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LAST UPDATE:     24th September 2006


Mallory 24th September 2006

Last race of the year and with a pretty much sorted bike I was looking forward to giving it a go.
What I wasn't expecting was that I would have forgotten how to ride a bike.
I was bloody close to last in race 1 and not much better in race 2.
There's a lot of work to do to get back anywhere near where I used to be and FIVE seconds a lap to make up.

12th September 2006

OK, so it's not racing, but it's my first on track experience since Cadwell in April.
I took the rebuilt old bike back to Cadwell for the Classic Bike track day with new wheels, brakes, forks, bottom end, top end, tuning job, carbs... have I forgotten anything?
I was expecting to have to make many changes during the day, but my only problems were gearchange linkage adjustment and a slight brake bind.
It ran better and better through the day as it loosened up and even in it's deliberately over-jetted state I was very pleased with it.
I was a bit surprised how rusty the rider was though.
Mallory in 2 weeks.

20th April 2006

Today I went back to the fracture clinic and was told to bugger off and not come back, so that's a little under 4 weeks this time.
It's not been too bad and I've had some time off work. What I've decided in the short term is to repair the new (no 2) bike and sell it. It's never going to fit me and I really don't need 2 bikes. Then I can concentrate on the old (no 1) bike. Whether I race it again is yet to be decided although I'm sure I know what will happen whatever I decide.
This probably means a small possibility of a practice day or 2 towards the end of the year.

Cadwell Park March 25th&26th

Ah yes, Cadwell Park. My favourite track.
Except that I'm still using the number 2 bike.

I took both bikes and got them both scrutineered so I could take number 1 out on Sunday morning and see if it's anywhere near race ready.
Trouble started before we all arrived when Steve dropped Cass' SRX off the loading ramp and followed it off knackering his hand. Trevor shredded a trailer tyre on the A1 and had to wait for a replacement.

On Saturday morning, my racing lasted about 200 yards. I came out of the holding area for practice, through Hall Bends and into the Hairpin, where at a slow walking speed the front let go and down I went again. Undoubtedly, riding through a sea of mud to get to the track was a contributory factor in that one. Slow speed it may have been. Painless it was not. I've wrenched all muscles/tendons in the shoulder and nicely broken the collarbone.

I watched race 1 with Trev as he was unable to get the same bike that ran perfectly in practice to run at all for the race. Mick Baillie pulled out, John Turner lost the front at Hall bends and was trapped under his (as usual) burning bike while the marshals waved flags at him. Surprisingly, he was unhurt. Graham Acott finished on one cylinder.
As my racing was effectively over and my injuries starting to hurt I came home before the inevitable carnage of race 2.

That's 3 crashes in my last 4 outings. I'm beginning to lose interest in this...

Mallory Park March 5th 06

Suddenly I'm at Mallory Park again, it's the 5th March and the first race meeting of the new year.
It was minus 5 or something ridiculous overnight and frosty in the morning. The practice was delayed until the ice at The Hairpin had melted and then the marshals held flags out for the first few laps until it was clear that no one was going to crash and therefore the ice had gone.

By our first race, the sun was strong and I had a decent run round chased by John Hardwick, the other 250s didn't start, broke down or were nowhere. I won my race with a fairly slow, start-of-season time.

Race two was very similar. I finished further up the field although the timing sheet seems to give me a slower time. In any case, I was well clear of John this time. I suspect he was on his number 2 bike as a comparison.

I have 20 points and the championship lead. I need to get my number one bike sorted very soon though.

Bike rebuilding. 27th Feb 06

I took both bikes to Mallory on wednesday and as you'd expect, it was raining hard and very cold.
By the first test session the rain had stopped, but it was still very wet.
I ran the new bike round for ten laps or so to bed myself in and then took the old bike round for a few laps. It was poor by comparison, so I plug chopped it on the back straight and as I suspected the plugs were far too dark. The smallest jets I have (within reason) weren't small enough, so I concentrated on the ignition timing and only seemed able to make it run worse.
Eventually I managed to lose the front at Edwinas in the wet and crashed breaking the gearchange. This was basically cos the new brakes are much fiercer than the old ones.
I fitted a spare gearchange and went out again, but still couldn't make it run any better than awful. By now the track was showing a dryish line, so I went out on the new bike for fun and then the day was over.
Back to square one with the timing and jetting.

Feb 06

Repairs to the new bike are now done. I ran it up and down the road the other day and found that there was a small hole torn in one pipe during the Anglesey crash. A couple of welding rods soon filled that.

The old bike is running too and I took it to Rocky's farm road for some testing.
It was awful, but with a small timing tweak and drastic reduction in main jet size, it started to feel less like a diesel commuter bike. The brakes also started to bed in during the plug chopping and associated hard braking.
A back to back test session at Mallory is now the way forward.

Bike rebuilding. Winter 05/06

It's all gone quiet here since Anglesey 2005. Not surprisingly as it's been winter.
Repairs to the new bike are pretty much done, but I've been concentrating on upgrading the old one.
It now has a Powevalve front end with CBR600 brakes like the new bike and a pair of Powevalve wheels also like the new bike.
Fahron have done me a beautiful tuning job with some innovative extras and Chris Pearson built me up a bottom end with TZ and RGV parts.
I'm fitting new carbs, but so that I don't give any information to my competitors, I'll just say that they didn't come off a bike.
Finally, Ron at Fahron is getting me the dimensions for some new pipes as he assures me that the ones I've always used are holding the motor back.
All this engine work should raise the power from 40hp to 55hp, I'm told. I can't believe it. I'll have to wait and see.
It should be ready to test with the old pipes in a couple of weeks, so then when I have the new pipes, I'll be able to assess the difference they make.

Anglesey 10th and 11th Sept 2005

I had entered not only the four Earlystocks races, but four others for fun and to make the trip worthwhile.
On Saturday morning, the practice session was dry and either I was flying or everyone else was standing still.
My first race was a 'support' race and I managed to take it easy and get to grips with the track and the bike.
My second race was the first Earlystocks race so I put some new plugs in and immediately gained 10HP.
After wheelying off the line I was quickly into a good rhythm until on lap four in Douglas bend, without any warning, I was sliding across the track and onto the grass with my right foot stuck under the bike. As I stood up. I saw Rob Patterson in an identical situation just up the track. We both thought we'd taken each other off. Someone rode behind the pair of us on the grass and as I turned to look at the track a big 4stroke came round the corner sideways, straightened up and carried on.
It turned out that Rob Eley (Oily Bob) had ground his crankcase though in the left handers and released a fine oil mist all round the circuit. There was someone off at nearly every corner. I pushed the bike home swearing profusely and quickly replaced the broken levers, but by the time I was considering the lesser damage, my ankle had swollen up and I couldn't walk. No more racing for me.
That was all a disappointment as the rain never arrived and most people had a good weekend.

Before and after pictures stolen from the dsimages website. You can actually see Rob's oil slick in pic 2.

