Team Ixion Race Report
Rider: Roger Ford
|James' Loan Bike|
Aprilia's have something of a reputation for wearing their valve seats rapidly, so regular checking is recommended. I booked mine in at Wheelpower to have them checked and adjusted as needed. After dropping it off there, I received a call from them: "err - did you know your rear balancer shaft is in three pieces?".
No warranty on a race bike, of course, so I ordered the parts for 150 pounds (retail 200) from Aprilia Racing. Except that there were none in the UK so they'd have to be ordered from Italy, and would take "two to three weeks" to arrive. These are, of course, Italian weeks and not to be confused with the normal seven-day versions encountered in these parts.
Eventually, they arrived, and Wheelpower fitted them and checked the valves. More grief - two of the valves seats had got burnt. Apparently I was lucky not to have dropped a valve.
Anyway, more ordering chaos, and it became more and more evident that the bike wasn't going to be ready in time for Brands. A desperate email to the Team Ixion list, and James Dening came up with a very kind offer to let me use his ex-Dez Chand bike for the whole weekend.
|Mike Edwards collects the wreckage|
Fortunately Daz Jones came to the rescue with his spare MiHil rearsets - which allow you to reverse the change. I covered over Dez's "82"s with some gaffa tape and my "77"s, and fitted my steering damper and wheels.
I spent most of the day following Daz, he would push hard from the off and chasing him was keeping my speeds up. I was quite impressed to find we were both faster the Steve Booker - although this later turned out to be a temporary effect caused by a big off in the first session.
|A sorry afair|
Mike Edwards, sharing a garage with us, was unlucky enough to be taken out by an anonymous rider (though you can call him "Jeremy Goodall" if you like), and suffered a smashed up bike and bruised confidence for the rest of the weekend.
Nasty conditions - mostly dry, but very wet off line. Druids had a dry line only a foot wide. I hate conditions like that, and felt like a was riding like an idiot. I thought I must be almost last, so I was very surprised to find I got 8th place. Seems like most of the others didn't like it any better than I did. Daz Jones put in a good ride, then retired on the last lap with a stuck-on rear brake, putting him on the back of the grid for race 2.
Result: 8th. Best lap 55.82
I was somewhat disappointed to find that this was only worth 9th place - one place worse than before!
Daz did amazingly, passing me early in the first lap from his back-row start, and getting into sixth by the end of lap one, and third by the end.
Result: 9th. Best lap 52.88.
Qualified: 10th. Lap time: 52.9
Before the race, on Clive Horton's advice, I added 20ml of 10w fork oil to each fork. It worked perfectly, stopping the forks bottoming out without changing the feel otherwise.
|Daz does his "Tower of Pisa" impression in a garage of RSV's|
On the 16th lap, I nearly lost it. I thought I'd fluffed a gearchange, and changed down another. I knew I'd got it wrong, but tried to let out the clutch gently. It wasn't gentle enough, and the back end locked and skipped out. I was flung off the seat, but just managed to hold it. Neil Simpson took the opportunity to leap past. To make up for this, though, front runners Paul Beasley and Jarrod Frost took the kitty litter exit at Paddock.
That left me in eighth place. Two places better than my previous best - and this time it was eighth out of twenty, rather than tenth out of thirteen!
I was extremely relieved to be able to give James his bike back in one piece, with all of the fairings intact! I reckon that eighth place on someone else's bike with a nasty cold was quite a result.
Result: 8th. Best lap: 52.27.
A huge debt of thanks is due to James Dening, without whose selfless offer of his bike I'd have been unable to compete at all. Cheers, James!
Next Meeting: Oulton Park, 1st April.
This one should be interesting as there's no practice. I love Oulton, but it takes a bit of getting used to. It normally takes me a whole practice day to get up to speed - so expect a pretty shoddy qualifying time!