Going racing

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Going racing

Post by ogden » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:13 pm

Rather than hijack someone else's topic with my own ego-trip, it was suggested I might want to start my own, so here we go. First up,the intro:

I've decided to go racing. Not on the KTM, because I'm going road racing, not competitive ploughing and tilling, but on an R6 I bought just before Christmas. The plan is to do a few rounds this year with NGR, starting with Brands Hatch next week. I've thrown a load of time and money at the project over the winter, and got to the point that I've turned a 1999 R6 from a tidy road bike into a slightly ratty looking racer. It has one bad cylinder (low compression and visible marks in the barrel) but apart from that it's got all the bits it needs, courtesy of Translogic, Maxton, K-Tech, Ohlins, Brembo and most of the contents of my savings account.

Only snag was I'd never ridden it, even when it was a standard road bike. I didn't fancy swinging a leg over it for the first time in timed practice at my first ever race meeting, so I booked two days at Cadwell Park, one of the best little circuits in the country, known as the mini Nurburgring. Fast, technical and three-dimensional, it's an absolute hoot, and the circuit I know the best, having done about 400 laps of the place over the last few years.

Only question was, would I get on with the bike? Would it blow up on the first lap? Only one way to find out: thrash it!
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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:17 pm

Testing day 1 (posted to UKRM last night and pasted in here verbatim):

I've ridden the R6. For the first time ever.

In fact I've now ridden an R6. For the first time ever. But this one in particular. And it's a bit better than I expected it to be.

Having bought the bike with no tax, no MOT, no insurance, and picked it up in a van, before I rolled down to the assembly area this morning at Cadwell Park the furthest I'd ridden the bike was from the driveway into the garage, which is about twelve feet, so doesn't really count. I don't think I even sat on it until February, despite having collected it in early December.

I've only ever ridden two 600s before. One was the MLS loan bike, an awful Fazer 600, and the other was a GSXR SRAD that a colleague had borrowed from a mate and needed to keep somewhere near the office. I put it in my garage for a few weeks in exchange for a test ride. Sublime handling, gutless motor. So I kinda knew what to expect from the R6.

First session this morning was awful. I already knew the bike had one fucked pot (either a cracked or scored liner, I know not which, but all early R6s do it eventually and this is no exception, with bugger all compression on pot 1) but the sypmtoms only show up at low revs and this is a race bike, so who cares.

I wasn't expecting much. This is, after all, a bike I've pretty much converted myself, with a bit of help from PDQ. And I've not done much to it, other than (deep breath)...

Akrapovic titanium race system (a remarkably low 90dB at 7k rpm!)
Translogic QS4 quickshifter (same as I use on the gixer)
Brembo RCS master cylinder (likewise)
Ohlins steering damper
K-Tech SSK fork internals and Race-Tech springs
Maxton RT10 shock

...plus I've dropped the yokes 12mm to compensate for a steeper tyre profile up front, dropped the clipons under the top yoke, drilled and tapped the lock stops to reduce steering lock, stripped off the road bodywork and lights, added race bodywork, and had the wheels freshened up. But the motor is stock. And a bit broken. So I was curious to see what it'd do. Besides, it's not about what you've got, it's what you do with it that counts.

Sighting laps over, I gave it some berries up Park Straight and was deeply underwhelmed. The only bike I've ever ridden on track is my K4 thou, which has the old long-stroke motor and has stupid amounts of grunt from way down the rev range. I had to tell myself to forget what I was used to, and take this thing on its own terms.

The good news was the chassis felt right. Taut but compliant, it took a bit of fiddling with the steering damper to find a setting that'd have it turning easily but keep the head shakes under control down the start-finish straight. Once that was done it was all good.

Second session out I silenced the bit of my brain that deals with mechanical sympathy and just started thrashing the tits off it. The redline is at 15 and a half, and it doesn't really do much below ten, so it has to be treated like a stroker and thrashed, mercilessly. And oh boy does that pay dividends. I spent most of that session zipping past people and feeling for just where the power is in the rev range - it tails off a bit before the redline, so there's no point playing hunt the limiter, but PDQ's dyno had it making a healthy 110bhp at the wheel, which is 15 more than it would have made new. They say an engine works best when it's on the verge of going bang, and this may be no exception.

