This round was the Masters of Morgan Park and also a round of the B.E.A.R.S. (British, European and American Race Series). Our team was entered in the Period 6 Historic 250-500cc and P6 Historic Production up to 250cc.
I was riding my Honda VFR400 and also a Honda CBR 250RR kindly lent to me by Gary Dickson of Teamtiger.com.au. We arrived on the Friday night and set up our pit ready for Saturday morning qualifying. The weather forecast was for clear skies and a low of 1 degrees celsius and a high of 23 degrees celsius. Perfect for racing! Our first qualifying session was for P6 500. It was still very cool, not like the 35 degrees we have had in March. My first few laps were just a general feel for the bike and tyres and with a best lap of 1:28.4. Next qualifying session out. I had rechecked tyre pressures and I put in two fast laps with a time of 1:25.8. This time gave me pole position for our combined class of P6 500 and P4 and P5 up to 1300cc.
Next qualifying was for the P6 Production up to 250cc. I haven’t raced these bikes at Morgan Park before so I used the first session to work out where to change gears and also to work out some braking markers. These smaller bikes require a lot of corner speed to be able to run with some larger capacity bikes. At this track some of the seasoned 250 riders are capable of very respectable lap times. I was able to use the knowledge of these riders to determine when and where to make gear changes. First session and I managed a 1:38. This was 8 seconds off pole so I obviously need to change something. Next session I changed my braking points and tried different corner entries and ended up doing a 1:32.4. This put me in position 5 on the grid , so I was very happy with that. Having not raced on these bikes here before I was hoping to finish in the top 8 at the end of the weekend.
First race for the day was P6 500 and P5 1300. Due to the Historic category, bikes can also enter up one class. I had decided to change the way I start and when the red lights went out I put this into practise. This technique seemed to work as I got off the line well and was only beaten to turn one by the larger capacity bikes. This was a 7 lap race so I settled into third and waited for a chance to outbrake the 750 Ducati and hope for a good exit. I had tried this manoeuvre on the earlier laps but was always beaten on the exit due to less H.P. Finally I passed the Ducati and settled into second position and first in my class. Best lap .126:8.
This was my first race in P6 250 production and I started 5th on the grid. I got away to a reasonable start and followed Mojo Webb and Jeff Duke for a few laps and passed Mojo just before turn #1. It was a 7 lap race and on lap 5 at turn 10 I was behind Jeff and another rider who were both attempting to pass a lapped rider (James Micklam ) when one rider hit him and pushed him onto Jeff who was on the very outside of the track. Two of the riders (James and Jeff) went down right in front of me and I was thinking ‘which one am I going to run over’. I don’t know how I missed them but ran onto the grass and came to a stop not knowing how I didn’t go down as well. Just before all this I passed Matthew Bushell who was in second at the time and was just coasting due to a mechanical problem. I had momentarily forgotten about the race and realised I should get back on the track and actually finish. As I just started to turn to re-enter I saw Matthew go past. I should not have stopped, and instead continued back onto the track to take 2nd! 3rd was fine and really I was just happy to finish. Hope to see you back soon Jeff!! Best lap of 1:30.1.
Race #2 P6 500.
Again I got away to a good start and was in third position by turn #1. I followed the two riders in front with Martin Hodgson pulling away on his Suzuki 1300. I was being held up enough by the 2nd rider, that Simon Dickson was able to catch us both and he passed me into turn #6 (I am sure if he had a clear visor on I would be able to see a grin from ear to ear). I followed all him the way through the back section and having more speed was able to pass him just before the finish line. Next time I won’t leave it so late. My race time was 7:27.536. Simon’s time was 7:27.575. Best lap time1:27.
Race #2 P6 250 Production
After the first turn I was in in 6th position and was behind a Ducati again. I could see a few of the other 250 riders getting ahead so tried really hard to pass the Ducati and get on the back of these riders. I finally caught up and made the pass on Mojo and then tried to catch Matthew Bushell. After trying for 2 laps I was not gaining and had lost too much time in the previous laps. So I made the decision to try and bring it home in third and get some points. Best lap 1:30.9.
Race #3 P6 500
I had another good start and I slotted in behind the 2 larger capacity bikes. After 2 lapsI knew I was faster than the Ducati and made a pass into turn #4. Once I had overtaken bike #60, I tried to put in a few faster laps. I could see Mojo and Simon had been held up and were dicing for second position in our class. I then tried to put in the last 3 laps as consistently as possible whilst maintaining a few seconds gap. This gave me the win in our class. Best lap 1:26.11.
Race #3 P6 250 Production
With one race to go after this I only needed to finish in front of Mojo as this would give me a good chance of 3rd outright for the weekend. I made a bad start to this race and I was swamped at turn #1. By turn #3 I was in 7th position and could see Mojo getting away as I tried to pass some of the riders in front. I finally made the passes and could see Mojo ahead. By the 2nd lap I was about 3.5 seconds behind and pushed as hard as I could in order to make up enough time to be about 5 metres behind him. I was all ready to make a pass on the last lap when I saw the chequered flag wave. I had forgotten that it was reduced to 4 laps instead of 5. Best lap 1:30.6.
Race #4 P6 500
It was the last race of the day and hopefully I would finish in first giving me 4 firsts and the P6 500 win for the weekend. Martin Hodgson’s Suzuki had dropped a valve on the previous race and Bob Garner had bike issues as well and did not start the race. This meant that there were two less bikes to worry about.
I started well, got out in front and just kept trying to do consistent times in order to have a successful completion to the weekend. It was only a 4 lap race so I was going to endeavour to do lap times of 1:27 as this should have been enough to stay in the lead. Simon had different ideas and was pushing me all through the race. I finished first and made it through the weekend with 4 firsts in my class. Best lap time 1:26.9.
P6 250 Production
It was the last race for the weekend and I needed to finish in front of Mojo to take third place. I got a really good start, slipped in behind the front group and tried to work out where I could make a pass. This time I remembered it was only a 4 lap race! Mojo was trying hard and I was finding it hard to be able to make a clean pass. It wasn’t until I made a good exit out of turn #12 that I was able to slipstream down the straight and pass into turn #1. I then tried to keep Mojo behind as there was only one and half laps to go. I finished third and that gave me a podium finish for the weekend. I really enjoyed riding the Honda CBR250RR and a third was better than I had hoped for. Best lap 1:30.5.
Thanks go to :
Flaggies, officials, scrutineers and fellow competitors.
My wife Sheree for all her help and support.
David and Yvonne Birdling: Great hosts @ the Buckaroo Motel
Gary Dickson for the loan of the Honda CBR 250RR.
All the crew in pits 58-60.
I would also like to thank Sheree’s mum and dad (Ian and Teresa Moloney) for making the trip out to Morgan Park to support me.