Race Report – Team Tiger at the Island Classic 24-27 Jan 2013
|Rider: Kieran McGeown
Race Number: 79
Bike: Honda CBR250RR (MC22)
Class: Period 6, 250cc
|Rider: Gary Dickson
Race Number: 73
Bike: Honda CBR250RR (MC22)
Class: Period 6, 250cc
|Rider: Simon Dickson
Race Number: 8
Bike: Honda CBR250RR (MC22)
Class: Period 6, 250cc
Monday the 21st was the date the bikes left the Gold Coast, bound for Phillip Island, 4 bikes (all Honda CBR250RR’s) loaded, 3 bikes for the riders and one spare. Gary undertook the long drive down on his own, Kieran and Simon were both out of time off work, as luck would have it dad and the bikes made it down without any dramas. Kieran and Simon flew down Wednesday afternoon, Kieran sweet talked the car hire lady into a free upgrade to an SV6 due to it being his birthday on Saturday. Gary had secured a motel for us to stay in just off Phillip Island in San Remo.
Thursday morning we headed to the track for the track day – weather conditions were as perfect as it gets on the Island about 27 degrees and plenty of sun, a bit windy but this is Phillip Island. We unloaded and set-up the quick-shades opposite the pit garages, got through sign-on and threw the leathers on with about 3 minutes to spare before our first session. Welcome to heaven! The freshly resurfaced track was stunning, smooth, wide, ample grip and a view to boot, no wonder so many people say this is the greatest circuit on the planet – we could not imagine any way to improve it, and for the first time the 3 of us were experiencing it. We took it easy in the 4 sessions over the day, just getting used to the track and working out which lines to take. In the afternoon we signed on for the meeting and got the bikes through scrutineering so we didn’t have to deal with the bedlam the next day was due to bring with over 400 bikes to go through scrutineering.
Friday, we were now at the Island Classic, there are a lot of people and bikes, the weather was not as good as Thursday, indeed our quickshades had been assaulted by the wind, one was on it’s side and bent, someone had been kind enough to remove the tops so we at least had all the pieces to put them back together, as opposed to them being 1/2 way to Tasmania. First practise it was windy and overcast, a few spots of rain toward the end of the session, Simon topped the time sheet with a 2:00.806, and a top speed through the speed trap of 178km/h pretty good for a little 250 we thought. Session 2 we experienced a soaking wet track, we were all taking it very easy – not wanting to throw it down the road during practise – we don’t change tyres for the rain, we run our normal Pirelli Supercorsa street legal tyres so while they work alright they are certainly not a proper wet tyre. Simon was surprised to find he took second spot in the time sheets with a 2:25.647 and a top speed of 172km/h through the speed trap. In true Phillip Island fashion the weather cleared soon after our session and the track was 100% dry by the time we had our 3rd session. It was a good session, Simon was starting to get a decent feel for the track and was happy with the bike. Fastest time in the session, taking provisional pole, with a 1:56.486 and a new highest top speed of 179km/h. Simon was really happy to have gone under the 2min mark, and to get so close to a 1:55 was a real surprise. Before the weekend began Simon had set a personal goal to get a 1:55 after looking at the lap times of other meetings and the lap record for the new 250 Production class is 2:03.446 (ASBK class where they only use the new Kawasaki Ninja 250 twin or the new single cylinder Honda CBR250R) our 250′s are faster than them, so I estimated a 1:55 should be possible. With the Friday now complete we headed back to the motel and grabbed a nice dinner and got some sleep, tomorrow was the big day, the first time any of the Team Tiger riders would race on Phillip Island.
