Sunday, 30 June 2013

Classic TT Build - Air-box

HRC spend millions every year developing cutting-edge race bikes. The best air-filter they can come up with is steel mesh - just a something stop stones, birds and other object being swallowed by the engine. I like this simplicity. For years I've raced my Aprilia RSV completely open with no air-box or filters with problems (thankfully I never put her in the gravel). Vee twins like to breathe. The less you put between the velocity stacks and cool air, the better.

HRC Air-filters as used in WSBK

With input from my mate Steve Hillary at Redmax Speed Shop (my engine man), I decided to go for a completely open airbox. 'Box' wouldn't describe it... too restrictive. It would be an 'air-area'. I didn't want to risk anything getting into the engine that shouldn't be there, so got some HRC air-filters. With the trick Oronero carbon air-runner supplying cool air, I reckon it'll work.

Onto the job of making something to attach the air-filters to. Needed to do 2 things:
1) secure the air-filters
2) shield the air going into the velocity stacks from the hot air coming off the engine.

This is where they'll go
Heat-shield cloth - NASA stuff!

Measure it up, cut and mark it...

Resin the air-filter bases

Cut some holes...


Resin in place to get the right shape...

... once set, trim to shape and get going on the tricky front cylinder...

Riv-nut the filters - no possibility of anything coming loose then getting sucked into the engine

Fabricate some ally brackets

After a whole lot of fitting, adjusting, fiddling and a lot of swearing, we're just about done...

I didn't have time to tart it up before I dropped the bike off at Steve for the engine rebuild. A splash of paint over the pink resin would make it look less home-grown - any ideas on color? I was thinking a plain matt grey or black.

I also fitted the Oronero air-runner and other carbon deliciousness... more of that later. Steve has been working on the engine and I'll get pics of that up soon as well. We're getting there!

DTRA Flattrackin Round 4 - Tir Prince, Rhyl

On Friday, I spent 7 hours doing almost 400 miles on the trip up to North Wales and back for round 4 of the DTRA National Championship at Tir Prince, Rhyl.

The weather held an it was dry until 20 miles from the track where it hammered it down. I arrived in the paddock and hunkered down in the van. Made some space in the back, got the bike up on to a stand and cut my tyres.

Yes, this is wales...

Been looking forward to this round for a while now. It's the biggest, fastest track in the UK... the best. Last time we were here (2011) I almost got into the Grand Final on my heavy old Thunderbike that was running out of revs down the straights. I was looking forward for good results in both Thunderbike and Pro class this year.

It wasn't to be. The rain stopped and we mulled around for a while, but the track was water-logged and the meeting called off. Big disappointment to all, especially the organisers and all that had been out there for the last day or two setting it all up - thanks for all the effort that went into this. Hope we'll be back soon.

Improvised mud-guard

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Got an email on my Classic TT entry: neighbors heard those victory whoops!
Further down the email:

Just have to qualify in the top 50 in Formula 1 and the race is on! Shouldn't be a problem on that awesome Duke that's being built.
It's gonna be a busy fortnight with 3 bikes... bring it on!

Goin Flattrack Racing...

... tomorrow night at UKs biggest, fastest track.
It's gonna be EPIC!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Wee Monster at Donnington Park

A few weekends ago, the day after the DTRA flattrackin at DirtQuake II, I got the Wee Monster up to Donnington Park to do the last of my ManxGP Qualification races.

I cannot remember where I got these pics from...
Apologies for no credits and thanks for the pics
After the get-off at Oulton, she was down 5 bhp across the rev range. Mike at MD Racing did a compression test and found the front cylinder is down 35psi. She must have eaten a stone from the gravel pit. So I got up to Donnington just wanting a finish.

I unloaded the bike and then realised that I had forgotten my leathers. Doh! I normally have a check-list that I use... after flattrackin the day before, I was full of confidence and reckoned that I'd done this enough times to be able to remember everything. Yeah, right!

