Apex Racing ~ Official Race report, 3 hr Junior Endurance Race, Pembrey

September 2010

pembrey circuit wp Pembrey S.Wales ~ 3hr Race Report

Now I wouldn’t say I was brimming with confidence going into the 6th round of the championship but I have a bit of soft spot for Pembrey. At last years Motogrande race my R6 screamed its head around the grippy little South Wales circuit and I saw lap after lap of PB’s.  Add to that was the fact Nicks lap times at every circuit this year have been improving while he chases me down and he’s been getting on the pace sooner and sooner in each race.
I was looking forward to it so much I even decided to chuck my hat in with the Michelin boys… that was until a visit to RJS Superbikes confirmed my worst fears, not only was my little 6 very poorly but also it wasn’t going to be ready in time for the race  Bugger.. Looks like I’m gonna have to tap up Skip and beg him to let me ride the Triumph…again…

Confidence gone.

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The test day was interesting, which is putting it mildly.  The suspension which had been a good compromise for the pair of us at Anglesey was just way too soft for me and after lap after lap of tank slappers, which I think Skip found more frightening watching than I did riding, we had to mess with the set-up quite drastically.  Neither of us found something which worked really well but it was the best of a bad lot and the day saw all three of us putting in (inconsistent) lap times between the 1:06’s and 1:08’s.  Not too bad but my PB last year was a 1:03 dead.

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Qualifying, I have to admit went far better than expected, a couple of PSI out of the rear tyre and a little bit more preload on the front suspension saw me qualifying us 17th on the grid 4th in class with 1:04.
Nick elected to coast around during his qualifying as 1) he didn’t expect to beat my time 2) he needed to save his tyres for the Michelin Cup Race he was doing that morning. Tyres which had already seen action at Mallory plus a test day, and he was planning to do 3 Michelin Cup races and an Endurance race on them as well!!!! No wonder he kept getting strange looks from the Michelin tyre mechanics. But even coasting round for the obligatory 3 laps he threw in a comfortable 1:07.

Confidence returning!!

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What was  probably most concerning for the team (except for Skip who I think was convinced I was either going to crash his bike or lunch its engine) was the ability of the little Triumph (and me on it) to get itself off the line from an Endurance start, but as Nick stated in his Anglesey race report about his race start there “Woby could probably have done better with a push bike” we figured even with an average start I can probably carve my way through the traffic into a decent position, therefore once more I’ll begin the race for us.  Cool, I luv the starts.

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Were ready for the off, a quick look up and down the grid…16 bikes in front of us, 13 bikes behind us… flag goes up… flag drops… sprint to the bike… pull in clutch, hit starter, engage gear… bloody hell this things taking forev… it fires up and away I go.

It feels like I’m the last to leave the grid and I go barrelling into the first corner elbowing my way past 5 bikes immediately.  I’m bloody furious with myself, bloody furious with the bike, bloody furious with RJS not fixing the R6…  Head down arse up that’s the way we like to…race.

Within a couple of laps we’re back up to 18th overall and the first look at the pit board shows P4 in class.  I get into a serious battle with a guy on an R1, I’m not ‘racing’ him as he’s in the 1000cc class but he’s slow through the twisty bits and messing with my mojo, clearly I’m slowing him in the fast bits and he tries for a rather over ambitious under take going into the fast right kink ‘woodlands’.  In fact so over ambitious his front tyre rubs up against my leg as we power through it. Fortunately he backs off, and I keep the throttle pinned to the stop,  thank the heavens that could have been a quick one.  I need to find a rhythm, it’s a three hour race and if I keep attacking each corner like it’s a sprint either me or the bike aren’t going to last…. And after 10 more laps it looks like the brakes are about to give up the ghost. As I head into Hatchets (first corner at end of start finish straight) I’m braking earlier and earlier and going in deeper and deeper, back wheel skipping the tarmac as I abuse the slipper clutch to help me stop and turn. (sorry skip)  You wouldn’t believe my relief when I see for the first time the board telling me a pit change is due.

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First pit change, poor guy at pit entry can’t seem to handle the number of bikes peeling in at the same time and I lose valuable seconds waiting to get waved on ,grrrr.  I squeal the bike to a halt at Rich’s feet (sorry mate didn’t mean to scare you).  Transponder switched between bikes and off Nick goes, go on my son.
The next thing I do is ask Rich and Brian to change the pads… which are absolutely toast, red hot toast.   You guys were diamonds again and if you hadn’t been there I’d probably have tried to muddle my way through the remainder of the race without changing them, especially as they needed 15minutes just to cool down.  It’s not until moments like these when you can fully appreciate how valuable having a solid support team is, thanks guys. (Whose bright idea was it to not change them before the race? Errrr… actually I think it was me.. shite)
Quick check on the standings and were not that far behind LA Stone in 3rd place, nice one, Nicks lap times are coming down, pressures on, this should be a good one.

