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Logan - SsangYong SB Champs R4, '05/06Saturday/Sunday 14th/15th January 2006 Ssanyong National Super bike series, Round 4 Levels - Timaru
Here I was at my fourth set of nationals, an awesome Saturday morning, with the only issue being the 450 motor had blown up in practise the day before. But with the efforts of team mates Greg and Derek we had the faithful, and by now well heard about ’87 400 motor. Though this shattered my dream of having some real HP for any of this set of nationals, it meant I had a reliable motor with smooth power delivery, soon after this and a few practises I had the help of Derek Hill and Jay Lawrence to re-adjust my suspension both ends pretty much all over, after my poor attempt to set the bike up (I wont touch those screws etc again!). So with this I drew the line (after a quick jetting change) on any changes to the motor, suspension etc so I only had my own riding to fault, and work/improve on.
Practises had already shown my times come down steadily, with this I had Qualified in 13th position of 20 odd riders, and that was not using my whole second session, as I was “injured” during practise coming thru turn 6… Details you ask?! Well… alright then! After making a decision it was near the end of the nationals and by damn im gonna start pushing myself, and this bike as hard as I possibly could, and try to extend my comfort zone (by running well out of it!) I came into turn 6, a fast paced, level left hander nice and hot, the bike came down good, and before I knew it the left peg was on the ground…I flowed thru the corner with minor throttle and just passed the apex I cracked the throttle wide open to drive down the next short straight… when goodbye, the rear tyre was not having a bar of it and broke traction, I remember thinking how fast I had come into the corner, and not really catered for error, so thought I was going to run off the track going wide, but after easing off the throttle (possibly a bit quickly) and pushing the bike more upright she started to come back into line and I realised I was going to still make the corner… when the rear tyre bit back rapidly sending a shake thru the bike. I don’t think the bars went lock to lock but man it was the worst tank-slapper motion I had suffered, and suffer I did! Trying to hang on with the bike smacking side to side between my legs I was quickly sticking a leg out for relief and to indicate I was turning off into pit lane (fortunately just around the next curve!)… and that was pretty much that! But anyways, on with the riding bit…
Race 1 got underway quickly and I got a poor start, that mixed with the back straight only a few corners from the start it meant I was lined up and taken by a number of bikes, and left somewhere near the rear of the pack coming into the infield for the first time I came upon Garry Pendleton, whom for the next 5 or so laps managed to do all he could to stop me coming passed. I finally saw my break and ran around Garry in the hairpin and with only a few laps to go, put my head down and ran the 2nd half of the infield thru the corners as hard as I could to catch up a few places before the end, and to my amazment, and also thanks to 2 of the front runners for not finishing I got a 10th place!
Sunday came, and thanks to Derek and his 2nd hand rear slick I was able to race, as the my SC1 Pirelli slick I selected was too soft for the conditions on Saturday and after its only 9 lap race it was shagged! So we were ready to race and I was soon to find out apparently I still had not learnt my lesson from Saturday, so blocked out of the first half of the race by Garry I eventually found a hole in his blocking tactics and got passed with only a few laps to go… with all the tossing for poisiton earlier in the race though I was running 2 seconds a lap slower then I could.. which had let a rider running 1 second a lap slower then me get ahead for the first half of the race. Though getting passed Garry left the bike ahead a good half the back straight away I thought once again I would not cruise, and instead put my head down and see if I could surprise myself, and catch him with 3 laps to go to the chequered… And that I almost did! I hauled right up alongside him in the last lap at the hairpin, but he had the inside line and got ahead, I tried once more thru the S’s to take a strange line, possibly to out-drive him onto the short front straight to the line, but the torque of his single got the better of me and though I wasn’t sure who got ahead as we ran across the line side by side, the transponders showed he won that battle by less then a tenth of a second, and I had finished in 12th. By the last race at levels Derek had beaten it into my thick skull that in these short 9 lap sprint races there is no time to dick about finding ways around riders, and that I had to see where I was faster, commit to a pass and go for it! Which is what I did. Hoping to run away from Garry and the other bunch behind surprisingly enough without holding each other up trying to hold position they all picked up the pace too, and though I didn’t get as far ahead as I would have expected, it was enough not to be hassled by them. I Could now latch onto the next guy, and after catching up and running a faster lap time then him, I put a few moves on and got passed 3 odd times only to be blasted by his SV650 down the backstraight. The rear moving around, nearly kicking me off a number of times was scaring me a little too much and I think I really was trying too hard for my experience and gassing it up too early out of corners just to make up for the time lost down the straights, so I didn’t pull off an overtake on the last lap, and finished again in 12th place.
Well, an AWESOME WEEKEND! Levels – Timaru is my favourite track in NZ now I can officially say ive ridden them all, and despite the coming together of the tender region and hard bits of fibreglass in practise there, it was all worth it and never had I learnt so much about pushing the limits, and escaping the clutches of gravity in one race meeting!
Massive thanks goes out to these guys The No Hair racing team for taking me on! (Derek + Greg!) Henderson Motorcycles for putting me on! and Pirelli Tyres for keeping me on! SSSLodge, www.ezSite.co.nz, New Zealand Towing ltd, for the support and drive to do these nationals Golden Gun Panel and Paint for makin’ it look good (nearly had a repair job for ya!) The Pallet Company (Glen Eden), more support to get to these nationals! Autostop (New Lynn), for keeping the van ready to go!
Thanks thanks thanks! Logan