Bike, check. Fuel, check, kit, check... no hang on... whe're my leathers?

With a two-hour round-trip back home not really feasible, I started asking fellow Ducati Desmo riders around the paddock and garages if anyone had a spare set of leathers. I was in luck! Kevin Ellis had a spare set on hand that were the rightish size (they were up for sale). He kindly offered let me borrow them for the day. Thanks Kevin!

Kevin Ellis was so kind as to lend me his spare leathers... we then fought it out on track!
Apologies for no credits and thanks for the pics

I haven't been to Donnington since 2004. It's a big track for a wee 54bhp bike. With loads of blind corners and 'faith' sections, I just felt me way around... careful not to repeat my gravel feats of Oulton Park. I qualified second from last. Hmmmmm.

I could hardly see the start lights from back there!
Apologies for no credits and thanks for the pics

With the GP grid at Donnington (bigger spaces and only 3 slots in each row), the 11th row is a million miles back from the front row... I had to squint hard just to see the start lights! I got a good start and got up to the next row by the time we hit Redgate. I'm still learning the place and just take it easy, making sure I finish. The underpowered little bike is getting killed on the straights... even by some of the Class B bikes. On lap 5 the race is stopped with a red flag incident. No worries. I bag my last qualifying finish for the Manx GP. Not a proper race and a crap result, but relieved that I'm now qualified :-)

Apologies for no credits and thanks for the pics

Race two and I push a bit harder. But with only 4 laps in qualifying and 4 laps in race one, I only have 8 laps experience around the place. I can go a bit quicker through sections and am not pushing as hard as the bike will go... so I reckon I'm down 3 or 4 seconds a lap off where I should be. Turns out I was 8 seconds a lap off the winning pace... I guess that'll be my 10 bhp deficit (class limit is 65bhp). The race goes full distance and I get my second finish of the day. Job done.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Classic TT Build - Getting the Hammer Down

I haven't posted for a while... just about every minute I have had other than work - has been spent on the SP3... and finishing my qualification races for the IOM TT Mountain Course Licence. Haven't had time to post. Just getting the hammer down - sorting stuff, fitting bits and solving problems. It's bee a long few weeks in the garage. I had to get as much done as possible before I dropped it off for the engine rebuild.

Roll back the clock to three weeks ago...
Got around the tediously fiddly job of mounting the seat unit. Because the seat unit is light-weight, it needed some extra mounting tabs welded on. My mate Steve Mann helped me out with that. It took a bit of work, but eventually got it all to where I wanted.
Also sorted a race-mandatory catch-tank for the oil-catch tank breather, water and fuel overflow out of a camping ally water flask. Super light-weight and looks a lot better than an empty Guinness can.

The fuel-cap also arrived... from China. It wasn't too bad... a bargain considering the price. Not too happy about the action of the screw-on cap, so I swapped it for the one on my wee Monster race bike. Don't have to do a fuel stop against the clock on the wee Monster.

Made a bracket and remounted the voltage regulator. The bracket it was on was a botch job and in the way of the cool air flow that's going to be delivered by the trick carbon air runners. Had no idea where it should be, but didn't want to re-wire it so found an out-of-the-way place where it should get plenty cool air.

Peter from Oro-Nero dropped off a box of carbon loveliness too :-) Some beautiful parts, including the corsa style air runner - made extra-strong for the rigours the Isle of Man.

More on the fitment of these beauties in an  forthcoming posts...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Badd Ass Truck up PPHC

Just had to post this...

Thanks 474 Travis for the link!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

DTRA Flattrackin Round 3 - King's Lynn - DIRTQUAKE II

Saturday morning I drove up to King's Lynn with a couple if dirttrack bikes, my gear and a whole packet of enthusiasm.

