The Thunder Diaries, Part 8

(Read Part 7 here)

INTRO – Editor ‘arris

Bugger, damn and bollocks.

Everything seemed to be going swimmingly …

It was a simple plan. Go to Vancouver with Mr. Seck for the annual CMG road trip, pick up a couple of BMWs and ride around B.C. for 10 days. Afterwards a direct flight into Montreal on the Saturday would get me there just in time for the final of the Canadian Thunder.

The trip went amazingly, Mr. Seck took a redeye flight to be there for the Friday practice photo documentation, and I sat back and took in some of Vancouver before my Saturday morning flight.

Problems became apparent when I called to confirm my seat on the Friday, only to be told that my flight had already left. WTF? Indeed, my email print out clearly stated a departure date of Friday 16th August.

I had booked the wrong day on the Internet.

Jetsgo was curt, “You’ve lost your money. Bye”. There was only one thing left to do – call BMW, get the bike back and extend the trip to include a ride across the Rockies. The extension proved to be a good idea, but missing the final (especially with such an ending) is still sitting hard in my stomach.

Oh well, at least it will be televised on RDS (we’ll try and get a copy ASAP), so I can eventually see all the action. For now, you can read all about it. Me, I’m off to the airport to get my flight back home … on Tango.

Now that email definitely says Friday …


The first season of the Canadian Thunder series is now in the books.

In the first instalment of these diaries, I had mentioned that the racing would be close and competitive, and boy was it ever! The first five races had produced four different winners, unfortunately my own nor Team CMG’s, were part of that elite group.


Costa eyes up Frenchy during practice.

Since St-Eustache is my home track and I’m already very familiar with it, during Friday’s practice I made a point of going out and just following other competitors in order to gauge my speed compared to theirs. I followed the always fast Philippe “Frenchy” Durand for an entire session, just to see where he was faster than me and where I might have an advantage on him.

I was surprised to see that I didn’t need much effort to stay with him. I’d follow him down the straight, my Firebolt’s power being equal to his Ducati’s but I had to hold back into and through the turns, so much so that I thought he was just cruising.

Later, a look at his lap timer showed his times to be in the mid 53-second range, equalling the pace he maintained when he had won the national round at this track. Things were looking grand.

I spent one more practice session with some 600 Supersport riders. By picking up the pace I was able to stay with them for the length of the session. My lap times were now in the low 52s. Things were looking grand indeed.


With fresh Pirelli rubber installed for Saturday, I felt no need to change anything in the bike’s set-up or from my practice strategy of yesterday. I literally cruised through the two practice sessions, keeping the bike, the tires and myself in good shape.

I found myself on the outside of the first row in the heat race – thanks to my fourth place standing in the overall points and the fact that pole-sitter, Darren James prefers the inside of row one on this track, and so had opted to switch places with me.

When the light went green, I got the hole-shot for about one hundred feet. Then I noticed all the bikes that had been to my left on the grid, were now pulling up and passing me into the first turn. Of course, I would have preferred to stay in front for more than a hundred feet, but it now looked as if I would go through turn one in the company of others.

Oh, and how the crowd went wild …

Turn one is actually three turns in one; a left, followed by a quick switch over to a right and then a left again, up a small hill. Frenchy took the lead, followed closely by Darren James. Robert Trottier, who actually started from the second row, had even caught up to me, and was now right beside me going into the the first left-hander.

What happened next surprised even me – while switching from the left to the right in turn one, I went from fourth to first place. All I can remember is that while the other bikes were straightening up during the switchover, I stayed on the outside. As they all slowed I kept my speed, passed all three bikes and ended up in the right hand part of turn one with no-one ahead of me. I couldn’t believe I was up front again so soon.

I rode harder than during practice but not hard enough to exhaust myself or risk getting the bike out of shape. By the time I looked back on the second lap, I had put about ten bike lengths between myself and second place Durand. By the fourth lap, I had half the length of the straight lead over the second placed rider. I backed off a bit until the chequered flag and scored my first pole position in the Canadian Thunder series.

The crowd went wild! Well, at least I did.


RDS cameraman is about to get very wet.

Sunday started off grey and overcast. Since Frenchy is excellent on wet pavement, having done several endurance races in Europe in the rain, he had obviously spent the night sacrificing things to the rain gods. He got his wish, and the skies opened up just before lunch break.

