Wow what a weekend! The guys at FAB had arranged for the Metrakit racers to have a go at a ‘proper’ road race track in the form of a three day meet at Llandow long circuit, this circuit used to be used for car and bike racing until about 15 years ago, until it fell into disuse, the track has more recently been updated by the circuit owners and is currently used for Track days and sprints. It’s basically a large square with two chicanes and is about 1.4 miles round.
The previous week I had re-built the engine and managed to get some dyno time over at Double take Dyno in Southampton, so we knew we had the bike set up about right (and making the correct amount of power) although it was deliberately running slightly rich at the top end something I could check once at the track. I also found out that the clutch was on its way out, a new one is installed before the weekend A test day had been set up for Friday, so Thursday evening was a bit of a panic to get both Row and me home from school/work, packed and away to the track, we managed to get there by 20:15 sorted our pitch out and got settled in.
FRI – Test day The track opened at 10:00 and we ran three groups, Row would be out in the second. 10:45 and Row ventures out onto the track for his first taste of ‘proper’ road racing, he returns 20minutes later with a huge smile on his face “that was awesome Dad” The day rolls on with Row out once every hour. After the third session I get asked if Row would like to have a try on a Metrakit 80 so Row runs off and gets kitted up, he will be playing with the big boys in this session as the 80’s are running with Aprilla 125’s, h*nda RS125 (GP bikes) and a lone Yamaha R6 Supersport bike. I tell Row to take it easy for the first few laps, this bike has 17inch wheels and 10BHP more than he is used to!, Row goes out onto the track, he goes past twice settling himself in, then he decides to give some welly!, he comes flying up the start finish straight and brakes at the same point as he has been on the 70, but he’s doing 10-15MPH more than on the 70, he grabs a fistful of front brake and the rear end goes airborne, he proceeds to do a stoppie for about 50yds with the rear end about a foot off of the ground!!, luckily there is an Oh sh1t lane at the end of the straight which Row has to use, he gets it all back together and carries on, the bikes owner turns to me and says “nearly time to get the cheque book out there Gary!” Row carries on with the session; he’s bloody quick on it and has quite a few of the other Dads drawing breath as he goes past.
The session finishes and Row returns to the paddock, big grin again, he proceeds to act out the stoppie for us “brilliant Dad” he says. The rest of the day is spent getting the 70’s gearing spot on and jetting the bike a bit leaner to help with top end speed, during the last session we speed gun the 70’s, Row is equal fastest at 78MPH, so we recon that on the long back straight he is getting over 90 MPH, FAB also hand out the transponders prior to the last session and the lap times show that Row is 4th quickest. Once the day is over I can relax a little, I have been wound up like a spring all day and its nice to have a couple of beers and a chat with the other racer’s Dad’s, I get told that Row is ready for the 80 and that I should move him up ASAP, I am thinking about the expense.
SAT: Races. We have two qualifiers and three races today, Row is gonna be knackered this evening! Qualy1 I tell Row that he only needs 1 good lap and don’t get caught up in a mini race, he goes out and does a couple of sighting laps then puts in two fast ones before he gets caught up in traffic, we get 7th place ½ second off of 6th , I notice lots of blue smoke coming out of the fairing as he is braking into the first chicane, I run up the chief marshal and have him black flagged but someone crashes which bring’s out a red flag anyway, back in the paddock I wip the fairing off and take a look at the bike, its covered in oil, I notice that the catch tank is full and that the gearbox breather has come out of the tank and is breathing onto the exhaust, which explains the plumes of blue smoke, I scratch my head and finally it dawns on me what is happening, when I installed the new clutch I only drained the clutch side NOT the gearbox, so when I refilled with oil I used my usual amount this resulted in it being overfilled and the poor little engine is now trying to blow the excess out. I drain the gearbox and clutch of oil and re-fill with new oil this time with the right amount – DOH!!!
Qualy2. With the bike all oil tight out Row goes for his second qualifying, On the second lap I notice that the exhaust has come off of its bracket, I run over to race control and get him black flagged, he pulls into the pits and I quickly replace the bracket with new bolt, he paddles away and back out to get another two laps. Despite lopping ¾ sec off his previous best he is still in 7th place but now he is within 025sec of 6th So we never really got a good shot at qualifying. RACE1 The 70’s are out with the 125 open and Aprillia superteens for the races so Row is put onto the 5th row of the grid, the results I give will be for the Metrakit 70’s only. They collect on the grid flag goes up and they all hunch over eyes up,
GO - Row flies up the outside and into the chicane, they re-appear out of the chicane Row is in 7th hard on the next two Metrakit’s (he’s made up about three places overall) they come round into the braking area, he gets 6ht place round the outside on the way in. Lap two and Row is showing his wheel to 5th place, they hammer past us into the chicane Row trying the same manoeuvre but he can’t make it stick. Lap3 Row slipstreams 5th down the back straight but can only get level at the end he has to slot in behind again, they come past us Row is not near enough to try the manoeuvre again but the guy in 7th misses his braking marker and flies up the inside of Row just as he is turning in, Row has his front wheel knocked out from under him and goes tumbling , the bike slides across the track leaving clods of grass as it goes, I run from my viewing point round to the track just in time to see Row get helped to the marshal point, he’s up and walking but is not a happy bunny! The bike is picked up by a marshal and they get it over to me, apart from a few scrapes, belly pan full of grass/mud and the clip on being bent round the bike is fine, I wait for Row to get back. The race finishes and Row walks back across the track to me, he is livid and won’t talk for about 10mins, I busy myself cleaning the bike and checking everything is OK. Once he has calmed down he tells me “I didn’t even see him coming I turned in and the next thing I knew I was on my face sliding onto the grass, I gave him the finger every time he came past for the rest of the race” The photographer comes up to me to tell me that he got the whole thing in sequence!!!
