THE RACING SECTION
Pembrey Round 2 May 25/26th.
Let the racing begin
Molly's in the blue suit.
BACK TO CONTENTS
Pre-Race Practice 24th May 2002: By Molly
Since I was visiting relatives in Wales I decided to do a couple of hours at
Pembrey on my spare race bike. Gareth kindly offered to be pit crew and time
keeper for the session.
We arrived at a windswept and wet Pembrey having taken more than six hours
to get there due to the high winds and wet conditions on the motorway. There
were 11 teams there, ten of which were competing on the Sunday and a team
called Krusty Burger who were reserves. The fist indication we had of the
high wind was when we got the bike off the trailer, a gust of wind blew the
bike over but luckily it landed on Gareth who managed to hold it. The track
was wet in places and Hatchets Hairpin had a nice little lake. I went out on
a session and put in 17 fairly quiet laps getting down to about 1:16 while
learning the circuit, the team on the TLR were clocking about 1:10's. The
weather had improved a bit from showers to intermittent drizzle and the
track had started to dry out. I decided to go out on another session and
start to "wind it on", Hatchets lakes was still there but the rest of the
track had some dry lines. By now I had managed to get down to 1:11's and
was overtaking the other riders thought about coming in but I said to
myself just a few more laps..............bad move.
I had just exited from Dibeni and had started to open the throttle and drift
out at Paddock bend but got too heavy on the throttle, the bike was going
for the grass so I got a bit more throttle and cranked the bike over but the
foot peg dug in. I pointed the bike at the grass and said you go that
way as I went tumbling down the tarmac in spectacular fashion at about 130MPH. I tore up
my suit a bit and totalled my helmet but apart from a few bumps and bruises
I was OK. The bike has a scratch and will need a new clutch lever and the
gear lever needs straightening. Tough bikes these ZXR's.
So when you feel it's time to come in....come in.
Team UKRM - KRC Endurance Championship - Pembrey - 25/26th May
What a weekend...by Champ.
I arrived at the circuit late Friday night with Mike, and the van with
Andy Bonwick and the Garage Pixies got there shortly afterwards. We
met a rather dishevelled Cit, who had been there for hours, waiting to
see if his tent was going to blow down. The weather did not look
Up at 7am the next morning, and we pulled the bike out of the van.
First job was to fit the shiny new bodywork, which we did easily
enough. On went the new tank, splashed in a couple of litres of fuel,
and...it wouldn't start. Turned out the outlet from the tank was the
'main' (instead of 'reserve') outlet, so we quickly whipped it out and
cut it down. Now the bike ran ok. We then set to setting up the pit.
There are no pit garages at Pembrey, all the teams work under awnings.
We are sharing with Online Racing (no 75), who brought their Tescos
gazebo thing. Due to a short pit lane, each "garage", which has to be
used by two teams, is only about 7' wide, so everyone has to be well
Free practise was meant to start at 9:00am, but no teams were ready by
then - I think the first bike went on track about 10am. We also had
to get our kit and the bike scrutinised and sign on, etc. Mike rode
the bike to the scrutineering bay, and it passed without problem, but
when he got back to the pit he told us that the forks were twisted in
the yokes, obviously from the crash last time out at Snetterton. Mike
sorted it out properly, while the riders kicked their heels, but
eventually we got out on track at about 11am. Molly Gower had spent
the previous afternoon at a practise session at Pembrey, and had got
in about 40 laps, so she was back of the queue for track learning time.
She'd also crashed her bike, but it was ok, and so was she, tho a bit
bruised. We really should have got her bike scruitineered too (more
The track was damp but drying when we went out, so we used some old
Rennsports just to learn the track. These soon cooked up as the track
dried, so we switched to slicks. In the meantime, we mounted up the
shiny new Michelin Pilot Race tyres that Simon Batey had generously
donated to the team - there tyres were going to be our new
After lunch, there was a short untimed session, then 6 timed sessions
- two for each rider. I decided to put a few laps on the Pilots, in
order to scrub them in. They were cold, but I said "It's ok, I'll be
careful". Hah! As I pulled away from the pit, using minimal revs,
the rear span up. "Hmmm", I thought. I arrived at the first hairpin,
slowed down to 15~20mph, and as soon as I started to turn in, the
front went away and I was down. It was like I'd hit oil! The
marshals helped me pick the bike up, it started (eventually), and I
rode it back to the pit with no right hand foot rest. It was
Mike and Andy attacked the right foot rest assembly, managing to
cobble together a decent working system out of the spares we had. We
threw some different wheels in (no *way* was I riding those Pilots),
and I went. It was immediately clear that the bike was unhappy,
running on three until full throttle and 8k revs. I came straight
back in, and we started looking at the engine, checking plugs, wires
to coils, etc, eventually deciding to bite bullet and have the carbs
apart. One float bowl was full of crap - dropping the bike had
obviously disturbed it all. We also suspect that the new tank had had
quite a lot of rust in it. Anyway, the bike was now running ok.
