2016 is the year of the Barry Sheene for Team Tiger, we had decided to make it our feature event for 2016 in the hopes that the team can make the trip to New Zealand and compete in the Trans-Tasman leg. For the event Team Tiger joined forced with Carroll Race Team, who provided Simon Dickson with a Honda VFR400 to complete in the Period 6 500cc class, as well as competing in the Period 6 250 Production class aboard his Honda CBR250RR. Gary Dickson and Kieran McGeown would join Simon in both classes astride their CBR250RR’s, taking advantage of the ability to enter the next capacity class to ensure plenty of track time over the weekend.
The Tiger crew brought some friends from the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland to make transport easier and ensure we had some good company at dinner time. Tony Carroll matching Simon aboard a Honda VFR400 and Honda CBR250RR, John Carpenter came with a new to him Honda VFR400 to join the others in the Period 6 500cc class, and also his regular Honda RVF400 to take part in Pre Modern F3. Chris Dunster joined John with a Honda RVF400 in Pre Modern F3 and doubled his track time in the F2 class. Keiron Rees was there on his Honda CBR250RR in the Period 6 250 Production class and in Period 4 on his Honda CB125.
It was very pleasant being able to arrive and unpack and camp at Sydney Motorsport Park on Wednesday, it’s things like this that make a meeting more accessible to interstate racers, and being interstate competitors we appreciated it! Wednesday night we hit the Eastern Creek Tavern for a meal and popped out to get some lunch supplies and fuel to get us through the next day.
Thursday was a practise day, we spent a fair bit of time on track getting used to the layout and ensuring the bikes were all behaving, there were no issues until John Carpenter and another rider decided to do the tango into turn 5. Johns RVF400 suffered a shattered engine case ending the weekend for his RVF400, John was a bit sore, although he continued to race aboard his VFR400. After a mostly successful day the crew hit up Thai Benja and feasted like kings!
The meeting was scheduled to run with 1 qualifying session and 5 races for each class, utilising progressive grids. Qualifying decides the grid for the first race, with subsequent grids based on the finishing order of the previous race. It sounds great, but the Team Tiger riders prefer static grids, as in reality progressive grids generally results in time wasted while riders are shuffled around the grid at the beginning of each race, having either forgotten their position or simply a matter of them struggling to find their new position.
First up for the crew was Period 6 Qualifying. It seemed the number of riders capable of putting in a fast lap was vastly more than the previous year. A 1:48.815 on the VFR400 for Simon was now only good enough for 9th! Kieran put in a 1:57.194 to take 23nd on his 250, and Gary 3 spots behind in 26th with a 2:00.990. Tony Carroll was the highest placed in the garage in 6th. The grid was composed of a combination of Period 6 500cc and the consolation grid with riders that didn’t qualify for the Period 5 and 6 1300cc main event.
Luck was with the team, as the rain came down upon returning from the P6 250 Production qualifying session. Simon managed a 1:51.629 to snag 9th, 2nd of the Production bikes in the grid mixed with Period 6 250 GP bikes and PreModern Formula 3 (mostly RVF400′s etc). Kieran set a personal best time of 1:54.696 to take 18th (5th in class), having not visited the circuit since 2012. Gary put down a 2:00.629, improving from the 500cc session and taking 27th (7th in class). Chris Dunster on his PreModen class RVF400 lead the Queensland assault in 6th.
Race 1 in the 500cc class meant it was time to get serious. The track was sporting a few damp patches, Simon managed a solid 6th place finish with a best lap of 1:50.295. Kieran showed a number of larger capacity machines up to finish 22nd with a best lap of 1:59.859. Gary brought it home in 25th with a best lap of 2:03.115.
