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Greg - SsangYong SB Champs R3R4R5, '05/06No Hair Race Report from Greg
SsangYong Super Bike Champs Rounds 3, 4 and 5 05/06
January 3rd and after lots of preparation, Logan and I were heading south to Upper Hutt to pick up Derek Hill's two bikes. Colin, Bronwyn & Troy Slater had very kindly loaned us their large 5 berth MX trailer and we needed all its room once we'd picked up Derek and the 17 new tyres, 8 wet weather wheels, tools, compressor, tents etc., etc.
Logan & I stayed the night at my brother Mark's home and we were up early to catch the 6:30am ferry to picton. It was raining when we left but after a smooth crossing we reached Picton in good shape (after Logan had eaten a meat pie or two).
Just before Blenheim I was in the middle of telling Logan that 2 years earlier travelling down for the Nationals we had lost the right rear wheel of the Nissan Safari at about this spot on the road when he suddenly yelled out to stop as the left hand trailer tyre blew out and shredded itself. It took us about an hour to climb through the trailer and locate the spare, and change the tyre. The spare didn't look too good so we drove slowly into Blenheim and changed both the old retreads with nice new rubber with higher load ratings. That proved to be the only car or trailer trouble for the whole trip so things were sweet after that!
It's over 900kms from Picton to Invercargil and we were hoping to do it in the one day, but we ended up in Dunedin for the night at a motel. The following day we arrived in Invercargill nice and early to see if there was practice at the Teretonga track. The weather was not too good with showers and strong winds and unfortunately it didn't get any better over the weekend. We found a very nice cottage for rent and went back to the track on Friday as it was drying out a little.
I'd been to Teretonga once before on the 400 in F3 and had achieved a best time of 1min 11sec and was hoping to improve on this significantly on the R6. With only one dry session the whole weekend I just managed to get into the 1:10's which was very disappointing as I really enjoyed the track last time.
My performance in the races was a continuation of the North Island rounds with me finishing pretty much last in all the races even though I usually do quite well in the rain. The last race on Sunday just before the meeting was abandoned needed a lot of concentration as the rain and wind were so strong that on the 2nd right hand corner the rear of my bike was being blown across the road even with minimal acceleration.
Logan was equally disappointed with his performance and it didn't help with his 450 motor not running well.
Monday morning we headed up to Queenstown for a bit of R & R to recover. Logan had never been there before so Derek took him under his wing to explore the sights and town (and babes!).
Round 4 was at Levels in Timaru and only Derek had raced there before, he assured us that we'd really enjoy it's almost endless succession of corners. It reminded me a little of Taupo plus the Manfeild extension put together. The corners have very little camber and a very grippy road surface. I've never had my left knee slider down before but at Levels I was scraping both sides on almost all the corners. I'd loved to go down there again for as many sessions on the track as I could as I'm sure I learnt more about cornering there than at any other track.
In the racing I managed to hold out Daniel Mac Lachlan on his Kawasaki to finish 2nd to last in the first race but the following 2 races I couldn't stay with him. Stroudie crashed in the 2nd race so at least I beat him :-) but otherwise I was starting to wonder why I had bothered even entering. One of the other guys had pulled out of the 600 class and entered clubman's (winning all 3 races) which is maybe what I should have done. On the North Island tracks I could do the 9 lap races without getting lapped so was roughly within 10% slower than the leaders but in the South Island I was lapped in the 8th lap every time.
Derek was running very well in practice on his R6 getting down into the 1:10s when Sam Smith blew his engine. Derek loaned Sam his engine for the remaining rounds so that was his 600 class campaign over. Derek's F3 effort saw multiple engine failures plus a suspected bent frame after crashing at levels but at least he has held onto his #6 plate for next year!
Round 5 at Ruapuna near Christchurch was the last round but again I performed pretty much the same. I did knock 5 secs off my best time on the 400 with a 1:46 time but this was no where near good enough with the front runners doing 1:34's. I received great advice from Peter Allica who suggested I drop my front forks more to speed up direction change and this gave me a full second of improvement in the last race which really helped a lot.
I was hoping to be able to keep up with Daniel again and learn the track a bit more but he loaned his bike to Derek Mc adam so again I was riding around at the back on my own. The last race was the 15lap GP and I think the whole field lapped me by the end. I was trying hard to keep out of the way as the other riders came through but was quite fast enough in the dipper where Sam Smith clipped me and Hayden Fitzgerald almost ran into my rear tyre (sorry guys).
So, where did I end up in the series? Out of 15 races I failed to pick up even 1 point so finished in last place along with 9 other riders. I did improve my lap times at every track except Manfeild and I also learnt a lot more about suspension set up. A number of people gave me heaps of advice which really helped (thanks to Dave Cole, Jay Lawrence, Simon Robinson & Derek Hill).
Maybe I'm crazy for picking arguably the hardest class in NZ road racing but looking back I think it was a positive experience. Amazing seeing how fast Craig Shirriffs was through the corners, out classing everyone else on the 600's including Stroud and the Aussies.
This year I'll try to use what I've learnt over the winter series with AMCC and Vic Club and will try to do the North Island rounds of the Nationals again (costs are just too high for me to do the South Island rounds).
Finishing off, I very much need to thank the people who helped me this year...first and foremost is my wife Jane who kept everything going at home and on the farm while I was away playing. Secondly, all the people at Henderson Motorcycles who have given me great support and couriered parts all over the country at a moments notice to keep us going. Pirelli tyres, which perform incredibly well, over the whole series I only slid the front wheel once and rear powerslides were very controllable the few times I had the confidence to push that hard! Yamaha for producing a very fast 600!
Thanks again to the Slater's for loaning us their awesome trailer and Mark for accommodation in Upper Hutt. Bob Knight for 450 pistons too! Not forgetting our other sponsors:
SSSLodge, www.ezSite.co.nz, New Zealand Towing ltd, Golden Gun Panel and Paint, Glen Eden Pallet Company, Autostop
Hope to see all of you at the race track soon, cheers, Greg
No Hair Racing http://www.nohair.co.nz