Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Winter 2009/2010 Rebuild

I thought I'd post progress over the next few weeks on the winter rebuild of the Group 4 race bike. Progress may be sporadic as I have two other projects on the go as well! But there is a definite deadline with the race bike so that will focus the mind!

Today I went down to the workshop at Replay Scooters - it was very handy to have use of the hydraulic lift in Chalky's workshop!

On the bench - mag housing removed

The old mag housing will be machined down to an absolute minimum for 2010 as engine will be upgraded to scoop cooling

mid transmission removal!  Race engine cases are never together long enough to get dirty!

Gearbox and clutch out!

It's always noticeable from this angle the different geometry of a race bike set up

A hydraulic bench makes it soooooo easy to work on the scooter!

So......   progress is started for 2010 race season.  Main upgrade planned is to convert the engine to scoop cooling.   This will involve a new exhaust system (££££'s!) and machining down the mag housing to remove all but essential material.  The cooling fans will be removed from the fan and a new - much larger cylinder head will dissipate heat away.   Final piece of that jigsaw will be a cooling scoop underneath the barrel to help channel cool air over the head and barrel.

A few other modifications will me made inside the rear frame section aimed at helping with cooling......

More progress as it happens!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Cadwell Park - September

Cadwell Park was the traditional last weekend of the year!   

As always.......   a great weekend..... 6 months till we get back on track at Mallory Park in 2010!   

What on earth will we do with ourselves?

Heres some pictures from Cadwell.   Many Thanks to Richard Addison!

Engine Tuner Chalkie White is planning on starting his grandson in racing!?

Exiting the circuit - race over!

Up the mountain...  keep weight forward!

Top of Cadwell Mountain!

Up the mountain.....  taken from trackside

Along the straight...... in front of John Howe again!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Anglesey ! - The Wet One!

Anglesey...... wind..... rain...... sleet...... hail....... typhoon........ just a normal day in Anglesey it seems! Apparently it was sunny earlier in the year for a good couple of hours......

I really liked the Anglesey circuit last year which was the first time I'd been there (my second time on track). It's like the best features of a whole load of other circuits have been all built into one.... it's fab....... certainly amongst the top circuits in the country for sure.  It has a brilliant smooth surface, is nice and wide with a good variety of bends.... and a stunning coastal location.  Unfortunately this location is part of the downfall of the circuit as it is extremely exposed to wind, rain and fog coming straight in off the sea!

I arrived Friday night after the 200 mile journey and parked next to some dodgy looking multi-coloured fun bus. Turned out that this wagon was Darren and Wendy Glenn's latest aquisition....... it could only bring a smile to your face ....... and was pretty much a bargain. No indicators.... but hey .... can't have everything!

Saturday Race 1 ....... erm.... wet!  Fancy that!  I really don't mind the wet, I generally do a little better!  I had a good race and tousle with Mark Shirley and Dan Lewis and was reeling in Tony Rudd towards the end. Finished 13th which I was chuffed with.  It seemed as if no-one told Charlie Edmonds it was wet!  He was some 7 seconds faster than anyone else in the damp conditions!  Incredible!  He was trying out a new front tyre...... erm..... it works!

Race 2 was similar to race 1, except after lap 1 a persistent misfire crept in and gradually got worse..... I managed to finish the race but lost a few places towards the end as the motor cut out a couple of times...... hhmmmm water in the electrics?  Water in the carb?  Fair Chance

I managed to get the awning cover sort of secured between my van and Darrens funbus to try and get a bit of shelter ..... the awning had already been destroyed by the wind!  So I stripped the carb and cleaned it all out. Checked through the electrics and dried/cleaned everything through.  Unfortunately by the time I had done this we were past the curfew for running engines so I could not start it!  Fingers crossed for Sunday morning then!

Saturday evening had a lovely chinese from Holyhead.... mmmmmmm ...... and sat naughtily on the bed eating it!  Saturday might have been wet and wild outside but I was lovely and snug in the van...... never felt cold at all!

Sunday we started the scooter to try to make the sneaky extra practice, but it was a no-go...... misfired.... popped.... spluttered and died! Oh dear!  Another check of the carb, and a change of plug and all was well again!  Ready to go!

Race 3 was initially just damp, but part way into it the rain started to fall and the race was stopped after two people came off at the blind top bend.  As we stood awaiting the re-start the rain really came down..... well actually that's not true.... it went more across!  The start in the wet conditions soon showed all the oil on the track!  The dropped oil from previous races was shimmering on the water and it made it very hard to find a clean line!  Everyone was going very gingerly!  Despite this, my lap times were faster than the previous day and I had another good tousle with Dan Lewis as we reeled in Steve Pollit who was carrying the new BSSO onboard camera.  We passed him on the last lap and I went through a tiny gap down the corkscrew to pass him virtually on the rumble strip! 16th place across the line.

For the 4th race, conditions were drying a bit, but still wet and very windy which was quite unnerving on the straight as it shifted you across the track!  The formula had been set though, and it was another 16th place after another battle with Dan Lewis!

It was a good weekend of racing at this fabulous circuit despite the weather....... Cadwell Park is next...... the final meeting for 2009.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Video's From Donington

Heres a couple of video's from the Donington Park event courtesy of Tony Cassidy - Avantone.

Tony's done a brilliant job this year with editing some race video's......... Cheers Tony!


Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Donington Park........... Playing with the trucks

First off....... apologies for delay in updating the blog! Its been a busy few weeks!

