Team Tiger (Simon Dickson #8, Gary Dickson #73 and Kieran McGeown #79) arrive at Morgan Park around 7am Saturday morning, although it was only 2.5 degrees, this time last year it was -3. While it was cold, the sky was clear and the sun was beaming down, and there was no wind to reduce the effects of the sun on the bitumen. Over the next hour things warmed up dramatically, the weather over the weekend was perfect conditions for racing!
10 x 250 Production and 10 x 400′s with a sprinkling of 125 GP bikes and 650cc twins could make up the field of 28, the grid still large even with the MRRDA 125GP/Moto3′s being removed. This was also the most competitive grid Formula 3 and 4 had ever seen, the skill levels of all the riders improving since last round, every position had to be earned, not a single rider would be overlapped in the F3/F4 grid over the whole weekend, the field more bunched and the racing better than anyone could remember!
Qualifying 1 everyone went out easy to get a feel for the track, which was still cold. Simon and 5 others all ended the session in the 1:33′s, 5th through to 10th with Simon in 9th – an ominous sign for how many people may be able to run the pace. Gary got a feel for the track with a 1:36.14 giving him provisional 12th, Kieran scrubbed in his new tyres, taking it very steady with a 1:48.38, for 23rd.
Qualifying 2 was when the serious business of qualifying began, the track now warm everyone was willing to push, although traffic would pose an issue for many. Simon timed his fast lap perfectly, and claimed 3rd outright in the combined Formula 3 and Formula 4 grid, with a lap time of 1:29.211, the legions of 650 twins and 400s bested by a lowly historic 250 production bike. Gary did not improve as much as he planned, his lap of 1:36.348 enabling him to scrape into row 4 (16th). Kieran’s chain broke before he completed a fast lap, so his warm up lap of 1:38.535 left him in 23rd position at the end of qualifying.
Race 1, it was on! Simon was involved in a race long battle with Anthony Carroll (VFR400), Etienne Olden (VFR400) and Aron Burtonshaw (VFR400). On the last lap Aron had a big moment turning into turn 11, he was thrown from his seat but managed to hold onto the bike, unable to make the corner he went off the track, repeatedly being launched from his seat, only attached to the bike at the handle bars, he came back across the track after turn 12, and put it down and hit the tyre wall on the right hand side of the track about 200 metres from the chequer flag. No serious injury and they managed to borrow enough bits to get him back out on track for the next race! Simon crossed the finish line in 5th position outright and top 250 Production, with a best lap of 1:29.325. Gary worked his way through the mid pack to claim 11th outright and 3rd 250 production, holding off Ryan Steinbeck (VFR400) by 0.04 of a second, Gary had improved his pace from qualifying working down to a 1:33.689. Kieran launched from the back of the field, making up 5 positions into 18th before even crossing the start line on the first lap, another 4 or so bikes were relegated behind him into turn 1. A demon on the brakes and brave around the outside moves had him finish 6th outright only 3 seconds behind Simon, making him 2nd 250 Production, posting a best lap of 1:29.552.
Race 2 would go off much the same as race 1, positions 2nd through to 6th would have best laps in the 1:29′s, Simon held on to 5th outright behind Clint on his 125GP and the 3 400′s of Sean Purcell ,Tony and Etienne, giving him 1st 250 Production with a best lap of 1:29.675. Kieran finished 6th outright – 2nd 250 Production, best lap of 01:29.76, and Gary this time beaten by Ryan by 0.3 of a second held 12th outright, 3rd of the 250 Production class, his best lap of 1:31.684 proving how hard you had to work for positions!
Race 3 was the beginning of Sunday, Kieran making an even more impressive start than usual caught the pack Simon was running in and even pushed his way to the front of it to grab second place for a few corners. Simon felt he had to pace to go with Kieran and hoped they could both break away from the 400′s until a false neutral in turn 10 put Kieran back down to 6th dashing the hopes the two had of working together. Bad luck would next claim Simon’s left foot peg, coming loose, he then fell back through the pack from 3rd to behind Kieran in 6th. Only 2.5 seconds separated 2nd through to 6th after the 6 laps were complete! Kieran besting Simon to grab 5th outright, 1st of the 250 Production machines with a best lap of 1:29.248, leaving Simon in 6th outright and 2nd 250 Production with a best lap of 1:29.129. Gary put another one over Ryan, beating him by almost 0.3 of a second to take 11th outright and 3rd 250 Production, best lap of 1:31.901.
Race 4, Simon again was bested by the 3 400′s of Sean, Etienne and Tony, completing the race in 6th outright, 1st of the 250 Productions and best lap of 1:29.349. Kieran had more trouble getting through the mid pack than previously, finishing 8th outright, 2nd 250 Production with a quickest lap of 1:29.214. Gary pushing on to get 14th outright, still 3rd of the 250 Production machines, Ryan and Allan Milostic (SV650) using their superior power to finish less almost a second in front, James Parker (CBR250RR) almost managed to relegate Gary to 4th of the 250′s but was 0.05 behind across the line.
Race 5 brought with it more fantastic and close racing, with Mark Gordon (SV650) getting the start of his life pushing up into 3rd place by turn 1. Etienne, Tony and Ken Croucher (RS125 GP) were unable to put a pass on Mark that would stick, after watching for a few laps Simon decided to try and break through, dispatching Ken turn 4, then gliding past Tony and Etienne into turn 6, a good exit out of turn 7 and only Etienne managed to get back in front down the long drive into turn 9. Next lap into turn 4 Etienne went under Mark on the brakes, Simon stuck with him after making up 4 bike lengths on the brakes, Tony took another lap to get past Mark. Etienne rode clean laps to once again finish in front of Simon, but a 1:29.617 on the last lap was enough to keep Simon in front of Tony and take 5th outright, 1st of the 250 Production machines. Kieran’s race with a best of 1:29.935 was only good enough to get 9th outright (2nd 250 Production), everyone putting in 100% on the final leg. Gary claimed another Victory over Ryan by a massive 0.017 to finish in 11th outright, once again 3rd 250 Production across the line, fast again with a best lap of 1:31.658.
Team Tiger would like to thank CaraData for their sponsorship. It was a fantastic meeting run my the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland, all the volunteers and officials did a magnificent job. We all had a top time with all the F3/F4 competitors. Big thanks also go out to Tamara (Simon’s wife) for coming out with their daughter Adele for her first full race weekend at only 6 weeks old, and Bridget for helping out, and Wayne from Osella photographics for the great photos.
Simon’s footage from race 1 and 2 and part of race 3:
Gary’s footage from the first 4 races and part of race 5:
Kieran’s footage from all 5 races:
Full event results available at My Laps.