The 2014 Warwick Challenge was held over the 8th and 9th of February 2014 at the Morgan Park Circuit in Warwick, Qld. Team Tiger riders Simon Dickson, Gary Dickson and Kieran McGeown were racing in the less than 500cc class on their Honda CBR250RR’s.
Saturday was a beautiful morning, as the day progressed the temperature increased to 33 degrees, high enough to have you sweating just by putting leathers on. The track was in good condition, although the trio agreed they noticed a lot of bumps after riding last at Phillip Island.
The weekend was arranged with 4 classes, Under 500cc, Over 500cc, Supermoto and Sidecars. With only four groups there would be a lot of time spent on track. A total of 50 racing laps over 6 races would have everyone working hard, on top of the 6 races there were 2 practice sessions and 2 qualifying sessions! The Warwick Challenge is a great way to start the Motorcycle Sportsmen’s racing calendar, as it’s not a part of the club series riders can relax and just get into the groove of things again and try out new things. The huge volume of time on track combined with high temperatures would prove to be a great way to test riders and machines.
The weekend kicked off with 2 practise sessions, followed by 2 qualifying sessions. Simon qualified in 4th with a lap of 1:28.680 – leading < 500cc production bike. Gary was the next Team Tiger rider starting the weekend strongly with a lap of 1:30.631 to set himself up in 6th. Jeff Duke (Honda CBR250RR) in 5th being sandwiched in between Simon and Gary, making the top 3 production bikes 250′s. Débutante Jason Hermann (Honda RVF400) and Michael “Mojo” Webb (Honda VFR400) who was a part of the Island Classic trip, lead the 400cc charge in 7th and 8th. Kieran unable to come to grips with a change of gearing would start the races from 11th after posting a best lap of 1:34.637.
Race 1 commenced on a track that was now so hot that many riders said it was not giving as much grip as the earlier sessions. Simon completed the race in 4th with a best lap of 1:29.435, 4 of his 6 flying laps were within 0.08 of his best lap, showing incredible consistency close to the limit. Gary rode cleanly and was rewarded with 5th place, all 6 of his flying laps were less than 1 second from his best lap of 1:31.704. Meanwhile Kieran battled his way forward to 7th with a best lap of 1:33.642, what he lacked in outright speed he replaced with consistency, knocking out 6 laps all within 0.6 of a second from his fastest!
“I tried to keep up with Tayla Relph (Moriwaki MD250H) at the beginning but she broke away on the 3rd lap. Jeff was just behind me I had about 2 seconds on him until lap 5, I ran a little wide on turn 2 and ended up on the ripple strip while still with considerable lean, I barely managed to keep the bike upright. The incident allowed Jeff to close right up and then overtake on the run down to turn 4. I decided to just run on Jeff’s tail and get settled, until the the 7th and final lap. Jeff expected me to attack into turn 4 so he went later on the brakes to stop me, however he pushed it a little too deep and lost the front while tipping in, an unfortunate end to an otherwise excellent battle that saw us running really close to the limit for most of the race” – Simon Dickson
The second race – another 7 lap affair, saw Simon set off quickly and settle into a comfortable 4th position, posting a fastest lap 1:29.198 on lap 4. With Jeff unable to repair his bike in time Gary was able to capitalise, holding off the 400′s of Jason and Mojo to claim another 5th place finish, laying down a best lap of 1:31.02. Kieran was not able to push through the traffic as he did in race one and finished in 9th with a fastest lap of 1:33.279.
“I really enjoyed that race, Mojo and Jason got the initial jump on me, but with 7 laps I didn’t rush. Once we hit lap 3 I passed Mojo and then again on lap 4 I found a way past Jason, from there I just kept the pace up – without taking risks, and managed to open up a few seconds of breathing space” – Gary Dickson
That concluded Saturdays program, we packed up for the day, adjusted chains, Kieran changed his gearing back to his normal selection of 15 front and 52 rear sprockets. A good nights rest at the pub and we were ready to take on the 4 races of Sunday.