Donington Park......... wow........ this is the big time! I had been working on behalf of the BSSO to get this meeting sorted out..... it's too long a story to go into here.... but we had been on/off for weeks! But finally it all came together with some help from our friends at the VMCC who we normally race with. We had a 6 race weekend as one of the support races with the truck racing championships. Also on the support bill was Ginetta sports cars, BMW saloons, Formula Renault, Pick Up trucks, and even drifting cars. It was a very diverse and interesting set of vehicles, and scooters were the only two wheeled vehicles.

I had lots of organisational stuff to do for this meeting which was a really big pressure in the days before, so had a lot to do really, but I decided to fit a new piston as the original one was well past its service schedule! So a new suzuki piston and rings was fitted, along with a new set of clutch plates ready for the big demands of Donington and its long straights and sweeping curves.

I arrived Friday afternoon quite early and spoke with the event organisers..... we had all the scooters in a defined area which was great. The paddock slowly filled up as the evening went on it was obvious that a great atmosphere was forming. Saturday broke with superb weather and we were first on track for our practice.

It was absolutely awesome to be heading down Redgate and Craner Curves, Old Hairpin, McLean's..... all the famous bends where I have watched my heroes over the years... Senna, Mansell, Rossi, Schwantz...... they have all been there. Amazing feeling to be doing the same! The practice seemed to go on forever...... we had nine laps. Bizarrely my fastest lap was actually on lap two! I still can't understand why that would be!

Race 1 was soon called. It was soooooo nerve wracking lining up on that grid.... a lot of the Formula Renault drivers had come to the pit wall to watch! Bit of a rubbish start.... but once into a crowded Redgate a gap opened and I was passing a few people. Towards the end I caught my old mate Matt Gooch who was making a return to racing after 20 years away! Behind me was Roland Davis, it was the most bizarre thing - it was like we had gone into a time warp back 20 years! At the end of the race I had gone 5 seconds quicker than practice, so I was quite chuffed. Last lap came up all too sudden.... Roland had got by me down Craner Curves, but I had a bit more straight line speed and was able to get some distance back along the main straight.... at the end as I outbraked him into the chicane.... bang.... the engine locked as it seized into the right hander...... I coasted into the pit lane! Gutted as I saw Roland take the chequered flag.

So....... new piston seized after one race! So it was engine apart and all hands on deck to clean it up and rebuild. As I was doing this a riders meeting was called with the news that the next race was being brought forward as they were ahead of schedule! It was in 10 minutes! Holy Moley...... my engine was still apart! It was all hands on deck and with help from Chalky and Ciro of Replay we were slapping it all back together at breakneck speed. Luckily a Renault had buried itself into the gravel so I got an extra 10 minutes. As I entered the start straight, the pack was going around Redgate on the formation lap!

I chased them at full race pace and tried to go to my grid slot, but was waved back to the back of the grid as I had not been there for the dummy grid line up! The Red mist came down and I had a great start and was up to where I had been in race 1 by the time we got to Redgate!

I had another fabulous tousle with my old mate Roland and we were swapping places nearly every lap.... we were both absolutely loving it!

We had three races on the Saturday and each one was an improvement, and by the end of the day I was really enjoying the big sweeping bends of Donington.

Sunday was to be three non-championship races, with grids drawn out of a hat for race 1, race 2 being based on the results of race 1, then the grand finale which would be a reverse grid! All the fast guys at the back!

The races on Sunday were just such good fun! With the the topsy turvy grids there was plenty of passing and it was great fun. It was great to see orange Fast Scooter T-Shirts in the grandstands, and all those faces appearing at the pit wall to watch all the starts.

It was simply a brilliant weekend. I had been very stressed with the organisational side of things..... but yep...... it had just all gone brilliantly. The atmosphere was great all around and it was just a unique weekend.
At the end of the day we had a presentation and trophy awards which went down well. I left Donington Park a very tired, but very happy man!

We'd pulled off an amazing weekend. 6 races in front of thousands of spectators who got to see some brilliant scooter racing. We were a support race for the British truck racing championship, and pulled off an unprecedented style of meeting that will be remembered and talked about for a long time.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Lydden Hill - August 1st / 2nd

It must be maybe 18th years since I last ventured all the way down to Lydden Hill in Kent. It a short circuit, only a mile long, but without all the twists and turns of Three Sisters!

After two hours of delays ( M2 shut!) finally arrived Friday night and found myself a space to wedge into next to the Hardy's and little Steve Pollit.

Saturday brought a longish wait at signing on which is where I was whilst the riders meeting was taking place!

Practice found me getting familiar again with the Lydden circuit, which is pretty bumpy in places!

Race 1 saw me line up on the grid..... unaware of the riders meeting announcement that we would be starting on the F1 type lights rather than a flag as previously notified....... so as the red flag moved away I was looking for another flag....... then I saw a red light, followed by another..... and then i went to go.... and another light came on! I had gone a bike length then stopped after the 5 red lights then went off it was time to start! At Mallory theres only 2 lights... so unfortunately I found myself with a time penalty!

The race saw me follwing the very fast Kegra bike of Chris Redman, with John Woods around on the Vespa. Across the line I was 19th overall... might have been a place higher without a penalty!

Race 2 I fitted the onboard camera and carefully watching the lights to avoid a jump start, I had to back out of acceleration as Stuart Day had stalled on the line and he was right in my path! This race saw the first of a few crashes this weekend and PJ binned the group 6 and took a trip to the medical centre, and Tony Obrien crashed the Green Hornet, breaking the headset and ripping the legshields apart. This caused a race restart as the scooter came to rest in a bad position, although Tony was fine and unhurt.

