Saturday, 31 March 2012

We're Goin' Flattrackin'

Tomorrow is the first round of the ShottrackUK Club and Grand National Championship at Leicester Speedway...'s gonna be a hum-dinger!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Flattrack Practice

Sunday morning I was down at Rye House for a pre-season flattrack practice session

There were many sparkly new bikes there... including Stuart Lovell's beaut two-smoke

Most of the regulars were there... some, like me... had hardly touched thier bikes since the last ride of 2011

Stevie Coles has spent some time modifying his Thundarbike into this badd-ass mad-max creation... brilliant!

First session and all was going well...

Until too much rear brake locked the rear and stalled the engine... I go into the Graziano Rossi leg-drag style

As Jamie 'Full Lock or Death' Croydon says... "You can still save it dude". Lord knows... I tried. 


Sometimes you just gotta pray...

A good time was had by all and despite many riders getting caught out by the slippery turn 3 (it almost got me in the fence a few times...), everyone left on thier own two feet.
Thanks driverchris for the action-shots!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Back at Brands... Again!

Sat 10thMarch 2012

Early start for the two hour drive to ye olde Brandishing Hatchets to get there for 7:30. Then it all goes into fast forward...

Park van, unload bikes, wheels off Candy, queue at tyre changers, unload rest of gear, back to queue at tyre changers, go for a shite, back at tyre changers to give instructions, get my gear on, Wee Monster to the other side of circuit for scrootineering, kit scootineered, back to Candy, hook-up battery, gas her up, back to tyres changers... they're not finished, warm up and stretches, warm Candy up, finally get wheels from tyre changers, fit wheels, get Candy across circuit to scrootineering, then get her to the other end of pits for signing on, first call for practice, race program stuffed down leathers and we trundle out for Classic Superbike qualifying...

Wee got no more power Capt'n... I'm givin' it all she's got!
Out in qualifying I do 3 steady laps on cold, untried tyres. Then I'm right back where I finished off a week ago. Short-shifting a bit more than usual because of the deafening roar as Candy comes on song – I forgot my ear-plugs. I put a couple of progressively quicker laps together. The rear is sliding out of Druids more each lap. I come into the pits half-way through the session, happy that I've qualified reasonably well without taking more risks.
Only later do I realise I didn't check tyre pressures... 45psi is a bit more than the 28 I normally run on the rear. Probably explains the slidey-slidey Druids. Doh! I still qualify 3rd in the Classic Superbikes :-)

A van, jenny, paddock stands, a box of spares, jerry cans of gas, leathers and kit... and two bikes on teh way to do sum racin'... early morning delirium!

After a short break and I'm out on the Wee Monster for the Desmo Due qualifying. I get to the assembly area first... looking for a clear track. This plans goes wrong when the Wee Monster doesn't fire up on the button. I eventually get her chugging over after the first riders are already on track. I’m at the back of a big field of 33 bikes. Bugger!

I hang way back on the first 3 laps... coaxing warmth into the tyres until the lead guys on track are bearing down to lap me. Then I get the hammer down and put in a some flying laps with no traffic. I catch a a gaggle of slower riders and pull in, unlikely to get a clear run for the rest of the session and saving my tyres. I did two rounds on these tyres last year... and I’m too Scots to buy new ones for the season. Old and past their prime, I save what’s left of them for the race where a tenth of a second could count a lot. I qualify 5th :-)

Hitting traffic in the Desmo Due Qualifying session
My race prep for the Wee Monster since racing her almost a year ago was: hooking up the battery and sloshing some fuel in. The tyres had a half the pressure they should have had in them! After correcting tyre pressures on both bikes, refuelling and a little fettling I'm out for the one-race Classic Superbikes on Candy. Lining up on the front row, I stare down the throat of the beast that is Paddock Hill Bend... I WILL be first through there. I can see it clearly.

Start lights go out, I'm off teh line well and Candy pulls like a train. The pole starter is alongside, but fades as I hang on the gas as long as I dare before tipping in and falling over the precipice of Paddock Hill.
Taking 2 bikes racing: it’s twice the work, twice the hassle and everything takes twice as long.
Paddock Hill bend is one of the most awesome corners I've ridden. It can be a bit scary. But I love it - it's my strongest corner at Brands. A great feeling knowing that you have this baby in your arsenal.

Through Paddock Hill and Candy is leading a race for the first time... ever! It’s my first time leading in the dry too :-) I defend through Druids - my weakest corner. I know they're tripping themselves up back there in the melee. I have a clear track. What a feeling!
Candy leads her first race... follow me boys...

Mark Dicken gets me across the line on his 1999 R6 that must be tuned to the moon. I hang onto the back of him and then get mugged going into Druids by a blue Triumph. A Truimph 955! The bastird hangs me out to dry. I square the turn, fire Candy out at him and get back on the case. Soon, through Paddock Hill bend and he's mine. Easy-peasy.

He gets under me again through Graham Hill. No problemo as I pass him again, way before the apex of Paddock Hill. Now the leader has gapped us. Damn this guy on the old R6 is quick!

I push, but the best we can do is maintain the gap the leader has. He is merciless through the lapped traffic and gets away. I keep pushing till I pass the chequered flag. Candy gets her first podium after 8 years of trying! Damn, it feels good. No wild celebration... just quiet contentedness as I enjoy the cool-down lap.

The first piece of plastic Candy has earned
Candy is a stock-engined 1998 RSV – she’s only making 128 bhp. Since I got the old gal in 2004 she has been losing out on speed and power more and more every year. Racing is so much more fun when you’re not creamed by more power and can fight a fairer fight.

An hour and a half later and I’m lining the Wee Monster up on the outside of the second row. Start lights go out and I give her beans, pulling a nice wheelie off the line. I storm through Paddock Hill in third and take second on the way out. Yeah!
From 5th and on my way to 2nd in one turn... should be doing this every race!
We push hard on warming tyres. After Candy the Wee Monster feels like a rapier through the corners but an engorged slug between them. I hit the rev limiter a few times just trying the get more go out of her… but she’s got a completely standard, high-mileage roadie engine with only 60bhp… and feels pretty gutless. I hold second for 4 or 5 laps and then the inevitable… I get passed down the straight. I pass back immediately into Paddock Hill.

Then I make a mistake in the transition from Surtees to Mcleans. With a 5-speed gearbox the gearing is a bit off for this section and I have to change down as I’m tipping her in – far from ideal. I miss 4th and hit neutral… I run wide while clutching the stomped down-change. Two riders take the invitation and are up my inside. I get on it again and push to make up the gap… honing in on the bike ahead – “That’s MY podium!”

Paddock Hill is kind to me again. I pass easily.
Ruling Paddock Hill Bend!
Next lap and I get passed down the straight again… but this time a rider on each side! As we near the entry to Paddock Hill, I know they’re going to bottle it before me. There’s a bike half past me on the inside. I roll the throttle before I get to my marker to let him get ahead and I dart to his inside. They hit anchors and I brake only after passing them both and I crank the Wee Monster toward the high inside curb. Whoooohooo!

This is a dog-fight and I’m lovin’ every moment of it!

Somewhere in the fight the red flag comes out. Race stopped. There are enough laps run to call a result at the end of the last lap. I’m unlucky that the start-finish line is at the end of the straight, before I make my Paddock Hill moves and I land up with 4th. No trophy. My poor bike needs more power but I’m still beaming from some great fisty-cuffs during the race… and knowing that in both races I owned Paddock Hill Bend.
Shizzle-mah-nizzle! Now that was gaddamn fun!
I pack up with a big smile. Picking up my trophy for the classic Superbike race before heading home early because of the endurance race in the afternoon. I haven’t felt this good about short-circuit racing since 2006!

Friday, 23 March 2012


Fri 9th March 2012

... nay worries, plan 'B' is almost as exciting... back to the Manx GP!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Season Opener - Brands Hatch

Been mad-busy the last few weeks - little time to post. Got some catching up to do. So, with the help of dates...

Sat 3rd March 2012

Headed out to Brands Hatch with Candy (1998 Aprilia RSV) for the road race season opener with the ThundersportGB club. Funny how things turn out...

Almost 8 years ago... on the 6th March 2004 at Brands Hatch, I popped my cherry and did my first ever race with the BMCRC (Bemsee) club. Dave and Bernadette Stewart who now run ThuundersportGB were then running Bemsee. And... I was riding the same goddamn bike!

