Round 2, HPV Super Series, Adelaide, 2008
Update: Wed, July, 16th
With some comments this week (2 weeks shy of the race) about this page already being up, but with nothing on it, I thought now would be a good time to give a FUD (Fear Uncertainty & Doubt, remember Ducky?) update...
The new fairing is built and almost ready to be popped out of the mold. The boys finished welding the main chassis today and should have it on the road this weekend for testing.
The Wintery weather has certainly made for some interesting training sessions in Castlemaine of late. The boys usually get together a couple of nights during the week for some track simulation training around a local housing estate. The only problem is by the time they get out on the road it is usually after 5PM, getting dark, raining, and freezing - but they love it all the same! Coming home to the sight of 4 of them shivering in their undies in front of the heater the other night was almost worthy of a photo
I predict that come race day, everything will fall into place, and baring unforseen "issues" we'll back at the pointy end of the field...
Update: Sat, July, 26th AM
The road trip over this time was done in two full car loads rather than the mini-bus (debacle) of last time. Also thrown out was the NavMan SatNav from last trip, this time replaced with a TomTom - surely it couldn't be any worse? Didn't take long to find out that whilst it may know its way around cities, it knew stuff all about the best route from Maryborough to Horsham. Even though we didn't need the help, we thought it'd be fun to follow what it thought was the best route, even if it resulted in Steele thinking North was South and vice-versa. Luckily the boys in the second car were on the ball and we eventually made it back on track for the obligatory 'KFC' stop. One benefit of the detour was that we by passed Stawell, the scene of the first incident on the previous trip. One other side effect of bypassing the Ararat/Stawell/Horsham route was that truck numbers were down with only 73 sighted travelling towards us this time.
The moons were sure shining brightly on the trip over, even though there were scattered showers and a cloudy sky we could still see both cheeks glowing in the car lights at regular intervals. Pitty (or maybe thankfully) the camera was in the back of the wagon!
We arrived around 2:30am (Vic time, changed watches back after we arrived) and unlike last time where everyone just wanted to get to bed and sleep; several of the guys were up for another hour or so winding down - from the highs of the trip over? Morning saw the knuckle-head brigade off to the CBD for Maccas etc, and Ty, Mick, Henry and Steele staying back to finish getting the new trike ready for scrutineering. Matt stayed behind too, but he just seemed to be very interested in a certain magazine Josh picked up on the way over.
The HRTC boys have just arrived at the Adelaide Caravan Park around 1:30pm and as usual were in the 2 cabins next to us - must be the Maryborough area of the park.
Update: Sat, July, 26th, PM
We returned to the caravan park after scrutineering to find our parking bay overtaken by a large Hertz rental bus... The BYR crew had arrived and they too were nestled in our little corner of the caravan park. They'd arrived, thrown all their rubbish out door as they disembarked (at least that's what it looked like) and decided they'd use the entire area for themselves... Humpph, the nerve of them. Seems they have a little more work to do to get ready for the race in the morning as they're spending a lot of time with the human hoists holding the trikes up.
The boys were planning a trip to the cinema for a viewing of Batman tonight but as it's not on until 9PM they've decided for a huge pasta fix and watching some of the time trial on Le Tour - perfect prep for the race in the morning!
Race Day Arrives...
With the pit crew having stayed up to watch the Time Trial stage of Le Tour the night before things were moving rather slowly first thing around 7:00am. With breakfast underway it quickly became evident that we were (supposed to be) sharing bunch of permanently hungry professional food devourers. All the milk, save for a carton of Soy that only Tim was interested in, was gone, as was the 10 litres of orange juice bought on Saturday afternoon. So it was a choice of dry cereal or lots of muffins, toast, yoghurt and scraps.
The BYR & Flora Hill gang were loaded and headed off whilst we were still fueling up. About the time we started to load up the HRTC crew were also on their way. Nothing like a timely start to the day - hey don't just blame Kel & Tim, we run on Victorian time permanently, even if we did remember to change the clock this time. We finally manage to get underway; luckily the track is only a couple of minutes down the road. When we arrive everyone else is almost setup and the marshals' meeting is nearly finished. I jumped out to attend the team managers meeting and leave the boys to find our pits and setup. We'd been told our pits would be on the concrete this time around, so we'd managed to arrange for the loan of some 20l water bottles ahead of time from the AIPP which we'd only just managed to fit in the trailer. Ty was soon to ring to say he couldn't find our pits on the concrete. A quick confirmation with Tim Corbet from DUSA confirmed we'd lucked out and were still on the grass section so the stress of the bottles etc was a non-issue.
With the Team Managers meeting over and done, I headed back to the pits where the boys almost had the marquee up. A quick get together to remind the riders of the points that had just been stressed; 1) Double Yellow meant NO overtaking - this almost lead to an altercation between Kel & Tim as the former was insistent that he was "pretty much sure they'll be waving double yellow all the time," therefore he reckoned riders should just use their own judgment. Arrrghh! 2) No overtaking the course car, at any time, and 3) Black Flag stopping area was in front of the chief marshal container - yes, Chooka, this was mentioned
With Brock Mills and Matt Leonard (again) on loan from TriSled for the weekend we'd rocked up to a 6 hour race with more riders than we'd ever considered necessary before. This time we had the horse power for the journey around this testing track. Time would tell whether we the racing gods were on our side this weekend...
It was around now that we noticed other riders warming up and realised that our warm up bike had been left behind again - not to worry says Steele & Ty "it only wastes energy!" With the grid forming fast there was still an obvious lack of urgency in the ExPats pits as Ty and Mick did some last minute checks before wheeling the trike on to the track just a couple of minutes before the parade lap. BYR's Cal was making the most of these last few minutes before the offical start with some engine warming up on the exercise bike which had been relocated onto the starting grid for him. He further gave the impression we were still watching F1 cars at the Adelaide track when during the Parade lap he proceeded to do the customary speed swivels to get some temperature into the tyres. A move quickly copied by a couple of other riders, including our Steele.
The time had come to clear the grid and get the parade lap under way. We were expecting a fast start to the race and with the new chassis specifically built for this course we expected with Steele powering it it would tear away from the start line and not be caught during the first stint. That's the thing about plans... sometimes... they come undone. With the start flag waved, Steele put the power down and was pulling away from the start line faster than anyone. However, the gears were slipping under the strain. Running SRam red for the first time, we'd had some relearning to do, and despite a trip to the local bike shop prior to leaving Castlemaine, and Steele, Kel and Mick tinkering some more on Saturday night, there was still something not quite right as he pulled away from the line. The slipping all of a sudden caused the chain to jump, and as Steele was trying to re centre it in the corflute chain guards (something else that won't be done again!) the chain became caught in the cranks and he had to pull to the side of the track, get out, fix the chain, get in and get going again. By this time he'd lost almost 2 minutes on the leaders and it was going to be an uphill battle getting back on level par with them.
Undaunted by this task, Steele put his mind and body into the pursuit and quickly began "scything through the field in the attempt to recover the lost lap" - to quote The DuckMeister. So whilst he averaged just under 2 minutes 15 for the next 15 laps, a battle for the lead between Blueshift, Ballistic and BYR had begun to become a little one sided as both BYR and Ballistic fogged up, whilst the optimised airflow inside/through Blueshift ensured they remained clean and clear and started to pull away from the chasers.
Around this time there was another passing shower of rain that brought additional visibility problems and more handling problems around crash corner that led to a bingle for Steele, some lost time, and an unscheduled pit stop to clear the windscreen before he put down another 8 laps before handing over to Kel. After losing so much time at the start of the race, Steele had managed to get us back into the leading group of 3 or 4 after an hour and 10 minutes of riding.
