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Journal Archive
On the back foot


2 July 2011
Snetterton Qualifying...

It’s a credit to the designers of the new Snetterton circuit that following three free practice sessions and a short qualifying session I’m still learning how to get the best from the 2.79miles that is Snetterton 300.

Only three of the original corners remain and all the new ones and far from straight forward. All have their own challenge created by either the preceding corner or an increasing/decreasing radius.

The weather has been fantastic, stable, dry and warm all helping give some consistent track time. It’s helped to hone our BMW’s bike set up too. We’re working on small changes and lots of them. The idea being we don’t jump out of the “ball park” but still make progress.

Not everything’s worked but overall we’re up – which is nice!
All this boils down to another second faster in qualifying and 7th in the EVO BSB Class.

We’ll find out tomorrow how easy it is to pass around here... 

Whatever the weather!

TT #201

18 June 2011
The right tyres... just not necessarily in the right order...

Weather and Knockhill are two words that always seem to end up in the same sentence, and therefore tonight they end up in the same blog...

The whole weekend so far up here has been wet in fact the first time I’ve been on anything like a dry track was when I rolled out at the start of qualifying whilst running full wets – there was still a good amount of water about so I pressed on and initially went well.

I got a bit of a glitch on my onboard lap timer meant I thought I’d gone about 1.5 seconds faster than I was, therefore pushed again on another wet rear tyre. A lap later I knew I’d gone the wrong way came back into the pits and headed back out with an intermediate rear.

It was a bit optimistic with only 4 minutes remaining but worth a shot.

The end result was 10th EVO and at the wrong end of the grid.

Consoled by the fact it’s only the results on Sunday that count (& people remember) we’ll be a bit sharper with tyre choice tomorrow... 

Whatever the weather!

TT #201

14 May 2011
Slowly Slowly – Catchy Monkey...

I don't think I have to point out that it’s been a tough start to our season anymore...

Anyway it has!.. But there is light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

We managed to squeeze a test at Anglesey circuit in Wales last Friday and although the sessions were brief it gave us a chance to make some more radical changes to the bike without worrying about losing the valuable track time we get at race meetings.

I’d not been to the circuit before and I was impressed with the place – beats some of the tracks that have been on the BSB calendar over the past years. The day went well but without a BSB reference it’s always difficult to know if the direction we went was a fast one.

So onto Croft – I’d forgotten how bumpy this place is, I’m sure it’s got livelier than last year, combined with the strong gusty wind it’s been tough to hit the same piece of tarmac lap after lap.

We kept the same setting from our test with a few small tweaks in the same direction and the new set-up combined with some bike consistency, looks to be working.

We’re not out of the woods just yet but at least it now feels like we can race rather than just survive and keep the bike on the tarmac [something I didn’t do too well at Oulton – struggled to keep it off the grass – but at least I kept it upright].

With less medalling on the bike it was down to me and I managed to pull out another eight tenths for qualifying which gave us 7th on the Evo grid.

Work ongoing but progress feels better if nothing else – slowly slowly catchy monkey but hopefully with less slowly and more monkey catching!

TT #201

24 April 2011
The Spice of Life

I knew going into the weekend we were playing catch up with my injury and missing the testing [see previous blog] but part of the lure of racing is the unpredictability...

The plan for the weekend was to build our understanding of the new bike and build my confidence on it.

After the Friday test and first day of free practice that was exactly what we were doing. Every time I swung my leg over the bike it felt more familiar - like I owned it rather than I‘d borrowed it.

Lap times reflected this and each session brought good progress – I wasn’t looking at the timesheet, for me they were a distraction and I needed to focus on my own game and bonding with the bike.

By the end of the Saturday free practice I was less than half a second of my personal best around the Indy Circuit, but unfortunately without an engine after an almost unheard of issue with the bullet proof BMW.

Without a spare in the truck we needed options and fast. 16:30pm on Easter Saturday isn’t the best time to start looking but we were fortunate to have the ear of Allan Jefferies BMW in Shipley.

On a “buy now think later finance package” our sprinter van set off up the M1 to collect one of their demonstrators out of the showroom which isn’t normally open at 10:30pm – but it was last night!

Ben and Heather returned to the circuit at 3:30am this morning and pulled mechanics Chris and Martin out of bed to start their shift...

This morning’s 40minute free practice three wasn’t an option and with about half an hour before the start of qualifying [and 24hours after the spanners had started twirling] the bike was purring once again.

Phase one of qualifying lasts only 20miuntes and an airlock in the engine water cooling system meant I missed all but a couple of flying laps and one of them was cruising to bring the running temperature back down from a tea brewing 115 deg C.

Hardly justice for the whole team’s awesome (in every sense of the word) efforts - I’m very lucky to have such a committed and enthusiastic team behind me.

Anyway no prizes for guessing which end of the grid me and my beautiful yellow BMW will be on tomorrow afternoons grid.

