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Chris - BOS Gisborne '03Gisborne, Battle of the Streets, Mar 2003.
It's been a long time in coming, but we finally made the journey down to Gisborne. We've been interested in going down there for the racing for some time, but didn't feel like racing with a hangover on New Year's Day. Changing the race date to Feb made things a little easier for us to attend. Stella joined us this weekend, along with my parents, Janet and Paul who are visiting from France, so we had a nicely extended team this weekend. :D
Having never raced at Gisborne before, the track *(and it's surface) were very new to me. Practice on Saturday was a bit of a wake up call! - I've never before ridden on normal looking asphalt which slips as much as some portions of that track! - Luckily it was just portions; further experimentation with lines helped me to find which patches slipped, and which didn't. - You couldn't avoid all of the slippy bits, so a little moderation of the right wrist was called for.
Going into this final round of the BOS series I was in 5th place in the 600 Sports Production class, and 7th in the Formula 2. - Entries were down, so the grids were smaller than Paeroa, this promoted me to 3rd and 5th on the grids for the first races. - Racing was completely different to practicing, you'd go out with all the best intentions in the world to take it easy and not get carried away on the slippery tarmac; but when the flag drops it's racing - you can't hold back as much as you mean to.
Greg had some excitement in his first practice when he discovered that his accident at Paeroa had damaged his RHS engine cover causing oil to leak from his bike, he noticed this and pulled in quickly. - We made some running repairs with Bill van den Hoven's "KNEAD IT" which sealed the gap and stopped the leak. Meanwhile Greg went out on my R6 for the 2nd F2 practice.
We stayed overnight in Gisborne, and had a sociable evening meal at an Irish pub along with a few other riders. Gisborne was a pretty laid back sort of place with Rider's briefing at a very civilised 9am on Sunday morning. - We had a 3 lap scrub in session, then got straight into the racing.
---- Race 1: F2 ----
I was a little unsettled in the first F2 race, the bumps seemed to get bigger, the lines more awkward, the slides more pronounced; in short, I felt uneasy.
I got a good start from the front row. I remember trying to keep up with Sean Bishop and then giving it away after the front let go into one of the right handers. When I was trying to settle down after this, I got passed by Craig Flood on his XR650 through the back twisty part of the circuit. So dropping from 4th to 5th place finish in the first F2 race was a good start to the day. Craig Scott, who I've been racing against for the last 4 years in these Street meetings (I have an old photo of Paeroa from my first year with Craig just behind me..:), finished in 6th.
Sean's chain fell off his bike after he pulled into the pits at the end of the race! - He still had his link, but the split pin and the plate had gone. Greg and I found a rivet link, and helped fit it, so he was good to go for his 600 Sports Proddy race.
---- Race 1: 600 Sports ----
Stella gave me a good talking to; to put the F2 race behind me and concentrate on this one. - So I did. - I pulled my finger out. This race was a lot smoother, and settled, I felt like I was starting to get some consistency. This race was important for me, I really wanted to go well. - Starting the day in 5th place overall in 600's, with 2 of the top runners missing from this round meant that there was some space to fill at the top of the table. - Also, I started the day a single point ahead of Sean Bishop so I really wanted to keep that lead. Sean was running really well with laptime 0.5 of second better than mine. This was hard to catch, his bike seemed to have much stronger legs down the straight than mine. I could catch him at the end of the straight under breaks, then there were a few parts in the tight back area of the circuit that I could match him in or make some ground on him, but overall it was very hard to get any room to pass, or any decent speed on him to make a clean move anywhere.
I made a pass on Sean early in the race, going into the sweeper before the long straight, I managed to hold this lead in front of him for a good number of laps. Then after the white flag he passed me one corner before I had passed him. I left too much space on the inside of the last slippery left hander in the back part of the circuit. - Sean finished a place ahead of me in 4th place with 13 points, I got 11 points from my 5th place finish, so Sean now sat one point ahead of me in the Series.
Looking at the lap times, it seems like I had held Sean up for this race, his times were down on that of his F2 race, so I think in some respects he was biding his time, waiting for the right place to pass.? It was good close racing, and a lot of fun to change positions twice between two racers in the same race. Normally it seems racing is more just about re-ordering your positions on the track and making either forward or backward progress throughout the race, when you dual with someone and regain your lead, it's great fun. - Both Sean and I were really enjoying the racing because of this.!
---- Race 2: F2 ----
The grids for the 2nd set of races were re-sorted based on finishing position from the first race. For both of the 2nd rounds of racing, I started in 5th place at the very right hand side of the front row of the grid.
Sean's kill switch wiring on his bike caused some last minute commotion which meant he missed the warmup / sighting laps for this race, after a quick repair job, he joined us on the grid for the start of the race. - There were four new patches of oil spillage on the track with lots of concrete dust down, in one place you could not avoid having to cross the line of this dust as the spillage was so extensive that the dust covered a line from the inside to the outside of the track. - This slowed everyone down; most people a lot, Craig Shirriffs; a little... Sean hadn't any chance to see the extent of this spillage, so I think he was a little surprised when he saw how much of the track was affected by this.
I got a great start, 4th into the first corner behind Craig Shirriffs, Corey Oxenham and Kris Shirriffs. I battled for a while with Craig Flood who came through and past me during the sweeper on to the back straight. This was the worst affected part of the circuit for dust, and I felt really uneasy putting any power down through these patches. Craig got through and past me on 3 consecutive laps in this part of the track. - I caught him down the straight passing him initially into the braking area, then on the next two laps I passed him earlier down the straight. - I didn't see him again after this, instead I think some of the other 600's - Delme and Sean passed him. Delme came through and passed me too taking 4th spot, relegating me to 5th position, one spot in front of Sean.
Overall positions for the F2 BOS Series:
1 (117) Craig Shirriffs GSXR600 Suzuki
---- Race 2: 600 Sports ----
Next was perhaps the most important race of the day for me; the final of the 600 Sports Production races. Overall points were so close between me and Sean, with the possibility of a 3rd place finish overall in the balance, along with Terry Fitzgerald who was somewhere in there with us overall, and was going extremely well on the day with his previous 3rd place finish in race 1... Sean was a single point in the lead, we all needed to finish this race, and we needed to finish well.
We all got off to a good start, I fought hard to stay with Sean, Delme got passed me during the 2nd lap, I re-passed him during the next. - I caught up to Sean after pushing really hard. This race meant a lot!.. On the 5th lap I caught him to a point where I felt I could make a move on him, I went up the inside of the short straight before the sweeper leading onto the main straight. I thought if I could pass him at this point, then I might stand a chance of staying in front of him going into the last lap, and... - well, it wasn't to be, I didn't make enough ground on him, and I wasn't far enough forward to commit to this kind of move; I had to back off. He came though; he said he heard me, but didn't actually see me, so this was the best thing to do. - I lost ~15 meters on him going into the sweeper, which put me too far behind to try anything else on him during the remaining lap of the race.
Sean had finished 4th again, with another 2 point advantage over my 5th. - So he ended up 3 points clear of me at the end of the day. Unexpectedly, he also managed to clear a point over Terry Fitzgerald. So he finished 3rd overall in the 600s! - Congratulations Sean, good racing mate!
Final Series Points for BOS 600's: (just look how close 3rd to 6th is: 53-49)
1 (100) Craig Shirriffs GSXR600 Suzuki
---- Robert Holden Memorial Race ----
Well, with the most important stuff out of the way, it was time for a bit of fun. I passed Sean in the first lap, I think it was within the first few corners? (All a bit blurry now.) - I do remember trying damn hard to stay in front of him. - Twice down the straight I remember seeing his bike appearing to my left into the braking area, twice I remember entering the corner at the end of the straight ahead of him ;) - We fought and diced, I could heard him all the way round the circuit. - I set my personal best laptime of the day in this race, 54.500 - and it's the ONLY race that my best laptime was quicker than Sean's best. - After his two attempts at letting me know I was there, I really hammered down to racing, he said he could stay with me, but couldn't get passed. - Now he knows how I felt for most of the day! :) Delme did well in this race too; making a clear 4 seconds on me, finishing one spot in front.
I finished 11th place overall in this race, which was quite an accomplishment. :)
I had a great time, and would like to thank all of the organisers of all of the BOS rounds, along with Tim Gibbes who's timing system has given us all a lot to look at, and analyse on race day; it's really useful to be able to *know* what you're doing out there, and not just guess! :)
Thanks everyone for your interest in our racing. - We'll be deciding what we're doing next very shortly.. There has even been talk of another National Champs campaign again this year? - Watch this space...
All the best,