INTRO – Editor ‘arris
|With the stance of a ninety year old with fashion style to match, Editor ‘arris utters words of encouragement to a disabled Costa.
“Costa, use your good ankle to kick the bastards out of the way”.
There’s an old Yorkshire saying that goes “Aye, tis um pah thy gern te’ than thy … gar bar Rob Harris”. Roughly translated it says “If you try hard enough, you’ll finally get what you want … unless you’re Rob Harris”.
Although I just made that up (but I am a Yorkshireman, so it’s allowed), it sums up how Team CMG’s racing efforts are turning out.
Okay, so we entered this whole thing under no illusions. We got ourselves two very competent racers: one on a spec-competitive (but untested) new Buell Firebolt, and the other on a spec-uncompetitive, but well tried and tested, BMW R1100S.
No matter what happened, we figured that we’d get some great stories from this effort as well as the rich experience of actually managing (or trying at least) a race team. With that perspective, we have not been disappointed, but getting involved in racing and not expecting to get all riled up with the quest for victory is like taking a spotty teen (complete with bum-fluff moustache) to a whorehouse and expecting them to do their homework.
With three races in the bag, Costa was having troubles getting his Firebolt up to race spec, although he was amazed by the bike’s handling, and still very happy with his choice. JP already had his BMW pretty well race spec and was doing a good job, honing his riding skills on the different Shannonville tracks. Results were mixed, but progressive.
Race 4 suddenly had all the right ingredients. It was home turf for both racers, Costa had just done his magic to the Firebolt’s heads and was at last happy with the motor, and JP was looking like one aggressive racer, bouncing his BMW’s heads off almost every corner.
Sod the “great stories and rich experience” crap, suddenly we looked like we could actually come away with a win and I wanted it. I wanted it bad.
Damn those made up Yorkshire sayings …..
THE COSTA REPORT
|Aubergine is the colour of the day.|
I’m in a good mood yet I shouldn’t be. My right foot looks like an eggplant with toes, and it’s stuffed into a two hundred dollar space boot. My race bike is in the garage, in pieces, broken and not speaking to me and I didn’t win the race I had the greatest chance of winning this year. Yet I’m happy – what gives?
Still lacking power after the third round of Canadian Thunder, I lifted the heads off my Firebolt, did some work to the ports and refreshed the cylinders. Carl Wener of Trac Racing heard of my need for speed and threw in enough Elf Pro 100 racing fuel to last the season.Friday practice proved my modifications in combination with the racing fuel worked. In the previous races, although I would gain ground on my competitors going into and through turns, I would just lose it again upon exiting, not having enough punch in the engine to do the job. That was not to be the case this time around. This time I had enough drive out of the corners to not only keep up with, but to also gain some ground on the bikes in front of me. Frenchy’s (Durand) 900SS used to pull away from me under power, but this time, on the straight at St-Eustache, if I stayed in his draft I could actually pass him.
|Costa waits on the pre-grid between JP and Frenchy. It’s the last time the Firebolt (and his new suit) will be a crash-virgin.|
While the post headwork dynamometer run showed a maximum of only 77.8 hp (not a big increase compared to the 74.3 hp the bike was putting out in the second round), the midrange no longer dips and is showing the biggest increase overall. Frenchy’s Ducati put out 77.0 hp at St-Eustache so I was now on equal ground, power wise.
Horsepower numbers are one thing however, but lap times tell a whole different story. The advantage I had was in the Buell’s excellent handling (the Firebolt still astonishes me with its ability to cope with high corner-entry speeds). On Friday, I was about one and a half seconds faster than any of the other Thunder competitors that showed up, including series leader Darren James. (Unfortunately, only seven riders were present for the fourth round with several Ontario riders seemingly having more important things to attend to).
By the end of Friday practice, rumour had it that I was the guy to beat.
FLYING HIGH … AND LOW
|Bob’s Ducati, just prior to being humped by Costa’s Firebolt.|
On Saturday morning I was flying. I got onto the track for morning practice behind Durand, stayed behind him for two laps while my tires warmed, and then took off. By the end of the ten-minute session, I was ahead of him by half the straightaway. I couldn’t wait until the qualifier.
Maybe I should have.
I had a decent start from the second row on the grid, getting ahead of Frenchy and Robert Trottier going into turn one. I was now behind Bob Close upon exiting turn one – a series of three bends taking you to a small incline that drops off into turn two, which is a double apex left-hander.
I was anticipating to either pass Close on the outside of turn two or stay with him if his speed was too high, and pass him coming out and onto the straight.
|“Could be worse”. Costa thinks happy thoughts.|
Good plans were immediately laid to rest when Close got out of shape braking hard coming into the corner. As a result he ended up going wide, losing some speed and slightly overshooting, allowing me to keep my momentum and head straight for the apex. At the same time he managed to regain his composure and also headed for the apex. Being ahead of me, he never knew I was on the same racing line, only I was going about 20 km/h faster.