Fortunately, greater sacrifices made by Team CMG pleased the gods even more (one less virgin in Quebec, eh Costa? – ‘arris) and the skies soon cleared again, the track dried and it looked like I was going to get my best chance at a victory to date.

I kept the same spot on the grid that I had in the heat race with Trottier, Durand and James filling out the rest of the first row. All I had to do was get a good start, ride like I did in the heat race and the win would be in the bag.

Of course, things don’t always go as planned, especially in races. Although the starting procedure is thoroughly explained during the rider’s meeting, it’s not always carried out as stated. As such, a slight discrepancy in this procedure caused me to miss my start by an all-important second. This put me squarely into fourth place going into turn one, behind James, Durand and race leader Robert Trottier.

I tried to keep my composure, trying not to think about my lousy start and instead focus on staying as close to Darren James as possible. Although James usually runs way ahead, this time he was riding injured from a crash at Shannonville a couple of weeks earlier. He was also riding a bike that his crew had just put together to replace the one he had destroyed in that crash.



Even so, he was still doing a great job of keeping up with the lead riders. Unfortunately he was also doing a great job of defending his position, making it very difficult for me to make the pass. At one point I got so close to him, in an effort to draft past, that I thought our wheels would touch, yet his ‘fixerupper’ bike would still pull away.

Several laps had gone by and I found myself still behind James, trying to figure out the best way to get by him. Trying to pass him on the outside of turn two, a long third-gear left-hander, saw my Firebolt get off the racing line and onto the slippery stuff. Losing grip on both tires and heading straight for the edge of the track, I managed to regain control of the bike at the last second. I decided not to try that one again.

Costa homes in on Frenchy and Rob Trottier.

Then James slipped.

On the ninth lap, he missed a shift on the back straight and I rode past him into corner three. Frenchy and Trottier were still ahead.

On the next lap, coming off the back straight, I used the Firebolt’s excellent corner diving abilities to try and out-brake Frenchy. My practice strategy paid off. I knew that even though we all had similar terminal speeds at the end of the straight, I could easily brake fifty feet later than anyone else.

Rob Trottier went all out to win this one – scrapping out everything, including the pinky on his right foot!

I did so and was now playing catch up to race leader Trottier.

By the time we got back onto the back-straight of the penultimate lap, I was just off his back wheel. He looked back over his left shoulder but failed to see me tucked in to the right of him, preparing to pass him on the outside of the upcoming left-hander. As we approached the braking markers he hadn’t yet attempted to block the inside, so I quickly shifted to his left, waited for him to hit his regular braking marker and sailed past him, hitting my braking marker fifty feet later.

I was now in the lead and there was only one lap to go.

Right after I got past Trottier, I came upon a lapped rider and ensured I got past him before the hairpin, knowing Trottier would then be stuck behind him, allowing me to extend my lead. The move paid off, glancing behind me on the back straight for the last time, I saw that I had stretched my lead to about five seconds.

I got to the chequered flag unchallenged and it felt great!


Oh yes, we knew Costa would do it. We did. Never had a doubt. Not a single doubt. No doubting Thomas’s here. Good job.

Rob Trottier finished a gallant second, Frenchy third, Darren James fourth and JP fifth.

Darren James’ fourth place finish was enough to give him the number one plate in the championship – Congratulations Darren; it was well deserved. My win bumped me up to third overall in the championship, ahead of team-mate JP.

It’s hard to believe that the racing season is already over. Team CMG did quite well claiming the third and fourth spots in the first Canadian Thunder championship.

We’re already in the planning stages for next year’s series. Rules need to be revised, series sponsors need to be solicited, riders need to be recruited and bikes need to be prepared. In the mean time, Team CMG will be preparing for October’s endurance race at St-Eustache. JP and I will put the Firebolt up against the best teams this season has produced from all the classes.

We’ll keep you posted.

Costa Mouzouris


So long BMW.

Okay, I have to be honest, the season has been long and I was actually looking forward to the end, albeit with mixed feelings.

I was coming to the St-Eustache final with the hope to secure a third position overall in the Canadian Thunder Series, but also, and more importantly, I did not want to crash. You see, after two and a half racing seasons, I have decided that it is time to retire the Mighty Beemer.