Although it was just after 9am it must have already been 30 degrees, race 3 was the first event of Sunday and it consisted of a 2 lap warm up then 10 laps of the race. After another average start Simon got himself settled in behind Jeff the plan was to stay there until 5 laps remained, on the 4th lap Gary showed a wheel coming into turn 4, Jeff was not taking any risks on the brakes and as such he and Simon were being stalked by Gary, to add fuel to the fire, the 400′s of Jason and Mojo were on Gary’s tail. Knowing a pack was building up behind him and not wanting to get involved in a group battle Simon pulled the trigger and overtook Jeff, breaking away to finish in 3rd with a best lap of 1:29.654. Gary, Jason and Mojo decided if Simon was going to try and break away they were going to do their best to stop Jeff leaving them, they swapped places over the next 5 laps, with Jason using the power of the 400 to beat Jeff in a drag race to the finish line finishing 4th and 5th respectively. Gary although getting a better drive out of the final turn and using the slip stream of Jason only made it 1/2 way past Jeff’s bike at the finish line to take 6th, a mere 0.072 of a second behind Jeff. Kieran completed the race in 8th after a battle with Mojo, a best lap of 1:31.616 showing he was much happier with gearing changes.
“I felt much better with my regular gearing, I didn’t feel comfortable with the taller gearing and was not able to adjust to take advantage of the taller gearings strengths. Now I just need to stay in the pack Gary is in and work my way through.” - Kieran McGeown
Race 4 was the big one, 12 laps! Simon followed Jeff for the first half of the race again before upping the pace to create a little buffer behind. He produced his fastest lap of the race on lap 9 – a 1:29.47, while not blisteringly fast the heat in the bitumen meant grip was at a premium, and it was enough to secure 3rd position. Kieran stepped up his game, bringing the fight to Gary and getting the better of him in the final 2 laps to take 5th with a best lap of 1:30.76. Gary finished in 6th, unable to find as much grip as Kieran in the final laps – a best lap of 1:30.751.
“It’s getting very busy on track in our pack, it’s great that everyone is able to push so hard without crossing the line and riding dangerously. Kieran just managed to keep the pace up on the final laps, I made a few little errors and he opened up a second on me. I love these longer races, you get to employ a bit more strategy rather than just going flat out.” – Gary Dickson
The prospect of only 8 laps had everyone excited, as much fun as the long races are the heat was taking it toll, the penultimate race of the weekend would have riders focusing on keeping it smooth. Simon put in consistent laps to take another 3rd place, with Jeff finding his confidence again to push Simon all the way to the finish line. Kieran and Gary had a superb race that saw Kieran lead across the line by 0.031 to snatch 7th! Jason and Mojo getting the better of the Team Tiger pair this race. Both riders put their fastest laps in on the 8th and final lap, Kieran with a 1:31.893 and Gary with a 1:32.001, the extra hot surface reducing the grip level and taking it’s toll on lap times.
“Once I took the lead I felt I could shake Jeff, but the loss of confidence he suffered after his crash seemed to be nearly all gone. I had to hit every apex and keep the bike steady on every lap to stop him making any successful passes. It was a bit of a challenge to keep the tyres from getting too hot so I didn’t start to loose traction, I feel I managed the race really well under pressure. Jeff is going to be a serious competitor for the Queensland Championships, I’m going to have to step up my game to keep him behind me once there are championship points on the line.” – Simon Dickson
After completing so many laps most riders were happy to see the final race of the event. Although the temperature had dropped a few degrees it was still very hot. “I could not do another lap.” said Simon after the final race. Simon had to really work to keep on Jeff’s tail as he set off with a very high pace. On lap 5 Simon pounced to take 3rd place from Jeff and put down a couple of clean laps to keep him behind. A best lap for Simon of 1:28.945 had him working for every bit of traction he could find to keep up mid corner speed and get past Jeff. Jason and Mojo again getting the better of Gary who took 7th with a best lap of 1:31.774. Eve Miller on her Honda RS125 getting the better of Kieran leaving him to claim 9th with a best lap of 1:32.829.
“I pushed hard early on, which paid off as Kieran got in a battle with Eve, without the pressure of Kieran right on my tail I was able to focus on trying to keep up with Mojo. It has been a great weekend, the teams bikes have been performing flawlessly, and riders have been riding smart and just getting more comfortable on the machines. It’s been a real test of bike fitness and I’ve just had a tonne of fun.” – Gary Dickson
Team Tiger would like to thank their sponsors who make it possible for us to perform at the level we do.
- Xcite Bikes – Supplier of OEM and after-market bike parts
- 2fiftycc.com – Discussion forum focusing on 250cc bikes
- Litetek – Producers of carburettor seal kits
- CaraData – Specialised Health Software
Brenden Allen came out to the track for the weekend and took all the fantastic pictures you see above, check him out at brendenallen.com. Thank you for reading!
Full results available @ www.mylaps.com/en/events/986257
Check out footage from the bikes: