Sunday, June 26, 2011

Race Report: Round 2

An up and down weekend, literally. 

Saturday Practice

The day dawned warm and clear -- perfect conditions for racing.  I took out the supermono for the first practice session, and actually turned some decent lap times, getting into the 1:10s -- that's 3 seconds faster than the last round.  The proper race tires certainly had something to do with the increase in speed, as well, I assume, as the gearing changes and the suspension tweaking.
The second practice session was also a good one, out on the EX650 and running in the 1:07s, again much improved over last round, but still a few seconds per lap behind the top guys.  The other issue would be my starting position, at the back of the experts due to missing 2 races on Sunday of Round 1.

Race 1:  Canadian Thunder GP
I was able to video this race, and I will upload it shortly.  Highlights for me was dicing with Jason (and getting by when he was balked by a lapped rider), and catching back up to Mert on his hot rod 650.  Wasn't able to pass, but it was nice to see a rider come back to me over the course of a race.  Ended up 5th overall, with several 1:07 laps; however Doug and Peter were on a different planet, turning times in the 1:04s -- got a ways to go then!

Race 2:  ULWGP 1
A good race, led for awhile until the 2 strokes came by me -- Mert on the RGV, Lance on the Aprilia, and the 125 rider as well.  However, we were essentially nose to tail the whole race, having the lead in sight at all times.  I ended up 3rd overall, with the 125 going off-track.  Mert got the expert win in 2nd overall, with the improving Lance 1st on the Aprilia.  Not that far ahead, however!

Race 3:  ULWGP 2
A better race for me, taking the lead and only losing at the end of the straight on lap 2 -- again the 250s have the legs on my bike (and at least 15 hp as well!) -- this time I stayed right on Mert's tail and capitalized coming out of turn 5 on the 2nd last lap.  I tried to bury myself into the bike for the last 2 straights, expecting his machine to blow by me, but he never did.  2nd overall, 1st expert.  Huzzah!  Lance and the Aprilia took the win.

Sunday practices were OK, considering the deluge that hit the track at about midnight Saturday.  Tough to sleep in the back of a station wagon while it sounds like ball bearings are falling on your head.  Luckily the rain stopped and I got some sleep.  Lap times of others were a bit slower, while mine stayed the same... perhaps all the running has paid off!

Race 4:  Canadian Thunder #2
This is a shorter 10-lap version of yesterday's 15-lapper.  Another decent race, for at least 9 laps.  In the 1:07 again, however a couple of riders behind me were motoring on their SVs, one guy tried a banzai move on the white flag lap going into turn 1; I just saw him out of my periphery, but I did have the position going into the turn.  I leaned over and sure enough I felt a bang as his bike ran into the back of mine.  I stayed upright for awhile, but went off track and crashed, flipping myself and the bike back onto the track when all was said and done.  The race was red-flagged and deemed complete at 9 laps. The end result was a wrecked helmet (yes, the custom-painted one!), a broken footpeg, master cylidner, and swingarm spool mount, as well as a seriously dented tank and a mangled fairing.  Sh!t.  We were both Ok, or sort of, as me and the other rider got checked out by the ambulance crew.  It turns out I was scored as 5th (at the end of 9 laps) -- a bit of justice as the crash was not my fault.  The other rider apologized profusely and other witnesses agreed it was a dicey move.  Racing incident.

Race 5:  Canadian Thunder #3
Having gotten the green light by the paramedics, I set about preparing the mono for the last race, in order to "get back on the horse", and score some points.  Turns out it was a good idea, as fatigue (I think), and attrition saw me finish that race unscathed in 4th!  Still behind some of the novices (I started at the back of the novice grid in order to not get mugged going into turn 1), but I did pass some bigger bikes in the race, despite bringing a knife to a gunfight.  My lap times were a bit slower than I thought (1:11s), but considering how the earlier part of the day went, it was OK. 

Now I need to sort out some things -- mainly getting the swingarm repaired and fix the rearsets, tank, and fairing stay.  Time for new tires, as I think these ones are shagged.  I also plan to get the bike to a dyno to get properly mapped -- every other 650 is faster than it in a straight line, and trust me, I'm stretching the throttle cable!  A bit more speed would be nice, although much of the potential for faster times is still within me, not the bike.

Thanks to Vince Ritcher for the pics.

