A very wet and cold race day at
Snetterton Round 3 August 26th.

Let the Carnage begin

Snetterton Round 3
Report by Snowy: 26th August 2002

Team-UKRM. Keeps it up for Eight hours
(and gets a bit sore during an entertaining and eventful race)

Arriving around 8pm on Saturday evening, I was just in time to see Champ glide into the pit after a check of the bike (brakes were binding). Cit stepped up to put the rear paddock stand on, and after a slight misunderstanding, Champ and bike keeled slowly over. No damage, fortunately, and fervent hopes it would be the only weekend "bin".

The binding turned out to be the result of a missing spacer. Ooops!

So, race day. It dawned mizzly, and the track was wet. The worse conditions possible, too dry for wet tyres and too wet for slick tyres and a slippery track. Andy took the first fifteen minute free practise, then it was straight into qualifying. Slowly. With at least four bikes going down, large chunks of time were spent waving from behind the pace car.

Firstly, the team would like to thank everyone who turned up to watch in pretty miserable conditions, especially those who stayed til the cold and near-dark end - hope I've remembered everybody (but in no particular order): AlexF (our loaned-out spannawanker), Verdigris, Bee'n'Loz, Cit, Bear, Boots and Kate Blakeley, ozmick, dwb, Ben Blaney, Badger, Steve Auvache, Ben Sales, SVJon, Jon Kendall, Simian, Paul Carmichel, Nidge, Adie (tell Veggie he's a lazy sod!), Mike Barnard, Timo Geusch, MarkF, Stan Stannard, Ash and Louisa, Pip'n'Elly, The Green God JP, and the Family Gower.
The riders would also like to thank their spannamen - Black Mike for his usual calm management, Gyp (on the Harley), Burnt, BigJ - and the indefatigable Suze and her lovely assistant/ace brownie baker Wik for their tireless pitwall performance.
We eventually qualified 47th and last. Ho hum. Champ and AndyB go out, Andy to hold the bike, Champ to do the sprint start. Champ got an absolute *flyer* of a start, and made at least 12 places. He'd probably have gained more if he hadn't had to break sharply to avoid a nasty pile up on the start line, when 3 bikes went down and Juliet from Team Genesis had to be stretchered away after a long time on the ground (later reported to have suffered bruised kidneys, but no breaks)[1].

An age behind the pace car (gave us time to count the bikes behind Champ). It was mizzling. Then it stopped. Then it started. Then it rained. Then it stopped. This is pretty much the weather for the race, so I won't repeat it.
Bikes were limping back covered in grass. But not ours! Champ clocks up times in the 1.24/1.23 region by the time he comes in and Andy goes out, under the pace car (this seemed to happen to him a lot). Champ's assessment - lots of fast people but lots of people going off.

Andy had a steady first session, although he was swiftly punted out of the pits by Black Mike when he came in looking to have wets put on as the times were dropping into the 1:40's. The spannamen weren't ready, and frankly thought "nah, sod it. Wuss."

UKRM is climbing up into the mid-thirties in the listings.
Out goes Molly Gower - still on the intermediates. A dry line was appearing (and disappearing). She clocks up some times in the mid 1.20s, and gets the "Come in Number 74, your time is up" flag from the Wecker.

Molly outbrakes a rider into the Esses.....

....... and threads her way on to a dry line through Russell.
Moments later, the tannoy announces she's down at the Bombhole. A huge groan goes up from the pit. Loz leaps on his towering XR400R for a sitrep. Molly's up fine but the bike won't start. Burnt is despatched to take Bonwick over for a look, and shortly returns to collect Champ. After all - only the riders can push the bike *cough*.

Meanwhile, a pale and worried family Gower has reached the pit, where they are reassured by Bear and a Snowy hug (ok, that may not have helped her, but I felt better).