Third session was more of the same, and by the fourth session I was on it. Properly on it. Cobwebs blown away, I was happily riding round the outside of anyone and everyone through Coppice and into Charlies, and an occasional cheeky glance at the speedo showed numbers that, once corrected for gearing, were 10-20mph more than I do on the gixer in the same place. The bike's geared (roughly) for Brands Indy, 15/50, and I had the new (to me) experience of running out of gears up Park Straight, when I went to hook the next gear and found there wasn't one. That means a real 140-150 up the straight, which ain't bad for a first go on a 16 year old banger.

Last session before lunch, once I'd carved through a swarm, I latched on to the back of an S1000RR. I couldn't get past him, not without doing something fairly desperate, and it was a trackday, not an ACU test, so I had to behave a bit. And he was killing me on the straights, as you'd expect, but I was reeling him back in through all the corners. After the session I popped over to where he was parked up and asked, having some inkling of the electronics that were on the bike, if he knew what (highly unofficial) lap times he'd just been doing. No idea if he was telling porkies, but he reeled off a load of 1:52s, and claimed he'd been having problems as he usually does 1:47s. The best I'd ever done on the gixer was a single, solitary 1:53. And this was only halfway through my first day on the bike.

The three sessions after lunch were a similar story. Carve through the pack - I opted to drop down a group for the first day, to inters, since I had absolutely no idea how things were going to go - and latch onto the first bike I couldn't easily pass. After each session I tracked down the bike in the paddock to see what it was. All litrebikes, no 600s, which was encouraging. Except for one fairly quick chap on an injected CBR6 who was kind enough to wave me past after I'd spent a couple of laps latched on to his backside. I went and said thanks after the session, as he'd saved me some hard work, and it's usually me in his position.

So, first day over, I'm back up there again tomorrow, though the weather forecast isn't so good. We had 15 degrees and bright sunshine today, which really wasn't what I was expecting when I booked a trackday in early March - two years ago I was there at Easter and there was snow piled up either side of the back straight.

One day on the bike, lapping quicker than I've ever done before. The first session was a shocker, but I knew it would be, which is why I did a trackday before the start of the season - better to learn the bike in testing than in qualifying for the first race.

All I need now is my race entry. Posted the forms off, haven't had anything back yet, and only six days to go. Might have to give the club secretary a bell on Monday to make sure I got a place.

Then it's game on!
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Re: Going racing

Post by Muppet » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:36 pm

Like!!! ;)
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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Sun Mar 08, 2015 9:44 pm

Muppet wrote:Like!!! ;)
Steady on, you've not seen today's write-up yet.
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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Mon Mar 09, 2015 12:34 pm

Testing day 2, as posted to UKRM last night:

A slightly less productive day today, and the weather didn't have much to do with it.

First session this morning was a world apart from yesterday. It was cold and breezy, much like yesterday morning, but not bad for early March. I'd banked on allowing myself a day in the inters group to get used to the bike (or kill it, whichever came first) and today I was in the fast group, playing with the big boys. Unlike yesterday, I was completely comfortable on the bike from the first sighting lap, which is just as well, because the sighting laps in the fast group are done at roughly the same pace as a hot lap in the novices.

The circuit was damp, as you'd expect first thing, but a dry line had started to appear by the end of the session, and I came back in to the paddock feeling confident with the bike, confident with myself, and looking forward to making a bit more progress before the weather set in.

By the middle of the second session I felt like I was up to the same kind of pace as I'd been doing the previous afternoon. Which is good, because it means I was getting consistent. But also not so good, because the track conditions were completely different.

One of the best sections at Cadwell is Coppice and Charlies. Coppice is a sweeping, uphill left-hander at the end of the start finish straight. I give a bit of front brake when I pass the access road on the right near the end of the straight, cog down one, sit up a bit and tip in, letting the change of direction, gradient and my body acting like a sail scrub off speed on the way to the next turn-in point. Charlies 1 is a right-hander over a blind crest which leads to Charlies 2, a tricky, fast right-hander through a dip leading onto Park Straight.