Get ready for the next change over, for the Nth time I’m reminded by Brian, Rich (and especially) Skip (it is his bike don’t forget) to take my time and bed in the pads.  Okay, okay I get it, take a couple of laps to bed in the pads.

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Transponder change and I head off, barrelling into the first corner it’s almost like the brakes aren’t working at all, but then when going into Brooklands (the only other serious braking point) they feel a little better.
Now did the boys recommend I take a couple corners to bed them in or a couple of laps… better air on the side of caution… just a little… a 1:07, then a 1:06. Right then hammer down.  I go past a black Ducati, was that an LA Stone bike?

Guess not, pit board still shows P4.
Couple of laps later a black Ducati goes past me. Pit board still shows a P4..
Couple more laps later I see a P3. Bloody hell something must have happened to someone, not that I’m complaining but at least I can relax a little.
A couple more laps later I see P4 again… WTF no one went past me?

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Looks like it was LA Stone on the black Ducati, it was just the communication from video screen to pit wall had a bit of a “satellite transmission delay”. Hmmm Oh well, it doesn’t exactly change anything.

2nd Changeover, peel into the pits again and scare Rich with slightly less squeaky brakes… trust me mate, coming to a dead stop from 30 mph in the pits is a piece of piss when you’ve been barrelling into Hatchets in 6th gear for half an hour.

Timing screens show a 15 second gap between us and LA Stone (in 3rd), Nick putting in consistent low 1:07’s and high 1:06’s whereas LA Stone are in the mid 1:07’s.  The gap is getting closer, and then there’s a safety car incident.  The pack all bunches up and Nick is only a dozen bike lengths behind the blue LA Stone Ducati, finally a bit of good fortune with the safety car.

As soon as the lights go out on the safety car both guys peel into the pits at the same time for a changeover and I get out and away in front of LA Stone and into P3.
Not for long.  Tom from LA Stone is just too damn quick, I try my damndest to stay with him and my laptimes drop into consistent 1:04’s but he pushes harder and I daren’t, the fronts giving me more feedback than I can take in, the rears giving me a worrying amount of feedback, I need to find that rhythm again (I guess Skip reminding me non stop on the drive down that he needed the bike for Sunday must have sunk in after all).  As long as I don’t waste time on my overtakes and keep us close, Nick will have a fighting chance to reel back in their second rider.

I go flying into the pits for my final changeover, passing by the LA Stone pit crew who are all watching very keenly to see what we are doing before they make their own move.  Squeal the bike up to Rich (sorry again!) and send Nick out on his way…

Right, whats the gap?
About 30 Seconds
What lap times are they doing?
The same as Nick
How long is left to go?
23 minutes

Nick crosses the start finish line taking the chequered flag and brings it home in a very respectable 4th place. 30 seconds behind LA Stone in 3rd place.

Great result but gutted at the result, all at the same time.

The team are absolutely buzzing, this has been such an intense race.

Skip and Jane on the pit wall were fantastic in keeping us up to speed on where we were, what the gap was and what our lap times were.  The pit changeovers themselves were the best we’ve done so far and critical in keeping the team on terms with LA Stone, and Rich and Brian did their thing as and when required once again.  You are all brilliant.
Nick…. you did a bang up job, tremendous riding… that podium place will taste ever the sweeter once we do get it. AND WE WILL.

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Final Classification

In Class     Overall        No       Name                           Laps       Best        Ave mph
1st                   4th           75     BLDS Courier               163    1.01.513     85.21
2nd                 9th           31     DNA Racing                  160    1:02.608    77.40
3rd                 14th           5      LA Stone                        158    1:03.144    76.05
4th                 15th          57    Apex Racing                157    1:04.150     75.87
5th                 17th         66     Louth Bikes                  156    1:05.383    75.35
6th                 19th        102    Sorrymate.com         155    1:05.518    74.71
7th                 20th        77     MC Racing                    154    1:05.155    74.59
8th                23 rd        65      Snug Racing                152    1:06.197    73.35

30 starters, 28 finishers

Thanks must go out again to everyone who lends theire support to the racing…  Logistics Network,  Briggs Equipment and Molokini but a special thankyou must go out to WAGS left at home looking after the kids.  Thanks Girls for letting us go away for the weekend to play on our bikes.

Keep an eye on the website for Nicks report and how he got on with his Michelin Cup Race’s, plus Skips Motogrande race report…. there was a trophy for the team at the weekend after all.