2017 Southern Downs Road Race Series Round 1

It may have been delayed to June thanks to a resurface of the circuit, but the round 1 came with everything! From damp qualifying, a wet set of first races on the Saturday. Then riders were graced by perfect conditions on Sunday once the track dried. The production grid was was at capacity, but it was not just numbers that had increased, some of the new faces brought bucket loads of racing skill. Locky Taylor and Tayla Relph bringing their Moto3 talent back to the basics of Production bikes on Yamaha R3’s, as well as the genetically talented Ollie Bayliss on a Kawasaki Ninja 300. If the riders thought things could not get any better, then the surprise for Sunday was that 3x World Superbike Champion Troy Bayliss joined his son Ollie for a pair of races, he casually smashed Simon’s long standing lap record by almost 2 seconds! Everything about round 1 was conspiring to make it a most memorable weekend of racing for all that took part.

Standard turn 2 mayhem off the startStandard turn 2 mayhem off the start

Team Tiger was running a full strength contingent of riders in Gary Dickson, Simon Dickson, Adam Dickson and Kieran McGeown. With the added bonus of getting to share the pit delight that is Jacksonville with the likes Tony Carroll, John Carpenter, and some of the normal Jacksonville residents the weekend was all positive. The Team Tiger riders were racing the Production grid which was to have 36 riders entered, and the Formula 4 class which had 33 riders entered. The meeting had over 150 riders entered, making it he largest subscribed Southern Downs meeting in history.

crazy in the wetEveryone was keen for a bit of wet racing

Things got under way on a damp track, the first session of qualifying for Formula 4 was mostly wet and most riders expected it to improve for Q2, the focus for most being to get used to the new surface in the damp and try to work out how much grip was available without pushing too far and ending the weekend early. The story was the same for Q1 for the Production class. Prior to Q2 kicking off the rain decided to pass over and ensure everything was staying damp for qualifying. Some riders used wets, the Team Tiger riders were not any of those due to not having any, they were destined to stay on the Pirelli Supercorsas.

Adam and Jason WhiteheadAdam and Jason Whitehead

Come the end of qualifying Simon had managed to bag 5th in Formula 4 and Production, lining up in the wrong spot should not be an issue this weekend! Kieran skipped Q1 for Formula 4 hoping the conditions would improve, when they didn’t he was stuck in 21st, he did manage to string together a decent lap for Production and put himself in 9th on the massive 35 bike bike grid. Adam’s lack of track time on the old surface meant he was able to accept the grip levels in the wet without the memories of slippery patches clouding his judgement, he did a cracking job to snag 10th in Formula 4 and 16th in Production. Gary was not in the mood to take risks in the wet conditions, however the large number of riders all seem to be getting faster which meant he qualified in 19th and 29th!

Wet wet wetWet wet wet

Race 1 for Formula 4 and the mixed conditions had continued, most riders expected that it had dried up since qualifying, but once on track it became obvious that the only person who got it right was Leigh Holmes (#3 Kawasaki ZXR400) as he was the solo rider with wets. Simon pushed as hard as he dared considering it was the first race of the weekend and the track was quite wet, finishing a respectable 4th was a solid start to the season. Adam had managed a cracking start and pushed his way onto Simon’s tail, from there he followed and copied as the laps ticked off, Simon only brake away with a couple of laps to go, but by then Adam had a gap on the group behind him and he came away with 5th. Kieran got more comfortable as the laps went on and made his way forward to claim 10th. Gary also claimed plenty of scalps, even though he was riding conservatively in the wet, being rewarded by 17th.

Simon trying to escapeAdam looking to slot in behind Simon

Even though it was wet, 31 riders lined up for race 1 of the Production class, only 4 riders decided that the wet was not for them. A number of riders had come prepared with wets, once the lights went out those with wets moved forwards, taking advantage of the extra grip and feel the soft rubber provided. Simon ended up 11th, 8 riders with wets and 2 brave souls in front of him. Adam continued to show his wet weather prowess and claimed 15th. Gary moved up to 18th, in the process claiming the scalp of Kieran who finished 19th.

Kieran being houndedKieran being hounded

The second Formula 4 race was scheduled to run on Saturday, but a downpour in the afternoon put a halt to proceedings, the 3 races left to run were moved to Sunday morning. A cracking feed of Indian on Saturday night and some great chat with a chunk of the grid meant everyone was ready for a fine days racing on Sunday.

The grid goes a long way backThe grid goes a long way back

The track was still wet in parts but a dry line was already forming when Formula 4 race 2 got under way. Once again the pace was fairly hectic, a tidy little battle with Tony Carroll left Simon in 6th, with 10 seconds either side of the pair. Adam was the tail of a 3 rider battle, Mark Torrence (#12 Honda CBR250RR) and Michael Cullen (#64 Honda CBR250RR) were not letting him take any more glory. Gary and Kieran got back to business, again Gary managed to claim the honours, although it was so close neither were 100% sure who had gotten to the line first. The electronic timing declared it was Gary by 0.016!