Saturday night featured a superb barbecue courtesy of the VMCC....... fantastic burgers!

Sunday was a very leisurely start as due to a local church there is no track activity until 12.30. I managed to sneak a quick extra 4 lap practice then it was race 1, which was pretty uneventful except that Ed Hocking got rear wheel puncture and managed to park his scooter totally upright buried in the gravel trap! Ed then went onto have a very nasty crash in the sidecar race. It looked a really big one... one of the worst I've seen. Ed was pretty battered and ended up going to hospital with his neck in a collar.

The crash caused a delay in racing as it was sorted out. One thing that was reaaly impressive is that it was 43 secconds from Ed being stationary to having two paramedics attending him.

Race two in the solo's saw another very bad crash on lap 3 with race leader Josh Brown being left unconscious in the track after piling into a newcomer in his first race whilst looking back to see where Charlie Edmonds was! This accident led to another long delay as the other medical team were not back from the hospital with Ed Hocking yet!

So after a somewhat daunting delay and seeing Josh's crash there was another restart, and I ended that race in 17th overall.

So.... 4 races and 4 finishes, and some reasonable points added to my tally to help secure the 7th place in Group 4 of the Championship.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Cadwell Park _ July 5th - A Bad Day At The Office

Cadwell Park is a local circuit to me, so there were quite a few friends coming along to support from my local scooter club - Grantham Day Trippers - as well as Sponsors Lambretta Cottage.

I picked Dave up on the way and we got to Cadwell for 7am nice and early. Set our base up next to John Howe and Darren Glenn..... always good guys to have some banter with! New gazebo went straight up with no problems, and we had a terrific base to work out of!

Scrutineering was no problem, so I added 6 litres of finest AvGas to the tank ( more on that later!) and then it was off to join the queue for noise testing! This is a new thing, and every bike going on track at Cadwell has to be noise tested, to ensure it's below 105db. I was confident that this would not be a problem as I'd been tested only 2 weeks earlier at the track night where I went to test.

The noise testing was always going to be a hassle with so many people to get through it. Of course the race scooter has no kickstart, so it has to be bumped off, and then I took my place in the queue........ this was a queue which seemed to move pretty slowly and I was over 20 minutes till it was my turn! Went through fine, and got my little sticker which is valid for 4 months apparently so no need to be re-tested next time!

So.......... off to practice session...... and this is where the first problem started. I'd done a test at Cadwell two weeks earlier, and used some carbon ceramic pads for the first time. Although initially they were good, after 3-4 laps they became really inconsistent before grabbing the disc so much the front wheel was skipping and locking at the slightest provocation...... which is not a great experience! So I had opted to fit the standard Nissin pads from my road scooter in for this meeting. Unfortunately they did not work out.... whether its because they had been slightly worn to another disc ... I'm not sure, but after an initial couple of laps where they obviously got heated up, they faded like crazy, and at Mansfield, heavy braking down hill, I had nowhere to go except straight on and up the grass!!!!!!!!!!! A few hundred yards on at the hairpin, and I was almost up the escape road! Oops!!

I had also been experimenting with gearing, and was a little unsure about the gearing I'd selected, but that seemed to work out well, and along the straight I was able to pass a few people and match some of the quicker riders for straight line speed...... problem at that point was stopping at the end of the straight!

Very fortunately, Zak and Ju had arrived from Lambretta Cottage, and had brought me along some new Kyoto pads to try....... so I set about changing them for the races.

We were called for the race pretty early and sat in the holding area for about 10 minutes with the engines running, before being moved down onto a dummy grid on the main straight for a whole race distance - 15 minutes+!

So.... sighting lap..... the new pads felt ok at the front and I was braking a lot to ensure that they were worn in as much as poss in the limited time. This was a good old fashioned flag start, which I anticipated well, and I got a decent start up the hill round Coppice bend and onto Park straight..... the first time down the straight was a bit mad with plenty of jockeying for position into Park Bend. I'd made up a few places initially, but there were some very quick guys behind me on the grid who inevitably came by. The next 4-5 laps were just great...... I was in a 4 way battle with Gaz Birch (again!), John Woods on his new small frame, and Kevin Griffiths on his rapid 230cc TS1. For several laps we passed and re-passed each other, giving the commentator some cause for excitement by all accounts! Gaz was a little quicker up the coppice hill, and had a very slight edge in top speed on the straight, but I had an edge under braking at the end of Park Straight, and also at Mansfield and the all important hairpin.

Exiting Hairpin with John Woods, and in front of Gaz Birch and Kev Griffiths

on one lap, Gaz tried his very hardest to stay in front, but went into the hairpin fully locked up and weaving all over..... which distracted me and I missed my braking point and we both went wide, allowing John Woods to nip under us ....... but i got a superb line and drive out the hairpin, and got him back....... this basically set the tone for 4 laps of dicing!
Missing the braking points!

Then.,...... horror......... going up Coppice, and onto Park straight.... a misfire...... then motor cut out.... restarted....... Arm up I coasted and l stayed out of the way of the guys behind me........ coming down into Mansfield it cut out completely - Game Over.

Sitting dejectedly with the marshalls, I couldn't quite work it out what was wrong.... ignition? Carb? I checked the scooter... nothing obvious.... until I casually checked the fuel.... EMPTY!!!!!!!

How the hell had I used 6 litres in 4 practice laps and 6 racing laps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then it hit me....... 20 minutes running at the noise test, and 15 mins on the dummy grid! That must have used way more than I would have thought.