RACE 2. With Row calmed down and the bike all straight we get him back on the grid. Revs rise – GO Row does the same trick again but this time he is mixed up with the superteens bikes, it takes the field a few laps to get sorted out and once it does Row is in 7th place, He’s dicing for 6th, despite swapping places a few times during the race Row can’t make it stick and comes home in 7th “the bike was sliding around all over the place towards the end Dad I couldn’t get the drive out of the corners because of it, I would have had him otherwise” we take a look at the read tyre, Its totally shot!! The front is looking a bit knackered as well!! I just have time to get the rear changed ready for I have to put a brand new unscrubbed tyre on, I tell Row that it will take a couple of laps to come in and that he needs to be careful with the front end, if he starts sliding the front to just ride for the finish.
RACE 3. GO - Row gets the same sort of start and slots into 7th place but there is quite a gap to 6th after a couple of laps Row is making headway, he chips away at the gap until he is once again right behind the 6th place rider Row has a couple of goes but cannot make a pass stick and has to be content with 7th place, he gets back to the paddock and shrug’s his shoulders “I am faster than him but I had to make up too much and ran out of time” We get washed up and fed, row gets his PS2 out for a go at WSBK07, before I know it I’ve got a truck full of boy’s taking it in turn to have a go, and I retire to another awning to have a few beers and a chat. Once again we start talking about what we should do next year; I have a few more telling me that the way Row is riding this big track I should seriously think about putting him on an 80 next year.
SUNDAY Row just goes out and pootles around scrubbing in the new front which was fitted Saturday night. RACE1 Row takes his place on the grid – GO- Row really gets it right and has the front wheel skimming the tarmac, he rides around the outside of a few into the chicane and emerges after the first lap in 6th place, two laps later he has caught the 5th place boy, Row is faster in the flowing bits but the other lad always gets Row back into the chicane the laps tick down with the boys swapping places (and paint, and tyre marks on their leathers!) I am a nervous wreck, as is the boy’s mum and Dad next to me! They come round to start the last lap Row leads over the line then gets out braked into the chicane, he gets right into the other boys slipstream as they head down the main straight they are hard on the back of a Metrakit80 all three of them go into the second to last bend when Row seems to lose the slipstream, into the last bend, they have both got past the 80, Row is catching the other boy, into the start straight, Row is closing, over the line – Row just can’t quite out drag him! – Phew what a race! The boys are shaking hands and doing the thumbs up thing us parents are just glad they finished!! Row gets back to the paddock “couldn’t quite get him eh son” “well Dad you know that 80 we passed, well as we went to pass him his silencer blew off, Scot had to duck and I had to swerve to avoid it, its annoying because I had Scott lined up for a pass out of the last bend”
RACE 2 GO--- Row gets a blinder again and passes Scott into the first chicane, Scott chases him down, they then proceed to have another ding dong for ¾ of the race then when they get the last lap board Row doesn’t pass Scott but just sits behind him, they come round the second to last bend and Row closes right up, into the last bend and Row makes his move, Scott closes the line to the inside but Row gets alongside on the outside, Row drives out of the corner and has the legs on Scott all the way down the straight – 5th place!! Row posts the third fastest time in his class. Once again handshakes are done and the boys are slapping each on he on the back as they ride back around to the paddock. “got him that time Dad, I can actually go a bit quicker I think, if I can just get away from him at the start, I am seeing the shift light on quite a lot as well” We have think about whether to gear up a little but in the end decide to leave it where it is, at least we know its peaking out and I also know that he has some overrev without losing power so it should be fine.
RACE3 Last race of the weekend- I am already knackered from the nervous energy! They line up on the grid –GO- Row lofts the front wheel and drives down the outside of nearly everyone! He has to give some positions up but sustains his momentum and comes past in a clear 5th place chasing 4th. The race winds on with Row never getting dropped by the front 4 but never getting close enough to mount a challenge, by the end of the race Scott is over 200yds behind Row. Row comes back into the paddock and give’s me the thumbs up “Dad do I really have to go on those cart tracks next year?” I tell him I am thinking about it. Watch this space.