Well with just over a week to wait it didn’t take long until I was heading back to Northern Ireland to race at Armoy, a race I’ve only done once before, back in 2013. I watched a few on board videos beforehand just to refresh my memory as to where the circuit went.
Luckily we had a day to finish getting the bikes ready before we set off on Friday morning.
So on Thursday I finally got to fit some GSXR callipers to my 400. I’d been told on ZXR World Forum that these were an easy fit and gave loads more stopping power, so I bought a set, way back in 2013. For long term readers you may recall my first attempt to fit these failed as they felt spongy, no matter how much we bled them.
Over last Winter I tried again with another master cylinder, but with no success. My one last hope was a Brembo master cylinder, however when I went to fit it at Southern 100 I found I had the wrong banjo bolt to connect the brake lines to it. Luckily on the Thursday at the Southern I bought one off the spares guys in the paddock.
So with all the correct bits we set about assembling and bleeding them, which we did in no time at all. Now the biggest problem was not forgetting I had different brakes when I went out to practice.
We were told that Fridays weather wasn’t going to be great, but woke to glorious weather, which luckily didn’t alter all day.
With signing on etc done I went out to practice on the Supertwin first. This I took really easily as was just getting back into where the circuit went. It was also the first chance I had to try the new throttle bodies I had fitted before the very wet Southern 100. They felt a whole lot better and the bike was running beautifully.
Next was the turn of the 400, which again went without drama, and was feeling more confident as the laps ticked down.
One more session on the 650 and it was time to pack up and head home for the evening.
Saturday dawned and was once again a beautiful day.
We set up and I went to the riders briefing and signing on, whilst Steve and Josh got the bikes checked.
It turns out that once again I hadn’t managed to qualify on the 650. The simple reason being that for a 27 grid field, the organising club accepted 45 entries, so there were a lot of very disappointed riders.
I know that road racing is enjoying huge popularity at the moment, but I for one am getting sick of clubs claiming the meeting is so heavily over subscribed. Especially as it is down to them to limit the number of entries accepted.
Still onwards and upwards, and it was off to race the 400, albeit in race 9 so a fair amount of sitting around not doing much.
I’d qualified 23rd out of 27 which was ok, but even as soon as the lights went out I started to move up the field.
I caught number 42 and was pleased that I passed him with ease, especially as last year he seemed to be streets ahead of me, so makes me feel I’m moving in the right direction and the racer in me is still going strong.
My lead was short lived after I put the brakes on for the last corner, way too early, causing me to release the brakes and ride up to the corner, at which point Brian, number 42, nipped passed me.
The new brakes were something else, I’d taken it easy to bed them in during practice but was now using them in anger during the race. On every lap, as I came into Armoy village I could hear the back end skipping under heavy braking, the back had gone that light. I was making up loads of space on people that were in front and used them to great advantage as I got up the inside of Davy Black again into Armoy village. I was just driving out of the corner when the red flags, indicating the race had been stopped, came out.
A rider had come off at the very dangerous Church Bends and was airlifted to hospital. Thankfully he is reported as being on the mend now.
Whilst we were waiting to be let back round to the pits, a guy noticed that the bracket holding my exhaust on had snapped. Not sure what exhausts have against me at the moment, having fixed the supertwins, its’ the turn of the 400 to break.
The result was called at the end of the 4 laps and I finished 14th which I was very happy with, especially as I had posted a fastest time 8 seconds faster than my previous best two years ago. Better still I was back racing with guys who I hadn’t raced with for a while. Wish I’d done the brakes earlier.
So with Armoy done I now have to wait until Killalane 5th September, and it can’t come soon enough, why didn’t I enter The Ulster GP?.
One last bit of news, Armoy is due to be shown on Channel 4 Sunday 9th August at 0730, so keep your eyes open for that one.
So until next time.