So very sadly it was the journey of shame in the recovery van back up to the pits. I was not alone though!!! Steve Wright was also there - broken throttle cable! And John Balcomb with a blown engine.

I was gutted to have blown the best potential finish yet by running out of fuel. Lesson very painfully learned to allow extra for noise tests and dummy grids!

Best put more fuel in!

The long break till race 2 seemed to pass very slowly and I spend too much time in the sun. Lining up for race 2 - plenty of fuel in ! - I had a blinding headache.

I soon forgot about this as the flag dropped. A gap opened to the right in front of me but it was the wrong choice as I then got very boxed in.... the left would have been the way to go! So a few places lower than race 1, I stayed with Tony Rudd's Charlie Edmonds tuned Grp 4 and out braked him at Park to gain a place. Tony came back at me around the gooseneck and we had a right tousle down to Mansfield and the hairpin..... when his engine power got the better of me up the hill exiting...... the next few laps were ok, but i was now experiencing rapidly fading brakes, and despite having the straight line speed, was being caught as was having to brake earlier and earlier each bend.... and there were a few scary moments when the grass loomed!

Race over and up to the paddock, I stripped the pads out to find about 30% of the pad surface had crumbled as the pads had started to break down...... at least that was the explanation!

So....... despite a fantastic time tousling in race 1 it ended in a gutting non finish, and rubbish second race.......

Cadwell does seem to be a little bit of a jinx circuit for me as my only other non finish was also there last year when I had an ignition failure.....

It was particularly upsetting as so many people, friends, family and sponsors had come along to watch.......... sorry people.

Normal service will hopefully be resumed next race!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Suspension Upgrade - BGM Front Dampers

The last race at Mallory saw me fit a major new upgrade to the scooter. As many will know from reading the blog I have had a struggle with high speed cornering stability and confidence. After much consideration and advice I came to the conclusion that yes..... the front end of the scooter was too stiff.

The previous setup had consisted of Taffspeed internal springs, which are progressive and a good upgrade from standard. The standard set up has a 7mm nylon bush at the top of the springs, I had some bushes machined from stainless steel, in a variety of sizes and the ones I had fitted were 14mm, which were stiffening up the front end massively, effectively pre-loading the suspension.

The end result of this very stiff set up was that the front end was not really absorbing much in the way of bumps at speed, so the front end was wandering around. It was Tony O'Brien who lit the light bulb that made me realise this in a conversation when he asked me if my high speed cornering problem was me or was it the bike? An interesting question..... and it set me thinking!

On a trip up to main sponsors Lambretta Cottage, the brand new BGM front dampers had come into stock, and I sat admiring the engineering for some time! Do you fit them to the scooter or hang them on the wall to look at!

First thing about them that really surprised me was the weight.... they looked really heavy - but they are no heavier than standard dampers! The quality of engineering work is truly brilliant. I reckon they are among the best engineered products I have seen for scooters.

They feature a 16 stage adjustable damping action. This is achieved by simply rotating the knurled section at the bottom. There are 16 very definite clicks and the adjustment can be easily made on the scooter.

The dampers are also cleverly designed to fit into standard Lambretta forks links and damper mountings. Many other alternative dampers need modified mountings , so this ability to fit into standard forks is a great feature, and allows the dampers to be easily fitted or even swapped between scooters easily.

So.................................. how do they perform in action?

I fitted the dampers prior to Mallory Park race meeting. As you may remember - this meeting was wet! ..... very wet! This immediately showed the benefit of the easy adjustment. In the wet weather I decided to slacken off the damping action so set the dampers in position 5 of the 16, and immediately went helling down the straight into Gerards to see how they felt!

The answer................ rock steady, and in the first wet practice I even passed a couple of people around Gerards! The front end felt certainly softer, and more stable.

I left the dampers in this position for the first race - which was also very wet! I think the new setup and damping action was very instrumental in the fact that I was able to pass a few people even around Gerards! My fastest lap time in these very wet conditions was only 4 seconds off my previuous best dry time!

The second race was dry ........ so the dampers were tightened up to position 9. Obviously in the dry you can push harder than the wet, so I tried this setting. I took more than a second off my previous best time, and I honestly think the majority of this was made up in Gerards... the fast sweeping bend that had been my nemesis so far! On the first lap I passed people there and was considerably more confident in my ability to turn into it at high speed.

So.................... are these BGM dampers worth the hefty price tag? Well if you are on a road scooter cruising out to a few runs...... probably not! If you have a tuned scooter and ride 'with spirit'..... yes for sure....... if you are racing..... hell yes!

The dampers are only available from a limited number of specialist dealers. Mine were supplied by Lambretta Cottage See the web site to order

Lambretta Cottage stock BGM products from these new front dampers, and the matching rear damper, to BGM high output stator plates and the brand new BGM carburettors.

You can order easily by phone, give Zak or Julie a call at Cottage......
01302 350404

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Mallory Park - June 7th - Water Water Everywhere

After a week of watching weather forecasts..... the expected rain certainly materialised! In the run up I discovered a couple of weather forecast websites that were very useful, Net Weather & Met Check Leaving for Mallory about 6.30 am.... the rain started! It seemed to follow me there, all the way from Grantham!

So arriving at Mallory....... heavy rain....... we went up to scrutineering and fortunately it was undercover. I passed scrutineering with no problems, then waited until the heavy rain storm passed. I was pleased I had put on wet tyres the previous night.... saved messing around changing them in the wet!

So..... wet weather..... my first proper wet day ...... rain has never really bothered me too much, and 'back in the day' I would always finish a few places higher in the wet, so even these extremely wet conditions were not really bothering me...... in fact I was actually relishing the thought of getting on track.

