Saturday, 7 May 2011

Grand National UK Championship - Round 1

Yesterday afternoon I got my ass down to Oxford for the inaugural round of the Grand National UK flattrack Championship. I'd entered the Shorttrack and Thunderbike class and pitted between the ScooterFarm and Co-Built guys. With practice done on a slippery track, we were ready for the heats starting at 17h00.

Some of the ScooterFarm team

Wayne Drake doing a bit of paddock fettling - he went well all evening

Wayne's cool underslung pipe on his special Thunderbike

My first heat was in the Shorttrack class - in the last few laps I started battling for position with another rider. He's on my inside and as we approach turn 3, 'Whack!' - he hits my left arm and handlebar. Not sure how this happened, but next thing I'm tumbling down the track on my ass thinking "What the...!?". He must have knocked my hand off the bar or something.

Mr Bones - David Aldana. It was fantastic to be in the paddock get some tips from and race against such legend!

I scramble off the track and they run the last lap of the race with my bike lying graunched on the dirt. My new paintwork! Spent many hours dicking around with that... fuckin' annoying.

Co-Built were out in full force again with four bikes... what's that beaut No 40?

Fortunately the only damage is a bent footrest, gear leaver and my paintwork on the tank and seat trashed. The bike's good to go after ten minutes.

Flash new paintwork signed by David Aldana...

The track had a few big bumps in it and was very slippery coming out of turn 4... but I started going well in the heats. Chatting to David Aldana between heats I got a few tips and pointers and by the time I was in the last Thunderbike heat I managed to hang into the coattails of 'Che Spetacolo' Jacopo Monti for three laps or so. Improving :-)

and lookin' sweet before getting punted off

Against the other riders, I felt really strong coming into the turns, but struggled a bit with grip coming out. Especially on the slippery exit of turn 4, the bike kept on losing traction completely and I'd go sideways to opposite lock... I'd ease off the gas and get popped out of the seat in a mini-highside. Each time this happened, I'd lose 5 yards or so on the rider in front.

'Cowboy' Glyn Pocklington qualifying for the Dash for Cash race

I think my traction issues are linked to the last major thing the bike needs in it's development... the swing-arm angle. I'm still running with a close to standard swing-arm angle - it should be a lot flatter.

David Aldana, Anthony and Dicky Brown chewin' the cud

With consistent riding and few mistakes, I achieved my objective of the evening and made the Thunderbike final. I lined up ninth on the grid :-)

Guy Sutherland struggled with a misfire all evening 

Revvs up... watch the start-tape... watch the tape... it shoots up and we're off in deafening roar of dust, dirt and exhaust fumes. I'd been making decent starts all evening and this start got me from the back row of the grid up to the middle of the pack in the first corner melee. Yeeehaaaa....

Geoff Cain getting his machine ready for the next race

The racing is hard, fast and close. I keep it steady. Trying extra hard not to get her too sideways out of turn 4 it seems like I'm just pootling out of there at an agonisingly slow pace. In front of me, Geoff Cain runs Stevie Coles wide at turn 1 and I don't stand on ceremony and duck up the inside of the pair. A few laps later, on my Achilles-heel turn 4, super-fast Stevie manages to get back at me and 4 turns later we pass the chequered flag.

Thunderbike podium - Jacopo Monti swept all aside and romped to victory with his usual Italian flare... in his Tuxedo!

I land up 6th... Whoooohoooo!

Besides getting taken out and getting my new paintwork mashed into the dirt, it was a great evening on the clay. It's the first time flattracing has been run at the Oxford Stadium and thanks to Pete, Co-Built Anthony and all involved to make this happen. Also many thanks to Sideburn and all who brought David Aldana out. Thanks David for the banter and tips.

I'll post some action shots as soon as I get them.


  1. hey man, your def gettin faster!.
    developing a bike and your skills at the same time is a great way to learn.
    sods law says that if you have a brand new carlos fandango paintjob, its gonna get trashed one way or another!.
    looks good all the same thou.

  2. Cheers Stevie... apparently when David Knight gets a new bike he throws it down the hill to break it in!

  3. Hey Paul Sorry about your paint, but you were all over the place like a mad womens shit going into turn 3. I thought I missed you but I guess you turn in earlier than me! If its any consulation I think you hit my pipe cos its bent and my foot has some missing skin. I beat it will heal quicker than your paint though! Great blog post though.

  4. Sorry I bent your pipe and skinned your foot... just checked and there's a mark on my forks - you must have hit them and that flung my hands from the bars. I was probably braking waaay too early there. Nay worries... that's racing.

  5. But... I was a lot more focussed after that and probably why I got the result I did :-)