I didn't make it to the straight this time. I'm not entirely sure what happened, and I didn't have a camera on the bike to watch back, but I suspect I was either off line and hit a damp patch, I did something to unsettle the bike in the corner, or I just asked too much of the tyre, but the front tyre let go and down I went at what was probably the thick end of 100mph.

I didn't have far to fall, as I was cranked right over, but at that speed it doesn't make much difference. I just had time to look over my left shoulder to see if I was about to be run over (I wasn't), and then it was back to the main business of sliding on my back towards the tyre wall.

As I came to a stop, I looked up just in time to see the bike, which had somehow picked itself back up, trundle over the nice, soft grass, wobble a bit, and fall down on its side for the second time. The bastard.

I knew straight away I'd crocked my hand a bit and wouldn't be able to pick the bike up, so I nipped over to the bike, flicked the kill switch, and headed for the marshal's post behind the tyre wall. Yellow became red and soon I was chatting to the paramedics and marshals, one of whom had come over from the next post to declare "that was bloody fast". Once they'd cut my wristband off and I'd confirmed I was a) ok and b) calling it a day before my luck ran out, the paramedics buggered off and left me to watch the marshals pick the bike up, which revealed a puddle of fully synth. Definitely calling it a day.

Back in the paddock, I had a chance to take stock. One finger which doesn't work properly, possibly broken but I couldn't be arsed to spend an afternoon at A&E and I'm more than capable of taping two fingers together myself. One smashed crankcase cover, which I can only assume was due to the bike falling over the second time, as it had further to fall and there was no oil on the circuit. Lots of smashed and scuffed bodywork. One completely missing footrest which left a snapped hanger and broken rear master cylinder. One scuffed and chamfered (not to mention eye-wateringly expensive) brake lever which didn't fold the way it was meant to. One dented exhaust - the silencer looks like crumpled tinfoil and the link pipe has a big dent from the swingarm, both of which I'll try to get repaired. One day-old Arai lid which needs to go in the bin, a slightly ripped glove and some leathers that need to back to Harpers for repairs.

All in all, I don't think I'll see much (if any) change from a grand once I've repaired or replaced that lot, but I only know one way to find the limit so the odd crash is pretty much unavoidable. Any crash you can walk away from is, by definition, a good one, and in the end it's only money. And time. But mostly money.

Suffice to say, I won't be racing at Brands next week. I have no bike, no leathers, no lid, no gloves and the dodgy hand means I probably couldn't ride anyway. But I'll pop along anyway, to watch and do what I should have done anyway - check out a meeting at least once before turning up as a competitor.

I do this shit so you don't have to.
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Re: Going racing

Post by Yoozy » Tue Mar 10, 2015 11:13 pm

Just enjoy it matey, good bits n bad bits :D
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Re: Going racing

Post by King Tut » Wed Mar 11, 2015 4:21 pm

Thanks for the report, a very good read. Hope you are back on the track sooner than expected and no more ground checks for a while.

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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Wed Mar 11, 2015 7:00 pm

11029540_10153732227069896_4404364545903185461_n.jpg
Repairs are well under way. I stripped the bike down after work on Monday and ordered most of the parts needed yesterday. Two suppliers did a double-take, asking "er, didn't you just have one of those off us?" and one told me I was on the way to being his best customer.
hanger.jpg
Leathers have gone off to be repaired today, new lid and RHS rearset/hanger/mc should have arrived in the office today. Gloves are ordered and most of the rest of the parts should turn up in a week or so, bodywork and leathers a couple of weeks after that.
case.jpg
The crankcase (pickup) cover got smashed when it fell over the second time, which was kinda lucky because it just fell over and sat there. All the little bits of ally were inside the cover and don't seem to have been sent swirling round the engine in the oil, so that's an easy fix. Finger almost works again too. Found all my coolant (water) in the bellypan when I took the plastics off, as the radiator hose got split in the crash. I'm hoping a new hose will do the trick, and there's nothing more fundamental broken. I need to phone MHP about getting the exhaust repaired tomorrow, and hopefully I'll have the bulk of the repair work finished in a fortnight or so.