I had changed the front end of the scooter since the last race. The forks had been stripped and rebuilt, to make them softer, as I had come to the conclusion I had made them too stiff. So now they were softened up, but with the addition of the brand new BGM front dampers.

A few other riders, Stuart Day, Gaz Birch, Gary Biddle also had the mega new BGM dampers fitted. With the advantage of a little data from Stuart Day who had done a midweek test at Mallory, I set the dampers for what I thought would be a good set up for the wet conditions, then it was onto the track in heavy rain!

I was immediately lapping reasonably quickly, and not many people were passing me... in fact quite the reverse! The scooter felt so much better at the end of the straight and going into Gerards. The new set up was certainly working.... in fact all of a sudden I was actually passing a few people around Gerards, which was certainly new territory for me!

A few laps into practice I found myself bearing down on Stuart Day of all people, and under braking into Edwinas I was alongside him, then suddenly passed him exiting Edwinas! I'm not sure who was the most surprised.... me or him! Stuart came for a chat later, and said he saw something green and thought I was Tony O'Brien (bizarre! I'm much taller than Tony! ).... he confirmed he was actually trying, but was struggling to be confident in the conditions. A lap later Steve Conneely was the next victim...... although he told me he was on the wrong Sava wet tyre compound ( I did ask if that was the best excuse he could come up with ! lol )

So......... I was buzzing after a great practice and couldn't wait for race 1. We lined up in rain..... not quite as heavy at the start as it had been.... but still very wet.
I lined up 15th, alongside John Howe, to continue our battle from Three Sisters! I was all hyped up and raring to go. I knew this was my best chance yet to get a good finish.

Unfortunately I was a little too eager..... I lined up watching the lights..... I went to antipate...... and went too early.... I was underway... STOP..... the lights are still red.... apply brakes..... then go again...... momentum lost! I lost a couple of places off the line, then made them up round Gerards..... into Edwinas for the first lap I was was hoping I was going to blast through and outbrake a couple of people but I was a bit too far back.... I was bizarrely enjoying the conditions, which actually started to worsen during the race.

I had a few 'moments' during the race, and one particularly big one around Gerards.... which was a little heart stopping! But overall I was feeling really comfortable and had a good tousle with fellow Replay Scooters rider Gaz Birch, managing to hold him off until lap 5, when he managed to squeeze by.

All to soon the race was over and I was 18th across the line, with Gaz just in front of me, and John Howe just in front of Gaz.... less than two seconds covered us across the line. Fastest lap was 1.24.65 less than 5 seconds off my quickest dry lap!

We had been an early race in the day's sequence, so we could have a nice leisurely sunday lunch in the cafe ...... which was really enjoyable.... if a little filling! probably the best luch I've had at a race meeting! No pudding though.... after all I was racing!

After lunch (unfortunately) conditions started to improve and the sun came out, drying the track quite quickly, so it was a tyre change to Dunlop dry tyres! Tyre pressures adjusted ..... how great to have pit crew..... and we're ready to go for race 2!

So...... race 2... I was determined not to mess up the start like the first race, and I concentrated and got an absolute flyer off the line, and coming into Edwinas I was up to 10th place! From Edwinas up to the hairpin the fast charging Mikey Bonett on the super quick Kegra group 4 scooter came by, but this was new territory for me being in the top half of the pack!

The early sucess was brought to a halt as Clippo, came past me, followed a lap later by Dan Lewis and John Balcomb. But I was pleased to have made them work for it

On lap 4 battle re-commenced with Gaz Birch, and he snuck by. He could pull away a little into Gerards, and round it, then I could reel him in at Edwinas and up to the hairpin..... first lap after he passed me I was quite pleased as he didn't actually pull away. This was the start of a four lap battle where we traded quickest laps between us. All four laps were new personal bests for me.... all well into 1 min 19's. The laps followed the pattern, he pulled away a little along the main straight and round Gerards, then I reeled him in round the rest of the circuit and particularly under braking into Edwinas and the hairpin. I actually closed in on him especially on the last lap, where I outbraked him into the hairpin... but unfortunately went slightly wide and he got me back between the hairpin and the bus stop as I could not get my power down early enough.

Across the line there was just over 0.5 of a second between us and we were both grinning!

I was pretty pleased to leave Mallory after my best two results yet from a full grid, and the promise of a good mid pack grid position at Cadwell Park. The improvements to the front end of the scooter, and especially the addition of the new BGM dampers has made a good difference to the handling and my confidence in the front end.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Three Sisters - May 9/10th

Well...... Three Sisters...... I've probably done more laps there than anywhere else! Just not in the last 14 years! I decided to drive up Friday night.
Scooterotica's Dan Claire had saved some space for myself and John Howe in an already crowded paddock. So it was unload the scooter...... a quick beer then settle down in the back of the van for the night!

Saturday morning brought cloudy sky - but currently dry! So..... out for practice...... I immediately felt really at home, and was quickly feeling good and even passing a few people! At the end of the session I had forgotten just how physically demanding Three Sisters is! You are always doing something, theres no time to relax and effectively the start straight is the only place you get to go in a (brief) straight line! Coming off the hill ( Cowards Summit) i felt confident and passed a few people under braking there.

