Friday and Saturday Practice Reports
Sorry for the late update everyone but the rigours of practice week mean my time is a bit sparse. Here’s the story from the Friday and Saturday practice sessions.
After a good Thursday night using the stock engine we decided to run the race engines for Friday in preparation for Saturday’s Superbike race. A few changes to the fork offset were made to improve the bike’s turn-in speed and we were on the start line ready to roll. I set off, the motor was pulling well but slightly inconsistent. Driving out of Union Mills the power had tailed a bit more; I decided that it must be a fuel mapping issue and would carry on. At that point my foot slipped on the gear lever as I upshifted. I had a look down to the left side of the bike but no oil was evident. Unsure, I decided that I’d gently roll through Ballagarey and stop for a look.
The bike got a bit loose at the rear through the corner and I rolled to a stop in a church yard. Immediately, an enormous cloud blew past, looking down at the right hand side I could see oil on my boot and getting off to push the bike into the church yard I spotted flames in the belly pan. Holding a bike with a large amount of race fuel in that’s got flames in the belly pan doesn’t seem like a great idea. I shouted for water to the crowd, most of which had iPhones filming instead! Someone threw some juice on it – it was still alight – at this point I decided to lay it into a hedge and seek water myself. A guy appeared with a camel pack which extinguished the oil. I phoned Jo to say I’d try and get to somewhere accessible so I could get picked up and run a lap on the 600. The same guy who’d put the fire out offered me a pillion ride on his enduro bike to the road. So we jumped over the church wall, after leaning the bike on the side of the church (I’m sure God didn’t mind). I got on the back of the bike and we tore off, the road wasn’t far and the lad waited with me until the Norton guys arrived. As it happened we were too late to get back to the Grandstand in time so we hung on and picked the bike up once the roads had closed. Thanks very much to the guy who put out the flames and gave me a lift too.
Fortunately, what looked like a really severe issue turned out to be just a crankcase breathing issue. This needs a bit of development so the Norton guys swapped the engine back to the stock one overnight for some much needed practice on Saturday, as the race was now postponed until Sunday.
Saturday’s practice went well, a small fuelling fault on the first lap out meant I hopped onto the 600 for a couple of laps; then getting another lap on the now sorted Norton at the end of the session. The changes had made a big difference just a little more support from the rear spring was decided to improve once again. The Norton set an average lap speed of 120.2mph which I was well pleased with, given that we were running very standard engines and lack of practice. This was the first 120mph lap from a Norton in over 20 years. The 600 went well although being slightly short of time on the bike again and a small misfire at the end of the lap held me back.
I felt happy with changes to both bikes ready for their respective races – Superbike on Sunday and Supersport on Monday.
Race update to follow…