The day started off well... I finally collected my silverware from last year's Championships :-)

I unload, unpack and get setup for a day's racing and the crazy-ass DirtQuake II. Get the bike warmed up and kit on. First up, practice. At the gate onto the track, the bloody bike doesn't want to start. I wheel it back to my pit and give it a battery-boost. She starts, but the gate is closed and practice session underway. Bollocks! At least with 2 Classes I get 2 practice sessions. I get out in my second and try get up to speed quickly in the 4 laps we have on track.  Still feeling my way around a bit.

First heat and I'm drawn on the front row. With so many riders, to qualify decently for the final, one needs to get into at least the top 3 in every heat. Especially if you're starting on the front row. I get a decent start, but get passed and land up 5th or something. Crap.

Pikes Peak and desert racing legend "747" Travis Newbold came out from the US for the party... he was super-fast on loaned bike and kit... and bagged 2nd in the final. Great ride Dood!

Next heat and I start to get into things. I think I get a 2nd and a couple of 3rds in the heats after that. Sweet! I'm feeling fast and comfortable and riding steadily to make sure I qualify well. Last heat in the Pro Class. We wait to go out on track.

When waiting I leave the bike off - with a dinky wee radiator and no fan, she boils over quickly if standing. We get ushered onto track. I hit the start button. Crrrrrrrrrrr.... hit it again... Crrrrr.... again... Crrr. She normally fires up straight away. Fuck.

Drogo Michie donning battle-gear for a heat
I grab the nearest person to me, hand them the bike and shout over the noise of dirttrack bikes heading out onto the track "Just hold this...". Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! I do the steel-shoe lope-run back to the pit, grab my battery boostpack... Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! Clunk!

I plug it in and ask the guy who held my bike "Stop them closing the gate!" He can't hear me, or understand what I mean. I point at the gate and repeat. He has no clue. Shit. I try get the bike fired up... Crrrrrrrr. Crrrrrrrrr. Crrrrrrrrr. Bollocks. I check the fuel, choke off, ignition, cut-out and lanyard switch. All ok. Try again... Crrrrrr. Crrrrrrr. Brraaaaaaap! Yeah!

Foot massage, anyone?

I look up just as the heat starts. Fuuuuuuuck! They hadn't realised I wasn't on the start line and started without me. Sitting in the pits is not the way to score points to get one into the final. Poor tactics. When the bike didn't start, I should have just asked Andy at the gate to wait 1 minute. Instead, I thought I could get it all sorted in less than 1 minute. I know for next time.

The nicest battery pack I've ever seen!

As a result, I didn't get into the Grand Final. I scored enough points in my two heats to only qualify 14th. Damn! On a brighter side, I qualify 8th in the Thunderbikes. What is it with me qualifying 8th? Third race meet in a row. It's not great... you gotta be on the front row (first 4) to have a good chance of a podium.. but its ok. Frustrating because I know I have the speed to be nearer the front. I still need to sort out my slow-burning first heats.

"Sideburn" Ben Part fettling his chop for the DirtQuake II showdown. In the Chopper final he had an epic battle with "747" Travis

For the next few hours we were entertained by the antics of DirtQuake. It was brilliant. There must have been 7 or 8 photographer types buzzing around with big cameras and a 'helicopter' camera. Riders came from all over Europe and a few from the US including "747" Travis Newbold - great to see him again. There was even a celebrity - Charley Boorman was riding a Zaeta. I didn't take many pics of the event because there was so much other exposure... I'll post links to them soon.

Cool toys! An awesome hi-tech VTOL camera drone - it was buzzing around taking film all evening. Can't wait to see the footage.

Had to get kit and race face on after about 3 hours of DirtQuake shenanigans and do the business in the Thunderbike final. I started middle row, far inside. Revvs up... and we're off!

I get a decent start and am into the thick of it in turn 1. Get hooked up nicely out of turn 2 and am in 5th or so into 3. As I get into turn 4, the bike just washes out and I'm on the floor again. I didn't feel over the limit or off-line so might have been nudged from behind. With the pack so close behind it is inevitable that I'm hit by a following I hit the dirt, I brace myself for the second impact.