Race 1
Was to be from 15th on the grid. The grid was very messy as we were not lined up on a dummy grid as usually happens, and our grid had been drawn up 4 abreast, but on the track we were 3 abreast so it was all a bit confusing with people being out of place and getting penalities. I had a wild start pulling an accidental wheelie which lost me some time, but I was well into the main pack and spent the first lap dicing with Tony Rudd and Dan Lewis and Doug Turner which was a first for me! the race soon settled and I had Mark Clipstone and Tim Simpson breathing down on me! I ended the race in 15th place with 5 peiple behind me! My best result so far..... I was happy to be back at Three Sisters!

Race 2
This one was a difficult one to call tyres for as it had rained eralier and the track was part dry, part damp. The grid seemed split between wet and dry tyres. I had opted for dry!
A reasonable start again, but not quite as good as race 1. Coming off the hill I managed to dive up the inside - I was especially confdent here. Again in early laps I was in a tousle with a few people I never normally get anywhere near!
I was feeling good on the dry tyres, even through the right left flick in the centre that was very wet and the threepenny bit which still had some standing water in a couple of places. John Howe was on dry tyres and was particularly unhappy through that section, where I briefly passed him! ( Which became the subject of banter ALL night!)
Towards the end Doug Turner and I had a real tussle and indeed across the line I was only 0.16 secs in front of him, after being a little un-nerved by a big front end slide through the threepenny bit!
Ended this one in 13th place, helped by a couple of fallers - Stuart Day binned it chasing Charlie hard, and unlucky newcomer Dan Clare came off at the Threepennny bit resulting in a broken ankle! This time I had four people behind me ( would have been 6 if Dan had stopped and and Kim Deeney finished!) Good points scored!

Sunday brought Race 3.
This was a bit rubbish! We had been standing around all morning and our race was about to be called when we stopped for lunch, so it was nearly 2.00 before we got on track....... I think I was asleep! The only interest had been the wet / dry / wet /dry conditions leading to most people spending most of the morning putting tyres on and off! During this I discovered a stripped thread in the rear hub, so after a little running around, I was fortunate enough to borrow one from Mark Clipstione, and with a little help from Carl Neath it was fitted and ready to go.... at the last minute we plumped for dry tyres on the rapidly drying track. early in the race after the bad start I was battling with Tim Simpson which was good fun until his engine let go! Ove rthe race distance I had managed to lose about 15 seconds on where I'd been on the Saturday..... which led to Mark Clipstone being right on my tail over the line for the last lap. Coming through the Threepenny bit for the last time I drifted wide and this allowed Mark to go underneath me! Damn..... place lost 0.22 secs behind across teh line .... gutted and a little unhappy with myself! But it had been a good race with mark, and he had lent me his spare hub after all! End Result 15th

Race 4
Had a better start than teh first race with a few people behind me including John Howe on his rapid Group 6 bike. John was struggling a bit with confidence on new tyres ( I did tell him but just wouldn't listen!). I followed Tony Rudd and Dan Lewis again for the first few laps, then thing settled into a pattern again, with John Howe behind me, but plainly determined to get past me after the previous nights banter. with two laps to go he came by me along the start straight. I was quicker than him at the left hand hairpin, and through teh right / left flick, and the entrance to the threepenny bit..... so the gap between us increased and decreased as the lap went on..... into the last lap i really closed in at the left hand hairpin, and again through the left right flick where I was right on his back wheel. i almost dived up the inside into the threepenny bit but was not quite close enough. Johns line through the bend was perfect and his group 6 bike had incredible grunt out the bend - so he just had the power to get to the line first - the gap across the line 0.7 secs.... so three races were under a second gap at the line! End Result - 16th place!

So.... Three Sisters after 14 years...... loved it! 3 good races, and a few tousles here and there....... furthe rprogress, so certainly lots of positives!

There will be a few jobs to do on the scooter before the next race at Mallory in June. The muffler needs a little attention, and i need to find a new rear hub. The piston and ring will also need a thorough check.

The results in the championship are now calculated and amazingly I'm in 6th place in Group 4! This show the importance of finishing races!

Next we are onto Mallory!

## Pictures courtesy of Tim Simpson ##  http://www.pure-photography.org/ ##

Mallory Park - Round 1

Easter Monday saw the firts round of the 2009 BSSO championship at Mallory Park.

I was very much looking forward to it, after making some positive progress in teh two test sessions at my most local circuit.

Being local I could get there on the morning quite easily. Upon arrival I drove around the paddock a little and found a spot next to the SRP base, and also next to VMCC rider Keith Prime who is also from Grantham.

So..... hopefully the igniton problems I had experienced in pre-season testing would be behind me...... I set out for the practice session.... scooters were running in our own group. I immediately felt comfortable as I should do after two full tests there! i was really pleased that within 4 laps I had matched my best times from testing.... which was a good sign.

Our first race was not until lunch time, so after much standing about it was finally out to the grid for my last race wearing the dreaded orange bib! I was starting from 2/3 of the way down the grid, so I was hoping to hold my nerve round my nemesis bend Gerards and try and hang on to the pack!..... I got a reasonable start and was quite pleased with the first couple of laps hanging onto a few people. Phil Bevis binned it at Edwinas on Lap 1 which provided some excitement, followed by Stuart Day and the flying Tony Obrien having acoming together at the same spot later!

The second race was really late in the day - not starting until after 5.00! This is one of teh downsides as all this hanging around is tiring and you get a bit 'off the boil'.

The second race was similar to the first except I actually passed a couple of people around Gerards on the first lap! So things are looking up. Although lap times were slightly down on the first race, Gerards was actually feeling faster!

At the end of the day I had two starts and two finishes. There seemed to be that first day of term feeling about it with a few tumbles and crashed. Unluckliy for him Bert Conneely was the worst injury as he came off exiting teh hairpin. A broken shoulder and collarbone will see him out for most of 2009 .... but i'm sure he'll be back at the end of the season to play!

