Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Croix-en-ternois (2)

So, more details and a few photos/videos of the weekend. We got to Croix, Thursday evening, and for once we were one of the first to arrive at the circuit. The free practise sessions started just before lunch, and I tried out the 350, which ran well, and the RG which was running better.

My second session on the 350, went well until the bike starting missing at high rpm, anything over 7K resulted in some spluttering. Back to the pits, and pulling the plugs they looked pretty hot, so I decided to jet up (360's), at the same time I noticed that the nipple on one spark plug had come loose and was actually stuck in the plug cap - I assumed this was going to fix my problem, so I screwed it back on tight and went out again. One lap later same problem, pulled in and started some more serious troubleshooting - I took the seat off, and the YPVS control box was flapping around lose and had become damaged and hasd also pulled a wire out - again I put this all back in - tested the powervalve (zeeltronic control box), and went back out - One lap later, same problem (are you seeing a pattern) , so I pulled in, and removed entirely the power valve controller and fixed the powervalve open, went out again, and still had the same problem!

I swapped the whole of the ignition system, coil, cleaned the carbs and (back at home) removed the fuel tap and cleaned the fuel filter, but to no avail. Two hours before the endurance race was due to start, we had to take a decision, and that was that I would try and change the stator, and if this didn't fix it we would need to go for a single bike strategy. By 13:00 I had changed the stator, and the bike didn't even fire up (I assume the second stator (that I borrowed was duff)), so the decision was quickly made to run Christian's bike only. We got agreement from the race direction, and I still had time to stuff some lunch before setting off on our 3 hour adventure.

The Endurance race was really stressful, in fact the least stressful was being on the bike, but in the pits it was work, work, work - we had to have a personal fire man, with extinguisher and all the gear, and had to use a proper fuel filler, with loads of rules and regulations around what you could and couldn't do.

We had decided to go for simple 45 minute relays amounting to 90 minutes for each pilot, Christian did the start and I would do the finish. There were two classes, the "classic" class and a "Superbike" class. We were in the classic class.

We started from the 3rd line, and Christian made a great start, and was soon lapping at around 1:05's constantly and sometimes dipping into the 1:03's and 4's. He was going great! 45 minutes was quickly passed and we had decided to dump 8.5 litres of fuel each time around. Christian came into the pits and drove straight in to the pits, shouting through his helmet that the seat had become lose! Panic - find some screws and fix it quickly.... we probably lost 5 minutes before I was out on the track on a bike I had never ridden before, with different tyres to mine, in fact a whole different experience!!

Christian's bike is setup with some brembo P8's which out brake my bike significantly, and he runs low pressure in his front tyre, and you can really feel it wiggle as you get the weight on the front wheel, this was really disconcerting for me.... I managed to get around in 1:10's and worse.... I found it really difficult. By the end of my session, I had bettered my times but I was still really slow, and I had lost some of the significant effort Christian had put in.

In the third relay Christian even put in a 1:02 which was a personal best for him! This time around he had no problems with the bike, and it was soon time for me to go out for the 4th and last relay. To be honest I was dreading it, but determined to try and get quicker!

We were in third at that point, and we (Christian) was quicker that the 2nd place guys, so we were hopeful of a second place. I did my best, and in fact got significantly better - I think I got down to a 1:05, which was OK, and the 2nd place team, had to pit stop due to an oil leak, so we ended up 2nd place in the Classic category. 

We were both really happy to say the least, and I was really impressed both by Christian's ability to ride as quick, and also that his bike lasted the race - impressive 3 hours on a two stroke!

My thanks to Libby for actively helping out in the pits, with the timing, and holding out our one pit signal (62 STOP), and also to Marc (I think) for being an impromptu fire man!

The Post Unlimited races on the RG500 were quite satisfying although I didn't get any decent results - the class is extremely competitive (my excuse and I'm sticking to it!).

I am really getting used to lying the bike down, and the handling is great, especially after  having ridden the flappy handling 350's, the 500 is controlled and stable. I must admit that I did worse lap times this time around than with the RG back in May when we were at the same circuit! Which all goes to prove that Libby is right when she tells me to leave the damn thing alone if it's working.

The engine ran very smoothly, and although my starts were still crap, I got away faster than before, we know have an RC30, plus a couple of VFR's in the pack, and unfortunately I still don't have the means to go get 'em. We'll see next year.

I managed to get a few points out of the weekend, which was good but I will be looking for more next year. While in the UK, I visited Bob Farnham's in Kent, and I will be sending my barrels, heads etc.. to him for tuning during the winter !!

One race left at Nogaro, where I should be able to get more of an advantage from the RG500, but I need to remember the last disastrous trip to Nogaro at which I seized the 350 on the 2nd lap of the weekend after a 9 hour drive....

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