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!

1 comment:

  1. Nice one! Good to see you Paul. That was a shit ton of fun!