A big thanks to 2009 sponsors Lambretta Cottage and of course Replay Scooters for providing such a great engine.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Official Practice Day 27th March - Continuing progress

Friday 27th saw me join around 30 other scooter racers for the 'official' VMCC/BSSO practice day at Mallory Park. Following the damaged ignition, and then the broken exhaust that cut short the track day in early March, there were a couple of jobs to do on the scooter before the practice day. I re-soldered the ignition and araldited the key wires to keep everything intact (hopefully), and a huge thanks to Ed Hocking for re-welding and strengthening the broken exhaust... top job mate! The reason for the broken exhaust most likely turned out to be a broken rubber mount that had sheared. When refitting the exhaust system, I moved the mounts slightly as I found they were not quite lining up correctly so the whole thing was under tension. So with the ignition and exhaust re-fitted we were good to go. Thursday night I picked up my mate Dave's, Gilera Runner. Dave is one of the newcomers for 2009 (although he did race group 6 for a short while in the 80's). Daves Runner is fairly mildly tuned, but is going to give him track time and practice in 2009...... maybe a Lambretta for 2010 I wonder? So with the two matching green scooters in the back of the van, Dave and Johnny Gilbert along for the day...... off we went to Mallory. Arriving a little late (following a return to home to pick up a phone!) it was all a bit of a mad rush to get changed, scrutineered and signed in. The Scrutineer John Woods advised Dave to change his fork set up to improve handling, so whilst Dave set about that with the spanners I went to bump my bike into action. Not a dickie bird...... up and down I pushed it.... no life! Oh dear! The day was starting badly. Chalkie White arrived on the scene as if by magic and we immediately set about checking things over. We quickly found the problem..... no spark..... again! The flywheel was removed and the problem was immediately evident! Yet another smashed ignition pickup! Stator plates and ignitions appear to be my achilles heel! Luckily Chalky had brought along a spare (last minute decision!) which was a stroke of luck. We just had to lengthen the wires to fit it, but as it was clear by now that I would not get this completed in time for the first track session, I walked down to trackside to watch the first session and see how Dave was getting on. I immediately saw Dave's bike sitting behind the bales near Edwina's.... I assumed he must have broken it already! Unfortunately I was wrong and he had actually binned it at Edwina's on the first lap!!!!!! So this was the Dave 'I'll just take things easy' that had managed a whole 2 bends before binning it! He was in a lot of pain from his thumb. The bike had suffered some cosmetic damage, and the handlebars were knocked out of line. So there we were..... HG Racing both with the spanners out fixing things. This was not really the best start to the day! By the second scooter track session we were both ready though. As we sat on the dummy grid, drops of rain started to hit my visor, followed by the wind getting up and a hail shower (!) which briefly gave everything a white covering....... 'oh such joy' I thought ......... on dry tyres! It soon cleared though and we were on track! Most of the circuit was wet with spray coming off tyres around Gerard's. I quickly felt comfortable though and immediately started to get a feel for the extra power from the new engine, and was passing a few people in the damp conditions. The hairpin and bus stop end of the circuit were very quickly dry, but Gerard's end took a while longer to dry, and the wind had picked up, so nothing special as far as lap times go. 8 laps were completed trouble free though!

More sessions followed, and my times dropped, and in my second session I was closer to my previous best, but still a second off it. I think the wind on the straight and through the exposed Gerard's was a factor in this though.
All too soon it was lunchtime. This gave us time to have a chat with Matthew Gooch who had driven up from Hereford to watch, and Zak and Julie from Lambretta Cottage- one of my 2009 sponsors. The Conneely's were doing a photoshoot for Scootering on the start line...... the two matching race scooters now have a matching Vespa road scooter! Watch out for it! The afternoon saw another 3 track sessions, and I continued trouble free to experiment with lines around Gerard's. I was now getting this slightly better - still way too slow on the entrance and the first section - but my exit was getting better all the time and I was entering the straight on the power much earlier and carrying more speed on the straight to Edwina's. In the last scooter session I felt really comfortable and Matthew showed me the stopwatch..... my quickest ever lap by a second. I was really enjoying it now and was delighted when the announcement went out for an extra session of mixed scooters and bikes for anyone who wanted to go out. Dave had by now retired hurt as his thumb was really painful and he could not brake very effectively. The last session saw me chasing a couple of bikes and gradually reeling them in.

One more lap and I reckon I would be pretty close to catching them. It felt a great session and the stopwatch showed a further reduction with 6 of the 8 laps being consistently quicker and quicker and those 6 laps were all new personal best laps. The final lap broke the 1.20 mark. I still have a way to go, but the good thing is I was now a full 15 seconds quicker than my first race back last year at Mallory.

So..... that was it for the day. I managed to complete around 50 laps and was really enjoying it. After the initial ignition problems the only tinkering was just before the last session when I needed to carry out a clutch adjustment as it had started to slip a little. It had been a great day for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, although I missed my normal pit crew! Now it's a case of looking forward to Easter Monday and race 1 of the 2009 season. There's lots to be excited about, and judging by the test day there's going to be some good close racing all through the field. Ed Hocking will be one to watch now he's graduated from the Tightwad racer to a 30 HP Chalky White motor. Newcomer Michael Bonett on the Kegra group 4 is looking quick, but the big story is looking like being 14 year old rider Josh Brown. Josh is fully sponsored by Scootermatix, the new UK Stage 6 distributor. He certainly looks super quick, and I am certain he will be challenging for top honours pretty quickly.

