Archive for August, 2009

Good Weekend For Molloy

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

The 5th round of the 2009 season was held at the iconic Brands Hatch GP track over the last weekend in July. The weather was fine and dry for the race days but changeable conditions in testing on the Friday had the team changing wheels and tyres 5 times just to get out on track in 5 of the 6 available sessions. Showery I think would be the way to summarise that day!…

As the test day ran on the shorter ‘indi’ track this allowed good track time to learn about half of the bigger GP track and with the British Superbike event on the horizon, any additional track time was much needed.

After a few spills this year I decided to treat myself to a new set of leathers for the BSB meeting. Breaking them in at this event, after about 5 laps in the first of 4 qualifying sessions on Saturday (each very brief), I had a moment coming out of the first corner where I rode up onto the kerbs, expecting all to be well I didn’t panic as I drifted wide, only for the front tyre to loose grip dramatically and the bike to be dumped on it’s side at over 100mph with me underneath it. My new Arlen Ness kangaroo hide leathers were now being tested to the full as red dust and sparks flew into my face. Some 100 yards later I and the bike came to a stop just off the racing line. Fearing the worst, I lifted the bike expecting it to fall apart in front of me only to discover not a mark on her save for the crash protection post being totally worn away. My leathers were totally wrecked on my right leg and arm (which got very hot!) needing a comprehensive professional repair with new panels needing to be sewn in but the bike was fine. The remaining sessions were spent getting my confidence back together and getting used to the larger GP track which resulted in a qualifying spot of 16th from 44 bikes. The first 8-10 riders were regular BSB riders on quick bikes and with much more experience. We also tried a softer qualifying tyre for the first time which worked well, an essential bit of kit for a quick lap time.

Race 1

After a steady start I began to circulate in a group which had riders placed around 12th-17th.  My team mate, Sarah Jordan, led the group and was showing us the way round having done a trackday at the same venue about a week before. Still learning the track, I wasn’t entirely sure where I could pass and where there would be room so I was a touch hesitant. I managed a finish of 15th with a few changes potentially in mind to make the bike go better in Race 2 the next day.

Sunday’s events were attended by staff, friends and family of Keen Shay Keens, enjoying a day out in one of the hospitality boxes that I’d arranged. It was nice to meet with them and share the day’s racing. Several came into the garage to see the bike up close with some even having a sit on it and playing around with the bike running.

Race 2

After checking the bike over on Saturday night it was apparent that new brake pads were required which usually take about 5 laps to bed in, with morning warm up not quite offering this, I started race 2 thinking the pads were worn in but after the first few corners of really putting them to the test it was clear they weren’t ready for hard use. For the first 3-4 of 8 laps the brakes performed inconsistently and wreaked havoc on my confidence – I basically didn’t know when to brake and how hard. This translates to people making easy passes and it looking like you’re touring which was really galling! Towards the end of the race the brakes began to bite properly and so good were the new pads that this showed up a handling problem that had started to show itself in recent races as I’ve now started to get used to this Supersport 600 machine. Basically the rear was lifting and upsetting the handling going into corners, pulling the bike wide and with my new better fitness, I was able to brake later and harder than before. I finished 18th which was disappointing but changing the chassis so more weight would be on the rear in Race 3 meant I was confident of setting a PB laptime and finishing in the top 12, maybe top 10.

Race 3

All of the drama unfolded in the minutes leading up to the race start. The weather had closed in and it was getting darker. A misty rain began to fall but not enough to moisten the track surface, it was still warm and the wind was blowing. About 3-4 minutes before we had to be on the grid, the mist turned to drops and I decided to throw in a set of wet tyres. On rolling onto the grid, of the 44 bikes starting only about 4 others had made the same gamble, hoping the rain would persist and the track get wet or the point of dry tyres being of no use. The pace lap was taken very slowly by the dry tyre runners obviously sussing out the grip. As we formed on the grid I had a rye smile and knew we’d made the right choice……………….In the first lap and a half I went from 16th up to about 7th with the leaders in sight and the pace very inconsistent, some people were obviously relishing in these mixed conditions, others really suffering. By the third of eight laps, the rain drops had stopped and with the surface dry, those on dry tyres began to run quicker. Those on wets like me began to overheat their tyres and slow down. The result was a heart breaking slip from being well inside the top 10 to back in 19th place by the finish. The handling of the bike was terrible with it feeling like I was riding on punctures as the tyres cooked and fell apart. Had it have kept spitting or worse i.e. a bit of lady luck, we would have for sure finished in the top 5, maybe got on the podium.

 

In summary a frustrating weekend with lessons learnt. This bodes well for the next round at Cadwell on August 22-23 as the handling should be more stable with the better brakes which will be essential on that twisty track. We will also have 4 races there that weekend instead of 3 as one is postponed from our May visit there.

Next outing is the BSB meeting at Brands Hatch as a wildcard in the Supersport class over the weekend of August 7-9. This will be the highlight of the year with some 80,000 expected to attend the Sunday races with my race being LIVE on Eurosport at 15.00 on August 9th. The entire event is covered on Eurosport that afternoon. The aim at this race, being up against WORLD class riders and machines is to finish and not get lapped. This sounds pessimistic but we are hoping to be less than 5 seconds a lap off the pace which in my first year on this bike, only 3rd year of competition and on a machine that is much lower in spec, this would be considered a big achievement.

Peter.

Peter Molloy

Peter Molloy

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Third For Steve Plater

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

BRITISH SUPERSPORT CHAMPIONSHIP
Qualifying: 5th
Race (18 laps): 3rd

Completing his race in third place on the CBR600RR, Steve Plater sees his series lead diminish further and now holds a slender advantage of just eight points over Billy McConnell.

Steve didn’t get the start he was hoping for and was left battling for position with a gaggle of riders in eighth place. But as he settled into his race he began to make progress, taking the opportunity to make a pass on each of the riders ahead until he made it up into second position to chase the race leader and eventual winner, James Westmoreland.

But his progress was hindered when the pace car was deployed to allow medics to treat an injured rider who crashed at Hawthorne on lap nine, enabling the rest of the field to close up. Steve held off the persistent challenges of Billy McConnell who was the one rider he needed to keep at bay, but on the final lap McConnell was able to clinch one place on Steve in the closing laps, which he held to the chequered flag.

Steve Plater
“It’s great to get on the podium and retain my lead in the series, but obviously I’m disappointed that I didn’t manage to clinch second. When the pace car came out Billy was able to close in again and a small mistake in the closing laps meant he had an opportunity to slip past. After the car went back in I got my head down but it wasn’t enough and I knew that someone was very close to me on the last lap and that he would be attacking but wasn’t quite sure where. It’s just one of those things but it’s a bit frustrating when I had done all the hard work to get through to second and was chasing after the leader and then got beaten on the last lap. Billy has gained a few points on me but at least Ben Wilson hasn’t as he finished behind me so we can go forward and push on to Cadwell and see what happens there. I’m confident for the remaining four rounds of the series and maintaining my lead to win the championship.”

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New Riders Stand In At Brands

Sunday, August 16th, 2009
HM Plant Honda and Honda’s heralded supersport production machines were in action again this weekend at the sun-soaked Brands Hatch circuit in Kent for the eighth round of the British Superbike Championship, claiming further podiums in the British Supersport and British Superstock classes in the hands of Steve Plater, Steve Brogan and John McGuinness.

With regular British Superbike stars Glen Richards and Josh Brookes temporarily out through injury, rider changes meant reigning Superstock champion Steve Brogan and World Superbike racer, Karl Muggeridge, who is also returning from injury, took the HM Plant Honda helm in the British Superbike class and showed competitive race performances.

Honda’s display stand showcased a range of two-wheelers, cars and power equipment products over the course of the weekend, and was graced with celebrity bike fans including Coronation Street’s Jimi Harkishin (who plays ‘Dev’) and Danny John Jules of Red Dwarf fame.

BRITISH SUPERBIKE CHAMPIONSHIP
Qualifying: Karl Muggeridge 9th / Steve Brogan 14th
Race 1 (20 laps): Karl Muggeridge 4th / Steve Brogan 14th
Race 2 (20 laps): Karl Muggeridge 7th / Steve Brogan 8th
Race 3 (20 laps): Karl Muggeridge 6th / Steve Brogan 11th

Brands Hatch featured a triple-header in the BSB class. The opening Superbike race saw Karl shoot from eighth on the grid to second by the first corner and ride with strong pace to take fourth at the chequered flag in his British Superbike debut. Team-mate Steve experienced a difficult race following a gamble change with his bike’s set-up before the race.

Sunday’s opening Superbike race saw both HM Plant Honda riders make set-up changes to their CBR1000RR Fireblades and make a good start off the line, but with the pack then being closed together when the safety car was deployed on the fifth lap following a crash at Hawthorns, until lap nine. James Ellison was piling the pressure on Steve Brogan for seventh, with the pair almost touching fairings at various points on circuit. ‘Brogie’ held the advantage, holding him at bay on the brakes into Paddock Hill Bend but at Druids he had to run wide when another rider cut in front of him and handed the place to Ellison. He cut back in and then he was trying to overtake team-mate Karl Muggeridge who had also been able to take advantage of the mistake, but took closely fought seventh and eighth places at the race end.

The third and final BSB race of the weekend witnessed further ‘on the pace’ and hard fought performances by both riders, but with Karl having to settle for sixth due to grip issues and Brogie having to accept eleventh.

Karl Muggeridge (#31)
“We’ve covered a lot of ground this weekend and really used the qualifying session for testing as I am obviously playing catch up at the moment. We’ve made various changes to the bike’s settings and it has been pretty busy for us trying to find out what works for me. For the first race yesterday we went for a completely new setting with a different shock and link and that worked well. This morning though we have been making more changes including new front forks and the front felt much better and I am really comfortable now. My race positions are not where I want to be as I do believe I could have challenged for a podium, but it’s early days and with a bit more time on the bike at Cadwell we can hopefully build on my three top ten finishes from this weekend and get on the podium.”

Steve Brogan (#19)
“I’m not disappointed, but I’m not satisfied either, as I know I did my best for the time I’ve had on the bike and I’ve been finishing ahead of some the of BSB established and regular riders, but, I know there’s more to come and that I’m capable of finishing in the top five, if not on the podium. My pace has been good and not dissimilar to other riders but we’ve had to use this race for testing and trying different bike settings, so that’s affected things. Riding in this class for the last two races has made me even more certain that this is where I’m meant to be and made me more determined to be on a Superbike next season. I’d like to thanks HM Plant Honda for giving me this opportunity which has been a great experience where I’ve learnt a lot aswell.”

Havier Beltran, HM Plant Honda Team Manager
“We’ve come away from this race with some solid race finishes in the Superbike class, and also achieved podiums in the Supersport and Superstock classes. Whilst we’re not happy to not be challenging for podiums in the Superbike class at every race meeting, the progress made and results achieved, given our team rider changes, is creditable. Steve has managed to hold on to his lead in Supersport albeit with a reduced margin, so he’s got some work to do in the remaining four rounds but we’ve every confidence in him and the CBR600RR. John and Brogie rode brilliantly as always in Superstock but it just seems that no matter how hard they try this seems to be Alastair’s year. In Superbikes, both Steve and Karl have worked excellently and we’ve had to use a lot of this race weekend for testing and trying different bike set-ups to suit their riding styles. That’s never ideal, but Karl has achieved three top ten race finishes on his debut which is very impressive, and we’ve made some great bike set-up progress which I’m sure will benefit us at Cadwell.”

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Tunstall Takes Triple Podium

Sunday, August 16th, 2009

Hardinge Doodson Motorsport racer Tom Tunstall had a weekend to remember taking three podium finishes as the British Superbike Championship made history holding three races over a weekend for the first time.

 

Tom Tunstall

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