Mallory Park 3rd July 2005

I have mixed feelings about this meeting.
But mostly positive.
Two 3rd places are never going to be particularly inspirational, but I must remember that this is on a bike that I built myself from random bits and pieces mostly bought from the autojumble in the hope that they might work together.
Realistically, I'm not going to beat Andy Jackson on his 250. He's finishing in front of most of the 750s. What do you do to make a 250 that fast?
So the fact that my bike (and rider) went slightly better this time after a bit of tweaking, is good.
There's still room for improvement and I have a few ideas about what to do.

Who's going to brake first?

3 Sisters 19th June 2005

On the 19th June, I was at 3 Sisters near Wigan for my second outing of 2005.

In the morning it was hot. Very hot. And the bike fouled a spark plug. These two statements are entirely unconnected. The bike fouled a spark plug due to my incompetence and lack of maintenance.
This meant that I had virtually no practice and this is not a circuit you can go fast on without a good amount of practice.

To compound my problems, the extra race I had entered was after the Earlystocks race so it would be no good for a practice session either.

As it turned out, we were all doomed anyway.
Andy Wimpenny was back. On a bike that he'd never ridden cos he only finished building it the night before. It wasn't run in and he hadn't raced at all for two years. All of which failed to stop him taking the outright win in race 1.
I was second. Again.

In my extra race, I now had some idea of where the track went and I was 10 seconds faster over race distance. So I was pretty happy with that.

Then the rain started and I decided not to go out again. I'm not in the championship and this track is like an ice rink in the wet, so bollocks to that!

Mallory Park 30th May 2005.

This was my first outing this year and as I'm not doing the whole championship, I was just at Mallory to have some fun, get in the way and generally cause mayhem.
The morning warm-up was held in the pissing rain, not surprisingly as this is Britain. However, for some perverse reason I enjoyed it and people told me I was going well.
I don't believe them.

After such a big lay off, there was no way I would beat my main adversary, the terminally mad Andy Jackson and sure enough I finished second in the 250 class.
Race 2 was almost a carbon copy and two second places in my return meeting made me pretty happy.

I then made the mistake of entering the 400 race for a bit of practice.
It was red flagged and restarted after two laps because of a monumental two bike crash coming out of Gerards.
After the carnage and bodies were removed, we set off again straight into a seven bike crash in Gerards. I can't really blame the bloke who took me out, he was just trying to avoid wreckage on the track.
So the bike and I had a nice lie down in the gravel trap and then seven of us riders crammed into an ambulance for a trip to the medical centre. I think seven is probably some kind of record.
There were no injuries. Also in the gravel trap with me was my old 250cc adversary, Chris Spooner. He was much more annoyed than me. This was his first race meeting for three years after breaking his back at Darley Moor. He'd spent thousands on the bike and wasn't happy to see it carted off in pieces.
I only have the prospect of several nights of work to get the bike ready for the next round in 3 weeks.
Not exactly the come-back I was hoping for.

The end of the season. 2004

They're queuing up to get their picture taken with this year's 250cc Earlystocks Champion.

Well, that's about it.
The last round was on September 26th at Mallory and I won both my races, this time on the new bike and also won the EMRA 250cc Earlystocks championship.

So not a bad year considering I started late and am still not fully back up to speed.
I also had a fair bit of success with the on-bike camera again, the results of which are good.

Anglesey 11th and 12th Sept 2004.

If you like rain, go to Anglesey.
Oh yes, there is plenty of rain in Anglesey.
Blinding, soaking, torrential, horizontal rain.
We normally race at Anglesey in April. This is obviously a mistake weather-wise. So when I heard that we would be racing there in September, I thought things would be different.

It would have been nice if it hadn't rained so hard on Saturday that two-thirds of the races were cancelled due to 18 inches of standing water at School Corner. When the clerk of course went to inspect the water in his Range Rover he couldn't open the door.

On the plus side, I won the championship, had my highest overall finish and finally got the new bike running properly.

This would be a very nice racetrack if the sun shone. Maybe I'll see that one day.

Mallory again in 2 weeks time and my chance to win championship number 2.

Mallory Park. Sunday 5th September 2004.

It was hot very hot. This was round 12 of 15. Getting close to the end of the championship.

As usual I had made a few alterations to the ignition of the new bike to try and get it to run without cutting out. This time I had swapped the ignition boxes from one bike to the other in the hope that the problem would be transferred from one bike to the other so that I could definitely say that it was the ignition box at fault. To cut this year long story short, the result was that both bikes now cut out. (Boyer's technical dept and I now have an idea why).

Race 1 was hot as I have mentioned. I was on the old bike which is now noticeably slower than it used to be and considerably slower than the new bike. I still had a good race with a couple of 250s and 400s. I finished first in my class and with a race time that that equates to one second a lap quicker than last time I was at Mallory. I'm nearly back up to full speed.

Race 2 was even hotter and the first couple of laps were virtually identical to race one until I got three-quarters of the way around Gerard's at full lean and at the top of 5th gear. The rear tyre decided it was far too hot to carry on working and performed a large, graceful, sideways slide. I quickly picked the bike up with the inevitable result that I ran onto the grass, performing an 'Okada'. The marshals saw me coming and leapt from their box like a flock of vultures but I managed to control the bike, kept some power on, and after about a quarter of a lap on the grass rejoined the race dead last. Arse! I then had 'great fun' catching and passing the last half-dozen people, remembering of course not to push the rear tyre too hard. Disaster was averted and I still scored valuable points in both championships.

I have calculated that I only need 4 points now from three rounds to win the Earlystocks championship. The EMRA championship is a little more complicated as they award double points for the last round to ensure that you attend, otherwise I would have won that already

Castle Combe 21st August 2004

Where the hell am I?
Was the question that kept coming into my mind throughout the morning practice session.
Castle Combe circuit is very flat and featureless. Added to this, the track is very wide and I found it hard to learn. I was not alone.
It's also surprisingly bumpy, which of course is the same for everyone.
We had walked the course the night before which must have helped slightly, except that it was still wet after a rain shower and we found it to be very, very slippery in the corners where presumably the cars have polished the surface. In some places we were running and sliding about on the corners like kids on ice on the way to school. This would not be a pleasant circuit to race on in the wet.

The morning warm-up was timed, which was a novelty and grid positions were worked out from the practice time.

I used the new bike in practice and it only cut out once, right at the end of the session. Then perhaps rather rashly, I decided to use it in the first race as well. During the race it cut out a further 12 times, I think. This was more than slightly annoying. However, I still managed to finish first in my class and had a race long battle with two 350 Powervalves.

In race two I used the old bike which felt a bit harsher over the bumps, but the end result was identical. I was first in my class and had a very similar scrap with the same two 350s.

The timing sheets for the two races are very interesting. In the first race I had all the problems with cutting out on the new bike and would normally expect to go faster in the second race. However, my overall race times were identical therefore it is reasonable to assume that if the new bike hadn't cut out, I would have been that much faster or it. My best lap was also on the new bike. Two seconds faster than the old bike. So I'm claiming some sort of victory for the fact that the bike that I built is better than the bike that I bought.
Now if I can just sort this ignition cutting out problem.

Darley Moor 31st July 2004.

I only entered on the Saturday of a weekend meeting so I could finally test the ignition on the new bike. I've changed EVERYTHING now so if it still switched itself off, the lot would be going back to Boyer Bransden.
In the last couple of years, I've convinced myself that I don't like Darley, but I had a really good day.
The ignition continued to play up and switched off 5 or 6 times each race. In the first race it switched off on the start line so I had to push start as everyone else disappeared into turn 1. But I still caught and passed my opposition. I was first in my class in both races.
In race 2, I had a brilliant scrap with Rob Thorpe on his 500. Now I like Darley Moor.

Mallory Park 11th July 2004.

2 races. 2 class wins. No real competition.
Both races I scrapped with Rob Eley again, this time he was on Jayne's 400.
I finally remembered to fit the on bike camera and the results are pretty good. CLICK HERE for a small (low resolution) excerpt.

Three Sisters near Wigan 4th July 2004.

Another circuit I'd never been to. This one had the reputation of being very small, tight, twisty and narrow. In effect no more than a go-cart track.

At least part of that is true, there are a lot of corners at Three Sisters, in a very small area. It's like Cadwell tied in a knot. However the track is a normal width, possibly slightly wider than Cadwell in places. Added to the large number of lefts and rights, there is also a fair bit of up and down, which all together makes the circuit very hard to learn. I walked it four times on Saturday evening and had some idea of where I was going on Sunday morning.

The weather on Saturday was, as usual, a bit mad. It had been raining on and off all the way there. When I arrived there seemed to be a constant 60MPH wind. On Sunday morning I was woken by the sound of rain thrashing on the van roof and this continued on and off until about nine o'clock when a small break in the clouds was seen. And that was the end of the rain. During the day it got hotter and hotter and hotter and was eventually perfect.

As well as the Earlystocks races, I had entered two up-to-500cc open races to try out the new bike which I hoped was now finally fixed. To cut a long and dismal story short, the new bike was not finally fixed. It did the usual cutting-out trick in both races and if it were not for the amount of time and money I've spent. It would now be residing in a large rusty skip at Three Sisters racetrack. On the plus side, while it was running, it handled nicely and stopped extremely well.

In race 1 my main opposition, as well as John Hardwick on his X7 was the infamous Rob Eley who had come along just for this meeting with 2 hastily bodged together X7s. Rob is extremely fast on his GS1000 and has always been fast on anything he rides. However the prospect of an 18 stone rider on a tiny X7 didn't exactly fill me with fear (unless I found myself in front of him in the braking area). Added to this, Rob's reputation for poor maintenance made me think that there would be very little likelihood of him finishing ahead of me if he finished at all.

As it was, I was treated to the preposterous sight of the massive Rob Eley, perched on what looked like a kid's bike disappearing alarmingly rapidly into the distance and finishing second overall in front of all of the 750s.
I had started behind John Hardwick on the grid and followed him closely for the entire race. I wasn't sure enough of the safe passing places to just barge through and perhaps rather foolishly left it to the last corner to nip up the inside and beat him to the line. According to his mechanic he was more than a little upset, having thought he'd beaten me for the first time. I finished 6th overall and second in my class which was OKish.

In race 2, Rob was out on his second bike having blown his best one up earlier. X7s are not the most reliable of bikes when tuned and when tuned by Rob Eley, there is little hope. Looking no less preposterous but travelling slightly less fast, Rob still stayed in front of me for the entire race but at the end he managed to crash while fighting for second place overall. I had been second in the 250 class so this handed me the win and that meant an extra 2 points. I might be glad of them at the end of the season.

On Wednesday evening I'm off to Rockingham for a track day on the new bike now that I have replaced the only remaining electrical component that could possibly be at fault. Then on Sunday I'll be back racing at Mallory Park.

June 19th 2004.

This was the first time I'd ever been to Oulton Park, to race or even to Spectate.
I walked the course the night before and wished that I'd taken my bicycle. I'd describe it as Cadwell Park's big brother.

I was awoken on race day morning by rain hammering on the roof of the van. Not quite what I had hoped for.

I had scrutineered both bikes the night before so preparation for the practice session was fairly relaxed. When they called first practice there was a general reluctance to go to the holding area in the rain. I have two bikes and therefore two practice sessions so I wanted to go out as early as possible.
It was pissing in it down! Monumental quantities of rain. Rain of biblical proportions. In certain areas of the track it was like a solid wall of water and I really couldn't see where I was going. I must have lapped at an average speed of about 32 miles per hour. To cap it all I was awarded seven laps of practice in the first session. You would normally expect four, five or six. When I came in, sure enough the rain eased and the sun even came out. I swapped to the new bike and took it to the holding area whereupon the rain started again. As it was getting towards the end of practice time, there were lots of people waiting to go out and I went out at the back of a large pack. On this occasion it was raining very heavily on one side of the circuit and not so heavily on the other but there were still huge amounts of standing water everywhere. The high point of the practice session was being overtaken by an R1 of full wet tyres. He was doing about 140 miles per hour on the back wheel and he managed to pass me twice in three laps both times at that speed both times on the back wheel. Quite impressive when you can't see 50 yards through the rain.

By the time we went out for the first race it was quite incrediblely dry and warm. I was 12th on the grid which is the third row and was beaten to turn one by a few of the bigger bikes behind me.
After the initial melee, I soon got into a rhythm and passed my main opposition John Hardwick at the hairpin. I never saw any other 250s during the race.
I had a slight battle with Andy Charlesworth on his 750 Honda but he eventually got the better of me and pulled away to finish ahead of me. This is the first time ever in any race, on any bike that Andy has ever finished in front of me so I went and pointed this out and congratulated him after the race.
A class win and 10 points.

For race 2, I was even higher up the grid in 5th place with a lot of much faster bikes behind me. But there was no problem. On this occasion I never saw anything of any other 250s I passed Andy Charlesworth in turn one and never saw him again, I had a few minor scraps with some fast bikes but my race was a bit lonely. At the end I was aware I was being followed by Cass on her 400 and tried to stay ahead of her but she got past and beat me to line at the end.
Another class win another 10 points. I now have 78 points and my nearest rival has 38. There is still a long way to go.

The next round is in two weeks at Three Sisters circuit near Wigan, another place I have never even seen a map of.

May 2004.

The 5th round of this year's Earlystocks championship was held at Mallory Park on the 9th May.
I missed the first two rounds on doctor's orders but I rode at rounds three and four at Cadwell Park four weeks ago.
As I'm only just getting back into it and was riding on old tyres, I was taking it very easy at Cadwell. Luckily the only competition I had were beginners and I was the first in my class in each of the four races and came away with 40 points. Incredibly, that put me at the head of the championship.

At Mallory last Sunday, the club had the most entries they've ever had. The grid was completely full with some reserves. The only man in my group that I had to worry about was Andy Jackson. Andy is not right in the head and normally rides an 1100. On this occasion he was out on his old 250cc X7 as his 1100 is in pieces.
I had both the old and the new bike there, but to cut a long story short, the electrical problem that has troubled the new bike for months cropped up again and I was unable to race it, so I was out on old faithful.

Race one was fairly uneventful. On the first lap I got stuck behind a huge group of 750 cc wobblers while mad man Jackson managed to fight his way through and disappeared. To be honest he was travelling faster than I was prepared to go at that stage and would have beaten me anyway. I finished second.

In race two I got a better start and got past most of the slow four strokes in the first corner and was first 250 down the back straight. John Hardwick came past me on his 250 on the straight but I outbraked him into Edwina's. There then ensued a massive three-way, race long battle between me, Andy Jackson and John Hardwick, the highlight of which was when Andy Charlesworth on his 900 Honda tried to outbrake all three of us into the hairpin by simply not braking at all and nearly rammed me off the track. While this was going on, the other two 250s sneaked past. I then had to disentangle myself, climb down off the Honda's handlebars and set off in pursuit. I quickly caught and passed them. After the race John said he could tell how annoyed I was by the speed I passed him. I won and came away with another 18 points.

So all in all, a top result. A second place and a first place, and the second race was one of the best races I can remember.
I'm still leading the championship but of course it's very early yet. The next round is at Oulton Park on the 19th June which is a long way off. By then I may have both bikes running.

March 2004.

Motorcycle Mechanics magazine have done a 4 page article on my new bike and you can see it by clicking here. However, it's VERY large and you'll need a fast connection unless you want to wait half an hour for it to load.

I've been to Mallory on my first test session and it went OK.
as there are no changes to the old bike apart from repairs and repainting, I just did half a session on it to reacquaint myself.
The new bike was on it's first outing, so I was taking it easy till I found out if it went round corners. It goes surprisingly well. Main jets are now down to 320s with plenty of scope for further reductions.
The only changes I made after the testing were very small ones and I'm quite looking forward to my first race next weekend. I say my first race. I'll be testing in a race situation rather than racing. It's an EMRA round, but not an Earlystocks championship round, so there's little to gain by going berserk...

Sometime in February 2004.

I can't believe how long it is since I updated this page.
Maybe I've been a bit busy.

Pic by Chris Pearson

The new bike is 'finished' and has been photographed for a magazine (more of that when it appears).
The old bike has been stripped, painted and rebuilt apart from the tank, which is unfinished.
There are 2 weeks to go until the first race of the season and there's no way I'm going to be ready. The surgeon told me not to race until June and I still don't have a 100% race ready bike. I also need to do a good bit of paperwork before I can go out there. I reckon race 3 will be my first outing. Probably on the old bike.

November 2003

Out of plaster and back to work. 7 months off has been very nice... with certain rerservations.

June 30th 2003.

Today, after just over 13 weeks, the plaster finally came off. And was replaced by another, shorter one. This one comes to just below the knee and means I can bend my leg a bit. Marvellous!
Now maybe I can visit some of our race meetings and see how the 250s are going.

March 29&30 2003 - Croft. (Well only 29th actually)

I arrived at Croft near Scotch corner on Friday in time to see Steve Cave coming back from the medical centre with his arm in a sling and going straight home. Not a good start on practice day.

The bike failed noise testing in scrutineering (it wasn't loud enough), so I repacked the cans and it passed on exactly the same reading. Hmmm.

I had changed the gearing this year and I reckon it was spot on, so in the morning practice I was flying but erratic. I decided that the bend at the top of the back straight was now taken in 4th instead of 3rd. Not so! I repeated Mike Hand's last year's trip across the ploughed field and felt a bit stupid. I quickly got back on track and into the fastest bend on the circuit, where the front tyre simply let go and I found my nose pressed into the tarmac at 80-90 mph. Not exactly what was required.
The clever ones amongst you will have realised that I probably picked up some mud in my off road excursion.
I rolled a couple of times and then seemed to be sliding nicely, when all hell broke loose. It felt as if I was flung up in the air, skidded along on top of my head while my leg was attacked by a 30ft crocodile.
It turned out that a following rider had run over my leg at 100mph and used it a launch pad. I have virtually no injuries apart from a complicated fracture of Tib and Fib, just below the knee.

10 days, 4 ambulance rides, 3 hospitals, 2 general anaesthetics, 2 blood transfusions and 1 bed bath later, I have a plaster tube weighing 600 pounds from big toe to bollocks and I am at home with the prospect of at least 3 months sitting around.

This will probably put an end to my plans for two back to back 250cc championships.

March 2nd - Mallory Park 2003.

The first round of the 2003 season and my first race as 250cc reigning champion. It's come round pretty quickly. Possibly a little too quickly as the new bike I'm building is nowhere near ready and last year's bike has had nothing done to it.

This year there is the new left, right kink at the end of the back straight to contend with. The entry into the left is a bit tight and a one liner... until you start inventing other lines up the inside. Then the right-hander on the way out is wider and opens out into the old esses with the dip taken out, so it's just flat out up to the hairpin. Not too bad really, but possibly slightly more crash prone than the old layout.

The morning warm up was wet so I took it easy for 3 or 4 laps, until I was at almost race speed on the start finish straight and thought as I approached Gerards "Maybe a bit too fast in the wet". I tipped it in and the front tyre immediately agreed with my previous supposition and slid about fifteen feet across the track. I'd like to say that I saved it and carried on regardless, but in fact it saved itself and I carried on slightly more sensibly. I still passed dozens of people (This is open practice. Every machine out there was faster than mine) and was passed by none. Feels good so far.

Race 1.
Here it would be simplest to cut and paste any one of last year's Mallory reports. The flag dropped, everyone queued politely for the official line into Gerards and I rode round the outside of all of them (Nearly).
On lap 4 Cass treated me to a tremendous display of stunt riding. At about 100mph coming out of Gerards, she had a monumental tank slapper with both feet in the air, managed to straight line it to get it back under control and crashed on the grass at about 60mph. Loris Capirossi would have been proud of it. (She didn't bother with race 2)
My bike was suffering from a high speed misfire, which I am sure is battery related, so I wasn't flying on the straights, but I was still the first 250 home.

Race 2.
The misfire was worse and I had to watch two X7s creeping away from me. There was nothing I could do to catch them. I finished 3rd which isn't too bad but a double win would have been nice. I reckon that puts me in second place in the championship, but it's very early and I don't intend to be off the lead for long.

Next race is Croft at the end of the month. It's a weekender and I liked the place last year, so I'm quite looking forward to it.

Rounds 16&17 Croft 28th&29th Sept 2002.

It's up the A1, near Scotch Corner.

I had already won all three 250 cc championships (as you will all know if you've been reading my newsletters), so I was just at Croft for a laugh.
I'd never been there before and neither had most of the rest of the club, certainly no one that I would be racing against. I had heard that it was not a track suitable for 250s, mostly long straights. So to be honest, I wasn't really looking forward to it.

I arrived on Friday night in time to get through scrutineering and have a walk round the track with Chris and Alan Spooner.
It's true, there are a couple of longish straights, but nothing out of the ordinary. The rest is quite complicated, mostly right-hand bends, culminating in a left, a right and a left-hand hairpin before the start finish straight.
It looked a lot better than I was expecting but very flat and with no breaking markers.

Out with us for the only time this year was last year's 400cc championship winner, Mike Garratt. I have to admit he was the man I had my sights on. Might as well aim high.

The morning practice was slightly spoiled for me by getting stuck behind a four stroke with a semi blown motor for half the session. Still, I was only trying to learn the track as everyone else was.

Race 1.
On the way from the start line to turn one, Mike Garratt shot past me using the power of his 400 and then inexplicably, braked early with the rest of them. I did my Mallory trick, keeping the power on and riding round the outside of half a dozen bikes into turn 2. I didn't see any other 250s for the whole race but Mike came past on lap two on the straight and dissapeared as I expected.
Just after halfway point, or so it seemed, the race was red flagged and called a result. Race one over, I won the 250cc class.

Race 2.
Pretty much the same start, Mike shot past me again, but this time I only managed to get half a wheel past him and leaned on him all way round turn one. Then he started to creep away. On the back straight, Mike Hand on his 400 came past me as if I was standing still and to my dismay, he was immediately followed by Gavin Littlewood, our novice 250 rider. No way I was going to stand for that. It took me half a lap to catch them up and pass Gavin. I then had a brilliant two lap scrap with Mike (see the picture below). We passed Keith Chambers on his 550 and shortly after that, I passed Mike and had a lonely ride to the flag. 250 cc class win at No. 2.

Sunday. Race 3.
Due to noise restrictions which don't allow racing before midday, we were only having one race on Sunday, but twice the normal length. The start was slightly different. I was surprised to be beaten to turn one by Gavin on his 250. Then as I recall, I followed him for a lap or so until I could get past. Every time I looked back he was behind. Too close behind. And I have to admit this rattled me so much that I ran off the track at one point and had to come back across the grass. I only lost two places, to Gavin and Simon Briggs on his 550. By the time I caught them back up, Simon had passed Gavin and it again took me a lap or so to get past as well. I then had a bit of a scrap with Simon who was slightly holding me up on the slower sections and I was seriously worried that Gavin would pass me again (I'm not used to being overtaken). On the last lap I rode round the outside of Simon in the left-hander three turns from the end and kept a defensive line through the hairpin, but with his 550's superior power, he accelerated past me and beat me to the line. Gavin was only two seconds behind me.

So that was three wins out of three races. A clean sweep I suppose you could say. Race 3 was by far the best race and my footrests are getting shorter all the time. What a shame it's the end of the season. Gavin is getting faster every race and if he starts next year as he finished this one, he's going to give me a hard time. I'm looking forward to it.

In the coming weeks, I'm finally going to fit the new motor and give it a test day at Mallory and over the winter, I'm building another 250 so I can have a spare.

Round 15, Mallory Park 1st Sept 2002.

2 Races.
2 Superb starts.
2 Class wins.

At least that is what would have happened if I hadn't been too clever and saved a bit too much weight before the first race and ran out of petrol with a lap and a half to go while leading by a mile. My first DNF of the year and what a stupid way to do it.

Race 2, I made up for it in some small way by beating my own race record and posting another 'fastest ever RD250 race time'. Which made me feel slightly better.
Oh, and I won the EMRA 250cc Earlystocks championship too, so that's 3 championships this year.

Croft on Saturday/Sunday 28/29 Sept next.

Rounds 13 &14. Cadwell Park. 3rd & 4th August 2002.

This is the one I've been waiting for.
Saturday and Sunday at Cadwell Park.
OK, there was a very similar meeting a few weeks ago, but this one was a bit more important. I only needed a couple of good results to clinch the title.
The weather was good and as this was a Derby Phoenix meeting, scrutineering was carried out on the previous evening so there was no rush in the morning.

JC was not in attendance as he'd killed his bike at Mallory last week and didn't have time to fix it. However, his place had been taken by an even more sinister adversary. Andy Wimpenny won the 250 championship by miles last year and was back for just one more outing. I watched him in practice and he's fast.
After he came in, I went over to say hello and also that "Now I'd finally get my chance to race against him".
"Afraid you won't" He replied. "It holed a piston at the end of practice. Now I remember why I stopped racing 2 strokes".
These X7s are very fast and/or very explosive. I wasn't too disappointed.

The morning warm up was the usual pain in the arse, with very slow riders on very fast bikes screwing with my lap times. I was stuck behind two blue R1s for a couple of laps. These bikes have at least 3 times the power of mine but it was the usual story, wobbling round the corners and tearing off down the straights, only for me to catch them up in the corners again. So eventually, I slowed right down on the Park Straight and let them get out of sight before speeding up again... whereupon I caught them up on the next lap. I gave up!

In all the races we had some 500s and super motos on the back of our grid, but these were on a 20 second delay this time, so they wouldn't interfere with us.

I got a good start again. I seem to have cracked that one now, and was neck and neck with Andy Charlesworth on his 550 into Coppice, when Pete Jarnell on his 500 blasted between us. I thought we were all going to die, but Pete inexplicably hit the brakes and I rocketed through the gap.
The first lap used to be, er, a source of concern, but now I just keep the power on and ride round the outside of the pack. Cadwell is twisty enough through it's length, that when I pass someone, they stay passed. They may get one chance to come back at me on the straight, but then we're into another set of bends and I'm away again. That's how it was in both races on Saturday, with me finishing as first 250 by a long way, having overtaken 19 bikes during the race and having been overtaken by none. In both races, I was right behind my old adversary, Simon Briggs on his 550.

With two wins, I was clear enough of JC in the points that I couldn't be caught and was therefore Earlystocks 250cc champion.

Shortly after I'd changed out of my leathers, Dick, Edward, Delia, Tony, Miriam, Anna and Gabriel turned up, most of them wearing the official T shirts that Tony, Steve and Dick had made to commemorate my championship win. (Unfortunately, Steve wasn't able to be there, as he was in hospital having the pins taken out of his elbow). What a brilliant thought and what a smart T shirt. People were coming over for the rest of the weekend asking to see them.

Sunday's 2 races were very similar to Saturday's, with the second on Sunday the best of all 4.
I started from 26th on the grid and finished as 1st 250, 6th overall, just beating Simon on the 550. Also behind me were, 250s (obviously), 350s, 400s, 500s, 550s, 750s, and 1000s. I took 12 seconds off my race time and beat JC's race time from the last Cadwell meeting.

All in all, an excellent weekend. 4 races, 4 wins, 1st 2 stroke home in all races, faster race time, Earlystocks championship on Saturday and Phoenix championship on Sunday, 20 seconds faster than last year's winner.
All that remains is the EMRA championship in 3 weeks and then at the final round at Croft in September I want to run the new motor and see how it goes. (The man who put this year's motor together deserves a medal).

Below is the famous T shirt.

Round 12. Mallory Park Leics. 28th July 2002.

The 12th round of the championship and the last Mallory meeting for a month or so. The last Mallory meeting is 1st Sept, clashing with Weddings, 30th birthdays, etc.

I'd changed piston rings for this meeting as I'd found that I could turn the engine over with thumb and forefinger on the end of the crankshaft. I like to get my money's worth.
I also had a new rear tyre fitted on Saturday night. Thank god Rod Harwin was there on Saturday and I didn't have to wait till Sunday morning, cos I suffered many traumas refitting the rear wheel. These were aparently caused by the fact that the new tyre is wider and therefore the wheel spacer, which has been on the wrong side ever since I bought the bike, stopped me refitting the wheel until it was on the correct side... Does that make sense? Anyway, it took me a couple of hours struggling before I realised what the problem was. Credit is due to Professor S. Crooks, who assured me that something was wrong with the set up nearly a year ago.