Gary in the packGary in the pack

Troy Bayliss lined up for race 2 of the Production class. As he had not set a qualifying time the grid was a Bayliss sandwich. Ollie Bayliss on pole and Troy Bayliss in 36th. This was also the first time the club had ever had 36 bikes line up on the grid. Every single marked spot was taken! The track was dry except a damp patch in turn 4 and the excitement was palpable. Would Troy be able to scythe through the field and make it to the front? It only took 2 laps of the available 6 for the answer to that question to be given. At the end of the second lap Troy was hounding Ollie for 1st! He had chopped through most of the grid in the first 4 corners. Simon had a ding dong battle for 3rd with Locky Taylor (#151 Yamaha R3), young Locky throwing down a few big moves to get the job done and relegate Simon to 4th. Kieran was hounding the lovely Tayla Relph (#28 Yamaha R3), but could not quite get there and he finished in 7th. Adam was part of a 6 rider train, all 6 crossed the line in 1.2 seconds! He managed to keep 4 of them behind him, and he followed Michael Cullen across the line for 12th. Gary was was part of the big train with Adam initially, but the trio dropped off a little bit and Gary finished in 19th. The large battling groups of riders, capacity grid, and the addition of Troy Bayliss to the grid will ensure this was one of the best races that all the riders on the grid have every been a part of.

Simon turn 12Simon turn 12

Come Formula 4 race 3 the track was in perfect conditions. On lap 2 Tony Carroll (#4 Honda VFR400) crashed out of 2nd place, then with 2 laps to go Callum Barker’s Suzuki GSXR400 expired, leaving Leigh Holmes (#3 Kawasaki ZXR400) to take first while Simon chased Kyle Mountney (#254 Kawasaki ZXR400) and grabbed a podium finish in 3rd. Kieran was the next rider back in 4th after an excellent ride, dipping into the 1:29’s in the process. Gary put on an exceptional ride to snag 6th, while being chased by the 250cc machines of Liam Van Booma (#667 HOnda CBR250RR), Matthew Bushell (#146 Honda CBR250RR), and Jason Whitehead (#54 Kawasaki ZXR250). Adam had a crash which he managed to remount and complete the race, but it slotted him back to lucky 13th, although he did set a new PB of 1:30.600 on the lap prior to rolling in the dirt.

Shelby Turner, Simon and KieranShelby Turner, Simon and Kieran

Back to the production grid the field was graced by Troy Bayliss again. The race was red flagged after 2 laps due to a crashed rider, which turned out to be incredibly lucky for Ollie Bayliss and Locky Taylor, as they both suffered from chain failures right before the red flag came out. The restart saw Simon in a cracking battle with Glenn Chandler behind the inevitable Bayliss duo at the front. Although Simon had a cracking run to the finish line, it was not quite enough to overtake Glenn, he came up 0.037 short. While it may have been a 3rd place it was a cracking battle. Kieran finished as the meat in a CBR250RR sandwich with Daniel Lardner (#250) the top, and Matthew Bushell the bottom, the trio crossing the finish line nose to tail. Adam and Gary were in a full blown 8 rider train, all 8 riders crossed the line within 2 seconds! Adam managed to 15th and Gary 17th. 8 riders within 2 seconds makes for one hell of an epic battle.

Sim hounding Tayla Relph with Kieran not far behindSim hounding Tayla Relph with Kieran not far behind

Formula 4 race 4 saw Simon chasing the 400cc machine of Kyle Mountney again, unable to show the pace required to get past he finished in 3rd. Kieran was in another exciting race, a 5 rider train separated at the line by 1.1 seconds! He took 9th and plenty of excitement. Gary and Adam were in a Team Tiger battle of supremacy, the pair finishing in 12th and 13th on the tail of Daniel Lardner.

Kieran.. HuntingKieran.. Hunting

The final production race of the weekend saw Troy sit it out so he could watch Ollie from the stands. Simon put in maximum effort and while his tyres were at the end of their life (3 meetings) and the conditions were not quite as good as earlier he was able to put to use some of the things he had learned while following Troy Bayliss and put together his fastest lap of the weekend of 1:27.372. The ride saw him finish in 3rd place, just ahead of Tayla Relph who was getting faster every race. Kieran moved his way forward to 6th to a nice points finish. The midpack was busy as always, Adam in a 6 rider train, he managed to 14th, with Gary leading the next trio across the line in 16th, Sarah Fairbrother (#14 Honda CBR250RR) pushing him all the way and he only held her off by the slim margin of 0.014 of a second.

Adam on the tail of Mark TorrenceAdam on the tail of Mark Torrence

And so concludes one of the best weekend of racing Morgan Park Raceway has ever seen! Team Tiger thanks their family and sponsors for helping them do what they love. Penrite, XCite Bikes, CaraData, and Litetek. Another big thanks to William Course Photography and Motorcycle Pics for coming out and taking some cracking photos and allowing us to share them with you.

Kieran saving itKieran saving a moment

Meeting Statistics

Simon Dickson Kieran McGeown Gary Dickson Adam Dickson
Fastest Lap 1:27.372 1:29.473 1:32.481 1:30.600
Best Finish – Production 3rd 6th 16th 12th
Points – Production 64 46 16 30
Position – Production 5th 6th 20th 12th
Best Finish – Formula 4 2nd 4th 7th 6th
Points – Formula 4 70 46 34 44
Position – Formula 4 2nd 4th 12th 8th