But we had lost four of the six timed qualifying sessions, and the rules
stated that each rider had to do 3 qualifying laps. I'd had a quick
word with the race officials, and they were happy for us to get each
rider out for the minimum, even if in the same session, so I caught
the last of the fifth session, and wobbled round, determined to bring
the bike home. We then sent Molly out in the final session - the pit
board team were told to give her three laps and bring her in. The
bike was on slicks. It was starting to rain. Molly did her 3 laps,
and we sent Andy out. It was raining harder. The track was wet.
Andy did his three, and came in. Brave bloke. But, the bike was
running very well, and we'd qualified. Plum last.
By this time, everyone was mentally and physically exhausted. The
amount of work put in by the whole crew, but in particular Mike, to
get us out there was incredible. We retired to the bar... That
evening, Andy offered to scrub in the Pilots in the morning warm up.
As I said - brave bloke.
So, up at 7am, again, into the pit, and we set out our stall. It had
hissed down with rain most of the night, but now the sky was blue, and
the wind had dropped. The track was wet, but was obviously going to
dry out with bikes on it. We got the Pilots in the tyre warmers good
and early, and when Andy went out on them they were lovely and warm.
Andy went out and did about five laps, and then brought it in,
reporting that they were good in the wet when warm, but started to go
away as the water cooled them down. Hmmm - not very good as
intermediates then. But the weather was looking good, so we waved two
fingers at fate.
Time was ticking, and soon the pit lane was open for the formation
lap. We left the Pilots on, as the track was already drying, but not
dry enough to start on slicks. I lined up at the back of the Le Man
style row, and then we went off for two warm up laps. Andy held the
bike, the riders waited on the other side of the track, and we got the
1 minute board....and then the flag.
I was across the track and away before the first half dozen bikes next
to me, and weaved my way through the traffic to make some more places
before the first corner. 44 bikes going into a first gear hairpin is
quite entertaining, I can tell you. A few got me back down round the
first lap, but the pit board crew told me I'd made a good ten places.
The tyres had lost a bit of temperature on the line, and I had a
couple of left hand slides on the first 3 or 4 laps, but then they
were up to temperature, a dry line soon appeared, and I tried to
settle in. A couple of laps later, the fast boys started to pile
past, and for a few laps it was all a bit depressing. I was turning
between 1:08 and 1:10 - these blokes must have been right up to the
1:00 pole pace from the off. But then I started to catch some other
people, and started to enjoy my racing. I posted a best of 1:07, and
shortly after saw my board give me the 3, 2, 1, IN signs. That hour
had passed pretty quickly. The bike was refuelled, Andy was on it and
Andy settled into a rhythm quite quickly. He'd never seen the track
before this weekend, and the problems on Saturday meant he'd not had
as much practise time as he'd liked, but he managed to post a few
1:10s, and the rest weren't far off. I went for a walk to chill out,
and on my way back noticed that it was raining lightly. As I walked,
I watched the bikes going round. I couldn't see Andy. I waited at
one spot, and watched every bike...no, he's was definitely not there.
I ran back to the pit to see Andy pushing back in - he'd crashed at
Spitfires behind the pits (short push, at least), trying too hard in
The pace car was out because of this and another crash at
the fast Honda curve, so the crew feverishly started trying to fix the
bike. Again it was just the right hand foot rest assembly that was
damaged - the brake lever and bracket were bent, and the footrest
shaved to about 2/3rds of its original length.
And then an odd thing happened. The pace car brought all the bikes to
a halt on the start/finish straight, and the race was 'paused'. Water
was flooding onto the hairpin, and they'd sent the fire engine to pump
it off. Feverish work continued on the bike - we knew that once an
official halt was called, we wouldn't be allowed to work on the bike.
But we'd got most of it done before an official came and told us what
was going on. By now the rain had stopped and the sun had come out,
so we had a rear slick ready to go on, electing to stay with the Pilot
front which was working well. We laid all the tools out,
waited...and as the race started behind the pace car, we finished the
bike in about a minute and sent Molly out.
By now Andy had stripped off his leathers to reveal the damage to his
knee - it wasn't pleasant (skin gone almost down to the bone) so we
sent him off to the medical centre. He came back with a nice bandage
and instructions to visit A+E - apparently he has a 70% chance of
getting an infection, so even Andy will probably take this medical
In the mean time, Molly was clocking up the laps.
This bit by Molly
My first session was kinda strange I was being attacked by vegetation and
dirt for about 6 laps. When that went away I started to wind it on and got
into the 1:11's but it was like Snetterton all over again with people
crashing. I was alongside two other riders at the Esses and had just started
to tip the bike in when I saw these two in the corner of my eye virtually
elbowing for position, I dug in and they hit each other and went straight on
to the grass. The pace car came out but not because of that bin but the guy
who lost it on the next hairpin.
I was behind the pace car coming down the straight daydreaming and forgot
about the "Hairpin" I only just made it around. Can you imagine the
embarrassment of binning it behind the pace car?
The next 20 minutes were
fun but the overall pace seemed to have slowed down which could be due to
the long time the pace car was out. Things started to hot up again and
people started binning again so out came my old friend the pace car. I
brought the bike in for Champ to have a play.
