Rider: Pete ‘Fish’ Fishwick, Bike: Yamaha TZR 250 Club: Bemsee
Oulton Park has to be one of my favourite circuits, so I was hoping for a good result here, the only disappointing thing was I couldn't get a practice in on the Friday, but as it turned out there were 90 riders on the reserve list, so I wasn't the only one caught out!
This round also sees the start of the resurrected TZR Tour - organised by the god of TZR's Neil Ronketti. Basically this is a non-official sub championship run within the main Bemsee YPM championship - its covered over 14 rounds as against the 38 rounds of the full YPM monty.
The usual packing of van, shopping for beer and food took place during the week before, ready for a set off at 9am on Good Friday morning - The plan was to get to the circuit by lunch time to try and get an afternoon practice session in, just incase anyone had dropped out !! Once again there promised to be a good posse turning up with, Kev Porter and clan offering to do spanners (think he lived to regret this one), Sharon's friend Ian Clarke, Dale and Angela, and Simon (McGuyver) hoped to turn up on Saturday, along with Ian Mad Miller and Dave Higgs
In the end I didn't get to Oulton until gone 2pm, which wasn't in the plan, but as it turned out the reserve list was still big enough to fill another track day so I had no hope of getting out there. The thing that surprised me was the size of the paddock - it was chocker - I ended up on the grass on the outside of the main paddock, but fortunately got a good spot by the gate and near the toilet block/Scruitineering bay. That was the first result of the weekend.
As soon as we got there we sparked the BBQ up, got everything setup, including my new gazebo, and decided to get the bike scruitineered to save the hassle and agro the following morning.
Once practice finished we walked the circuit with beer in hand. We had a wander round the paddock and bumped into Neil Ronketti, met fellow TZR rider Kev Cordina and generally just had a look around at some of the huge outfits - this was an MRO meeting and some of the kit that was there was unbelievable. We managed to catch up with Andy Ball (Bally) who had more problems with his bike the night before, but was hoping for some better results this weekend. The other funny thing was Kev had converted his George Cross flag to a ‘GO FISH #7’ flag. Top bloke.
Another freezing night in the van which was made extra uncomfortable by the fact the van was parked on a slope - ah the joys of racing !! Up at 7am, leaving Sharon in her pit - the paddock was already bustling, so myself and Frank took ourselves off for a ride round the circuit on the pushies.
Kev sorted the bike out, fuel, tyre warmers etc ready for practice and Ian had taken on the role of Catering Manager for the day.
Simon and Eidi turned up about 9:30 am, and then Dave Higgs, but no Madmill, seems nobody could get hold him - shame that !
Practice was just too short - 3 laps I think we had before an SS400 boy binned it at Island bend and out came the red flags – bummer, I was just starting to get into it. It was pretty much as I remembered it, but we are now using the chicane at Knickerbrook which is a real shame as that was a superb corner.
Tyre warmers back on, bled the Front brake, mixed some fuel up and we’re ready to go.
Race 1 - Dry - Row 1 Position 3 -
Due to the size of the meeting, we were gridded with Production 125s but fortunately they were behind us which meant a front row start - Tony Rand, Jon Puk, me and Keith, with Frank on Row 2 pos. 5. Much to Neils Dismay he had been gridded 17th, but was still looking forward to his first outing on the bike he has spent hours on in the garage rebuilding from a wreck. Anyway, did a practice the usual practice lap and got ready to go. The grid was ready, lights on Red, green - gooo!!!
I got a good start and was up with Tony and Jon at the front. For a couple of laps I was trying to make passing moves at Shell oils, but was either pushed wide or got my gear wrong only to be passed again. The thing that as obvious at this point was how badly my clutch was slipping. We thought this may happen and it was true to form. After lap 3 a guy on a 125 came round us like we were going backwards but on the straight he had no umph at all. On lap 4 he binned it at Cascades leaving the three of us to fight it out.
Another couple of 125 riders joined in the fun, and they managed to put themselves between us, with me at the back. Lap 4 and 5 we started to come across some back markers but they posed no problem at all. Blue flags were out and they made sure they stayed off line.