So. In the warm up I was running in rings and a tyre and taking it steady.
After the warm up , I went to see how Chris was going and his dad smilingly assured me that he was matching my pace lap for lap. We'd both been doing 1' 03". I didn't tell them I'd been cruising and running in new parts.

Race one. Cracking start Grommet! I came out of Gerard's 5th on the road, 1st 250.
Tony Smith has definitely got the hang of his 750 and blasted past me on the back straight, next lap Adrian Saunders on his 400 passed me in the same place and then retired and finally I had a good scrap with Mike Hand on his 400, which he just managed to win, with perhaps a little too much celebration as I'm only riding a 250.
1st 250. 10 points.
JC was second, still with his mystery misfire. My race time was 6' 18". Not one of my best, but with new tyre etc, not so bad.

Race 2. Another good start, but it seemed everyone else was going a bit faster and I ended up scrapping with Keith Chambers and Andy Charlesworth, both on 550s. I lapped Andy at Anglesey, but he'd been at the race school the day before this race and it made a big difference.
I ended up in front of Andy and behind Keith.
1st 250 again, with JC second again.

Now I need 2 points to win the EMRA championship at the last Mallory meeting, four races out of eight to win the Phoenix and and a couple of seconds or something to win the Earlystocks Championships. So it'll nearly all be done at Cadwell next weekend. It's another full weekend with 2 races Saturday and 2 races Sunday, with camping and a small amount of bevvying on the Saturday night (I hope).

Mallory park, 7th July 2002.

The second of three in a row at Mallory.
This one was run by the Derby Phoenix club and was therefore no less disorganised and shambolic than the EMRA ones. But then I've never tried to run a race meeting, so...

The weather forecast said dry in the morning and progressively wetter through the day. That would be OK. The only way I'm going to beat JC without him breaking down is in the wet.
The weather however, was wet in the morning and progressively warmer all day.
The morning warm up suffered from a sprinkling of rain, but the only different thing I was trying, was an earlier entry into the Esses, so I wasn't bothered.

Race 1, got a reasonable start. I've learned not to over rev it in first gear now. I short shift and then over rev in second instead.
It seems that everyone has got wind of my riding round the outside trick, cos they all went for the outside line and left the inside clear. Thank you very much.
For the first 4 laps I was tantalised by the sight of JC sparring with Cass, Malcolm and I can't remember who else, a couple of seconds ahead, but I just couldn't close the gap and then at the top of fifth gear at around 100mph in the Lake Esses, the rear tyre let go... and gripped again. Nice! So the new harder compound Dunlop is not much better than the soft? This caused me to ease up a bit in the right handers, as the right hand side of the tyre was obviously overheating. As Mallory is nearly all right handers, I dropped back and finished second. It's OK, I'm getting used to it now.

Race 2 was pretty much a carbon copy of race 1, except that I was much closer to a semi detonating JC, until the end of lap 3, when I started to back off rather then wait for the tyre to tell me to!

Not immensely exciting all things considered, apart from the slide in race 1.

I have 196 points to John's 114. Not far to go now.

Mallory AGAIN next, on the 28th July.

Mallory park, 24rd June 2002.

The first of three Mallory Park meetings in a row.
I usually go OK here. The only variable today seemed to be my rear tyre which I melted at Cadwell. I had another on order, but there would be no time to get it fitted before the morning practice, so I'd be going into the warm up lap in race one without scrubbing it in... hmmm.

Forming on the grid after the warm up lap, I managed a quick look at the tyre and convinced myself it would be OK.
It was unimportant as it turned out, cos I got a crap start and was surrounded by incompetents in turn one. On the back straight, I realised I was third and that's where I stayed until the next time round, by which time I had woken up and I passed Chris in the Lake Esses. Now, where was JC? "Out of sight" Was the obvious answer.
2nd again.

Race two, I controlled myself a bit more, didn't over rev it in first gear and got a classic Mallory start, round the outside of half a dozen in turn one. And right behind JC. And then in front of him. Then he came past on the straight. Fast bike and good rider - not fair! I outbraked him into the hairpin, round the outside, level with him on the way out and outbraked him into the Bus Stop. This is more like it! Then he came past on the start finish straight and I caught him in Gerard's and was still catching him and gradually creeping past on the outside... when he went into reverse. "He's killed it" I thought. And indeed, it had gone onto one cylinder.
That was how it finished, me first, with Chris second.
JC managed to limp home third with an erratic ignition system. He told me after the race, while being tormented by a small group of fellow California Race School instructors, who had seemingly turned up to wind him up and enjoy the resultant ranting, that this has probably finished his chances in the EMRA championship. If everything carries on as it has done, he can't catch me in the Earlystocks championship or the Phoenix, but it was possible for him to win the EMRA, but maybe not now.
On the last lap of the race I had a mad battle with an LC, which was a bit stupid, cos he's not in the same championship as me and at the end, the rider came to find me to tell me how amazing it was to be overtaken in Gerard's when he thought he was flat out and "how *****ing far did I lean that thing over?"

I now have 180 points and JC has 96, I think. I'm getting there!

Cadwell park. Saturday and Sunday. 15th/16th June 2002.

Cadwell is good. Cadwell is smart. Cadwell is fast, exciting, interesting, tricky and it has left hand bends.

After four weeks off, achieving nothing in my attempts to get motorcycle tuners to tune motorcycles and build me a spare engine, I finally bought a complete one as a back up. This I took to Cadwell in the van. The engine in the bike is the same one it always was.
Additions to the bike are a CBR 600 front brake (about time too) and a pair of tyres.

My arch rival JC was there and a few of us walked the circuit on Friday night. Hell fire! You cannot believe how steep the mountain is when you get to see it off the bike and there is a huge drop and climb on the Park Straight which I have never been aware of. The other thing you don't notice when you're racing, is how bloody narrow the track is in places.

Morning warm up was dry and I rode a couple of laps slowly to scrub the tyres and bed the brake pads. I then found myself behind championship second place man Chris and followed him for a couple of laps to see how he was going. Slow was the answer, so I nipped past in Mansfield, caned the bike down to the bottom of the mountain and grabbed a big handful of front brake as I usually do. The new brake responded differently to the old one and the rear wheel lifted a foot off the floor at about 70 mph. Smart! Although that may not have been what I said inside the helmet. That brake is a big improvement on the old one.

The race meeting was a sell out so we had some 500s on the back of our grid. The normal procedure here would be a split start, us away first and the foreigners ten seconds later. No one had explained this to Derby Phoenix racing club, so when the lights changed, 38 of us tried to get into Coppice corner together... interesting.

Once the melee had sorted itself out, I was second 250 (second to JC of course) and managed to hunt him down round the Park to Mansfield section. I was alongside him on the mountain twice and the second time still alongside him going into Hall bends (one bike wide) where he had the line and effectively closed me out. Very unsporting and if I'd been in his position, I'd have done exactly the same.
That's how it finished, JC first and me second. Exactly as I expected.

Race two on Saturday was cancelled, as was all the afternoon's racing after a crash which involved the air ambulance and the police measuring up. The circuit was closed until Sunday morning and race one's results were doubled to give me two second places... which was exactly what I expected anyway. This meant that Simon got a free third place. His bike exploded at the end of race one and he wouldn't have made it out for race two.