The weekend started with a Friday practice in incredible heat and smog. So much so that I actually had to stop riding because of oncoming heat exhaustion. Saturday saw the weather improve a bit – still warm but at least bearable. Although I was keeping decent lap times in practice, I was still a good full second off my best.

We can rebuild it … the Six Million Dollar Man was less complicated.

The qualifier went rather predictably and Costa showed us all how it’s done at St-Eustache. I finished fifth, quite off the pace of the front runners.

By the time that Sunday practice came around, I was starting to feel rather good. I even started thinking I might pull some speed out of my helmet and surprise a few contenders. Alas, during practice, the throttle would stick wide open, forcing me to pit in early and find the source of the trouble.

A frayed main cable proved to be the culprit. Being pitted with a great bunch of people meant that everybody chipped in and within 10 minutes I had a disassembled bike and had five guys scrambling to find a solution. In the end, a Kawasaki throttle assembly stolen for pit neighbour Fabien Rheault was massaged by Costa to work on the beemer.

Although I couldn’t refit the bar end-weight I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. There was no time to test anyway as I was also racing in Supermotard and had to leave for the qualifier.


The old cable was hanging on by a thread … literally.

So here we are, the final race.

I’m gridded in second row and manage a decent start. Not good enough to keep up with the fast train in front though, where Trottier, Frenchy and Costa are already battling it out. Darren James gets by me quickly to join the affray and I can only watch from a distance as the front row drama unfolds before me.

I can tell how hard Costa was driving as his rear wheel would break loose at the end of the straight under hard and late braking. I settle into a rhythm, fighting the throttle that is now vibrating so bad I can barely hold on at higher revs.

I finish fifth,Costa does Team CMG proud by winning the race convincingly. A win in the final race and a podium finish in the Championship. Go Costa. Go Team CMG!


Jack Grammas (ASM) commiserates with JP as Costa tries to rig in the Kawasaki throttle cable onto the Beemer.

So the season ended and I brought my beemer back in the pits, promising it all kinds of nice things like fresh oil and plugs, a new throttle cable and plenty of care and attention. We both had made it through a full racing season with good coverage and much appreciated support from our sponsors.

It was finally over and I felt pretty good.

Why retire then? I love the beemer and dearly miss it as a street bike, consequently I think it’s time for me to explore something else. It will make a pretty cool street bike as I will keep it as close to it’s racing trim as possible. A bike with character and history!

What to do next year? For sure I will be running my KTM in Supermotard and might concentrate on covering that growing series for the benefit of the CMG reader. But I am open to suggestions and perhaps you, the reader, would like to make some?

JP “I just wanna race” Schroeder


Editor ‘arris – The Guzzi seems to be getting a lot of attention from wannabe Canadian Thunder racers since Mr. Tate took it for a spin at Shannonville. Bondo had a go at Mosport and now Cycle Max’s Jeff Bloor has decided to take it out to St. Eustache. When will the madness end? Over to Jeff …

Go on Jeff, you can do it – “I think I can, I know I can … chug, chug, chug”.

I had one of those silly moments in life where I said yes. Yes, that is, to riding a Moto Guzzi at the final round of Canadian Thunder at St. Eustache. Since it has been some time since I had competed in a race, I went into the weekend with a very relaxed “just for fun” attitude.

With the help of Kimpex and Motovan I slipped into my new riding gear, ignited the Guzzi and hit the track. After about 30 seconds it became very obvious that I would really need to adjust my riding style to adapt to the shaft driven twin.

Friday practice was not fun at all. I was on the original Metzelers from Larry’s first go with the Guzzi as well as trying to get used to the track, lateral engine steering and gigantic momentum under braking.

If I was going to be anywhere near competitive, the tires needed to be changed. Rick Lacombe of Michelin was completely pissing his pants watching Jen (my tuner for the weekend and assistant with us on the Onisto team), trying to lift the rear axle off the ground while I struggled with the differential. He concluded that there was at least 20 pounds of reciprocating mass involved there.

Costa checks out the competition. Jeff just smiles.

Saturday started with new Michelin Pilot Race compound D.o.T.’s and the determination to do the best I could. Holy traction Batman! The 20 yard front wheel slides had at last come to a sticky end and now the bike actually felt like it could probably compete. I had Jen adjusting suspension every session and by mornings end I was doing 57.1 lap times – about 2 seconds off Darren Jame’s times.

Qualifying went so well and I even entered the Pro Open Sportbike qualifier for the extra practice.