Qualifying 2 was set in good but windy conditions. Simon rode smooth, and it paid off. 1:54.757 this would be the fastest time of the weekend for a New Era 250 bike, all 3 sectors of the lap were the best of the session. Simon had taken Pole in his first meeting at the Island, and had gone sub 1:55, to top it off he managed to reach 180km/h through the speed trap. Kieran dropped him time down to a 2:03.108 to secure 5th spot and Gary qualified in 8th with a 2:04.866. It was all going well, qualifying had been completed, we had a rider on pole, and riders on row 2 and 3, and none of the 3 of us had crashed or encountered mechanical problems. If nothing else we were all going to start a race! Race 1 and the butterflies were well and truly fluttering. Simon cruised up to the number 1 grid spot – the same spot regularly occupied by Casey Stoner. Next thing you know the lights come on, the rev’s come up and the lights go out. Simon got a reasonable start, Paul Borg on his (New Era 125) Honda RS125 GP bike came past on the way into turn 1, Simon held the throttle pinned and went back past him on the way out of turn 1, Paul got past Simon again just tipping into turn 3, but Paul went past him again on the brakes into turn 4. Paul’s bike expired and Simon could then take it easy for the rest of the race bringing it home in first place with fastest lap of 1:56.058 and a top speed through the speed trap of 177km/h. The whole team performed admirably against the opposition, Kieran snagged 2nd by 0.051 and Gary took 4th, both of them locked in battle against a gaggle of 125GP bikes. Simon’s rear tyre was not fairing so well, he decided to run it for the next race and see how it went. Race 2 started similar to race 1, with a decent start but Paul just edged past Simon into T1, this time Paul had found some extra go and managed to open up 2 seconds, Simon pushed hard but could not close on him. At the end of the race Simon had a gap of 23 seconds back 3rd place. He also managed to get into the slip stream down the straight on one lap and took a new high through the speed trap of 182km/h so a decent start to the weekend none the less. This time Gary took 4th again, and Kieran although he managed to pull 180km/h through the speed trap was relegated to 6th, again it was a major battle for 3rd place, only 2 seconds separating the 5 riders taking 3rd-7th positions. Simon changed to a new rear tyre in the expectation it would give more grip and may be able to push harder the following day.
In between races Giacomo Agostini walked past our pit area and he was kind enough to get a photo with us.
Saturday night was time to enjoy the Island Classic dinner. What an event, 650 guests and 60 tables. The food was good, the entertainment – interviews of the captains of the International Teams (Australia, UK, NZ and USA), then interviews with Ryan Farquhar, Jeremy McWilliams and Cameron Donald were brilliant. Then came the main event and the interview with Giacomo Agostini. We headed back to the house we had managed to get for the night and got some sleep before the final leg.
Sunday and the final day of the meeting. The weather has been pretty good to us, the wind could have been reduced but it was no big deal for us. Race 3 got off to another good start this time Paul did not manage to pass Simon into T1, it was a pretty good battle going on, Simon was better on the brakes and through the right handers, Paul seemed to get better drive out of the corners – top speeds were closely matched, although Simon again got a tow down the straight giving a new highest top speed through the trap of 183. An error into T4 let Paul in front, I tried all I could, but the 125GP’s superior drive out of the corner meant I would finish 0.271 behind even after a brave manoeuvre over Lukey Heights. Any improvement in grip the new rear tyre provided was removed by Simon riding a bit too ragged and not stringing clean laps together. In the end he paid the price for not staying smooth with aggressive tyre wear and finishing behind Paul again. Kieran finished a solid 3rd and did a sub 2:00 lap with a 1:59.700, and Gary took 4th and stunned us all with a best lap of 1:59.662, again it 3rd-6th all in a pack battling it out, so it was extremely impressive that Kieran and Gary managed to front the pack. Race 4 was the final for the weekend. Simon got an average start, decided to just follow for the first lap to get the tyres to heat up a bit more before pushing, in the hope of discovering more grip and less tearing. Paul put the hammer down straight away and Simon could not match his speed. Simon pushed to his maximum in the last race, but made some small errors, the laps were not put together the way I had on the Saturday. Simon’s best lap was a was a 1:55.032, however he is happy with his performance, he gave it all, even had the front chattering into T4 on the brakes and had the rear step out on the way out of T4 so was riding close to the limit, just not as clean as the previous days. Gary finished 5th and bettered his PB with a 1:59.250, making him the 3rd fastest lapping rider of the weekend, Kieran finished a solid 3rd again with a best lap of 2:00.022, again all the real action was back with Kieran and Gary, this race a three way battle all the way to the line, with 0.3 seconds between 3rd and 5th, you could have covered them with a tea towel!
Over all the weekend was a great success for Team Tiger, Simon finished the weekend with 1st in the “250 New Era” class, and managed to achieve all his goals for the weekend. Kieran finished the weekend with 2nd in “250 New Era” and Gary took home 3rd, so the top 3 spots in the class, only the 125GP bikes could keep up, we also all stayed on and experienced zero mechanical issues the entire 4 days, which is a testament to the quality of our little old bikes.
Gary and Simon drove back to the Gold Coast, visiting “The Dish” in Parkes, and a wonderful dinner at the Gunnedah Chinese Restaurant, owned by the parents of Simon’s friend Vicky.
Simon would like to thank Gary for driving the bikes down and his pregnant wife Tamara for staying home and looking after their son Reilly. It was a wonderful experience and he hopes to get future Island Classic meetings.
If you are interested in being a part of Team Tiger we are currently looking for sponsors, and have some great deals to get your company name on our bikes and in our videos and race reports. Give Simon call on 0433224134 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .