Words: Pascal Anctill Photos: Richard Seck, unless otherwise noted
After a really stressful, but very successful weekend at Le Circuit Mont Tremblant, I was quite looking forward to this final, low-pressure weekend at Shannonville, Ontario. For those of you who haven’t been following my updates, I was coming to the final round of the 2004 Diablo SV Cup with the Championship already in the bag.
Racing at the Canadian national level has brought upon me a surprising amount of stress that reached its pinnacle at the previous Tremblant round. With the need to win eliminated from the equation, this weekend was all about fun – no crashing, no excessive spending, no pressure. Just hanging out with friends and racing for the fun of it, which was kinda my motivation to do this thing in the first place.
TURN YOU BASTARD, TURN!
|Jordan Szoke shows how to get the most life out of tires.|
Friday was practice day but I didn’t have any good tires left to put on the SV. Tires are the most expensive part of racing (after the bike, obviously) and I sure didn’t feel like spending big bucks on new tires just for a practice day. So after digging in my trailer for a few minutes I found a nice ‘new’ Michelin … with a built date of 1999. Yep that’ll do.
After the first practice session I was shocked to find out that I wasn’t able to keep pace with the leaders. Okay, I wasn’t taking any chances but I felt good and really thought I was doing better. Being somewhat of a competitive guy I decided to take some of those chances and push harder in the afternoon session.
The session ended with me still lagging woefully behind, only with a much depleted adrenal gland thanks to a few scary moments when pushing just a little too hard. Apparently, my lack of mental preparation wasn’t actually working in my favour.
|“You can’t turn worth shit!”. Pascal gets some some tough love in the pits.|
I initially thought that the new/old rear tire was to blame (heck I never took responsibility for anything before, why start now?) but that good old rubber seemed to stick plenty. Besides, the problem seemed to be in turning, as I was loosing the most time in the quick transition curves. Hmmhh, could it be that my suspension settings were off?
Having used the exact same suspension settings for ALL the national races (but don’t tell anyone because a real racer always fiddles with their settings every round) and never experiencing any difficulty in leaning the bike, it had to come from somewhere else …
Oh well, why do today what I can put off to tomorrow? Time for a beer and a nice dinner.
170 WON’T CUT IT
|Pascal, Alain, Matt and Marc St-Amand dice it up.|
Saturday; I woke up not as rested as expected but still ready to go play. Incidentally, I totally forgot about the set-up problems of the day before as I headed for the track.
I think I managed four laps before I came to the conclusion again that this thing did not want to turn! Thinking about it some more I realized that the new/old rear tire was actually a 170-section instead of the 160 that I usually run. Hmhhh, that could do it. With qualifying being next, there was an easy way to find out.
Keeping in the spirit of no excessive spending, I went back in the trailer and picked out the least worn soft compound 160-section rear tire that I could find. Turns out that it was the same tire that I won Tremblant on.
|For one brief moment, Alain followed Pascal.Photo: Flair Photo|
The very first lap of qualifying proved the 170-section tire to be the culprit and I was back riding my old girl. Although this was good news, it meant that I now had to preserve this tire the best I could so I decided to try to pull as fast a lap as soon as possible and head straight into the pits afterwards.
Luckily for me I found myself behind Alain “Speedy Gonzales” Lefebvre so I just followed him around for 4 or 5 laps and then came into the pits. That was good enough for third best qualifying time, just behind Matt “Balls to the Wall” Bushe.
TIRES – THICK, TIRED & TOASTED!
Sunday was race day and I decided to try morning practice with the 170-section rubber again as I wanted to save the 160-section for the actual race. It was still unridable. I had no choice but to come back into the pits and watch the others practice.
|The start was still a happy-time for the 160-section tire.|
After another “turn the trailer upside down” search I couldn’t find a better rubber than the original destroyed Tremblant one that I had on for qualifying. It was either time to pay the Michelin Man or take the big risk of the tire going completely on me before the end of the race.
Those who know me already know what decision I took.
The race started pretty well, and after a couple of laps behind Marc St-Amand I got by and lead for the first half of the race. Then it happened!!! I had to pay the price for the old tire. Yep Mr. Cheap I am. The 160-section tire was toast.
|A large crowd came out to watch the SV race, and had the Parts Canada Superbike rounds thrown in for free.|
It started by some subtle hints, a little slide coming out of the hairpin, another little slide here and there. Just enough for that feeling of self-preservation to start kicking in. No problem I thought, I’ll just slow down a bit.