I was surprised to find myself travelling over 100mph across the grass with flames out of the back of the bike.
I would never have guessed the garage lights would have been on for over 40 hours solid.
I’d never have predicted that we’d have taken an ex demo bike for a BSB "track test"/Race.

I’m not going to speculate what tomorrow will bring but I hope this time it’s a good surprise... and I’m not talking about an Easter egg!

TT #201

20 April 2011
2011 Season Starts with a Bang

Plenty has happened since I last updated the old blog – I’ll try to keep it brief but as many of you may know that isn’t the easiest thing for me to do...

We’re on our way to Brands for the first round and it’s fair to say pre-season preparations aren’t quite sticking to the script!

As you may have read we decided to switch to the BSB Evo Championship for 2011 and looked to Germany for the best tool for the job. When I say Germany I mean just north of Bradford – West Yorkshire!...

With a brand new BMW S1000RR road bike wheeled out of Allan Jefferies Shipley showroom just three weeks before our Spanish testing the team did a blinder turning her into a race bike... all ok so far...

I deviated from the plan on the third day of a seven day test schedule. It was four laps into my second day on the BMW and although at the time I knew the spec we had meant she was still a bit of a rough diamond, I didn’t realise at the time how fickle she was.

My first day on the S1000RR had gone surprisingly well having lapped only a handful of tenths off my fastest ever lap time of Cartagena. A combination of a high level of confidence and a very harsh, unpredictable throttle response lead to a taste of the Spanish NHS via a close inspection of the gravel trap.

It was apparent as it took two marshals to lift me into the ambulance that I may have to rethink our Spanish adventure.

The realisation that the test was over grew at the same rate as my foot and ankle swelled whilst waiting three hours in Santa Maria Hospital.
Unfortunately the doctor who reviewed my x-rays had spent three years in London where no one spoke Spanish and decided to take it out on me by speaking only Spanish [even this explanation was translated by his colleague]. “No Fracturas” I understood, the extent of tendon damage needed a scan.

Plastered/bandaged up I got a flight home the following night. Ryan air were pretty helpful reserving a row of seats for my leg. The scouse hen party that accommodated the seats around me were less so...

Back in blighty I got another round of x-rays before being sent on my way with an air cast boot on my left leg.

Two weeks later the swelling was a lot better and I’d already started physio & rehab exercises – things were going well until the fourth set of x-rays showed my foot was broken in three places with one of my toes knitting well out of line and in need of surgery to fit a wire.

Wire = no race boot, or any footwear for 4-6weeks = round one, two, and maybe three were in question. Fortunately there were no beds available overnight and so I decided to look for any other option. 24hrs later I’d spoken with three foot specialists and the new plan was to leave it until October.

By the time of our next tests (last Tuesday/Wednesday at Brands & Snetterton) I was pretty confident the foot wouldn’t be too much of an issue, unfortunately I was a little too optimistic!...

I’d not realised that the footrests would just focus the weight onto the part of the foot that was broken – day two the surprise was to find out how weak my calf and ankle muscles were and I struggled to change gear. Didn’t really help me find a good rhythm and won’t be remembered as the most enjoyable time I’ve spent on two wheels.

So in the last week I’ve worked hard to try and build up my ankle, calf and all my left leg.

Bike wise we’ve got the Motec control electronics fitted now and it spent this morning on the dyno, so it should be a far smoother bike to ride when I roll out onto track on Friday afternoon for the first free practice.

The foot now feels a lot better than it did last week but I’ve learnt not to count my chickens. Whatever happens both me and the bike are in a better shape.
I’ve got mixed feelings about the weekend. On one hand I’m not sure if either me or the bike are quite ready, but time and tide wait for no man - I’ll play the cards I’m dealt. 

On the other hand it’s the start of another exciting season and it has been a verrrrry long winter. I really can’t wait to get on with enjoying racing motorbikes, ideally without pain!

So there you have it... 700+ words later... hopefully you made it to the end and you’re now up to speed!

TT#20[1]


26 August 2010
Brighter Future...



Photo courtesy of Motoprofessional.com

With the wonders of modern technology I’m typing this on the way to the next round (9th) at Cadwell. Don’t worry I’m not driving... 

I’m trying not to bleat on about some of the frustrations since I last put finger to keyboard (a good while ago) for the last blog.

BUT...

Heading into the last third of the season, I’m pretty disappointed if I just look at the result sheets at how the seasons panned out. In fairness I don’t think we’ve had one meeting this year where we haven’t had bike problems, or been knocked off or something similar – I think you’ve got the picture by now...

Taking that into account we’ve still scored points at the last five rounds which makes me think what how would things have turned out with a smoother run?

Time to be a bit philosophical about it me thinks and look forward to finally getting a chance to show what we are capable of.

We’ve also got some plans we are trying to put into place before the end of the season – but that’s a different blog altogether...

Till next time...

