Tuesday 21 March 2017

Brands Hatch Report (Another One)

Hi, me again

So here we are for another Brands report, as I was racing there again this weekend, this time with NG Racing, North Gloucester Racing for those of you of a certain age, and like when I raced with them before I was number 42.

During the week between racing I had a good look over the bike to see if I could shed any light on my handling problem which I suffered at Thruxton and again at Brands last week, despite having my forks modified after Thruxton.

The forks felt massively better after the work I had done on them, but still had a problem, as I mentioned in my last update.

I changed the wheel bearings which helped, but I also had a thought that the head races were maybe causing the problem.

I  lifted the front up, and sure enough the steering was stiff. I slackened off the head races and the steering felt light, as it should, so a nice easy fix.

Whilst checking the front end, I noticed that at some point in their life, the axle had been cross threaded into the fork leg bottom, as you maybe able to see in this picture.

When a thread is cross threaded, it means that the axle was cutting its own thread in the leg, and not using the thread that was cut in there. In short this means that the axle was not held in as securely as it should have been.

Luckily I had a spare fork bottom, but didn't have the seals and oil needed to swap it before I set off for Brands.

Being the stars they are, JHS Racing, agreed to take the bits I needed to Brands, so that I could do the job there, should I need to.

All I could do was hope that I didn't have to change the wheels at Brands.

Upon arrival at Brands on Saturday it was wet, so first job was to swap the wheels, just what I didn't want to do. But luckily the thread held and the axle tightened up with no problems.

Practice was cut short after someone dropped oil on the circuit, but as the weather was due to improve, wet practice wasn't that important.

When it came to the first race the track was still damp, and after last week I er'ed on the side of caution and stayed on wets, but just as I was on the way out the guy next to me came in from his practice and told me it was now dry all around he circuit, but sadly it was too late to change.

I got a decent start and stayed with the pack for a good while, until my tyres gave up and they started to move around under me.

James, who was my pit bitch for the weekend, said he could see the bike moving around as I accelerated, and it got worse as the race went on.

Still I had a good race and felt a lot more comfortable on the bike.

Between races we changed back to dry tyres, and luckily the thread held in the axle again.

The second race was dry and again had a good start, and held onto the pack through the race, and I managed to get back to a lap of 1:00.

As soon as I was back to the pits, James and I set about replacing the dodgy fork leg, which went with no hitches, so was pleased that we got it all sorted.

Sunday was still dry, but over night I decided to change the gearing as I was running out of gears at the end of the start straight, a sign that I was getting quicker as it meant I was going faster on the exit of the previous corner, so carrying more speed onto the straight.

First race Sunday and the gearing was a good idea. Not only did it help along the straight, but it also meant that between some corners I could hold the same gear rather that changing up, then down again, and all the time the clutch is pulled in, you're losing drive.

It was a good race and was less than 2 tenths of a second of a 59 lap, so fingers crossed for the last race.

The second race was good but that lap of 59 seconds, still eluded me, but at least my 1:00 laps are consistant now.

So a good weekend all round, and am now looking forward to Cadwell Park in two weeks.

I've only ridden Cadwell once before, and that wasn't a race meeting, so I've been watching lots of on board videos to give me an idea of whats in store. So hopefully they, along with a track day on the Friday, will help me for the weekend.

I've also been studying photo's of me at Brands to see where I can improve.

My problem would appear that I'm not using my body position correctly, so something to work on.

I've also changed the seat unit to the one from my Supertwin. This may seem a waste of time, but the Supertwin seat makes me sit in the bike and not on top of it, as I feel like I am on the Minitwin .I've always preferred sitting in a bike, so hope this will help me with the way I move around the bike, but only time will tell.

If you'd like to check out some pictures of me, check out EDP Photography, who is the club photographer.

Hopefully that is all the jobs done between now and Cadwell, so until the next update take it easy.


Tuesday 14 March 2017

Brands Hatch Report

Hi all

So it was off to Brands last Friday for the first race of my season, couldn't believe it came round so quick, I'm used to starting my season at the end of April, not early March.

Still, the weather was kind to us and Friday was a test day. This was much needed as I last raced at Brands 18 years ago when I seemed to race there every weekend , so was very rusty.

It was a great day though and I got six 15 minute sessions, was great to get so much practice time in.

Even after such a long time since I was last there the circuit still went the same way, which was as about as much as I could remember, so had to re learn braking markers, turn in points and apex's, still it all started coming back to me.

The only problem I had with the bike was the wheel bearings decided to pick Friday to fail on me, which caused some handling problems.

One corner they'd be fine, the next they'd cause a vague feeling in the front end, still I battled on.

By the end of the day I felt more confident and was ready for Saturday.

The weather was again good for Saturday and it was off to qualifying.

Qualifying was a 15 minute session, after which I did a best time of 1:04, not great but I wasn't the slowest.

I was out for the first race and I had a good race long battle with another guy, who managed to stay in front throughout the race, but fun all the same.

My time improved to 1:01, so was pleased with that.

My second race I got a better start, only to lose it all as a guy on the grid in front of me stalled and was stationary on my line, so had to back off to avoid him, which cost me my tow on the back of the pack, so had a lonely race, which resulted in a lap of 1:02.

Sunday started out as another grand day weather wise, but we'd been promised heavy rain later in the day.

Luckily my first race, was second out, so weather was still good.

I managed to get another good start and had good race, and my time improved to 1:00, which is only 3 seconds off my previous best lap ever around Brands, 18 years ago, so not all bad.

Sundays second race was hit by the weather which we'd promised, but luckily it wasn't as bad as we'd expected, so the track was damp rather than wet.

As such I stuck with my intermediate tyres, but this was a mistake.

The sighting lap was ok, but as I entered the first corner after the start, the back end of the bike came around on me, so thought it was prudent to call it a day whilst still upright.

I was really surprised how slippery the circuit was and honestly thought it wasn't wet enough for full wets. I certainly wouldn't have fitted wets if I'd been racing on the roads, another lesson I've learnt about short circuits.

It was a good weekend and have realised how different racing on the roads is to circuits, but am sure I will get back into it with a bit of practice.

Talking of which, I'm off to Brands Hatch again this weekend for another two days of racing, which I'm excited about, fingers crossed all will go well.

On the subject of things being crossed, Steve found a use for my hot exhaust

Apparently they tasted lovely, and only a little metallic.

If you'd like to see some pictures of me in action then check out www.kentbadboyzphotography.co.uk who is the club photographer. I was number 24 in the Minitwins, wearing a white crash helmet, I mention that as Steve kept looking out for me wearing a black one.

Not many jobs to do between now and next weekend, luckily, being only a few days to go.

Hopefully I will have good stuff to write about next week, and will as soon as I can.