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Chris - SS R3 '02Well, I think Greg covered most of the day in his report, so mine should be brief. :) - Not! - I had a great time, so I'm bound to draw this out.. ;)
It's amazing how fast the day goes when you're having as much fun as I had on Sunday. - I played an unfair advantage card, withdrew myself from 600 Sports Proddy, and raced only in the pure A Grade section of the competition. For those of you who don't know the class structure in this series, it's a little strange in that there is a single, combined race; A Grade, which also includes 600 Sports Production, and Open Sports Production. - For these Production classes, there are further eligibility constraints, such as limited tyre choice etc.. If you don't fit into these constraints, then you are still eligible for the A Grade points, but not the Production points.
The Production Classes operate as a Sub-Set of A grade. There is no separate prize money, however, there are separate championship points awarded to the Production Classes. Normally the additional constraints applied to these Production classes don't inhibit the riders to the point where there is any real disadvantage to ride in the Production SubSet of A-Grade. - This weekend was very different.
The Pirelli production tyre restrictions in the 600 Production class meant that on a sopping wet day, with rain falling onto the track, people were required to use only standard production tyres whilst racing within this SubSet class. - I wasn't game for this, I've raced on Proddy tyres before, and it's no fun, you're just waiting for the slides, and the accident to happen.
That being the case, I chose to withdraw my entry to this 'Sub-Class', put on a set of FULL RACING WETS, and concentrate on conquering A Grade. - What a good decision this was. - Not only from a point of safety, but also from an enjoyment and fun perspective. - Anyone who has ridden FAST in pouring rain on two wheels will tell you how nerve racking it can be. - Not on FULL RACE WETS! :) - It's just sheer exhilaration and fun. You can pull rolling stoppies in the wet they stick so well! They are tacky like cellotape when you touch them with your fingers! You can almost ride as hard on FULL RACE WETS as you can on road tyres in the dry!
So.. Onto the details of the racing:
First race: There were only three of us on wets: Dennis Charlett, Dean Fulton and myself. - This is as we finished at the front of A Grade. I started from the 5th row on the grid. I was on the LAST row! - Within the 11 laps I finished of the 12 lap race, I pulled through the all of the field, except for Dean and Dennis. - WOW! - What a feeling. Dennis lapped me on the second to last lap, but Dean didn't quite lap me. - I suppose there was no need.. I was in third place, and almost a full lap behind him! I was the first 600 Bike (not production spec!) home by a long way. (Note, I was the ONLY 600 bike on wets in this race!)
I lapped a lot of the field, so Dean and Dennis would have lapped some people twice! - Silly really in a 12 lap race for there to be such a speed difference allowed when conditions are as tricky as they were. - There is a REAL need for WETS to be allowed in the Production classes if they're going to be run with the A Grade racing! - Safety first guys!
Second race: We had another downpour of rain after lunch, and again in the race just before my second race. So the track was good and wet for this race. Another pair or two of wets appeared on the dummy grid, all on the Open Bikes, I guess they had made a safety decision to ditch their Open Production Points, and to have some fun too! - The starting grid position in this race is determined on the results of the first race of the day. So I started in the center of the front row! - Excellent. With the larger bikes in the Open class surrounding me, I lost a few places into the first corner, but fought to get them back within the first few laps. I settled into 3rd place for most of the remainder of the race. With one lap to go, I noticed Dennis Charlett had fallen at the hairpin, and hadn't yet got back on his bike. - This meant only one thing, I was in SECOND place! :) - Excellent.
Dennis failed to remount his bike and finish, so that's how I finished, in second place behind Dean Fulton. (Dean is the current NZ National Superbike champion!)
Third Race: The track had dried out a fair bit, and dryish lines were appearing on the track on the racing line, I knew that a lot of the advantage that I had enjoyed in the previous races was diminishing quickly. My lap times for the previous races were in the 49's this time I knew I would need to pull my finger out to stay ahead of the bigger A Grade bikes. - I started in 2nd position, and again lost a few places into the first turn. Pulling a 600 cc bike off the line next to the 1000's isn't easy to hold your position. - I regained some of these places, and fought a much harder race. This time I finished in 4th position. - My times in this last race were down in the 46 second region. I pulled out 3 seconds from the previous races.
The combination of my results meant that I finished 2nd overall on the day in A Grade. So I happily collected the NZ$220 prize money on offer. I do feel that I was taking advantage of other rider's dis-advantage through their need to adhere to the 600 Production Class rules and specs. They however are staying in that class to gain championship points, which didn't interest me on the day. The extremely wet weather meant that for me, I could see only one sensible option, and that was to race on tyres that are meant to be wet racing tyres..
:) - An excellent, and thoroughly enjoyable day's worth of hard racing for me. I had a ball! I love racing in the rain, it's such a horse power leveller. - On a 3 year old R6, sometimes it takes stuff like this to be competitive. And I'll take whatever assistance and advantage I can get (within the rules of course!)...
Thanks, all the best,