Words: Pascal Anctill Photos: Richard Seck, unless otherwise noted
|“Go, Go, Go” Pascal leaves his happy place.|
So here I am on the starting line in pouring rain, wondering what the heck I’m doing on Michelin S2 drys when everyone else seems to be on full wets. Hmhh, I think I should have bought that second set of rims, but it’s too late now. I‘ve just finished the warm-up lap of the first RACE Regional and experienced some seriously scary slides. Damn, I haven’t even started the race yet and I’ve already soiled my shorts.
Okay, breath in, breath out. I’m only here to do set up on my new SV650, so keep calm and go to my happy place. That’s better. Just finishing the race is the important part … but then again, Mr. Seck is in the stands, checking my progress with CMG in mind, so I need to do well. I need rain tires … ooohh… calm.
YIKES, that’s the green light. Go, Go, Go!
MY RACING LIFE OF CRIME
|Pascal’s previous career as train-spotter still shows through.|
In 2002, after years of street and off-road riding, I decided to have a go at track riding, courtesy of the FAST school. A year later I was fully addicted and found myself robbing dépanneurs, mugging old ladies and stealing candy from children, just to pay for race tires.
2003 was to be my first full season of racing – opting to buy an SV650 and try my luck at the local SV regional rounds. Success was mixed. I climbed on the podium for the first (and only) time of my illustrious career, but also experienced my first highside – putting to rest once and for all the rumours that an SV didn’t have enough power to do so on race rubber. Hey, nothing beats total lack of throttle control!
After making quite an impression on the Canadian motorcycle industry with my antics on the tracks (not!), my pestering emails finally paid-off, with an offer to join Team CMG for 2004. How could I pass? I’ve been an avid reader since the reign of the OMG – and that was in the days of paper no less.
I’ll be riding in the new SV650 National Class and will be submitting a series of articles about my racing fortunes on the pages of CMG – this report being the first.
TEAM CMG 2004
|Ready to race courtesy of Diablo and , err, Team CMG (hey, we helped with the lid and there’s a ‘go-faster’ CMG sticker on the bike somewhere).|
This year, being part of the illustrious Team CMG, I decided to indulge and spoil myself with a new 2003 SV650, built by the famed Montreal based team of Diablo Racing. This choice has some simple advantages;
1) I couldn’t build that bike for that little money,
2) Someone else builds the bike for you,
3) You are automatically eligible for the Diablo contingencies – that’s a $5000 end of season purse to the fastest Diablo bike!!!
However, the disadvantages become obvious real quickly;
1) You’re not building your own bike (so you have no control how it’s done),
2) You’ve got to wait for someone else to build your bike (while all their attention is focused on their paid riders),
3) When you do get the bike, it may not be when or how you expected it – as I write this, all the Diablo-built SV racers are still waiting for their stainless steel braided lines and the EBC brake pads.
|Why does the Devil’s horn point to CMG?Photo: Flair Photo|
So it’s the morning of my first track day and I finally take possession of the new girl (I’m not holding a grudge, no I’m not). She’s all shiny and pretty but alas is missing the performance brake pads and braided lines … and there’s no water in the rad. Hmmhh. Still, it’s time to ride and there’s no option but to break her in here and now.
Breaking in a motorcycle on a race-track requires restraint. Having none of that, I manage to do a mere 16 kilometres before missing a shift and whacking the rev-limiter, hard. Break-in completed!
I’ve now accumulated 300 (hard) kms on my new girl. The suspension is somewhat set up, the race exhaust is on and she’s done more dyno runs than Houston has done gang bangs (most of you one-handed typists should get that reference).
My first race – a wet Ontario regional round – got me a 4th place, behind guys on full wets. Mr. Seck seemed somewhat surprised, but I’m feeling like a king. But that’s just practice, let’s see how the first National turns out …
SHANNONVILLE, FRIDAY 21st MAY
|Fred changes the tires again in a desperate attempt to make Pascal faster.|
After four hours in the new Team CMG palatial motor-home (generously supplied by my paternal sponsors) and $125 of gas money later (time to visit that dépanneur again!), we arrive in Shannonville for round 1 of the Parts Canada Superbike Championship. The “we” is Fred Beaulieu, mechanic at Le-Complexe-de-la-Moto in Laval, who kindly offered to be the official Team CMG race manager/mechanic/psychologist.
After paying the $290 entry fees for 2 classes, I decide to preserve budget and use up an old hard-compound rear tire for the practice session. As a result, I’m well off the pace but decide to put my head down for the final afternoon session and am rewarded with my fastest lap of the day of 1 minute and 15 seconds. That puts me only one second off the lap record, but Fred doesn’t share my satisfaction as another racer, James Collins, just pulled a 1:13, putting him well under the current lap record, and over 2 seconds faster than me. The competition was proving to be tough.
|High-tech signage tells Pascal how many lives he has left.|
So what does a racer do when his talent is lacking? Plan A – throw money at the bike! This means mounting a new soft rear tire for Saturday’s timed qualifying, with the goal to knock a second off Friday’s best time.
Fred keeps within the CMG budget and makes a pit board using an old pizza box found in a dumpster. After the first 5 minutes or so I’m sitting in fourth place with a 1:13.60 lap time. I’m feeling good again until Fred stops with the signs and waives me to come into the pits. Seems I’ve dropped back down to seventh and my lap times are actually slowing. Not good.
Time for plan B.
Hell we don’t have a plan B!
|Trying to keep up with the competition (pre 130km/h off-road trip).Photo: Flair Photo|
Enter Robert Trottier – my good friend and experienced pro-racer competing in Canadian Thunder (congrats on the second place btw Rob!) – who suggests I follow one of the fast guys around and just try to keep up with him. The plan works for a few laps until I over do it and run off the track at 130 km/h. I manage to keep the bike upright and come back in the pits wondering if I have enough underwear to last me the weekend.
The fastest guy (that Collins dude again) ran a 1:12 flat, which would not only qualify him for the 600 Amateur Supersport final (against lighter 600 cc machines with an additional 40 horses!!!), but that time now stands as the new lap record.
By the way, I qualified seventh. Just in case you were wondering.
We decide to go all out and Fred mounts a new set of soft Michelins (who said SV racing was cheap?) and we retire to the CMG palatial motor-home, discuss strategies and get pumped up for tomorrow’s finals.
|“He just surfed all the way off the track on his gut!” John Bickle brings the Suzuki big-cheeses up to speed on Team CMG’s fortunes.|
It’s 8:30 Sunday morning and I’m pumped. So pumped in fact that in the first practice session (and during the first lap no less), I do a CMG and find myself body-surfing on my belly at a high rate of speed. I’d been bitten by a bad combination of cold tires and rider over eagerness. Luckily the damage to bike and rider were minimal (although the ego needed to be beaten back into shape) and I manage to squeeze in a few more laps before the actual racing starts.
The first racing is the Sportman’s Heavyweight, and it proves to be the ego-boost I need, coming up from 18th on the grid to finish a very respectable 7th overall, the SV beating bigger bikes like (as in not specifically) Honda’s RC51 and Suzuki’s TL1000R. But now there’s only one hour before the big SV race and the gods are not being nice, as the skies add an unwelcomed element of rain. Having learned the hard way after my first regional round, I do not hesitate and make a mad dash to the pits where Fred fits a set of old rains.
|Duct tape keeps the fogging and B.S. at bay.|
I’m now sitting on the grid waiting for the flag to drop – my face taped up with duct-tape so that my visor doesn’t fog up. I think happy-thoughts and visualize an amazing start where I blow by everyone from the second row … on my rear wheel, arms crossed. Okay, so maybe that didn’t happen, but I did manage to get up to fifth place, albeit mostly by block-passing the others on the opening laps.
As the race progressed, so did the pace, but unfortunately I didn’t, fading back to a not very impressive seventh place. Seeing the half-race flags I decide that if I wanted to do any better, then now was the time to do so. All I had to do was push just a little harder to catch the three SVs fighting it out in front of me – maybe even shooting past all three in their confusion. But pushing harder means taking more chances, and after nearly losing it in turn one at full throttle, sliding around turn three (where I’d gone off twice already) and finally scaring the beejesus out of myself at the end of the back straight, I decided it might be wise to just finish seventh and collect the points.
|Wouldn’t look out of place on the front cover of Cycle Canada!Photo: Flair Photo|
And that’s where Round One ends – not bad, but it could’ve been better, especially if I’d had decent rain tires. Or indeed, it could have been worse, as that Collins guy found out (you know – the new lap record holder), crashing twice and coming in 18th. At the end of the race I get a bit of an unexpected bonus when I learn that one of the guys in front of me was an invited racer (Paul Penzo from Cycle Canada) and so was not officially competing for points. That means I got an official 6th place. But hey, I’ll take whatever I can get right now!
Still, to be competitive I’m going to have to screw the budget and run on new rubber from now on. But that takes money, so here’s an offer – is anyone interested in a kidney? Seems that I can survive with only one. Will take best offer or trade for new (Michelin) tires of equal value. Don’t force me to go back to the dépanneurs!
Looking forward to Calgary.
ROUND 1 RESULTS
|POS||Veh#||First Name||Last Name||Hometown||Best Time|
|1||44P||Marc||St. Amand||Mississauga, ON||01:19.320|
|2||89A||Matt||Bushe||New Market, ON||01:19.243|
|P||21P||Paul||Penzo||East York, ON||01:19.412|
|16||669||Jason||Haine||Richmond Hill, ON||01:27.230|
|DNF||692||Jody||Pearce||North Bay, ON||01:20.477|
|DNF||913||Billy||Solmes||North Bay, ON||01:26.344|
Carrera Canada for the Forcefield back protector.
Fred at Le Complexe de la Moto for his time…
Flair Photo for kindly supplying some of the action pics.
P.S. We are still looking for sponsors to help poor little me with the costs of racing.