Roadtester and racer: Michael Neeves MRO Powerbikes Cadwell Park

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MRO Powerbike championship. Round 3 – Cadwell Park 28th/29th April 2007.

Qualifying position: 9th
Superpole race: 9th

Race 1: 9th
Race 2: 8th

For the week leading up to the third round of the MRO Powerbike Championship at Cadwell I was away in Jerez involved in the massive Masterbike sportsbike test (see next week’s MCN). This test is incredible, it lasts a whole week and we’re testing sportsbikes with the likes of Randy Mamola, Jurgen Fuchs, Alex Gobert and Stephane Chambon (who was ‘backing in’ a GSX-R1000 from 160mph!), to name but a few. The idea is to razz all the sportsbikes you can buy around the track and the fastest one is the ‘Masterbike’ champion.

Anyway, you can read all about that in the paper next week, but although I got in lots of track riding around a GP circuit with the Gods it also meant I missed the Friday practice day (as well as the Thursday trackday that many people did too!) for the Cadwell race, as I was still travelling back from Spain. As it turned out this put me on the back foot all weekend.

First job was to drive up to the circuit early on Saturday morning to meet my bike. Alison and Mark ‘Billy’ Silcox who race in the Clubman Minitwins (he did his first ever race at Lydden earlier in the year and promptly won it – jammy git!) brought my R1 to the track and got in scrutineered for me, so that was one less job to worry about. Thanks chaps!

Having fitted a fresh set of sticky Dunlop slicks, some new Galfer wavy discs (for improved performance) and a beautiful Akrapovic carbon (for looks!) from Performance Parts – – it was time to roll.

The difference between riding a road bike on road tyres around a big, wide Jerez, where there’s little impression of speed, and on a slick shot R1 around Cadwell, where the narrow track, trees, Armco and Mountain motocross jump gives a huge impression of speed, is incredible.

I though a week doing Masterbike might give me an edge, but nothing can prepare you for how fast a superbike feels around a track, which is only half the width of the pitlane at Jerez. Corners come up at you frighteningly fast, and the faster you go the more the tarmac shrinks. I think my visor was steamed up permanently in first qualifying from panting so hard with excitement.

I’ve never ridden the R1 in race trim around Cadwell before (I took it to a Focussed Events track day recently but the clutch gave up the ghost in the first session, ending my day) and to be honest on the Saturday two qualifying sessions and Superpole race the bike handled like a pig.

Along the straights and in the fast corners the bike was shaking and weaving to the point I had to stand on the pegs and feather the throttle. The qualifying position and Superpole race wasn’t great and I was two seconds a lap slower than I was last year on my GSX-R1000.

Saturday night I was starting to think I’d bitten off more than I could chew racing my road bike against pukka superbikes. Myself and my mate Rookie who helps me are rank amateurs when it comes to running and setting up a race bike compared to some of the bigger teams we’re racing against too.

But for Sunday morning we’d discovered a breakthrough with set-up and dialled the wobbles out, and for Race One went three seconds a lap faster than the day before putting in a 1:35 lap – but more importantly a second faster than we’d gone last year on the Gixer. Phew.

For the first time I was able to open the throttle fully, to the extent that I arrived at Park Corner much faster than I ever had done and couldn’t stop for the corner on the first lap I had to take to the grass and ended the first lap plumb last. I managed to battle through to finish the race in 9th place. I guess you’ll see that dodgy move when the Powerbike Tour is shown on telly on Motors TV soon.

For Race Two I got an 8th place, battling with Michael Thompson on his GSX-R1000. I ended up getting stuck behind him and lapped a second slower than in Race One – his bike is just too fast for me to get up alongside for an out-braking attempt, but fair play to him for blocking me out for 10 laps!

A big hats-off to the stars of the show, Denver Robb on his GSX-R1000 and John Paul Scott on his new Ducati 1098, for some top riding and clearing off to share the victories.

See you at the next round at Brands Hatch on the 12th/13th  May.

Thanks to:

Yamaha UK
V2Mal (
Maxton Suspension
Dynojet UK
SBS Brakes
B&C Express
Performance Parts Ltd
Harris Performance
Regina Chains
Phoenix Distribution
Focussed Events
Rod Harwin Racing.
Ben, Rookie, Trev, Alison, Mark, Tony, Bruce, Andy, Exit Racing.

The bike:

2007 YAMAHA R1

Engine: Std motor with Micron end cans, set up by BSD using a Dynojet Power Commander. 169bhp at the rear wheel. Regina chain and Renthal sprockets.

Suspesnion: Maxton rear shock and fork re-valve. Ohlins steering damper.

Wheels and tyres: Standard 17-inch wheels shod with Dunlop slicks
Galfer wavy discs and standard and calipers, SBS Dual Carbon brake pads and HEL braided lines. Standard Yamaha levers and footpegs.

Bodywork: Pattern fairing, screen and tail unit by ANR UK. Stomp tank pads.

Crash protection. R&G