In a perfect re-enactment of the Mosport race, Matt Bushe seized the moment and dived in on the inside of me in turn two. It was a daring move, but as a result he went wide at the exit and I saw my opportunity to stuff in my front wheel and take the inside of turn three.
But, you see, Matt is a fierce competitor and refused to give any ground, and we ended up going through turn three side by side! The combination of a slipping rear tire, an overzealous self-preservation instinct and a serious shrinking of the scrotum, forced me to let him through. I kept with him the best I could but the kid was going too fast and refused to give any.
|Alain Lefebvre takes a well-deserved win, with Pascal second (left) and Blaine Groves third (right).|
However, racing is a complicated game and a few turns later he hit the hairpin too fast, dropped it and was out of the race. At the same time, my ‘good friend’ Alain decided to dive-bomb me with his best kamikaze move. That not-so-nicely orchestrated move had him go way deep on the brakes and I took back the lead coming out of the hairpin.
But Alain had smelled blood and took the inside of me in turn two. This time the move was perfect and I had nothing to counter him with. After that, my failing rear tire kept me honest as I was sliding everywhere – even in turn one! That, my friends, is no fun at all.
The race ended with Alain on the well-deserved highest step of the podium, and I was quite happy to be in 2nd place, the championship already a done deal.
To see a full listing of the Team CMG diaries, including all the parts of Pascal’s efforts, click here.
FINAL TOP FIVE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:
|RIDER INFO||1 – SHANNONVILLE||2 – CALGARY||3 – MOSPORT||4 – MOSPORT||5 – TREMBLANT||5 – SHANNONVILLE||CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Pascal Anctil||81A||6||27||2||42 + 3||1||50 + 4||3||37||1||50 + 4||2||42 + 2||1||263|
|Gilles Biron||6A||4||32||NS||0||2||42 + 2||4||32||4||32 + 1||4||32||2||173|
|Marc St. Amand||44P||1||50 + 2||5||29||5||29 + 3||5||29||DNF||0||DNF||0 + 1||3||143|
|Matt Bushe||89A||2||42 + 3||NS||0||DNF||0||2||42||3||37 + 2||DNF||0 + 3||5||129|
Note – POS = Position, NS = No Show, DNF = Did Not Finish, DNS = Did Not Start, + = Qualifying points
Note, for more information on the Diablo SV Cup and further details on each race, check out www.svcup.diablopit.com.
A SENSATIONAL SEASON
|Where’s that left hand? Cork popping fun on the podium.|
The past few weeks since the last race have given me time to think about the season. It had to be one of the best summers of my life.
I’ve been lucky to experience the whole National circus, I’ve made new friends and I’ve got to know how far I can push myself to succeed in something I love. Racing is indeed a drug, and I’ve lived mostly the highs this season and I’m thankful for that. I’ve seen others experience the lows and hopefully that will keep me honest to my friends and myself.
On that note, if you want to know what it takes to have a championship-winning season, here’s my two cents:
PASCAL’S GUIDE TO WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP!
One of the most valuable things you can have when racing is luck. I’ve been lucky on many fronts this year, but unfortunately you can’t buy luck. You can however, help get lady luck on your side by making good decisions, and for that to happen in racing you need to have a good plan.
|Race-prepped Diablo SV650 was a good purchase.|
A good plan starts way before the season kicks in and basically involves identifying and minimizing potential problems and deficiencies. After racing in the 2003 season I knew all my deficiencies that needed to be addressed:
Deficiency #1 – The bike
My old SV 650 was simply not up to par. The suspension sucked and the motor was tired (it had over 30,000 street kms before I converted it for the track). These are two bad ingredients in a class where everyone has the same bike.
When I saw the ad for the Diablo-prepped SVs, I bit my tongue and out came the cheque-book. This gave me a slightly modified bike with everything I needed to be competitive and lower my lap times:
|The 2003 high-side incident still preyed heavily on Pascal’s mind.Photo: Marc Anctil|
1) Good suspension in the form of Pro Tech-tuned forks and an Elka shock,
2) The new-for-2003 stronger motor with an Hindle high mount pipe.
3) Other race-goodies like EBC pads and SS brake lines.
Deficiency #2 – Rider skill
Because of an unfortunate high-side in 2003, I had a serious problem with sliding a motorcycle on pavement – a much needed skill if you want to run with the boys up front. I practiced ice-racing a lot last winter and completed a four-day American Supercamp.