6th March 2004 - Same bike... anyone recognise those leathers?

Then we were in the 'Supertwins' class... time has passed up both by and now we are 'Golden Era Superbikes' class.

This guy's day started badly... he lowsided on cold tyres before he even made it to qualifying... fortunately he had spares to repair and he got out to race.
I get to the circuit and it's gloomy and cold... same as it was 8 years ago. 15 minutes before practice and it starts drizzling lightly... I decide not to change wheels becasue a) I'm by myself and the job will take at least 10 minutes b) I think it'll stop drizzling and I'm too schnup to wreck a set of wets for one qualifying session. 2 minutes before we go out and it starts raining. Doh!

Normally don't mind the rain... but it sucks when you're on the wrong tyres

Turns out that I've lost a spacer from one of my wets and couldn't have changed the rear wheel anyway. Everyone else except another punter is on wets... I'm on super-slick Dunlop GP211s. Ho-hum...

I take it easy... just feeling my way around. I only need 3 laps to qualify. By lap 3 and it's pelting it down. I'm slithering all over the place... but just keeping her steady. My biggest concern is another rider flying around on wets harpooning me in to a corner. I do 2 more laps to make sure I qualify and then pull in.

Keeping her upright...and wobbling around

I qualify 18th out of 22... waaaay at the back. Sure enough it stops raining and starts drying for race one. It's still damp out there as we line up on the grid for the first time in 2012.
The guy ahead of me jumps the start by a mile... I'm thinking that they will red flag and restart. I relax. As the jump-starter is passing the start-row ahead of him, the lights go out and they're off. I'm caught napping... Doh! I'm last into Paddock Hill Bend... same as 8 years ago!

Druids action

It's slippery but the track starts to get a dry line after a few laps. I'm still on my dry-weather Dunlops and after the morning's qualifying just build my confidence lap after lap. I make up a few places before deciding to get the hammer down mid race. I make up more places but too little, too late. I finish 13th.

More Druids

It's glorious sunshine as race 2 soon rolls around. I get an okay start, the track is dry and I pile on the coals from the first turn. I gain a handful of places through Paddock Hill Bend and Druids. The rest of the race is one-way traffic. It's a busy race - catching and passing. Awesome to be racing against simmilarly matched machinery that doesn't leave you for dead down the straights.

Graham Hill Bend - in 2004. Who is # 11?

The same bend 8 years later on the same bike... at least we look faster! 

The race is over all too soon... I was really enjoying it when the chequered flag comes out and I take 5th. Eight years ago in my first two races I finished second last and last... good to see I've improved a bit after a few years racing.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Mad, Crazy, Ram-Jammed Week

Yes... Candy and I survived Brands... stories and pics coming up.

Been flat-the-fook out and travelling for work... also down with the lurgy all week so haven't managed to get much else done... except prep for Brands again tomorrow :-)

Taking the Wee Monster down for some Desmo Due action. Candy and I enjoyed it so much last week, I'm also taking her along for an outing in the 'Classic Superbikes' class.

Yes... race season has begun!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Road Race Season Starts... Tomorrow!

Just a few pics from a few weekends work over the last two months. No big project, just lots of little things to get Candy (the old 1998 Aprilia RSV... the B.A.M.F.) in shape for the short circuits.

Changed the geometry a lot... setup for short circuits is very different to the TT Mountain Course

Tomorrow I'm at Brands Hatch for the inaugural round of the Golden Era Superbikes with ThundersportGB. I started my road race career with Dave and Bernadette at ThundersportGB... almost exactly eight years ago... at Brands Hatch... on the same bike!

Them rear sprockets sure do build up a bit of heat around the IOM!

I haven't short circuit raced Candy since looping her and at Cadwell in Spetember 2006. She was a write-off... but was resurrected with great cost, time and effort. I'm hoping she remembers her way around these tight tracks and doesn't hold any grudges.

She's gonna look sweeter bustin' some moves around Brands tomorrow!

Thursday, 1 March 2012


An absolutely sublime Honda Cafe Racer... I just love the shape and balance.... looks like it's rippin' up the salt while standing still.

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Thanks to the guys at CafeRacerCulture for the awesome pics.