EPIP Maroondah GP, August 17th, 2008
With apologies to the TriSled team who were DQ'd after the race, we took out 1st and 2nd at our first, and most likely last, visit to this event.
After a reasonably laid-back approach to the lead up to this event the boys weren't looking to be overly competitive with only 3 riders planned in the revamped Nug-Nug fairing, and a few new riders on try-out in the bullet-proof TheBiff (renamed Wilkins - ask Azza why) fairing. Having sold Dangle Berry, the purpose-built chassis and fairing designed to perform at the Adelaide circuit to a school from Adelaide it was decided to use a chassis Aaron was making at school in D&T for Wilkins and Kel welded up another chassis for Nug-Nug.
The new running gear arrived early enough in the week for Aaron to have his trike ready for a test run on Thursday night which showed a bit more last minute work was required. Ty, Henry & Kel finished putting Nug-Nug together on Friday and Saturday, and Kel took it for a quick spin at the velodrome on Saturday night where it comfortably sat on around 70kmh for a 10 minute test run. He commented that it felt heavy and a bit sluggish compared to the Dangle Berry trike, but deemed it "good enough" for the race.
With insurance finally organised for everyone - yet another painfully expensive exercise that thankfully all other events on the calendar take care of for us - we were finally ready for race day, or so we thought...
Saturday morning arrived and despite Tim still being too ill to go, the boys were keen to get on the road and underway... Just had to wait... for Aaron... to get to Castlemaine. After planning to leave at 6:30, they finally got underway just after 7:00, only to have to stop several times on route as the trike in Aaron's trailer apparently kept coming undone. With all the delays the arrived at the track a little late and were promptly told by some overly officious individual that there was no way they were driving into the pits area to unload. Despite having been told by another official it was Ok to do so, this woman wasn't haven't a bar of it. The boys did the only thing they could, and just went on in anyway as there was no way they'd get all their gear from outside to the pit area otherwise.
The next, of many, obstacles for the day then presented itself when the pit area was found to only be big enough to put up half their marquee. Again they were told by someone revelling in a false sense of power for the day, that they couldn't leave half their marquee hanging over the temporary prison-like chainmesh wall that had been erected around the pits. Again, they did the only thing they could under the circumstances... and ignored that person as well - there was no else the marquee could go unless they expected us to just drop it all in the mud!
Scrutineering was the next hurdle. Nug-Nug had come without her mirrors, oops! A quick trip over to Uncle Beno, who convinced the boys that these tiny new mirrors he had were just the ticket for Murray Bridge anyway, and $40 later they were back at scrutineering again, only to be told that they could not race with those mirrors on. Bluddy hell! The race was just about to start, so in desperation the scrutineer eventually let them take part. Wilkins on the other hand was a different matter again... as the scrutineers held it up until after the race had started!
With the race finally underway Ty headed off in Nug-Nug and Aaron eventually joined the fray in Wilkins a little while later, although something was scraping badly on the bottom of the trike. He perservered for about 10 laps until he had to eventually pit to rectify the problem - he'd forgotten to the tie the floorpan onto the frame. During all this the debacle on the track continued to unfold with Yellow Flag infringements being wracked up left, right and centre both Ty and Brock in the TriSled EasyTiger finished their stints in the negative laps! 100 laps of penalties for Ty and 80 for Brock is what I heard. They weren't the only ones wracking up the penalties though as SlipStream Racing's Khye also had 60 laps penalty when he finished his first stint. Obviously a bluddy stupid rule and one that would be impossible to police accurately. They eventually changed the penalties to 1 lap each and the riders got on with the race as best they could. Mind you, that wasn't very easy given examples such as a primary school trike dropping a chain requiring a full-course yellow and the recovery truck having to be deployed. Have they never heard of/considered the time honoured concept of going yellow for just the affected sector(s)?
Given the position of the pits prevented the team being able to time the trikes accurately as they went past, the boys gave up trying to do that, there was also no way to indicate to the riders how they were going as the pits were removed from the race circuit. Thus the rest of this race report is basically... each of the guys had a ride, or two, a few laps were lost when the gravel on the road pinched and blew the rear tyre - of course our spare wheel was in use on the other trike so a rather lengthy pit stop ensued. Not to worry we weren't there to set any records, just to have a really good training hit out and try a few new riders out to see who might make the team at Murray Bridge.
Those stones, by the way, were the same ones that chipped one of Henry's teeth, and left Ty with huge welts on his skin. Apparently the only saviour of the constant yellow flags was that it gave riders enough time to remove the stones from the vehicle and under their seats. Although how Henry got one down the inside of his full length skins is beyond comprehension.
Ahh... now I see... that must have been why they insisted on the insurance - riders being injured by the stones!
Anyhoo, somewhere between there and the end of the race the er, um, officials(?) determined that something that TriSled had done during the day warranted a disqualification and rather than inform them of that earlier in the day, or simply impose some lap penalty, they decided to announce at the results presentation that they'd been rubbed out and ExPats had, by default, taken out 1st and 2nd. Shit way for an event to end, and a sure way to ensure that none of the community teams present would have a kind word to say, or would bother returning in the future as has been discussed on the Phantom Forum. Let alone how our friends from South Australia who made the effort to come over and support a Victorian race were left feeling.
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