Running the VFR and FZR in Pre Modern (9yrs and older) at the fourth and final round of the State Titles at Broadford. I’d done the first round which was at Broadford too. The second round was a disaster when the VFR broke down so I was using up the carry over entry fee credited, which was a perfect opportunity to see what times I could do there on the EXUP, since the race that really matters is three weeks away at the same track, the final round of the Hartwell Series where I need to finish ahead of one guy to take third in Pre Modern for the year. I’m four points behind him. It should be two but they have not awarded any points from the meeting where the fellow was killed, despite there having been about six races legitimately run before the incident.
Vic titles don’t run practice sessions so it was straight into qualifying, which was wet so the VFR was needed since it is now the ‘wet’ bike until I get set up with spare rims, discs and wets for the FZR. Qualified ninth which was ok but I thought I’d gone quicker, the times were close up to fourth or so. By the time the first race came around, it was dry enough for slicks but still some parts of the track were damp with a single dry line, so started with the EXUP. Out on the back straight on the first lap I had a serious tankslapper flat out in fourth, I thought for an instant ‘I could be off here’. Shortly afterwards I started to run out of brakes……so much so that I thought about pulling in but I got a bit of bar pressure back. On the one real left hander it was quite damp and perhaps I was a little offline or a tad too quick but the back lurched away and I wobbled around to get back on the dry line. Overall a pretty unpleasant race and I ended up twelfth outright and fourth in class (five entered…). The mixed grid includes Thundebikes (1198’s 675’s, TLR1000 etc) , Pre modern F2 (400’s mainly) and those annoying supermotards which can put in fast laptimes but do so in such a different way that they really should be on another grid. I did a 1.07.6 which I guess was ok under the circumstances, the front runners in class (Spook’s R1 pitboard mate) were doing low sixes I think. I felt a bit intimidated by the EXUP after the slapper and was just not gelling with it. I was having a bad day anyway, a couple of 4.30 am starts in a row, had been interstate the day before with work (airports, hassles etc), the Metrokit kids were in the next pit so there was a swarm of teenage kids running around; I had a cracking headache and the VFR had decided not to start earlier. I was ready to break some furniture. Hence went to bed at 9pm.
That was our one race for the day so in the afternoon I had taken the time to change the front sprocket down one tooth, which made a big difference in the dry second race on Sunday morning, suddenly it was turning in better off the throttle, it felt more like I needed it to and it got off the turns a bit more sharply. I also changed the way I sat on the bike on the back straight, which is bumpy and undulates, to avoid another moment by gripping the tank with my knees and having just a light grip on the bars, which seemed to work. But the brakes went again. This time right to the bars, it was pretty hairy when you’re dicing and coming up to the ninety-degree turn at the end of the back straight. Again I was going to come in but again I could see adequate fluid still in the reservoir and they came back a bit so I was able to finish. I thought in the first race the tankslapper had kicked the pistons around and that was why the brakes went then came back, but clearly there was something else happening, I’m guessing master cylinder seals. With only five in the class I was hopeful of some silverware and thought I could maybe jag 3rd for the weekend; the guy who finished 3rd in race 1 on an RSV1000 I’d beaten before on the 750 and in that first race I’d been with him for a while until he got some traffic between us that the fading brakes stopped me getting past. So it’s the last lap of the 2nd race and I realise he hasn’t come past me so we might get to decide 3rd in the last heat. But he comes alongside on the back straight and with my brakes as they are I have to start braking early to make sure I have any. As he comes by he’s moved right over in front of me to get the line in, but by then I knew I had some brakes back and could run in deeper, except I’d hit him if I did that. Dunno if it was particularly deliberate on his part but I politely pointed it out afterwards in the pits….he didn’t know my brakes were suspect but racing room is racing room. Anyways, I managed a 1.05.2 which was 4/10ths off my best time on the VFR so that’s encouraging. What wasn’t so encouraging was having a lose into the left hander again; I think it’s a combination of rear settings and a pretty tired old Michelin which aren’t the best tyres around now anyway. I really felt the weight on the EXUP when it let go, just sort of yawed and lurched away all by itself!
Right, so I decided whatever was wrong with the brakes, I wasn’t chancing it so I put the slicks on the VFR and took it out in the last heat just for a run and to compare it, as I was having doubts about the FZR, just don’t feel right on it at this track. Had a good race and came right up on the three fighting for 2nd at the end, plus I beat the RSV. Checked my times, had done a 1.02.23, my best lap by a good 6/10ths! It’s when you’re not thinking too much about it they come. I was 5th across the line but right up on R1 mate who was second, but with a best lap of 1.05…..just goes to show. Thinking about it, I’d made a few changes to the suspension on the VFR before the last round, plus I went through a section in a lower gear than usual by mistake, which all adds up to a better time and something learnt, so the weekend ended up being pretty useful. I’ve checked the previous times on the guy I need to beat for 3rd in the Hartwell championship, his best at Broadford is also a 1.04.2….so I have a couple of weeks to decide - do I get as much done to the FZR on the basis that I have a lot of room for improvement lap-time wise, or do I put fresh rubber on the VFR, make some small changes, freshen it up etc, do some exercise and hope I can beat him on that anyway?? I can’t afford new rubber for both of them plus too much else, so it’s close….I’ll find a compromise somewhere!