Molly came in on schedule, the
bike was fuelled, I hopped on and was away. I got up to speed, but
the fast boys felt *very* fast here - it seemed more noticeable than
at Snetterton. These guys were blowing past me *way* off the racing
line (which I was hogging), still going much faster than me. I was
pulling regular 1:07s (with a best of 1:06. Ok, it was a 1:06.99, but
that's still a 1:06 as far as I'm concerned). Then I got into a good
dice with Vicky on the Genesis Rider Training YZF750. I caught her
quite slowly, and it took me a couple of laps to get past, as we were
obviously turning similar times. I then had three laps or so of clear
track, when who should appear alongside me but Vicky again. She
obviously hadn't gone away. So I chased her again, and as she
out-braked herself slightly into the hairpin I came alongside on the
exit, gave it an extra helping of beans and wheelied past her! The
next lap the pace car came out again, and she came alongside and gave
me a big grin and a thumbs up. Later, after the race, it gave me a
good reason/excuse to go and have a nice friendly chat with her....
The pace car again brought us to a halt while they pumped more water
off the hairpin. Apparently the water floods off the surrounding
grass onto the track there. This time it was only a 10 minute stop,
and we were away again. The team gave me another few laps and then
called me in.
Andy Bonwick, despite his injuries, had elected to go
out for another stint, and had a good session, posting his best time
of 1:10:08. He said that every time he banged his right knee slider
onto the tarmac, it hurt. Lots.
We were into the last hour now. Molly climbed on with 40 minutes to
go, with instructions to bring it home - we were lying in 36th place,
and the team in front were eight laps ahead, and the team behind were
two laps down, so there was no need for any heroics.
Moll's second session, by Molly.
The first rule of endurance racing is to bring the bike home.
The second rule of endurance racing is to bring the bike home.
The third rule of endurance racing is to bring the bike home.
The last session was actually quite good, the very fast boys were still
dicing and carving out their own lines but it all started to get better
natured, I saw 1:11 appear on my pit board and thought let's try and knock
the seconds off...but my knee gave a twitch and reminded me about Friday,
the tyres were starting to complain and my instructions to bring the
bike home kept ringing in my ears, not that I could go any quicker mind but
it's a good excuse ;o) So long as I wasn't lapped by the teams behind us we
would retain our position. I had no chance of making up places unless
someone binned but if *I* binned it I would have been lynched so common
sense prevailed. My highpoint of the session was when Mike Edwards came
by at Paddock and I decided to see how long I could stick with him and learn
something at the same time. It went something like this:
a) The Esses: Jeeeze this is bloody fast going into to here and the bike
couldn't possibly get over any more, but I did stick with him
b) Brooklands Hairpin: Shit I'm going to bin it, the back did start to slide
out but I still managed to pull it around with my knee almost clipping the
tall inside kerb.
c) Speedway straight: I was still on his tail and probably in his slipstream
and kept with him going into Woodlands which just goes to show how
competitive our bike can be.
d) Woodlands: Now going at "eeeek (I'm going to die) speed" on full throttle
and the bike now starting to get very bumpy and very very twitchy with me
wrestling with the bars, but I still hung on.
e) Honda Curve: Now approaching this at a very very silly speed indeed, I'm
really having difficulty pulling the bike over, my kneeslider was screaming
for mercy but I still had Mike in my sights.
f) Park Straight, Mike disappeared off and left me shattered.
The huge difference between me and him is how smooth he was and how simple he made it look :-(
I had a chat with both him and Dave Woods, Mike said that he was enjoying
his racing more now. I told him that my family didn't like me racing and at
51 they think I should take up golf. Mike told me to keep at it and you're
never too old to race, Dave agreed and said "see you at Snet". Nice blokes
Mike Edwards and Dave Woods. Bloody fast though.
away, we got to the last few minutes, and then the flag came out for
Dave Wood as he wheelied down the straight to take the win (by a
massive *eight* laps)
When the checkered flag came out I felt a massive relief that we were still
running, the cool down lap was great with all the riders patting each other
and the marshalls clapping as we went past. Coming into the pit lane with a
fairly complete bike was great...we had finished. I felt proud to be part of
the team. Believe me it's all about team work. The riders have it easy
As Molly came round the whole team were on the
wall to give her a cheer - we'd finished! Amazingly, there had been
no retirements, so all 44 starters came home, making our 36th place
seem acceptable - if there'd been the level of retirements that there
was at Snetterton, we'd have been in the mid 20s. Except we were also
one of the retirements at Snetterton. Ah.
So, we finished our first endurance race. This weekend was incredibly
hard work for everyone concerned, and I'd just like to extend my
heartfelt thanks to everyone involved. What a great team effort
Andy "Iron Man" Bonwick
Mike "Hero" Horton
Steve Packer (aka Burnt)
Ian George (aka Gyp)
John Wright (aka BigJ)
Simon Batey (aka Eric the Brave)
Cit (I don't even know his real name)
Apologies for typos, omissions and factual errors. This is all from
memory, and I'm feeling a bit knackered right now. I'm sure I'll be
corrected by those with better memories than me, and Molly and Andy can
fill in some information about their stints.
BACK TO CONTENTS