the session, the issue was quickly identified, rectified and tested. I now felt much more comfortable for the first race.

Race one was great with the bike sorted and saw me having a phenomenal battle with Gary Biddle (58). The spectators also had a great view watching my dad, Mark Thurland (43) stall on the line and chase through to 5th in class!

Race two saw me get some more good racing tracking down Chris Redman (88) and Trevor Childs (32) and cutting my fast lap by two seconds. I really felt like both I and the bike had improved over Lydden Hill. Unfortunately, I witnessed my dads (43) failed finish on the last corner of the last lap where his gearbox jammed and flipped him off the bike. For both of us it seemed a bit like deja vu with me experiencing the last corner last lap scenario at Cadwell Park earlier in the year.

I felt right on course for Sunday to be honest, I had been chasing a slow oil leak all weekend and had rode around the issue. It had been a success for me and despite one DNF for dad (43) he had ridden well and deserved better than he had achieved.

We set to work sorting out his gearbox issue before going out with the lads from JB Tuning which made a really nice change. I think it would be fair to say that we were both in a better mental state than at Lydden Hill two weeks earlier.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 11th August 2012

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Race Scooter: Time constraints

After the onslaught for me that was Lydden Hill, I had a few days rest to decide what I wanted to do about the next race - Darley Moor. After hearing from Chalkie of Replay Scooters that there was a little adjustment to be done in the ignition, I adjusted to the new supplied figure. Timing was way off and not only did the figure have a massive change, so did the noise of the bike - sounding truly sweet again. What a boost to my mentality to figure out there was a simple problem that explained a few of my issues over the weekend. Ho hum we live and learn.

I also made other changes on the bike, returning to a Duro front tyre which is softer than the Sava I had used at Snetterton and Lydden Hill. I also replaced my clutch circlip which greatly improved my clutch action. Gearing went back to Cadwell's gearing and I replaced my selector and spring for good measure too. And to top off all this preparation, an Elliot box of spares was put together to prevent the "Doh, we left it at home" syndrome.

Most notably, taking advice, I doubled up on cable trunions where before I had not thought necessary... The only thing I didn't manage was a dyno test but given it had had one less than two weeks beforehand and checks had been done, it wasn't the end of the world.

Race Scooter: All events occurred up to 9th August 2012

Thursday, 2 August 2012

2012 Round Five: Lydden Hill Sunday

On the Sunday morning, I was itching to try the ignition out as I needed to know if I had set it correctly, however, those of you familiar with the Lydden Hill weekend will know that no engines are allowed to start before the local church service finishes. The charity cycle race was also on this weekend so the morning went quite quickly after spectating this event. Annoyingly, there was no practice for scooters on the Sunday which meant there was no track testing of the ignition set-up either - just the paddock to sensibly ride around.

Rather amusingly during the weekend, Gary Biddle (58) had advertised for a passenger on his "tandan" which looked like it offered good fun. That was until a tyre was blown up to 120psi. Needless to say one loud explosion later the machine became less of a good offer. In the Thurland camp, luckily the ignition did work but similarly to Saturday, it felt lower on power. The clutch had a problem beyond simple adjustment and second gear jumps became quite frequent.

Onto race 3 and after making a poor start with the issues, I noticed very quickly that my dad (43) had broken down up the hill on the first lap. In the rest of the race, my front end felt terrible again into the the left-hander and people were just easily pulling away from me. My laps got a little better again but one point that I can look back on in hindsight was the fact that even keeping the engine on the boil, I still had to change down on the first corner and up the hill I barely snatched at 3rd gear.

At the end of the race, inspecting dads issue identified a fairly serious piston failure - it snapped at the pin luckily though, there didn't seem to be as much damage as debris so there were a few positives. All there was left was the 4th race. I replaced my shock with 43's unused BGM and gave a check all over as usual.

In the fourth race I posted my fastest time but yet again, didn't complete a race. On the last lap, one of my gear cable trunions came off meaning I couldn't change down. I pulled over and was duly collected after the race.

Overall, I actually like the circuit but came away quite disheartened. Starting issues, riding issues and bike issues all had to be considered bad preparation and I was adamant I would not compete at Darley Moor due to my poor performance and opt for a track day instead - to allow myself to improve. I had completed only one race and dad had only managed two. If there wasn't such a good crowd of people there it would have been even worse for us both. In this light, for the whole weekend, I'd like to extend my personal thanks to everyone from the BSSO.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 29th July 2012

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

2012 Round Five: Lydden Hill Saturday

Due to the preparation for Lydden Hill taking much longer than expected, when we traveled down on the Friday, which was the night of the Olympic opening ceremony for London 2012, we met a fair few queues over the route. For the first time all season, we had arrived in the dark so there was no chance of getting the newly acquired gazebo up. However, we managed to unload and went for a few drinks in the "clubhouse".

In the morning we still had a few things to sort out including swapping over rear hubs in addition to the usual scruiteneering and signing on. Despite having the week before to sort out everything, I somehow managed to leave our signing on cards at home. Luckily I remembered our ACU Licences and identity chains. After causing a more frantic morning than expected, the practice came around very quickly.

The first thing I noticed with the bike was what seemed like a lack of power and under heavy braking into the only left corner, the front end was really shaking. The lack of power was really noticable up the hill and as such I didn't really have a "fast lap" or a "good lap" in all honesty. I pulled in a lap or two early and in all honesty, I was disappointed. A lot of hours had been put in along the way and it all felt wasted.

A pep talk from my Dad (43), Chalkie, Steve (99) and Roy saw my suspension have a change in setting but to be honest I think all of us thought that the issues were down to me but one good race could change all of that - which everyone knew. Unfortunately, Saturday turned out to not be that day.

In our first race, I was dropped very quickly and was lapping slowly by comparison to everyone else. And to top it all off, the race was restarted halfway through to a race incident only to be cancelled due to another race incident. The race was to be re-run at the end of the program, given time.

On the restart, Dads bike (43) had a cush drive failure. It turned out that the front sprocket castle washer had broken causing the spring to be held simply with the engine casing. A donation kit from Gary Biddle (58) saw Dad fixed for the second race.

Race two came along but again I had issues, very early on in the race the bike just stopped. Watching the rest of the race from the hairpin was inspiring seeing John Uffindell (41) get knees and floorboards down every single time. After the race I rolled my bike back to inspect the issue - which was quickly and easily identified as the brand new ignition I had fitted. It had shaken loose and it turned out that both rotor and stator were ruined.

It was a fairly catastrophic failure and caused me to sit out the race rerun that was at the end of the day. I watched the race from the standing area and took a few pictures which was a small consolation to missing the race. This was the first race I had missed to to complete engine failure and I really wanted to be out there.

In the evening, I managed to fit a spare ignition but ran out of light and time to test it. This was a great shame as on the Sunday morning, no engines would be allowed to start due to a local church service. Needless to say, we made the best of the evening and had a pleasant time hanging out with the JB crew and even had a few short games of cricket too. I really hoped that the Sunday would change my race attitude and bring me some luck. I wasn't going to have the best chance starting from the back of the grid though.

Photos: Lee Hollick Photography 

Race Scooter: All events occurred 28th July 2012