Round 5 marks season close, the grand finale, but also a new beginning! This will be the first time Simon and Tamara will have their 3rd child Emily at the track, and also the first test of the new (old!) caravan so they can stay at the track and wake up to the smell of racing. The weekends schedule was also sporting something new, instead of Formula 4 there was to be a team enduro event, 2 person teams and a 30 min race for each member, both with LeMans style starts should prove to be a heap of fun. Another difference to the rest of the year was the 250/300 Production class no longer sharing a grid with the Moto3/125GP bikes, with 28 Production bikes, the GP bikes had been moved in with Formula 3.
The drama kicked off 1/2 way through riders briefing, with a storm cell sweeping through and everyone running for cover from the rain and those with bikes not undercover running to unplug tire warmers. Qualifying kicked off about 20 minutes late on a wet track. Simon, Gary and Adam all went out to check out the track and put down a lap in case things got worse. Kieran who was borrowing Gary’s spare bike, as his was still on the way back from New Zealand, was happy to sit out the session and hope conditions were better for Q2. The second qualifying session was pretty much dry, allowing everyone to put in a proper lap. Simon managed to grab 2nd place behind Glenn Chandler (#22 Honda CBR250RR), Gary snagged 11th, in a group of 6 riders separated by less than a second. Adam took 14th not feeling confident with the wet patches. Kieran struggled to get used to the unfamiliar bike to take 15th.
During the lunch break another storm cell came through and drenched the track, the rain stopped just in time for race 1. The race was bizarre, starting on a fully wet track, each lap conditions changed until there was a mostly dry line around the circuit by the last lap. As conditions improved Simon struggled to understand the grip and the bike was really struggling to accelerate out of corners, falling back through the pack, he eventually finished in 7th. Adam moved forward to 13th, and Gary back to 16th, while Kieran stayed in his chair, not risking a crash in the wet on a borrowed bike.
Simon and Gary removed their air filters to see if allowing more air flow would help the engines breath as they believed they were running too rich, the extra heat had made them feel worse than the previous round. The removal helped, but still they were not pulling as well as they should. Race 2 saw Simon tail Glenn for 2nd place. Adam found a little clear air, a few seconds ahead of the pack in front and clear of the pack behind to take 11th. Kieran lead the next pack for 12th, Sarah Fairbrother (#14 Honda CBR250RR) on her production début, Andrew Day and Gary Dickson in 15th all finished within a second of Kieran.
A storm overnight was another test for the new accommodation, no leaks meant a good nights sleep. Race 3 things were all dry, and Simon again chased Glenn Chandler but despite pushing hard was unable to make an impression, collecting another second place. Positions 7 through 13 were all in a train. Adam was able to move up to 10th, and Kieran made it to 12th. Gary tailed the next close group of 3 riders home to finish 16th.
Race 4 was hot! Simon chased Glenn, but once again he had no reply to Glenn’s pace in the heat and was could only finish in 2nd place. Adam felt much better in the dry and made his way forward to 9th, only 3 seconds behind 5th. Kieran grabbed 10th a few seconds behind Adam and a few hundredths of a second in front of Mark Torrance (#12 Honda CBR250RR). Gary had a close battle with Andrew Day (#54 Honda CBR250RR) and managed to come out on top in 12th.
The enduro was the final event of the weekend. It was a team event, all the smaller bikes were in Group B, and each rider was paired with a partner from Group A (the big bikes). Partnerships were based on qualifying times, and there were a total of 24 teams. Simon qualified 8th of the Group B and was partnered with Ross Beames (#131 Ducati 1098), Gary had qualified 19th his partner was partner was Steve Haslam (#25 Triumph Daytona 675), Adam in 20th was joined by Callum Spriggs (#50 Yamaha R6) and Kieran was 21st and his team mate was Ryan Yanko (#82 Honda CBR1000). Each team member would take part in a 30 min race in their group, the number of laps and finish times would then be added together to give each team their finishing position.
To add to the excitement, the starts were a LeMans style start, whereby the rider would start standing on the inside of the track and the non riding team member would hold the riding team members bike, on the outside edge of the track, with the engine off. The start was signaled by the raising of the Australian flag. A short sprint across the track, jump on the bike, push the start button to bring the engine to life, click into gear and away they go! 30 minutes later the chequer flag finally appeared and the race was over.
“The silence at the start was deafening! It was the strangest sensation watching the grid marshal walk off the track and hear the footsteps, then I focused on the Australian flag in the starters hands, once it moved I set off. I could actually hear the flag flap through the air as it was raised. Then the patter of boots on the bitumen was so bizarre it was almost enough to distract as you were running. Once I reached the bike and hit the starter the reality set in and I was able to focus on getting it into gear and setting off. By turn 1 I was in second place, so my start was good. I was able to keep close to the pace I was aiming for, although my pace all weekend had been seriously disappointing. With about 10mins to go my bike was not coping with the heat and I had to drop my pace to ensure I didn’t cook the engine. I was very happy with the level I was able to push for so many laps consecutively, and while I was not in any real direct battle, it was more a battle of the mind to ensure I didn’t slow down. The start was thrilling and the 30 min race in the heat was immensely satisfying to complete. My partner had also done a great job and it was actually exciting to signal to him from the pit wall so he knew if he was achieving his lap time goal.” – Simon Dickson
Once the results were calculated it was Adam and Callum that were victors! Kieran and Ryan snagged 3rd, Simon and Ross collected 5th and Gary and Steve came home in 13th. The enduro was a well received event and got riders from different classes talking, many discussed with their partners communication strategies, expected lap times and most importantly how to hold the bike so no one received a wayward kick in the chops! It was a sensational end to another fantastic years racing and everyone at Team Tiger is looking forward to doing it again!
Final standing for the Team Tiger boys in the Southern Downs Championship for the 250/300 Production class. Simon managed to hold onto the lead, even though the wet weather seriously shortened the points buffer he had, down to only 19 from Glenn Chandler, a DNF for Simon in the final race of the season would have seen Glenn take the championship. Kieran held onto 3rd place, he has had plenty of pressure on track this year, however he has had an exemplary year regarding consistency and getting good points every round. Gary was in the thick of a serious pack every round, often 5 or 6 riders competing for position, however he showed lots of the new riders how to put a season together and kept well inside the top 10 to finish 7th! Adam missed the first round but he has improved rapidly every time out, and is planning on being a threat for top 5 next year, this year he finished up 11th.
Formula 4 was reduced to 4 rounds in 2016, and it’s a superb class of racing. The mix of bikes adds some extra spice and the depth of the field is immense. Simon managed to grab the final spot on the podium in 3rd! Tony Carroll and Leigh Holmes taking the top 2 spots on their 400cc machines. Kieran had an extremely strong showing, this year coming 4th! Gary managed to take another 7th place, his consistency and strong form showing in the final standings. Adam managed to work his way up to 14th in a very strong field despite missing the first round of the year.
Thanks to those that support Team Tiger, XCite bikes, CaraData, Penrite, Litetek, 2fiftycc.com and Kaiser Baas. The racing in 2017 has been fantastic, with new events, close racing and growing grids it could not be more fun! The team looks forward to riding in 2017!