Although this was mostly targeted at dirt trackers and Supermoto riders, spending four days completely sideways on XR100’s made me learn more on motorcycle dynamics than five years road riding ever did!
Deficiency #3 – Commitment.
|Commitment sometimes actually pays off …|
Racing is all about commitment. It’s a huge money commitment and an even bigger time commitment. I’ve taken every single day off that I had – to go racing (and I get 18 days vacation a year); and I’ve sacrificed my personal life – all in the name of racing.
Money-wise I took a decision early on that if I wanted to run up front I was going to spend the required money to get there. I did not start a race without putting new tires on*, although savings can be made by using used tires for practice. I always carried all the spares I thought I’d ever need (most bought on E-bay), including an extra set of wheels, shod with rain tires.
The only place where I didn’t spend the usual amount of big bucks was in the engine. Being a limited horsepower class, it seemed unnecessary to spend the cash for a maximum of one or two extra horsepower.
Overall, I’ve never let money stand between me and racing.
* Last Shannonville round excluded, as the championship was already in the bag.
THE COST BREAKDOWN
Fortunately, things like purse money, tire contingency and the Suzuki contingency helped me throughout the season big time. I’ve gotten help from sponsors too and I’m thankful to them. My friends and family helped me through the tougher parts by being there when I needed them. They know who they are.
However, as far as the hard costs I encountered to do the six national races over five weekends, here’s a rough breakdown:
|Diablo SV650 (race ready)||$9,900.00||
|Tires (@ $660.00 per weekend x 5)||$3,300.00|
|Entry Fees (@ $250.00 per weekend x 5)||$1,250.00|
|Transportation, fuel, etc||$900.00|
|Additional costs to get to Calgary||$1,500.00|
|Minus money from bike and parts sale, post season||$8,100.00|
|Minus prize monies*||$10,100.00|
|Note – Most of accommodation costs were saved by using my parent’s camper, a tent or commuting. Calculations do not include any of the regional rounds I did, or rider gear required.
* Suzuki: $1300 plus $1000 for the Championship, Michelin (tire contingency): $1100, Bickle Racing: $1700, Diablo Championship: $5000.
|The Diablo SV Cup has been a great success.|
I hope I’m not scaring anyone into not trying road-racing, because it is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Just remember to set realistic goals. If you’re not willing to commit 100%, don’t be disappointed if you can’t make it into the top 10. It’s about having fun after all, right?
The SV Cup is by far the best class to start road-racing in Canada. The bikes are cheap, the rules prohibit big and expensive mods and in the national series you get the chance to race with the other national rounds at all the best tracks in Canada. What else can you ask for?
WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS
Having clinched the SV Cup National Championship, I’ve decided to make the step to 600cc in the form of the Parts Canada Amateur 600 National Championship. Although I strongly considered running in the Canadian Thunder series, this seems like a logical step for me. Especially since CMG already covered the Thunder series …
The 600 class is renowned for being a make or break one, with more breaks than anything else. I’ve bought a well-used 2003 Kawasaki ZX6RR race bike and I’ve almost done a full day practice with it. I say “almost” because I’ve already suffered through my first 600 crash at Shannonville last weekend.
|National Superbike class for 2006?|
Although I was relatively unharmed, the bike faired much worst, essentially breaking, denting or scratching every part with the exception of the rear wheel! I’m particularly angry at the Shannonville race-track management, as what should have been a fairly routine low-side, turned out to be a spectacular tumble through the unnecessarily rough run-off area of turn two. The amount of people who got hurt in that turn this year alone should be enough for the owner to do something about it!
Temporary set-back aside, I’ve set some pretty high goals for myself for next year and I’ve already started to plan track days and schools in the US this winter, with lots of ice racing thrown in. Also, even though I’m in the best shape I’ve been for a long time, I’ve set a pretty strict exercise and diet routine. So, hopefully keeping in shape and practicing this winter will help me achieve a top 5 overall result and bring me the coveted National Pro license for 2006 …
Now I just need to figure out how to stay on that darn bike!
Carrera Canada for the Forcefield back protector.
Philippe (aka Frenchy) at Le Complexe de la Moto for his time …
Parts Canada for exchanging my crashed helmet that I just destroyed again!
Teknic for the armour for Mr. Seck’s old suit.