As I came round on lap 5 through Lodge, another 125 rider was there, as I got on the gas to come up deer leap, I heard an almighty noise from what I hoped wasn't my motor - but it was. Down the straight and I realised it was game over. My first DNF since August 2000.
The race finished with Tony winning, Jon in 2nd, Bally in 3rd and Frank in 4th, Neil brought it home 5th, Flynno in 6th and Kev Cordina in 7th.
On inspection of my bike - I quickly found the problem, the Power valve unit on the right hand barrel had spat itself out into the fairing, hence the bike sounding like the exhaust had fallen off.
The next few hours saw us stripping the motor down, head and barrels off, and rebuilding the power valve - The main issue being that we had lost a couple of pins but we made some new ones from a small screwdriver. Plenty of people offered to help, but big up goes to Kev Spanners Porter, Simon McGuyver Cracknell, and to Shirley Ellis for lending me a barrel and head gasket set and also to Gerry Pell for selling me a gasket set from his spares kit - I needed 4 base gaskets see - so thanks to all.
The bike was back up and running before lunch, but the bad news was that I was gridded at the back due to a non placing. All I could hope for was to get into the top 5 to claw back some points.
Race 2 - Dry - Gearing 14/43 - Grid 36 Row 9
So the second race of the day I was gridded at the back along with Keith who had electrical failure in race 1 - This was not my idea of fun but there was nowt I could do about it other than my best.
Off we went for the warm up lap. I had noticed the Neil Ronketti hadn't made it to the start grid, which turned out to be due to a faulty Powervalve motor!
As the lights went green I got an absolute flier, I had noticed the inside of the track was totally clear between the riders and the pit wall, so just launched it down there - I must have made half the pack by the first corner.
As we came to Cascades, there was chaos - a couple of riders had gone down and everyone was trying to avoid it all. Fortunately we all managed to carry on. The Marshals must have cleared it all up swiftly cos there was no red flag - much to the dismay of Shirley Ellis who was grass tracking for some time and managed to end up dead last by the next corner.
At this point I just got my head down and started to pick off as many riders as possible. By lap 3 I could see Bally, Frank and Kevin Cordina. Also in the bunch were some 125 riders who can carry amazing corner speed, but their overall top speed does not match the TZR so you find there is much passing mid corner by them.
As we approached Knicker brook, I tried an out braking manouvre which worked but my drive out was poor and Frank came by again. I managed to get past him again at Barn corner and then proceeded to chase Bally. I got past him at the inside of Island bend and hoped to make a break away - this proved harder than I thought.
I seemed to be dragging them both along and I felt like I was making mistakes all over the place. The clutch was slipping like hell and I could not pull away, it was proving to be another close race.
Even 7 laps round this place is hard - just goes to show how fit the main BSB boys are. I was convinced we had done 6 laps but the last lap flag still wasn't out. We came up against a 125 rider and we were reeling him in slowly, eventually caught and passed him up deer leap and to my joy saw the chequered flag.
I had no idea where I was maybe 3rd but wasn't sure. Bally came by in the pit lane and we shook hands as did Frank - I was knackered. I got off the bike, sat down on the floor and when Sharon told me I had got 2nd place I couldn't believe it. Obviously this was helped by a DNF from Jon Puk, but either way still a good result and totally made up for the DNF in race 1. Had a beer, Tony, who won again, came over and joined us for a drink, as did Bally and Frank.
Frank and me are now in 3rd and 4th and the 2nd and 3rd places to Bally brought him up the running order. Keith had a nightmare with another DNF and Kevin showed another consistent ride on the TZR, which is new to him this year.
Thanks to everyone that made the effort to come, Kev for being a top spanner man - sorry about your Push bike getting nicked, Simon and Eidi, Dale & Ange, who managed to sleep through one of my best races! Dave Higgs, Ian Clarke for being Catering manager for the day, and finally to Sharon for putting up with another week and weekend prioritised by my bike racing and for being top Tea maker -
As I said at the top of the report this was also the first round of the TZR tour - so click here for the latest reports and Results of that mini championship.