Thats it for now.............. Good Luck to everyone for the 2009 season.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

First Track test !

On Track Pictures Courtesy of Tony O'Brien

Ready To Go!

Friday 6th March and about 8 scooters entered the Focused Events Track Day. There would have been a couple more, but various scooters weren't quite ready!

Stuart Day brought along his Ducati, and also his SRP Racetech road scooter. Jon Uffindel was there on his bike, a couple of scooters from JB tuning, and a new rider with a Kegra prepared Group 4 scooter. Kevin Griffiths on his street class TS1 and Brandon Smith also out for the first time on track. Paul Priestley also brought a couple of scooters to try out.

Kevin's Street Class Scooter, and Brandon's race scooter

Ex Scooter Racer Keith Terry was also there on his R1..... wonder how long till he's back out on a scooter?

A few racers also came along to spectate, Tony O'Brien, Scott Chapman, Jigsy, Ed Hocking, Martin Wing, Ciro Affronti, Chalky White were all in attendance as well, so there was a good number of us.

So............. how did it go? Well.... thankfully it was a test, so a few odd niggles on a new engine are allowed! I was a little late getting there, so it was initially a bit of a rush! Jigsy had arrived with some fuel, so we promptly mixed it and filled the tank in readiness, checked tyre pressures...... went down to the riders briefing, then it was straight on track with the first novice group!

After 3 sighting laps slowly behind a pace bike it was back down the pit lane, ready to go again.... scooter felt great, the engine was pretty smooth in fact I'd probably say smoother than my road scooter! Power delivery is really smooth and it pulled really well out the bends. A good improvement on last years engine! I was certainly grinning down the straight!! Chalky White did a great job on the engine!

Then...... coming out the hairpin....... all stop! Engine cut out..... damn and blast!

So I had to sit on the side lines and wait for the session to end... luckily it's downhill to the pits from there!

Once back in the paddock, as it happened Chalky White and Ciro suddenly appeared just at the right moment! A quick check of the stator plate wiring revealed no feed from the pick up..... so off with the floorboard, cowling and flywheel and the reason was immediately obvious! Two loose wire on the new BGM stator plate! The main red feed and the green earth had both broken their solder. Ciro managed to suddenly find a blow lamp from somewhere or other in the absence of a soldering iron we heated a metal rod with the blow lamp to form a make piece soldering iron! The red wire was quickly re-soldered, but the green proved somewhat more troublesome as it was difficult to get in with the solder. The decision was made to just undo the pickup bolt and earth it to that instead! Problem solved, so all back together and ready to go!

Unfortunately by now we'd missed most of the second session and only got 2 more flying laps in before the session ended. Good news was that with only 4 flying laps done I was already matching my best previous times.

The niggles continued as I went out in the third session! Somehow I'd dislodged the choke cable between sessions and it was trapped half on! So this erm.... well... somewhat compromised performance! I was improving lines though and decided to stop out and ride around things just to get some laps under my belt, albeit 2-3 seconds slower than previous session.

So for session 4 the choke problem was sorted and resolved! OK... let's go properly now then!

First flying lap was straight under my previous best , and lap time continued to tumble down for 7 laps! I was really pleased with how the bike felt, and I didn't actually feel I was pushing overly hard, just concentrating mainly on trying to build my speed up gradually round Gerard's which is my nemesis as I have not been feeling at all confident through fast sweeping bends and as Gerard's feels about 4 miles long it can be described as nothing other than a fast sweeping bend! So it was really pleasing to end that session with the stopwatch showing a full 3 seconds quicker than last year. There's still another 7 seconds to find to be competitive to where I'd like to be...... but we're getting there slowly! It's all going in the right direction.

The next track session saw me stuck in some traffic for the first few laps as I had gone straight out with the main pack and despite a few guys being on some powerful sports bikes, they were braking pretty early for Edwina's and the hairpin, in fact so much so that I actually overtook 3 bikes in one go up the inside at the hairpin, which certainly made me smile in my helmet. One of the riders (on an R6) obviously must have been upset as when he inevitably re-took me... which took him until after the start line.... he was only inches away from me and chopped right in front of me...... perhaps he didn't like being outbraked by a little Lambretta!

Once in clear air the lap time dropped down again to match my new best before the exhaust tone changed and it was most definitely blowing! It was now very loud so sadly it was game over for the day! Returning to the pits and examining the exhaust proved this beyond doubt as the exhaust was split adjacent to the manifold about 3/4 of the way around it with a 2-3 mm gap opened up! Sticky offered to weld it back up as his workshop is only 20 minutes away... but it seemed a mad rush to possibly only just be able to make it back for one last session, so it was trackside now to watch a few sessions from around the track!

The offending split exhaust!

So overall.............. a good day and it was pleasing to have made good progress on getting the times down, I feel sure I had at least a couple of seconds to come as I was not pushing mega hard.

It was good also to have these little niggles on a test day rather than at the first race, so it certainly proves that test or track days are well worth doing!

The Focused Events Team had a great, well organised format, and the scooters fitted in well with the novice bike class. The day was £69 for 6 20 minute sessions, so it's like half a seasons racing track time in one day! Well worth it!

A few small jobs to do on the scooter, and Ed Hocking has the offending exhaust to re-weld! So I'll keep the blog updated with this and a couple of other small improvements I plan before the next outing which will be at the official BSSO / VMCC practice day on 27th March back at Mallory! Can't wait!

JB's Group 4 bike after being chucked into the mud at Edwina's