Monday, June 20, 2011

front engine mounts

Finished fabricating the front engine mounts, in steel.  Might get them tig-welded at Cycleboys as there is a difference in wall thicknesses from the plate to the tubing.  Also want to avoid distortion if at all possible.
That's 3/4" 4130 tubing, with some .090 steel plate.
Tubing ends left long to accomodate potential mounts for bodywork or radiator.

Fox shock off to Atom-Jet to get final machining done to fit in the frame.

Round 2 race next weekend.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

busy weekend

Engine in the mito frame:

Front fairing installed, painted, clear coated, and numbers applied...

Steering damper -- advertised as an 03/04 zx6rr -- turned out to be from a zx600r... needed significant mods to fit to the triple, and then I had to fabricate a pin to weld to the frame.  Used an M8 bolt, welded a nut into the frame, used another shouldered nut to hold it in place.  Should work...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Back to Work

Developing a more durable fairing stay for the rc8 upper fairing.  All I ended up using was the alloy guage mounting plate from the vortex fairing stay.  A bit weedy!
Clutch cable is annoying... stock, has a near 90-degree bend in it that seems to foul on one thing or another as the bars are turned one way or another.  Will leave it for now...
Old MX innertube (punctured, never throw out anything!) is used to help mount the camera to the front stay.  Complementary oval hole in upper fairing should give a nice clear portal for the camera apeture.  Hammerite paint keeps the rust away.

Fitted a fox zx6r shock to the mito chassis.  Adjustable for just about everything, plus length, is a cheaper option than the 600+ asked by maxton or nitron, plus shipping from the UK.  No idea where I am at on spring rates, however.  Also, upper clevis mount needs to be machined, and inserts modified or new ones made in order to properly fit in the frame rails.  Hopefully I come out ahead with the machining required...

Some subframe modification/notching required to fit the shock and the remote resevoir and adjuster.  Will clean up this area once the shock has been properly fitted.  Note sharpie marker lines for a curved cut... sharp corners are stress inducers!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Round 1 Report

The forcast for round 1 of the 2011 MRA season was not great -- rain, thundershowers, etc.  The track is located near a HUGE body of water -- Lake Winnipeg, and so a condition known as "lake effect" can take over, creating a local microclimate.  Weather forcasting  is a guess at the best of times, but the Gimli area is anything but consistent.  With an uncertain forecast in mind, I decided it wasn't smart to hit the track with both bikes set up with slicks.  I swapped the supermono over to some leftover DOTs I had, and kept the slicks on the ex650.  Should it start to rain, I could still use the supermono in the Cdn Thunder race and perhaps not look too foolish tiptoeing around on untreaded tires.  As I will for the remainder of the season, I was going to run the supermono in Ultralightweight GP (ULGP), and the ex650 in Canadian Thunder.  Due to another commitment on Sunday, I would only be able to race on Saturday.
Saturday morning dawned clear but cold -- as in see your breath cold.  I had set up the awning the night before, and got things situated so most of my time could be set up on bike and rider prep than anything else.  I realized that morning that while I had been on bikes and had attended a few trackdays since, my last race was in May of 2007.  I might be a bit rusty.  We only had 2 practice sessions scheduled before any of the races, and I had 2 ULGP races and one Cdn Thunder race that day.  With that in mind, I decided to go out on the supermono first, and then the ex650.

Practice nearly ended on lap 3 as I had a near-highside coming out of turn 9.  The tires were not at all up to temps, and being street tires and with no warmers, I needed to be a tad more patient!  The head referee and a few of the other riders pitted near that corner commented later on my "nice save" -- the reality being that I had little to do with the "save" other than to simply hold on.  Sorta a, "Thanks God, I have control" moment once the occilations stopped and my feet went back on the pegs.  I was out of the seat quite a bit -- so much so that I came down groin first on the tailsection, cracking it slightly -- and spoke in a higher pitch for awhile afterward.  I came in to check if anything else had been damaged, or the tire was problematic, but nothing untoward was visible.  I went back out for the remainder of the session and tried my best to relearn the track.  My lap times posted were competitive, but I felt I had a lot more to come.  The tires were a real drawback -- my counting on rain of course ensured the day was dry throughout -- shoulda left the slicks on!!!

The second session saw me out on the ex650 and having rode for 2 days at MAM only a month prior, the bike felt quite familiar, even with the new RC8 fairing quickly mounted up.  I was soon within 2 seconds of the fastest guys in Thunder, so it was an enjoyable session that way.  Another rider on a 600 caught me with his rear-mounted camera.  I come into view at about 1:05, with the black leathers and grey fairing (unpainted) -- I keep up for about a lap, and then the power of the bike (and the other rider's talent) makes a difference.