That should leave me enough time to throw it at PDQ for the few bits I can't do myself, and I should be OK for the next round, back at Cadwell on the 11th of April. In the meantime, I'm going to have an unexpectedly relaxed weekend at Brands, watching rather than doing. The worst thing is knowing I'm missing a chance of championship points!
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Re: Going racing

Post by oldf4rt » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:40 pm

Good effort. Like your "positive" attitude. Good luck going forward.

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Re: Going racing

Post by Hotbrakes » Mon Mar 16, 2015 3:37 pm

At least you know the bike is good and you were having fun sorting it out on track. With all the variables, you should have crashed in the first day, before getting comfortable. But you didn't...and the season isn't in full swing yet! Good luck racing, it's one of the closest methods of getting in touch with a primitive instinct, much like a gladiator suiting up in armor for combat.

Make sure you practice starts, you can't win the race from the start but you can definitely lose it! Hold the throttle at probably 6-8k for a 600, and don't twist any more until the clutch is fully released. And be very conservative entering T1, chances are you'll get by anyone you could have passed, and anyone that would have passed you will before the checkers. Ride the rest of the race as you would at your normal pace. Then watch as others who don't practice these principles pile up, leaving you in a much better position.

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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:18 pm

11034059_10153758261729896_5129697347982562986_n.jpg
Lincolnshire mud seems to get absolutely everywhere.

One week on, progress is being made. All my new kit has arrived, and the leathers should be back this week with a few repairs. I've got all the parts except for the radiator hose, so the lack of coolant is pretty much the only thing stopping me firing it up to see what happens. The gixer needs a new MOT before I take its brake lever, as they both have the same RCS master cylinder, and the R6 has a new (used) footrest, hanger, rear master cylinder and a fresh HEL line - the old fluid was absolutely disgusting, which tells me all I need to know about the "full service" it supposedly had before I bought it.
DSC_0295.JPG
Photos from the trackday are in, and in the absence of laptimes or video they're the only way I really get to see how I was doing. Self-assessment is comfortable enough, but I seem to have forgotten what to do with my upper body, so I'll have to pay a bit more attention to my inside elbow next time I'm out. All in all though, not too shabby.

Last weekend was meant to be my first meeting at Brands Hatch, but with no bike or leathers I wasn't going to be riding, so I took the opportunity to go along anyway and scope things out, something I should really have done anyway. I knew a few other people who'd be there, some racing F2 sidecars to get signatures for their Mountain Course licence to do the TT in June, and some racing for the first time in the same class as me. The first race was a bit of a dud - I didn't make it to the grid, Mark's bike died before the light went out, and Loz lasted two laps before crashing at Paddock trying to avoid another faller. Mark made it back out for his other four races and picked up four finishes and two signatures towards the ten he needs to lose his novice jacket. I had to settle for getting my name in the programme, by virtue of getting my entry form in at the last minute (and thus getting last place on the grid), despite having to cancel the entry again straight afterwards.
programme.jpg
So, more work to do in the garage, and I'm going to play safe and give myself a Plan B: my old gixer just needs race bodywork, a bit of lockwire and some new rubber to be eligible for the Streetstocks class. It won't be cutting edge but I know from comparing results with what I've done on trackdays that I should be faintly competitive. The SS race runs immediately before the PI race, so I can't do both, but it'll give me a fallback if the R6 gets binned or goes bang. After all, why have one race bike in the garage if I can have two?
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Re: Going racing

Post by Muppet » Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:53 pm

ogden wrote:
Muppet wrote:Like!!! ;)
Steady on, you've not seen today's write-up yet.
Have now (been away, sorry).

Don't like!!!

Bad luck, but great to see you get straight back on to it. Much more than I could do. Keep at it, so we don't have to! ;)
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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:53 pm

Second time lucky...
form.jpg
After a week of late nights in the garage, the radiator hose was the last part to arrive, and I got busy yesterday finishing things off. Hose on, coolant in, a litre of fuel in the tank and....nothing. The motor spun on the starter but didn't fire. Drat. I spent a couple of hours trying various things - fuel was definitely OK, as I could drain it from the carbs and the motor eventually flooded enough that there was fuel appearing at the header pipes. But no spark. I gave up as it got dark, feeling properly miffed and running out of ideas.