After a rather lengthy pit stop, Kel headed out ready to try and redeem himself for a less than spectacular Round 1, and with a 2:27 lap out of the pits he looked set for a good quick stint. The slippery road meant he had to curb his usual approach a little and so he settled for laps in the mid 2:20's. All was looking good until... a spin out at crash corner left him facing into another trike and every time he went to try and maneuver out of the situation the trike in front of him would also move! This went on for a good 30 seconds before he was able to power away up the hill. Isn't it infuriating how one small incident can undo a solid stint? A few laps later and Kel was in. Despite having done some training for this event - a first for a 6 hour race during winter, he'd run out of steam. Seems the new seating arrangement had him bent more in the torso than usual and had restricted his breathing somewhat.
So whilst things weren't running exactly to plan, we were still in the hunt. Queue Henry...
Powered by green beans, Henry headed out with a single mission in mind - gain some ground on those in front of us. We were running around 3rd or 4th at this stage, bit hard to tell exactly when you don't have ready access to the race progress results in real time, so as long as we kept chipping away we felt confident we'd move up a couple of places over the next couple of riders. Henry settled into his mid 2:20's race pace and without incident put in a reasonably solid 18 lap stint. We were looking good for a change and with Brock up next things were looking pretty rosey.
Brock headed out with a cautious first lap to make sure he was comfortable with the track and trike handling etc - he should be as he and Matt own one of our old race trikes. From that point on he started to settle into an average lap time around 2:20. Some laps in the teens and few in the mid 20's. He was chewing up the field and clearly the fastest man on the circuit at the time. Mid way through his stint we'd climbed into second place. Both Ballistic and Blueshift had slowed. However, it was around this time that BYR put the machine named Rowan out on the track. For most of the rest of Brock's stint BYR was sitting on around the same pace. Then towards the end of Brock's stint Rowan started dipping into the sub 2:20's and was now taking time off everyone. Time for another rider change and after a solid 27 stint at an average lap time of just under 2:23. I was wondering what we might have to do to bribe him away from TriSled?
With all our riders so far performing better than Round 1 it was obvious the changes that Ty & Kel had made to build a new chassis better suited this circuit were working - Dangle Berry was performing as well, if not better than, everything else on the track. Whilst our top-end speed has never been in doubt, the old configuration had lacked acceleration out of corners and up that blasted hill, not anymore though as could be seen by the end of the race we'd (courtesy of Steele yet again) had claimed fastest lap of the race, and unlike Round 1, he wasn't even trying for a flat-out lap, he was just in the groove. More on that later.
Aaron was in next, and like Kel had a point to prove after a less than stellar Round 1. Standing on Crash Corner with a couple of the boys during the start of Aaron's stint was probably the scariest moment I've had in the last 5 years of involvement in HPV racing. For the first 8 times he came absolutely pinging into that corner he had too much speed, the wrong line, and was relying on braking after the apex of the corner to slow himself down enough to get through the corner. It was bit pointless trying to yell at him to brake sooner and take a better line, but the boys did anyway... usually just after we'd close one eye, turn slightly away and hope like hell there was no crashing noise just in front of us. It was credit to him that despite having to wash off so much speed at the bottom of the hill each time he was still able to average mid 2:20's for those first laps.
Eventually he got the line sorted as his times started to drift out, BYR swept past us putting us back into 3rd place. 2 laps in the 2:30's was the signal that Azza needed to be flagged in, but just on that lap he ground to a virtual stop going up the hill. Kel took off from crash corner running up the track to find out what was wrong. Surely not another mechanical incident! Nope, plain old cramps. Bugger! It was a long, slow, and painful last lap for Aaron by the time he reached the pits 3 and a half minutes later.
Matt was in next and we were in need of someone to step up and get us back on the pace and back into the race. he was quickly into the low 2:20's for his first 10 laps, before drifting out to high 2:20s for the rest of his 19 lap stint. He was holding our place relative to most of the leaders. BYR and Blueshift at this stage were both lapping quicker though and Ballistic were about to pickup the pace again as well. Matt battled on holding a good consistent pace, job done it was time to hand over to team captain Ty, who was secretly hoping that with this many riders he might not have to ride this weekend!