TT#21

3 July 2010
Knockhill Qualifying

Ordinarily after finishing qualifying in 22nd I’d probably be a bit miffed but this is Knockhill and I’d been lightly tapping my head against a hard Scottish brick wall of most of the weekend...

This round last year [aside from the Brands/concrete wall crash-fest] was our worst results of the year, and it looked like 2010 was going to follow a similar pattern.

Free practice 1, 2 and 3 all ended with similar lap times even though we’d made quite a few changes to the bike set-up in each session. I was starting to think I was getting myself my very own “bogey circuit”.

With the help of Ohlin’s and the team we came up with a completely different setting for the 20minute qualifying session – the good news is even before the end of the out lap I knew we’d gone the right way.

After the second flying lap I’d lapped faster than I’d even done around this tricky little track & 3 Laps later I confirmed the progress by lapping half-a-second faster still.

The slight frustration of missing out in the 2nd phase of qualifying was quashed pretty quickly with the relief of not having to fight the bike every lap – removing the “imaginary” brick wall - and finally making some decent progress.

So it feels a bit weird... 22nd an all – don’t get me wrong we’ve not spent all evening high-fiving each other but I will sleep a bit better tonight and when I see Knockhill on next year’s calendar I won’t get a sinking feeling.

Anyway ALL the previous work this weekend is more than likely to be thrown right out of window as according to most of the paddock its going to be traditional Knockhill with heavy rain tomorrow...

The joys of racing! I blumin love it!!

TT#21

26 June 2010
Mallory Blog



Photo courtesy of Motoprofessional.com

After [a much needed] five week break its fantastic to be back on the bike.

We used the time off to finally get our ship back in order – it’s fair to say the first part of the season didn’t quite go to plan and the last round at Cadwell our bike had oil leaks, an electronics system that wasn’t talking to us and bent chassis parts...

All of which are now fully sorted – things can take a little longer in a smaller team!

Also managed to escape on a last minute break to Zante [Greece] for a 4 day break the result of a trip to the local travel agents with 200 in my hand!

Definitely stuck to the plan of relaxing, in fact we [me & Heather my girlfriend] relaxed really hard, doing 10 beaches in 4 days...

The temperature here at Mallory is about the same its still 27’C in the awning [@7pm] with the guys prepping the bike for tomorrow.

Needless to say the times are as tight as always. Not exactly over the moon with a grid position of 23rd but only 0.16seconds and I’d be 11 places further up the grid.  I did 5 or 6 laps within a tenth of my fastest time so consistency ain’t an issue.

With a track made up from 3 chicanes and a hairpin + a lot of heavy breaking = a physical circuit on a superbike. Which is kinda highlighted by 600 Supersport bikes lapping at comparable lap times to the superbikes. 

That all added to temperatures nudging 30’C means tomorrows two races are going to be a bit of a grueller!

Still can’t wait though...

The goal without doubt is to chase after a top 15 finish and some more of those lovely championship points!...

TT#21


21 May 2010
On the back foot... (but stepping forward!..)



Photo courtesy of Motoprofessional.com

It’s been a very eventful few weeks since I’ve updated the blog...
The black flag > bike fire in race one at Thruxton – starting from the back of the grid and just getting pipped for points by Chris Walker in race two, and then Oulton...

If you’ve read the news report from there you’ll have an idea what happened but the end results was me & the bike bouncing/sliding down the track @100mph+.

It also meant that out of the first six races of 2010 I’ve only finished two!?! And none of the DNF’s my fault – and that’s not just the racer talking, mechanical problems & being knocked off doesn’t feel too good as I sit here in the race truck at Cadwell - 

Definitely not the script I had planned over winter...

The few weeks since Oulton have been crazy trying to get the bike back in shape and unfortunately we kinda ran out of time. 

We have no control over the electronics at the moment so if we get 1 problem with it this weekend we’re... well.... it wouldn’t be good!

With a few supplier & part issues we knew today would be a test as much as the start of a race meeting – definitely on the back foot!

The first session proved to be pretty much that and it didn’t go too well. The bike wasn’t going in a straight line, or going through right hand corners the same as lefts... = a bent motorbike.
Now Cadwell’s hard work on a superbike anyway but when the bike wants to veer off the narrow strip of tarmac it’s a bit more than I bargained for.

An early shower and more hard work for the guys:
Bent Swingarm swapped & Fork Triple clamps replaced & out for second session...

Fortunately this time the bike was a bit more “predictable” and it was a case of starting from scratch and getting into Cadwell & although we still have some issues to sort out to get a better feeling with the front end I’m hoping it’s just a case of set-up rather than another chassis change...

Oh and the guys are now swapping the engine after all the work over the past few weeks let alone few meetings its relatively a small task these days!

Hoping for a bit more sunshine and unproblematic track time tomorrow, fingers crossed.

I’m even looking to my lucky racing undercrackers for extra luck... anything for a straight forward meeting!

TT#21