Today was my last shot at getting it working before calling the local Yamaha dealer, something I was hoping not to have to do because the project's cost me enough as it is. So once I'd dragged myself out of bed I was in the garage with the troublshooting section of the service manual on the laptop. Ten minutes later I'd sorted it, a simple mistake when hooking the pickup coil back into the loom, and the bike fired up. It sounded pretty grim at first, as the bad pot means it runs like a twin when cold, but once warmed up it seemed happy enough, with a few flames out of the exhaust when revved up. Result.
redtank.jpg
The bodywork still needs replacing, but I let my cowboy side run wild today bodging the old bodywork back together with fibreglass mesh tape and solvent cement. It's intact enough to mount to the bike, though I wouldn't want to try to get it past a scrute. I scored another silencer tonight on Ebay, have a proper repair to the link pipe lined up for after the next round, and have bodywork on order. The plastics are my only real concern now, and if it comes to the crunch I'll try to use the old, broken ones with the screen from the road bodywork. The entry form goes in the post tomorrow, and then I've just got to get busy with the lockwire, book a van and wait for the plastics.

Race day can't come soon enough.
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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:00 pm

tickets.jpg
This time next week, if all goes well, I should be kicking back in the paddock with a couple of beers having got three races under my belt. It should go well, no reason it wouldn't - I mean, it's almost four weeks since I last crashed this bike at that circuit.

Had a bit of a panic with the bodywork - the lead time from the factory seems to get longer by the day, and I was in need of a Plan B. Cue some scouring of ebay and I noticed someone had a slightly tatty set for sale a few miles down the road. Checking his other items, I noticed he was selling a whole bike with a blown engine, so a few emails and a shuttle run in a van later I became the proud owner of a second R6 - one to race, and one to cannibalise for spares. I wish he'd had it up for sale a few weeks ago, it would have saved me a fortune. Collecting spares is fast becoming a bit of an obsession - you can never have too many silencers, right?
cans.jpg
It being Easter, I've got four days at home, so I've had a couple of busy days outside (there's no longer enough room to work in the garage, what with two R6s, one GSXR1000 and the SMT stuffed in there) getting things ready. Took me most of yesterday afternoon to strip the new R6 down to a rolling chassis with engine, and a big box of spare parts to take with me to the circuit. The bodywork from the donor bike now has number panels added, with a generous dash of overspray because I'm a ham-fisted idiot at the best of times, let alone when left alone with a rattle can.

Everything seems to be ready now. My left hand almost works properly again, and my leathers are back from being repaired, and look almost like new. The bike's got fresh oil and water, new (to me) bodywork and tank, lockwire where it's needed, and the race entry's come back in plenty of time so I might not even be starting from the back of the grid for the first race. If anyone's at a loose end in the Humberside area next week, I'll be in the paddock at Cadwell from Friday afternoon.
black.jpg
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Re: Going racing

Post by Yoozy » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:26 pm

I might have some Ti Akra rivet bands for you if I can find them.
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Re: Going racing

Post by Muppet » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:59 pm

Good luck for Saturday.

Don't crash!
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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Tue Apr 07, 2015 10:06 pm

Muppet wrote:Good luck for Saturday.
Can't bloody wait. Bike's ready, stuff's mostly packed, all I'm missing is the van. I even polished the bike once I'd put the numbers on it, I had that much time on my hands. The other R6 is now a frame with swingarm, rear wheel and engine, and a box of spares for any eventuality.
Muppet wrote:Don't crash!
What do you want, a bleedin' miracle?
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Re: Going racing

Post by Muppet » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:14 pm

ogden wrote:
What do you want, a bleedin' miracle?
A minor one, yes. Snot too much to ask. 8-)
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Re: Going racing

Post by ogden » Sun Apr 12, 2015 11:22 pm

You got your miracle.

Four starts, four finishes, two signatures and no crashes. Knackered now, might write it up tomorrow.
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Re: Going racing

Post by King Tut » Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:50 am

Good on you! Enjoying this thread.

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