The outcome was inevitable as my Firebolt assaulted his Ducati from behind, pitching both of us to the ground, hard and fast.
The rest of the field behind us did an excellent job of avoiding the carnage but in doing so, Frenchy was forced to ride off the track and into the adjacent cornfield, eventually falling off, albeit at a low speed. He later noted that the corn wasn’t in season yet.
The damage was done; Firebolt parts were scattered all over the field and my right ankle was sending electric shocks to my brain. Since nothing obstructed the track, no red flag was called and the ambulance collected me after the qualifier was over.
Darren James won it, followed by JP and Jaimie Fitzgerald.
THE PAIN BARRIER
|“Eeh, ooh, ahh, urgh …”|
This is where my mood should have gone from good to bad but with the kind of people taking part in the Canadian Thunder series, it’s impossible to do so (ah, you’re a gentleman and a scholar sir – ‘arris. But don’t worry, we paid Bubba to fix Mr. Close good and proper).
By the time I got out of the ambulance and back to my pit, Darren James’ crew chief, Mike Tapp was waiting for me (along with Mr. Seck for photographic ‘documentation’ – ‘arris). He was there to make sure I was comfortable while he stitched my sad looking Firebolt back together. Once again, Jamie Fitzgerald had brought along his Firebolt and offered me anything I needed off it to get my bike up to snuff for Sunday’s final. (Although he’s planning to eventually race it, piece by piece, every part of his Firebolt will have done some track time on my bike!).
A huge thank you goes out to Mike Tapp (Ruthless Racing), Jamie Fitzgerald (Motosport Plus of Kingston) and everyone else that offered a hand.
There was a pit bike race scheduled Saturday night that I was planning to take part in but my ankle gave me second thoughts about it. It was swollen, stiff and hurting enough to even make me have second thoughts about Sunday’s Thunder final.
Just to see how bad it all was I took part in the pit bike race practice session and was pleased to find that once on the track (with adrenaline pumping), my ankle wasn’t so bad. Of course, once I got of the track and settled down, the pain had me crying for my mommy!
Sunday morning was spent in the hospital in St-Eustache getting X-rays of my damaged member (but what about your ankle? – ‘arris). The see-throughs showed that a chunk of bone had broken off and had lodged itself between the piece of bone it broke from and an adjacent bone, thus the reason it couldn’t support any weight (again, what about the ankle? – ‘arris).
I swallowed a couple of Advils and headed back to the track, I was still going to attempt to race; after all, the worst I could do was a seventh place.
OUT OF THE FRYING PAN …
|Costa’s ‘friend’ thinks of later that night. Costa thinks about his electrics.|
Unfortunately, seventh place is only available if you actually finish, as with only half a lap into the pre-race warm-up, the engine started to cut. When I ran into Close’s bike the day before, his rear tire had chewed up a bunch of wires under the fairing. Mike Tapp and I had managed to put enough of them back together to get the bike running, but since I had spent the morning in hospital, I hadn’t had a chance to try it on the track until now – the final.
I had no choice except to pull off the track after the second warm-up lap and fiddle with some of the wires that were dangling under the fairing in a desperate attempt to solve the problem. By the time I got back, the bikes had already taken the start and whizzed past me as I headed up pit lane.
I waited for clearance to re-enter the track, taking my start from pit lane about ten seconds after the last bike had gone by. All I could do now was to try to catch up to the field and finish the race. As soon as I opened the throttle on the back straight, my engine started cutting out on me again. Damn!
|And they’re off (sans Costa)!|
After about a lap and a half of erratic running and unpredictable power delivery, I decided to just do what I could, ride around, finish last and collect the points.
Then the bike cleared up. UN-damn!
I didn’t need anything more, got on the gas and started passing bikes. I rode as hard as my bike and ankle allowed me to and started passing several lightweights and SVs on each lap. I even caught up to Jaimie Fitzgerald and passed him, even though he had been kind enough to loan me half his bike so I could actually compete in this race. Okay, I’m a heartless bastard … so sue me.
By the end of the race I had worked my way up to sixth overall, putting me fifth overall in the Canadian Thunder Series, and turning laps one second faster than race winner James (after the motor had cleared up). Team-mate, JP Schroeder rode the heads off his BMW tour bus to come in a close second place, with Frenchy finishing third. Congrats JP (and you thought you couldn’t improve on your lap times).
|Darren James reminds everyone of what he’s riding.|
I did manage to locate the electrical problem on my bike after the race and it was indeed caused by the crash. Had I gotten out earlier in the day, I would have spotted it and the outcome of the race could have been very different indeed, but all in all I’m just glad I managed to compete and finish.
The next race is at Mosport. The Buell Lightning Series riders will be there from the States; it’s going to be fast and exciting. I have a lot of work to do before getting there but thinking of the great people that will be present and the general atmosphere makes it all worthwhile.
Crash or no crash, I have no reason to be unhappy.
THE JP FILES – Canadian Thunder Round 4. Sweet and Sour
|Elka suspension are supplying JP with suspension units prior to entering the motorcycle market (very cool).|
Secret Weapon Number One
Is it worth it?
Secret Weapon Number Two
Qualifier: 2nd for lack of competition
Race: 2nd, personal best at St-Eustache
What a weekend. This one I will remember a long time.
The previous weekend I had taken the Mighty Beemer out to an ASM regional, prior to the St. Eustache National, only to suffer from my mechanical clumsiness! I installed a new rear suspension and probably reinstalled the shaft drive assembly slightly out of position. As a result I had to retire from the race because of a suspicious vibration.
Turned out to be the shaft drive assembly coming off the transmission output shaft and chewing itself to bits! Thanks to BMW (thanks David!) and Monette Sport (thanks Francis!) I was able to get a replacement part in time for the National.
|JP was having the ride of his life.|
Marc-André Kingsley from ELKA suspension was there to help me dial in the development rear suspension on the BMW, which gives me some more clearance and sweeter characteristics. That’s my secret weapon number one.
RACE 4 WEEKEND
After the first practice session, it becomes clear that Costa will be the man to beat with his sorted Buell Firebolt. I can’t get close, as I lap at least a second and a half behind Costa.
The Saturday qualifier comes and I’m nervous. I get a really good start, following Darren James into the S and the Carrousel. Behind me I hear tires squealing and metal hitting the ground. On the next lap I recognize Costa’s Buell Firebolt in the weeds. That takes the wind out of my sails and I almost pit in. Seeing a friend down is never good.
|Carbon-fibre head cover is now almost down to the metal!|
I finish well in second only to come back into the pits to find that Bob Close, Costa and Frenchy all went off the track. The Buell looks sad and Costa’s ankle even worse. Not good.
Race Day: the tank is empty and I pour in 5 litres of secret weapon number two; Elf Pro 100 Race Fuel.
Race starts and I settle in third behind Robert Trottier’s Monster and Darren James’ X1. I pass Trottier (thanks Elf!) and start eating at Darren’s lead. Gaining confidence I have a big moment in turn three – coming off the straight into the infield. My left cylinder head hits so hard it throws the bike off line and into a dangerous weave. It hits two more times before regaining composure, enabling me to hang on and prepare for the next corner. Scary!
As the laps pass, I’m getting closer to Darren, as we navigate pass the tail-enders. It’s now the last lap and I’m in his draft on the back straight. He casually turns around to check his lead, quickly turns back and tucks in tight. I swear I heard him say “Oh Shit!”. Frenchy was also close behind, sniffing my exhaust. It must have been quite a surprise for Darren, to not only see one, but two bikes in his draft, and on the last lap!
|On the final lap; Darren James up front with JP in hot pursuit and Frenchy, all closing fast.|
Kudos to Darren for holding his place to the chequered flag. I almost had him!
It was a hot race and I lapped consistently and a second faster than ever before. I can hardly believe the Beemer and I managed to challenge the series leader. I’m proud of that big girl! (what does Costa have to do with it? Oh, the Beemer. Sorry Costa, no pressure. No pressure at all – ‘arris).
In the meantime, see you at Mosport!
AND THE WINNERS ARE …
Darren James is a happy man. Editor ‘arris looks like he’s pining for a beer.
Since we were a bit lardy rounding everybody up, here’s a pic of who we could find after the race.
Darren James managed to take his second victory of the series, with JP coming in a very close second. Frenchy was hot on the heels of JP to get third, followed in by Robert Trottier (fourth) and a crippled Costa (fifth).
Well done everybody, now bugger off, I have work to do
CURRENT POINTS STANDING
It’s about time we posted these! Anyway, it looks like Darren has an almost unattainable lead, with only two rounds to go. With a maximum of 28 points available per race, it’s down to the current top five as far as the championship goes. Yes, Costa is still in with a chance, although it would require him to win both races and Darren to not finish. Same pretty well applies to Bob and JP, with the obvious battle for the championship now being between Philippe and Darren.
|POS||NUM||NAME||RND 1||RND 2||RND 3||RND 4||RND 5||RND 6||POINTS|
St EUSTACHE CHAOS!
Since we were in Quebec there was more than just racing happening that weekend. Photographer Seck caught all the chaos, available in photographic format by clicking on the picture to the left.
No, your left!
A big thank you to Carl Wener of Trac Racing for enough Elf Pro 100 racing fuel to last the season. Thanks also go to Kimpex for supplying two sets of Rhino leathers for Team CMG. Although Costa had done a deal to wear another suit, Mr. Crash put an end to that one!