Our team return, with what looks like a small landscape garden in the shape of a bike. A few whaps and the soils off. Spannamen descend on the bike, mallets akimbo, and much banging and cursing ensues. Carbs are stripped, bent bits whacked, Champ is legged up and they're going again in 45 minutes from the crash. He gives the thumbs up on his next circuit and everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
Poor Molly - on her in lap she was nerfed by the rider inside her with the gentlest of rear wheel nudges but it was enough to tip her on to the wet line. At that speed and angle of lean you don't stand a chance. But hey, it was her turn! She's hacked off, understandably, but apart from a minor rent over one buttock, seemingly unhurt.

Champ is quickly back into the groove, but our spannamen are busy again, this time helping our "Pit Buddies" Online Racing put their bike back together after Jon slides off. Champ posts a 1.23.62. He comes in grinning, while Andy goes out - yet again under the pace car.

Online, the ingrates, crash their bike again. There's lots of oil down towards the Bombhole (but not from the UKRM bike!). Darryl limps back in claiming a broken toe, but a raised eyebrow from the paramedics converts it to a bit of bruising. In all, they lose over an hour getting back out, sliding into 37th place after posting some excellent times.

By this time, the pits are seeming really empty. Around 10 teams had already carted their pride and joys off in boxes and binbags. Compared to the first meet, which seemed endlessly noisy and bustling, there are moments of eerie stillness.
Andy returns from his pace car blighted run, having turned in some good lap times.

The bike isn't looking quite so pretty now (the picture underneath is the "before" shot) but Molly goes out again. She builds up to some good and steady times but feels the rear is going. As are bits of the screen, following the crash. Eventually she rips off the loose bit and bungs it towards a marshall as she passes. The long sweeping right hander known as Coram Curve, a favourite of Molly produced some scary moments when getting on the gas. The bike started to slide out so gentle throttle control was the order for the rest of the session.
The inter is whipped off Moll's "spare" bike and put on for Champ's next stint. Team UKRM are in 29th place, and running 4th in their class, but the bikes behind them aren't many laps off. It looks as if he's going easily enough, again in the 1.23s, but when he comes in, he reports a big slide at Riches. Only Spincter Power kept him upright.
4th in Class

With the bike looking a little worse for the wear and tear.
Andy goes out again, the track is drying and Andy gets into the 1.25s, keeping us around 28th position. With around 45 minutes to go, he's back in and Molly goes out to do the last stint. The fastest man on the track (Dave Wood, he rides in the British Superbike Championship) was out on slicks (and insane) posting around 1.10s, but it was decided the time gained by going to slicks wouldn't far outweigh time lost in the changeover, so she's on the worn inters still!

This was the longest session... clockwatching, hopping up and down - the team were looking at finishing 30th, maybe 29th, but bikes were still falling by the wayside. All everyone wanted was to see 74 take the checkered flag. Molly gets into a good groove.

5 minutes drags down. Two. People are starting to gather on the pit wall, bobbing about anxiously. Molly passes us, and a glance at the main clock says this should be her last lap. Indeed, the flag is out and being vigorously waved! As Molly passes the wall again, we're all jumping up and down, clapping and cheering.
Molly didn't see any of it :-( , it was getting a bit dark and her visor was covered in petrol and she only saw the checkered flag at the last second.

After that, it's a dash up to the Park Ferme to greet the returning heroes (including Online, who were clawing back the laps their crashes had cost them). According to the provisional result... Team UKRM had made up two places to 27th, and 4th in class - their highest ever finish. An excellent result. Big grins all round. And great to see so many of the UKRM contingent able to stay til the finish - Team UKRM easily had the biggest gathering of supporters.

Packing up in the pits later, Andy remarked in his usual laid-back fashion that it had been "an easy race, really."

"Andy", I said, "if it was that easy, how come so many people didn't finish?"

So, many, many thanks to:

Black "Mike" Horton
Steve "Burnt" Packer
Ian "Gyp" George
Jon "BigJ" Wright (manager)

Time Keepers:
Suze Lidbury (and catering!)
Rik Ryall

Andy Bonwick
Neal Champion
Molly Gower