It’s Saturday – Must be Race day

Day one done and dusted
Qualifying was hectic and a new tyre brand so it was more a case of of playing with the edge grip of the front and seeing what and where it would slide out from under me and getting used to the sensations
To add to the stress, a very stout 959 in front of me blew and oil cooler line off at the end of the main straight and he oiled down the whole lap. It was surreal following a two stroke like cloud around while eagerly tracking the trail of oil to make sure I didn’t become its first victim. No he didn’t fall off either.
A big clean up ensued then back out for qualifying and qualified 12th.
Race one started out of 13 and finished in 10. Getting used to the tyres and pushing hard and getting times done within a few tenths of my pb’s.
Race two started out of 10 and got a great start and was up with the fast guys for a few laps and trying to emulate their lines and speed. Some heart in the mouth moments but some confirmation that I can go faster. Finished a lonely tenth the fast guys having checked out and me leaving the tail end to recede quickly.
Race three shortened by a lap due to a big crash in another class, but otherwise, more improvement as I gain confidence in the tyres and my reading of their feedback

Sunday we start from our qualifying positions so am out of twelve again. Looking for another stellar start to get up and mix it with the fast guys for a lap or two.

Sunday Pro Twins at SMSP
Early warm up and just put two easy laps on it.
No new tyres, these Dunlop’s are pretty good on my thing. Was nervous that the “little” 195/65 rear might be too tall but it’s was all good and Saturday’s racing proved that they work ok with the 998. Compared to the Pirelli they push a little more and I have to wrestle it round the tight corners. The Dunlop don’t talk to me the same way as the Pirelli and I was hoping that Sunday I could translate the new language.
First race we all start from our original qualifying positions, for me this out of twelve. Subsequent races are all from a progressive grid. A progressive grid is one where you start from your previous race finish position.
Got a good start and raced hard to keep up with the fast guys. For a lap and a bit anyway. Starting to figure the tyres out now. They are quite woody compared to Pirelli but are nonetheless predictable. The carcass on the rear is VERY stiff and we run 20psi hot off the warmers compared to 26psi with the Diablo Superbike Slicks. Fronts still the same at 32psi. But it doesn’t squirm under hard brakes like the Pirelli front. I think that the movement of the Pirelli front helps me get a feel for it all
Finished a lonely ninth.
Race two Sunday was more of the same. Though I am noticing that that even though the the rear is wearing very well, the grip is starting to wane as even my poor little 147hp is starting to tax them. Was hoping to give my PB a nudge this weekend but unfamiliar tyres and a track that has had the Exxon Valdez do a lap of it hasn’t helped. I know that putting the white dust down pretty much cleans it all up but it still does your head in when you see it even though you know intellectually that it’s all good.
Back to the garage after tyres are checked in the post race pit inspections. On with the tyre warmers – don’t forget to turn them on, then take a breather and chillax Another ten count of fuel from the churn (I put ten seconds fuel from upturned churn into the tank. It’s quick and simple and I don’t have to put some in, measure with a stick then add some more if I’m short or kick myself if it’s too much)
Last race of the day. Check tyre pressures, ear plugs in, helmet on then the gloves. Right glove first-silly superstition
At the end of the meeting I am equal first with Steane Walsh on his 899 aka the Exxon Valdez.
Now for Queensland Raceway in six weeks time.
There will be some serious garage action in the meantime. New belts to go in. Valves to do. New brake pads all round. New chain and sprockets. Service the slipper clutch.
If funds run to it, I will get my new carbon nose fairing and carbon seat fairing painted. Get the tank painted and put new chequered flag graphics on my new carbon side fairings. And hopefully those new 848 Evo forged Marchesini wheels

JR Great commentary Bill. Do you know why the 899 was dropping oil?

BB:  Sure do
An aftermarket larger oil cooler was fitted as the 899 struggles with heat. The owner assembled the feed lines from Aeroflow with braided lines. It appears that the AN fitting that screws into the side of the engine block came loose (really loose) and it just hosed oil out everywhere. He got two good laps in and at the end of the main straight it cried enough and started spraying oil out on the track. I was a hundred yards behind him at at this point I could smell it but not see it. But then I felt it as I tipped into turn one at full noise and all hell broke loose. Took me a minute and a half to extract the seat from my arse afterwards. He didn’t realise what was going on so still on the racing line, oil and shit was now running out onto the track. Obviously I am now tip toeing around keeping a close eye on the tell tail shiny trail while watching the surreal blue cloud of oil smoke that was now floating ten feet above the bitumen like a two strike on ice. But with that ugly four stroke burning oil of death smell instead. Wasn’t until he ran of turn five that he realised there was a problem when the by now oil soaked left hand side of the rear tyre tried to high side him. He pulled over to the extreme lefthalf way to turn six/seven, but that committed him to oiling the apex. Charming. And into eight. At least it was off the line from nine onwards. You can see the ugly white lines all over the track on the tv feed . So from that point onwards it was always going to be sayonara to personal best times for this weekend.

JR  Jeez wonder what his big end bearings are like now…

BB. All good. It pumped out about two litres I guess
Besides, the bearings will run for a bit with little to no oil
He was running strong the rest of the weekend once he cleaned it, tightened up the fittings and put more oil in!

William Birdsey copy