Race one on Sunday was a bit of a procession as far as I can remember. The fact that I don't remember much about it suggests that it was uneventful and I finished second to JC (just as I ...) with Chris third and Simon sat at the bottom of Mansfield having killed the bike he borrowed to replace the one he exploded the previous day.

Race four was the best. A combination of me ballsing up the start and he usual chaos in Coppice allowed Chris to sneak past me and it took me a few corners to get him back and pass him. Right, now to deal with JC... but he was gone into the distance again. I'm afraid I started to doze at this point and Chris came flying past on the start finish straight. I rode round the outside of him at Coppice and he came flying past on the Park straight. God knows where he'd got the extra power from, but I can't begrudge him it after all the traumas he's gone through in the past couple of months. He blocked me into Park and I passed him round the outside at (appropriately enough) Chris Curve. As I dived down the hill through the Gooseneck, I spotted Cass on the 400 and John on the 1100 engaged in a private duel and immediately decided that if I could put them between me and Chris, I could slow him down.
What made me think I could catch and pass a 400 and 1100 on my 250, I don't know.
I soon passed them at the hairpin (sorry) and they promptly came past on the start finish straight. So I passed them at Coppice and they came past on the Park straight. Then I followed them to the bottom of the mountain and passed them both together in the left hander. Awesome! Chris told me later that he knew that was the end of his challenge cos he'd never get past both of them in the mountain section. I held the lot of them off over the finish line and finished second to JC, just as I expected.

That gave me a total of 32 points for the weekend, a grand total of 162 (I think) and my nearest rival Chris has 76 (I think).

Mallory Park next weekend.

A rare left hand bend.

The classic Cadwell mountain shot.

Sunday May 19th 2002 - Darley Moor, Derbyshire. - Round 7.

I can't say I like Darley Moor very much .
In fact I think it's a crap of place.
Take a piece of paper and draw a triangle with a point at the top and a straight line at the bottom. Not an equilateral triangle, but taller than it is wide. That's what Darley Moor looks like. Three straights, three hairpins and two chicanes. No fun at all.
So like I say, I don't like Darley Moor. Which is strange as I've just added two more 250cc wins to my score. This means that I now have 130 points. With no JC in attendance, Chris Spooner has slipped into second place with 56.

Race 1 was a bit of procession, made slightly more interesting by Darley Moor Racing Club's inexplicable habit of making you pick your grid position out of a hat. This put some of the slowest riders in the club on the front row and the fastest at the back. What a load of bollocks.
The high spot of race 1 for me was on lap four. Trying to find a fast line through paddock hairpin, with my knee and foot rest on the floor, I lost the back end. I managed to pick the bike up and inevitably ran off the track onto the grass (where like everywhere else at Darley Moor there's about 4 feet of run off, before a tyre wall and wire fence). I kept the power on and rejoined the race having only lost two places.

Race 2 was another procession. I didn't run off the track so there was no high point to this race.

Next race is in four weeks at Cadwell on the 15th and 16th June. It's a weekend meeting with two races on Saturday and two races on Sunday.
Cadwell is awesome!

I might even have my new motor by then and god knows I need it. The old one is in danger of being thrashed to death soon.

Sunday May 12th 2002 - Mallory Park, Leicestershire. - Round 6.

Mallory Park again and getting closer to the summer all the time. Perhaps for the first time this year I wouldn't spend the entire 'non racing' time huddled in the van with the heating on. In fact Sunday morning was hot! Both races were dry.

The man to beat was JC again. For the benefit of anyone who's forgotten, he rides a very fast X7 which he's been developing for years at great expense and as if that weren't enough, he's a part time instructor at Keith Code's California Race School. If these points seem like excuses... it's because they are.
However, JC is also a nice bloke and on Saturday evening, he couldn't resist taking me on a walk of the circuit, with his notebook in hand and pointing out lines, possible braking markers and bumpy parts of the track to avoid. The bumpiest I have encountered is on the exit of Gerard's where even with the steering damper screwed down to it's tightest, I've had violent handlebar shakes at over 100mph with my knee on the floor. I could well do without that!

Race 1, I followed my normal Mallory plan and starting from the fourth row, overtook half a dozen 1000s and 750s in the first corner. After that, with JC clearing off into the middle distance. I rode to a comfortable but lonely finish as second 250, eighth overall. The loneliness did allow me to try some of JC's lines and they work. No shakes through Gerard's and no need to change underwear between races.

By race 2, the clouds had gathered and I was praying for rain. The only time I've beaten JC fairly was in the wet, but it really wasn't going to happen this time. Same starting procedure and up to the hairpin where Cass, JC and Paul Myler where all lining up behind Mostyn Bullock. Mostyn performed one of his unexplainable death defying outbraking, wobbling and sliding maneuvers and I rode round the outside of all four of them. What a laugh! After the race I asked Steve if he'd seen it. "Of course I saw it. Didn't you hear us all shouting?" Truth was, there was too much shouting inside my helmet to hear even the engine noise outside. Then Dick turned up laughing and told me how much he'd enjoyed that part of my race too. For the next couple of laps I was dicing with Cass and JC and kidding myself that I could beat them both, but by the end of the race, they'd both squeezed through and my result was exactly the same as race 1. Still one of the best races I can remember though. My times had improved with JC's lines and I've taken 5mm off the end of the footrest in the esses.

Two second places give me 16 points making a total of 110. My nearest rival has 50. Darley Moor next week.

Thanks to my on-site supporters: Anna, Dick, Dickie, Delia, Edward, Gabby, Isaac, Louis, Miriam, Steve, Tony, Zoe, who I think all had a good time.

The poor quality photo shows me leading a pack of 1000, 750 and 400 bikes, most of which started in front of me on the grid, into the esses.
The drawing is Anna's impression of this year's 250 Earlystocks championship leader at Mallory

Saturday and Sunday April 27th and 28th 2002 - Ty Croes, Anglesey. - Rounds 4&5.

I'd never been to Anglesey
I'd never seen the circuit on the telly, or even seen a photo of it, so I was going to have to be sensible and ride carefully until I knew where the track went. I figured with a practice session on Saturday morning and two races during the day, I'd be OK to try a bit harder in Sunday's two races. Friday night, in between monster storms, I walked the track to get a feel for it.
I'd describe it as like Cadwell with the straights taken out. Very tight and twisty, with a bit of up and down.
Although the weather was appalling, our races were all dry. I'll keep the details to a minimum, but I forgot about being sensible and was straight into it in race one and was first 250 home. Same story in race 2 although I had to try a bit harder to stay ahead of Simon, my main opposition.
Race three on Sunday was on a damp track and I rode a bit erratically, probably conscious of the damp patches, but I still won again.
Race four was the best. I started behind Simon on the grid and had to chase him for a couple of laps until I realized he was slow into turn one. I out braked him at the end of the straight and was past at my fist attempt. Next up Was Paul Myler's 750cc mobile roadblock. I dived under him in the second half of the Radar chicane and was away.
A couple of laps from the end, Michael Hand came past on his 400, he was flying all weekend. I just couldn't let him get away with it even though he isn't in the same championship as me, I chased him and outbraked him into the hairpin. I held him off through Douglas turns and across the line for four straight wins. With 7th overall and a lap time around 58 seconds, I was very pleased! That gives me a 44 point lead going into round 5 at Mallory in two weeks.