Sunday brought a mixed bag of weather requiring some fuel injection adjustments to compensate for the rapidly changing air, which in turn meant short practice sessions in the morning.

I wish I could change gearing. Damn shaft drive.

The race got off to a great start until the #1 SV took out my front wheel, causing me to slam over the turtles, shit my pants then air them out down the escape road. Once the corner workers waved me back on, I was dead last. Shit.

Oh well, head down and ride hard 55.5 lap times trying to catch back up. Interestingly, this would have meant a respectable finish … if lap times meant anything of course. In reality I managed to do as well as all the other Guzzi riders before me – last.

Frank Trombino may have been laughing. The others were a little disturbed.

I then raced the Pro Open Race just to make Frank Trombino laugh and get cool pictures of myself in the pack for 2.2 seconds.

Overall I had a blast. I honestly feel that the V11 sport has got the potential to be very competitive in this class. I hope this class will continue next year as it really did get a huge amount of attention from the fans. With any luck I will be there on the Guzzi again!

I would like to once again thank Pat for the faith in letting me ride the Guzzi this weekend. As well Jamie from Kimpex, Franz from Motovan, Rick lacomb of Moto HyperSport, Frank Trombino for the lessons, Jack Grammas from A.S.M. for the late season licence, and a great big thanks to Jen, with an apology on her part to all the damage in the St. Eustache Loblaws (hey, you shouldn’t put glass dishes so close to the aisles anyway).

Jeff Bloor


The race winners And the championship …

Costa does Team CMG proud by winning the last race (and about time too young sir – but no pressure). Rob Trottier ground away half his bike and boot to try and get this one, but got a valiant second instead. Frenchy got third, but failed to amass enough points to knock of Darren James from the overall championship.

Although Darren came in fourth and so didn’t get a seat on the fancy ASM podium for race 6, he has the biggest grin, securing the overall championship for Buell (see final points standing below). Frenchy got second overall (Ducati), Costa third (Buell), JP fourth (BMW) and Robert Trottier fifth (Ducati).

All in all a pretty good mix. Well done everybody.

But one all important question remains: who are those girls?


1 229 DARREN JAMES 28 22 20 28 14 13 125
2 10 PHILIPPE “FRENCHY” DURAND 21 13 28 16 16 17 111
3 25 COSTA MOUZOURIS 11 10 13 11 8 28 81
4 81 JP SCHROEDER 13 11 10 22 9 11 76
5 14 ROBERT TROTTIER 0 0 16 13 10 22 61
6 44 DEREK VAMMUS 0 28 0 0 20 0 48
7 493 BOB CLOSE 18 17 11 0 0 0 46
8 923 JAMIE FITZGERALD 10 9 0 11 6 9 45
9 97 RICHIE MORRIS 0 0 0 0 28 0 28
10  11 JESSE LAUDER 0 0 9 0 11 0 20
11 448 BILL BATE 0 8 6 0 4 0 18
12 39 DON MORRIS 8 0 8 0 0 0 16
13 138 JEFF RILLEY 9 0 0 0 0 0 9
14 49 JEFF BLOOR 0 0 0 0 0 8 8
15 101 SAM ROZYNSKI 0 0 0 0 7 0 7
15 159 GWENOLE PAGET 0 0 7 0 0 0 7
17 411 LARRY TATE 0 0 5 0 0 0 5
17 21 GREG AYLLO 0 0 0 0 5 0 5
19 41 STEVE BOND 0 0 0 0 3 0 3
20 913 JASON SCOTT 0 0 0 0 2 0 2



Where’s Waldo? Or should that be Editor ‘arris?

Many thanks to Pat Doyle of Bavarian Motosports for trusting not just Mr. Tate, not just Bondo, but now Jeff Bloor to take his lime-green baby out onto the track once more. It’s like the village bicycle.

Also thanks go to Arai (Team CMG helmets), Kimpex (Team CMG Rhyno suits), Pirelli (Team CMG tires), Trac Racing (for the Elf fuel), Prexport boots (for Costa), Techlusion (Firebolt ignition module), Bistro Champs Elysees, ATC Chemicals, Jack Grammas (ASM), Ralph Frisken (RACE), the racing department at Buell Canada (including Ric Marrero and Brad Dawson) and everyone at Moto Internationale.

(Read Part 9 here)

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