Note that the video is entitled, "crash" -- watch it till the end and you'll see an sv650 rider go down.
With the 2 sessions done and me satisfied with how things were, it was time to race...
Luck of the draw saw me gridded in the 3rd spot.  This was the first ever ULGP race that the MRA has run, and I am going to take some credit for creating the class.  8 riders took to the grid, 4 experts and 4 notices.  An interesting mix of bikes, as the experts had the oldest/least horsepower bikes, while the novices were all on newer and more powerful machinery.  There were a few RZ350s, a GSXR400, and RGV250, a RS250 Aprilia, and a TZ125 GP bike, as well as my KLX400 powered Supermono... an eclectic mix, to say the least.  The flag dropped and off I went with no expectations.  Almost immediately the 125 leapt to the front and took off.  A 2002 bike, it likely made similar hp to me, but with 50lbs less, and a good rider, with race slicks.  No chance; that machine consistently lapped around 2 seconds a lap faster than everyone else.  I was left to fight over 2nd place overall with Mert on his RGV250.  He was much faster down the straights, but I was able to catch back up in the infield.  A real ding-dong battle that lasted the entire 12 laps.  I was able lead a few times across the finish line, but he would re-pass me before turn 1.  Part way through the race I tucked my left hand behind me, trying to crawl under the paint to maintain as much speed as possible, to no avail.  On the last lap, I again harried Mert right into the final corner, and was able to make a pass on the inside exiting the turn, stretching the throttle cable to the limit, I was able to cross the line in second place on track, and bizarrely, first expert overall as the tz125 rider was a novice.  I'm calling it a 2nd place, but a podium on my first race bike, on a bike I engineerend and built much of myself was tremendously satisfying and somewhat emotional.  I was "chuffed" to say the least.
RACE 2: ULGP#2 (12 LAPS)
This race was quite similar to the first, with some of the same protagonists.  While I didn't get the holeshot, I made the pass for the lead going into turn 3 on the first lap, but surrendered the lead before the end of the first lap to the tz125.  Didn't see Mert during this race, but again chased after another 250, this time the Aprilia.  The accordion effect took over here again, but this time I wasn't able to succeed, crossing the line in 3rd on the track, but again first overall in expert.  I am uploading video of this race; keep in mind it might be a bit boring, and being the first time mounted to the mono, the camera is strapped to the triple clamp -- a CMA sticker gets in the way, but again the drift camera worked well.  Honestly, not a whole lot of action, aside from some passes and a bit of close proximity stuff.  As well, youtube does not allow any more than 15 minutes of video, so the end of the flic is cropped off.
By now I was hoping my conditioning would be taking over and helping me out, until I realized I was one of a few who was on their third race of the day.  For most of the thunderbikes, this was their first race, after quite a break from their second practice that morning.  Being sure to swap over the transponder, I took to the grid, again in the 3rd spot (random draw).  I knew the fast guys today would be Wilson on his TZ250, Doug on his ex650, and Pete on his Buell, with any number of other riders in the mix.  My goal was for a top 6, considering the limited amount of time I had on this bike.  After our warmup laps (again critical for me sans tire warmers) the flag dropped.  I got a good start, but surrendered positions to Wilson, Doug, and Pete by the exit of turn 1.  I was able to keep them in sight for 3 or so laps, but then lost sight of them slowly but surely afterwards.  From then I wanted to consolidate my position and maintain 4th, which I was able to do so.  A bit of a boring race, actually, aside from lapped traffic making for some interesting passing conditions.  In the end, no argy-bargy, and no one else showed me a wheel.  I was painfully consistent, all my laps falling within 1 second of each other, with a quickest in the 1:08s.  Still quite a ways to go, but a goal to shoot for nonetheless.  The onboard lap timer is critical, and gives me some real time feedback as to my technique.
All in all, a successful weekend's return to racing.  A 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, with lots of ideas on how to go faster.  The equipment held up, with some tweaks to be done to increase speed and improve handling.  Points haven't been posted yet, but I assume I'm leading ULGP by a healthy stretch.  Thunderbikes is another issue altogether, with a single 4th from 3 starts (not being there I DNS 2 races on Sunday), that championship may have already sailed.  It is a long season however, and as I knock the rust off the old body here, I should only get quicker.  
So will everyone else, however!
Going to spend some time this weekend going over the bikes and finalizing the RC8 fairing fitment to the ex650.  Gearing changes and suspension adjustments to follow.  Stay tuned!