Checking the heat results. Guy had another great qualification... front row in Thunderbikes and second row in Pro

Clatter! Scrunch! Thud! I see a front wheel and another rider with a red helmet off their bike in the dust. The wheel slides under me and I'm sandwiched between two bikes - Gary Inman's bike under me and mine on top of me. I'm okay.. no second impact. I manage to wriggle out and push my bike off. Gary is getting to his feet and trying to get his bike up. He must be okay, so I try get mine up. But I'm snagged by his bike, by then the red flags come out.

Okay... no panic. Let's get the bike up check the damage. Mullered gear lever. Shit. It's still attached and although out of place, still does the clickety-click change. Cool. Let's get going. I hit the start button. Crrrrrrrrrrr. again. Crrrrrr... Sonnofabitch! Crr.

"Sideburn" Gary Inman raced in the Thunderbikes... got taken down by someone on the ground in the final and also managed to run the DirtQuake II event! Top man!

A photographer offers to push start me. I try... but I know with the compression it's just about impossible. I've tried many times but have never managed to bump start that flattracker. We give it a go and land up pushing the bike all the way to near the gate. Gary's bike won't start either, so is beckoning for his starter form the pits. Great idea!

I hand the bike to Andy near the gate and say "I'll be back in a minute". Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! I lope-jog to get my battery boost pack. Clunk! Clunk! Clunk! By the time I get back to the bike, there is a crowd around it checking and straightening things. Derek Brindley just finishes off sorting my gear-change. Awesome! Thanks guys! I plug in the booster and after a few tries. Braaaaaaaap!

Jason Cursley looking badd before a heat

Jason Cursley looking not so badd between heats

I hussle her back to the start line and in seconds we're off on the restart. I get an okay start and am again in the thick of it in turn 1. Turn 2 I spin her up too much and lose a place. Damn!

For the next few laps I have a close battle with Geoff Cain - he's faster into the turns. He gets alongside me on the outside going into turn 3. We're side-by-side coming out. I'm spinning up the rear too much. Too much adrenalin and haste. "Just take it easy... feeeeeel the traction. Get her hooked up and DRIVE".

Pro heat - Co-Built Geoff and I were pretty close all day/evening

We're locking elbows as we drift out of turn 4. It's close, real close. Neither of us give an inch. I get the inside through turn 1 and 2. But he's back at me into turn 3. I work on getting drive out of 4 and I get ahead of him. I'm clear.

Next lap as I get form turn 3 to 4, I feel a nudge on my outside arm. It's like someone walked up to me and gave me a tap. Weird. Surreal.

 Co-Built Geoff sporting a cool Ruby helmet

I glance over and see a flash of yellow. It's Geoff again! I dig in and push harder. I'm onto the back wheel of Guy Sutherland now. He's trying to get past Tom Clemens ahead of him. I just keep to the lines and protect my inside from Geoff... waiting for an opportunity to get by Guy. I daren't not try anything bold on Guy because Geoff will have me as soon as I'm off line. The race winds down and last lap flag is out.

Guy makes a push for the pass on Tom into turn 3. He makes it stick and is ahead of Tom as we go into turn 4. But he overcooks it and goes down in the dust cloud. I wind up taking 6th. A close, hard-fought race. AWESOME!

Disappointed to not make the Pro Grand Final... but very happy with a 6th in the Thunderbikes after coming off in the first start. Got to take the good with the bad... missing a practice, a heat and a place in the Grand Final - kinda balances out with crashing in Thunderbikes and still salvaging 6th in an great race. Think my battery is on its last legs.

A good day on the clay! Thanks "56" James Boddy for the pic

What a day! Thanks Gary Inman, Dave Arnold and all the folks involved in the DirtQuake event. It was an absolute cracker! And thanks Anthony Brown, Anna, Andy and all those making the racing happen - awesome job!