The first race in the 250cc event meant it was time to get serious, with 43 bikes turning up to the grid for race 1, of that 17 of them were in the Period 6 250 Production class. Simon made his only real error on the final corner where he failed to decide which way to go around a back marker, the resulting poor drive to the finish line gifting the class win to Simon Rees (#322 Honda NSR250), meaning a seventh place (2nd in class) finish with a best lap of 1:51.200. Kieran was unable to find a way past a group of 250GP and F3 bikes, enabling Tony Carroll to escape his clutches and finish 15th (4th in class). Kieran crossed the finish line 20th (6th in class) with a best lap of 1:54.403. Gary kept ahead of the production hordes to finish 26th (7th in class) each lap building more confidence in track conditions, a 2:02.781 his best lap time.
With Fridays schedule complete the boys made some adjustments to bikes and enjoyed a super evening of canapés and a chat with the GP legends that are Kevin Schwantz, Freddie Spencer, Kork Ballington, Graeme Crosby, Steve Parrish, Jeremy McWilliams, Kevin Magee and Maria Costello. Afterwards it was off to Passage to India for a feast, Blacktown has all the good food.
Saturday arrived and conditions were glorious for race 2 in the 500cc class. Simon enjoyed a good race, and finished in 7th with a best lap of 1:46.982. Kieran continued to improve his best time with a 1:54.038, on his way to finishing 18th in a group of 400′s and a TZ750. Gary was a couple of bikes behind in 21st and put down a best time of 1:58.469.
Race 2 for the 250cc Production class started with 42 bikes on the grid! Simon spent the race having a close dice with the TZ250 Grand Prix bike of Alan Johnston, while Simon was able to make a number of overtakes, the TZ had the goods to be able to drive past on the proceeding bit of straight track. It was good fun racing, and Simon finished 1st in class and 5th outright with a best lap of 1:48.973. Kieran showed a bit of fire and put down a best lap of 1:52.877 on his way to a 12th place finish (2nd in class)! Gary had a great race with Brad Bennett (#41 Honda RVF400) and finished 23rd, (5th in class) with a best lap of 1:59.103.
500cc race 3 saw Simon put together a string of good laps, all in the 1:46′s with a best of 1:46.316, Tony managed to “veteran” Simon on the run to the line to relegate Simon to 6th, the pair of them only 2 seconds behind 2nd place! Kieran diced with a pack of 4 VFR400′s but was never able to stay in front on the long drag to the line, however was continuing to show good pace with a best lap of 1:53.088 on his way 20th. Gary was in a Honda 400 sandwich, crossing the line 22nd with a best lap of 1:58.595.
Race 3 250cc Production saw the rise of challenger Dan Harrison (#134 Honda NSR250). Simon and Dan exchanged positions a number of time but the NSR had the legs to finish first. A best lap of 1:50.499 on the way to 7th (2nd in class) was another strong haul of points for Simon. Kieran put together some consistent laps, with a best of 1:53.669 to lead his pack across the line and take 10th (4th in class). Gary continued to keep ahead of the main group of production bikes and crossed the line 20th (5th in class) with a best lap of 1:59.690.
With everyone surviving Saturday it was decided the best thing to do would be to enjoy another feast at Thai Benja. The food once again proved amazing, and everyone ate as if weighing more would be an advantage on the bikes. Sunday morning arrived and everyone was ready for action and the track weather was looking good.
Race 4 250cc Production saw Simon and Dan Harrison together again, unable to find a way past Simon crossed the finish in 5th (2nd in class). Kieran spent the race hassled by Tony Carroll who was fast getting accustomed to pushing the CBR250RR closer to the limit, Kieran held strong and was the victor of the pair, crossing the line 10th (4th in class) with a best lap of 1:52.708. Gary put together his best lap of the weekend in the 250cc class, a 1:57.477, and finished in his best overall position for the ckass in 17th (6th in class) once again showing the majority of the 250cc Production grid they need to step up their game if they want to finish in front of this 60 year old! During the race Chris Dunsters RVF400 engine expired, he had been on target to win the Pre Modern Formula 3 class, and put another Queenslander on a podium. Luckily it was only a mechanical failure and he did not crash and receive any injury.