Sunday April 14th 2002 - Mallory Park - Round 3.

I arrived with an 18 point lead in the championship and the feeling that a double win was on the cards.
This feeling disappeared when I found JC (John Correia) in the paddock.
He rides a super fast X7 which he's been developing, he says for 9 years. As well as this, he's reputed to be an instructor at the Keith Code Race School.
OK then, I'm racing for a double second.

There were only four 250s. Mine, JC's, Colin Young's, (It was Colin that I had the battles with last time at Mallory), and poor Chris Spooner's. He spent £750 on it over the winter to make it slower.

Race 1, I was in 16th place on the grid. The flag dropped and I was round the outside of the pack in turn one (Gerard's) following JC closely. I overtook ten bikes in the first turn and found myself in 7th place. I think it's fair to say I (we) slaughtered them.
All race I chased JC, but couldn't catch him. We overtook a Suzuki 1000, making us 5th and 6th overall and then on the last lap JC's clutch cable snapped and I passed him on the line for win number 3 and a finish 5th overall. Unbelievable!

That was the best I've ever ridden. My lap times were down from 1' 4" to 1' 1". and I've found the limit of ground clearance with my knee and footrest on the floor in the Lake Esses. Just like the good old 350 Powervalve days! But I digress. Behind me were 1100s, 1000s, 550s etc.
In his race report, Steve who runs the club wrote "Richard's race time was the quickest I can recall recorded by an eligible RD250 for a long time".

Race 2 started as a carbon copy of race 1. JC and me round the outside of everyone at Gerard's, but this time he was off like a robber's dog and by the last lap, he had a lead of the entire start finish straight over me.
I kept a check on Colin, who was way back in 3rd and rode to a safe 2nd, 7th overall.
I think by now they may be taking notice!

So now I have a 24 point lead in the 250 championship and I'm looking forward to a weekend meeting at Anglesey in two weeks time.

1st April 2002. Snetterton. Round 2.

I arrived first equal in the 250s.

To be honest I didn't expect a very good result at Snetterton, The long straights require far more horsepower than my bike currently has. I can normally make up the distance at other tracks by riding like a maniac in the corners or on the brakes, but here the straights are just too long.

The morning practice session was almost as eventful as last year. I ran into the side of a doddering fool on a CBR 600, with about two and a half times as much power as I have. The usual story, blasting past me on the straights and then wobbling about in a terrified dance in the corners. Anyway, he wobbled a bit too much and I had no option but to ram him. We both stayed on.

Race one was dry and despite my ex-friend Steve's best endeavors, my chief opposition was unable to start his bike, so my main rival was Simon Briggs who finished second in last year's championship. I was straight round the outside of half the field in turn one and then inevitably, Simon came past on the straight and although I tried, I couldn't get him back. He can ride in the corners as well as being fast on the straights. (And he's got several screws loose). So I got second. Which was nice.

Race two, I passed Simon on the short straight after turn one and realized that he must have a problem. For the whole race I was looking back on the straights expecting him to come past but he was well back in second. When it started raining I eased back a little and when the bike started to misfire I was hoping it didn't die while I was on for an easy win. It kept going to the flag and I made that win number two. After the race I found out that Simon had cracked his frame in the earlier race and had gone out just to get some points. What a nutter!

Here we see my good friend Steve desperately trying to get Chris Spooner's bike to run, so he can have a go at beating me.

So now I am leading the 250 championship with 36 out of a possible 40 points and my nearest rival has 16 points. Smart!

Next race is Mallory again in two weeks, followed by Ty Croes in Anglesey two weeks later. Can't wait.

March 3rd 2002, Mallory Park, Leicestershire.
The first race of the year.

Changes to the bike over the winter months have been minimal. The new rings were run in at a practice session two weeks ago, but I had no idea how the bike or I were going to go against other 250s.
The early-morning practice session was held in the wet and I had great fun dicing with some obvious beginner on a GSXR. He had probably 100 horsepower more than me but just wasn't able to get away. This gave me a good feeling for race one.
What a balls up. I completely messed up the start by wheelying away from the line. I grabbed the clutch, tried again and wheelied again. By this time they were getting away. I quickly passed Chris Spooner on his immaculate and very expensive 250 X7 and then had the usual race long battle with someone on a 500 producing twice the power of mine. He'd come past at speed on the straight and then I'd have to ride around the outside of him in the corners. This cost me at least one second a lap. Up ahead I could see the leading 250 but with all the hold ups it took me until the last corner to catch him. Too late. A very close second.
Race two, I got a much better start and was immediately on the tail of the winner of race one. His bike was probably 20 MPH faster on the straight, so again I had to do all work in the corners, passing him at least 10 times during the race by riding round the outside only to be passed on the straight again. Luckily my best passing place is at the Lake Esses which put me first into The Hairpin. As I braked into The Hairpin I could hear him changing down right behind me. I knew he would try to ride around the outside, so on the last lap I let the bike drift wide to force him offline and was first into the Bus Stop and round Devil's Elbow. I was first to cross the line with him right behind me. My first race win.
This puts me first equal in the championship.
Next race is at Snetterton on 1st April.

It appears that my front brake lever is about 8 inches off the ground.

Wed 20th Feb 2002.
Today was my first outing on the race bike this year. I was at Mallory for the afternoon test session really just to run in the motor and make sure none of the new bits fell off.
The running in went OK in the first of three twenty minute sessions in the pissing rain. I didn't care about the wet as it forced me to keep the speed down and not risk breaking the motor before it was run in.
In the second session, there was a dry line developing and by half time and I couldn't hold back any longer. I started to give it some stick and soon got sucked into a few personal feuds with people on bikes producing more than twice the power of mine. What a laugh! Riding round the outside of them at Gerard's only to have them blast back past me on the straight, then I'd outbrake them and dive into the hairpin first and hold them behind me until the start finish straight, where they'd come past again.
By the time the third session stared it was pissing down again so there was no real point in going out. The bike was run in and I only wanted to go out if I could thrash it some more.
Mission accomplished
Can't wait till next weekend and the first race. My racing season begins At Mallory Park on Sunday 3rd March.
This year I intend to do the whole thing. All 30 races.
Last year I only did 5 out of a possible 15 race meetings. I still came 6th in the 250 championship, so with a little luck, I can greatly improve on 6th this year.
Significant differences to my racing this year are... er... I'm building a spare motor, so that in the event of explosion, I can simply change motors in the blink of an eye and go out again. It might prove a little more complicated than that, but I'm pretty sure that I can build motor in a very similar state of tune to the original, so all I need to do is take one out and put the other in. It shouldn't take more than an hour. So who knows.
The other big difference is the VW Caravelle mini bus which I'll be using as race transport.
Using this means that I can arrive the day before, rather than getting up at 4 in the morning to slog over to the circuit and arrive knackered. It also means I can have a beer with the lads the night before and psych them out... maybe. Have a look at the Earlystocks Racing site.

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