Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Snetterton, the great race, but rotten results...

We arrived at Snetterton after doing trackdays prior to the race, finally putting us in a position where we had less to do on the race weekend, as I knew the track and had a bit of set up already.

The weather was beautiful too - full sun and 25deg all weekend! South African weather! We set up camp and then decided to catch a tan and ice cold...water...with fellow SA racer and flat-mate, Bjorn. Team Gecko-Skin...

Later that evening our new team mentor, Jason Davis, and family arrived and we soon had our own little campsite going!

Friday, we made the most of our first practice session getting some good times in, but we still had about 1sec to find to be fastest. I couldn't get the bike to corner where I wanted it to, and struggled to hit apexes and get the power on for the long straights. It was so frustrating losing all the drive I was!

We now had a jigsaw puzzle to solve! I immediately made my Dad and Jason very busy, fiddling settings we had used previously, until we resorted to changing fork springs, multiple times... We set out for qualifying later that day, having spent the afternoon contemplating different suspension settings to fix my cornering problem. With the bike still not feeling right, we managed a 4th place for race 1 on Saturday - this was actually a good sign as I wasn't happy with the way it was performing and we still made the front row!

We fiddled and fiddled some more, eventually running out of options for the front forks, turning our attention to the opposite end. As a last resort we start fiddling the rear shock and looking at changes we could make, only to notice, after taking out the rear suspension, to find the spring we were told was installed was actually a different one. One that was far too soft for my weight! This immediately shed light onto our handling problem and the pieces of the puzzle came together!

We got the correct spring fitted and took a flyer (educated flyer albeit) with base settings and held thumbs that it was close to par for the race on Sunday.

Braai time soon came around and we enjoyed a great evening with Jason & family and the likes of fellow South Africans including Bjorn and Phil Atkinson. I then headed off to bed to rehearse my changes.

The next morning was looking good and I felt great about the direction we had gone with the bike. Unfortunately there was to be a thorn amongst my roses in the form of a bad cooling pipe routing. Not having built our own bike, other people tend to overlook small, but important details.

The coolant overflow pipe was routed out the front of the bike, not into the belly pan, something we never noticed not having our own garage to strip the bike down in. When I arrived at the start line in the heat of the day, my bike overheated on the line, and instead overflowing water going into the belly pan, it leaked onto the track causing the marshals to stop the start and remove my bike from the track, resulting me not being able to start the race.

I was utterly and truly livid. I knew we had the setup to run in the lead comfortably, was on the front row and had the determination to complete it, but it was all being taken away from us for no good reason! I am not an emotional person, but I felt such emotional pain sitting on the side of the start line, I couldn't watch or even look at anyone. I knew what I had lost and not for any of our own fault, and I needed those points badly after Oulton park.

I took it on the shoulders and focused all my efforts on Sunday's race 2, and I needed to as not starting race 1 would put me 8 places back in 12th for race 2.

Having spent the whole night plotting my race for Sunday, the morning came upon us. Once again sunshine and heat covered the pink-skinned crowds, setting the scene for a good race.

I took up my position on the 3rd row and waited for those lights to go out...

Once the race was on, I made the most of the Triumphs torque off the line and then especially abused its chassis on the brakes into turn 2's hairpin corner. I had a grudge and it may have helped me be a bit more aggressive than usual, but by turn 3 I was up to 3rd place, ahead of the pole sitter! By lap 2 we were in the lead and pulling!

My bike, in 2nd, while I take a close look at #77s exhaust pipe

Pole man, Rob Guiver got held up at the start, but Phil Atkinson was in hot pursuit of me and soon him and I had a 5 sec lead! The race was turning out incredible, only to be interrupted by the safety car half way through. This, unfortuantely, was the start of our new set of problems... The rule book!

We finished the race in 2nd place after the incidents, including Phil having to pull in to the pits during the race for a penalty... The podium celebrations finished and the then the protest and penalty appealing started.

The red and white safety car flag came out 1/3 of the way in to our 5th lap, but being held static, none of us noticed it in the heat of the race, until we crossed the start/finish line. This resulted in myself and Phil each getting 20 sec penalties! I was not going to take any more unfair decisions that robbed us of what we deserved, so I immediately appealed the decision as nobody slowed down for the flags because they were not visible enough. After 2 hours of debate with the Clerk of the Course and Stewards, we eventually came to the conclusion that myself, Phil and Rob were all still racing under safety car flags, which is a set rule with a penalty of 20 sec, and this was enforced on all 3 of us instead of just Phil and I as we were leading at the time. If I was going down, I made sure it would not be unfairly and I would bring everyone guilty of it with me.

A sour end to a great race, but the race the spectators saw was the true reflection and that may even be more important than the results!

After all the drama, I actually really enjoyed the weekend - sunny, hot days, socialising and laughing, braaing again, and some awesome racing on Sunday in front of the biggest and most spectacular crowd I've even seen! Apparently in the region of 80,000 people, BSB can really show even World Superbikes how to host a race meeting!

A huge thank you to Leatt, Forcefield Body Armour, Lawrence Watson, Jason Davis for all the help at the track and especially my dad who has just landed back home in South Africa! - Thanks Daddo, living as a 22 year old when you're 62 takes some dedication, and fortunately I'm lucky enough to have a dad that's more dedicated than that to my dreams!

We now have a long break 'til the end of July, so I'll be posting our European shenanigans in our time off!


No comments:

Post a Comment