Good conditions in race 4 meant Simon and Tony put in quality laps of the 5 lap race distance, Tony managed to grab 2nd and Simon rounded out the podium in 3rd, thanks to a well planned overtake on the last lap on Tim Podt (#93 Honda VFR400). With a best lap of 1:46.219 and the other 4 flying laps within 0.5 of that time Simon was very happy with his performance. Kieran being out of contention decided to drop back and have a bit of fun dicing with Gary and John Carpenter, with Kieran as his target Gary was able to put together his best lap of the weekend a 1:57.365. Kieran finished in 22nd and Gary in 25th.
The final leg of the 250cc Production could decide the overall winner. Simon decided to go for it! Batting for the outright race lead with #72 Michael Lowit on his PreModern class Yamaha FZR400, Simon rode to his limit, his best lap of 1:48.952 more impressive than it reads considering the wind had picked up quite a bit and was making turn 1 challenging. Leading over the finish line at the end of laps 2 and 3, he was relegated to 2nd by Michael on the 4th and final lap. The class victory meaning Simon won the championship for the Period 6 250cc Production class with 2 wins and 3 second place finishes. Kieran was forced to step up his game by Tony, and step up he did, claiming 12th outright and 4th in class, with a best lap of 1:52.771. His consistency giving him 3rd place in the championship and putting 2 members of the team on the podium! Gary kept a steady head to bring it home in 18th (6th in class) with a best lap of 1:59.097. The hordes of 250′s getting closer, but they will have to wait until the next time to see if they have improved enough to tangle with the senior Tiger.
Race 5 P6 500cc was the final event for the team. Simon’s medicore start was made to look fantastic thanks to everyone around him getting a poor launch, he was quickly relegated by Harley Borkowski (#00 Honda VFR400) who was on a mission, and soon after Tim Podt. As Tim tipped into T1 his engine blew up, Simon fearful of oil backed off and took a slow wide line through turns 1 and 2, luckily no oil had been dropped, but the defensive riding removed any gap to the group behind. Coming out of turn 3 Simon realised that he had neglected to put fuel into the VFR400 after the last race, losing drive out of every corner he was soon overtaken by the rest of the fast group, however he was able to nurse it home for 8th, with a best lap of 1:49.560. Kieran again hung back with Gary and John, and had another fun race to finish off the weekend, again helping Gary and John to put together some of their best laps of the weekend, even in the blustery conditions. Tony managed to recover positions after following Simon for the first two laps, his 4th place finish put him 3rd outright, and on the podium for the championship, an excellent result with the high level of competition at the event.
All in all it was a fantastic weekend for Team Tiger and friends. Upon return to Queensland John learned that he had in fact broken a rib in his Thursday crash, his minor complaints of pain more than justified. Everyone had a safe journey home and look forward to the possibility of competing on the Australian Team for the New Zealand leg of the Trans Tasman challenge.
Big thanks to all Team Tiger sponsors, CaraData, Xcite BIkes, Kaiser Baas, Penrite and Litetek. Also Simon needs to thank his wonderful wife for allowing him to go play bikes for a week. Gary is in the same boat, and thanks his wife Bridget. Kieran is just happy his work let him have holidays! Another massive thanks to Ray Oxford and Craig Dawson, without their photos this report would have been a lot less exciting to look at, the racing community appreciates the time you guys put into your passion.
|Simon Dickson||Kieran McGeown||Gary Dickson|
|Fastest Lap – P6 250 Production||1:48.952||1:52.708||1:57.477|
|Fastest Lap – P6 500||1:46.219||1:53.088||1:57.365|
|Best Finish – P6 250 Production||1st||2nd||5th|
|Best Finish – P6 500||3rd||14th||15th|
|Points – P6 250 Production||100||62||55|
|Position – P6 250 Production||1st||5th||6th|
|Best Finish – P6 500||1st||5th||7th|
|Points – P5 600||68||51||43|
|Position – P6 500||1st||5th||6th|