Ty is famous for his gut-riding, but preferably not in the manner in which we came to see on this day. With very little training under his belt he headed out to try and regain us some time on the track. He eventually settled on a pace in the low 2:20's and thanks to what I consider may have been an error of judgment on BYR's part, he was starting to eat into some of the lead of the 3 trikes in front of us. It seemed BYR had left Rowan out for possibly 4 laps too many as his times had dropped off and now everyone in contention was going faster than them. Ty continued to grind out his consistent laps until... on lap 15 he rounded crash corner and felt the urge to chunder. Now whilst this in itself isn't an unusual thing for Ty (he'd rather push to exhaustion during a race than train a little bit more!) he usually manages to do it after he gets out of the trike. Mid corner, at speed, wasn't the time to be taking his hands off the steering to open the door and let fly out the open door. Nope... he just looked in his lap and let fly...
It's shocking the amount of mess 6 bananas eaten too soon before a riding stint can make in a small enclosed space. And so with vomit everywhere he quickly made a bee-line for the pits where Steele was almost ready to jump in.
Now, who could blame a bloke for refusing to get in a trike after Chundergutz, as TheDuckmeister was to later call him, has just dumped his load. Steele had to wait for a clean up job that took around a minute, and then... there was still that one blob of recycled banana sitting right where his bum had to go. There was no way he was going to sit on that!
With the trike clean enough for him to ride, but I'm guessing the stench of the vomit still present, he headed out onto the track with a mission in mind. Catch up as much time as possible in the 22 minutes available. At this point we were a lap plus some time down on the 3 in front of us. However, with an average lap speed of 2:10 for those last 12 laps - a speed faster than any other team managed for just one lap of the race, including a blistering 2:05 he was closing in fast on everyone. By this time he had us back on the same lap as everyone else and had the race gone on for only 1 more lap would have easily gobbled up BYR who were within sight. That's racing though, if, if if... luckily, there's always next time.
Whilst it's possible to say that the race truly could have been won by any of the top four teams had one little incident here or there throughout the day gone their way, Ballistic really did gift the race win to the Blueshift boys with their crash with only minutes to go. Despite what the SASI web site says about the incident that ended their chances, here's what really happened. ExPats were positioned on marshal duty on the pit entrance where the stack happened, so we had a very good view of exactly what happened:
Ballistic were in DAS's slipstream coming up the extreme right hand edge of the track near the pit entry. There was a small yellow primary trike that was also directly on that same line, but didn't appear to be coming into the pits - just in the wrong place on the track I think. We could almost see on the face of the DAS rider the need to make a quick decision as to which side he could get past on, and with a sharp yank on the steering he went towards the middle of the track. With almost no time to react, Ballistic decided to go right of the yellow primary trike instead, and at the very begining of the pit entry. Too late he realised that he'd made a mistake and he just clipped the yellow trike sending him sideways into the pit lane barrier. His only other choice at the time would have been to pole-axe the entry barrier! It crossed my mind at one point that the DAS rider may have almost lined him up for it to get him out of his slippy. Regardless of the how's and why's, it was just another of the "that's racing moments" that happens. Whilst it would be easy to blame the kid in the yellow trike for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the Ballistic rider also made a couple of bad decisions in the process as well - if he wasn't sitting 2 inches from the tail of DAS he'd have had more time to think & react, and might have even seen what was going on ahead of him. It was in his best interests to be riding extra safe at that point in time - IMHO.
Congratulations to the Blueshift team on another well crafted victory, good to see the BYR boys make the trip over with their new rig and help put the SASI boys on notice that it isn't going to be easy to post a win at the Murray Bridge 24 hour event this year!
A 4th place finish was just below what were aiming for this time, but at least we think we've got most of the gremlins worked out of the trike now. We'll build a new one for Murray Bridge based on the lessons we've learnt over the year and with some new riders coming on board we'll hopefully be there at the pointy end in September.
Other Round 2 Race Reports: BYR, Phantom, Blueshift, The Duckmeister, Barossa Boys
For more pictures, check out our Round 2, Photo gallery