Round 2 of the Pirelli Southern Downs Road Race Series on the 5th and 6th of August will go down in history as the first event in decades to have multiple grids for the Production class. Now a days the bikes have more strokes than the 2 bangers of the the 80’s and early 90’s, but the number of strokes is not relevant to the quality of the competition, and quality is something the meeting had in spades!
Gary Dickson, Kieran McGeown and Simon Dickson were representing Team Tiger aboard their 1990 Honda CBR250RR’s, all 3 riders were competing in the Production class and the Formula 4 class. The production class is a mix of older 4 cylinder 250cc bikes, mostly Honda CBR250RR’s, newer 2 cylinder Kawasaki Ninja 300’s and Yamaha R3’s, as well as a few of the delightful single cylinder KTM RC390’s. Formula 4 is open to all older machines up to 500cc and is generally dominated by the old 400’s, Honda VFR400, Kawazaki ZXR400 etc.
With 50 Production bikes entered for the meeting qualifying was split into 2 random groups, times were merged at the end of qualifying and the fastest riders were put into Group A, and the rest in Group B. Kieran got off to his usual slow start to the day, and he managed to scrape into Group A in 24th – AKA last. Gary surprised himself – dropping into the 1:30.9’s and qualifying 17th. Simon had a fuel issue as he started his flying lap, luckily the lap prior was decent enough to bag 4th. Formula 4 qualifying was without incident, Simon managed to scrape onto the second row in 6th. Gary opened up a can of awesome, with a 1:30.108 he not only put himself in 9th, but he broke his PB that has stood since January 2014, three and a half years! Kieran was awake for the final qualifying session and put down a 1:30.392 to slot into 11th.
All 3 Team Tiger riders in Production Group A was fantastic for team spirit. Simon got away with the lead pack of 6 riders in 4th, once the KTM’s of Seth Crump (#57) and Jarred Brook (#21) got in front of Simon the leading trio of Billy Van Eerde (#29 KTM RC390), Ollie Bayliss (#86 Kawasaki Ninja) and Locky Taylor (#151 Yamaha R3) opened up a small gap and the group split into 2 groups of 3. With 3 laps to go Simon upped the pace and made his way back past the KTM’s and opened up enough gap to hold them off on the run of the finish line to take 4th. Kieran took a strong start and moved from 24th up to 11th by the end of the race, he almost made it to the head of a group of 8 that all crossed the line in 4 seconds! Gary ended the race at the rear of Kieran’s group in 16th.
Race 2 was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but an oil spill meant that the final 2 races of the day were moved to Sunday morning. Simon had a great feeling in the cold and on lap 2 put on a couple of big moves get past Locky Taylor around the outside of turn 2, and then braking manoeuvre down the outside of Billy Van Eerde where Simon saw god, and still made the apex. It didn’t take long for the light weight riders to blast back past, and Simon finished in 3rd. Kieran managed to work his way though the pack and finish 11th, a best lap of 1:29.175 proved Kieran was finding his pace again. Gary’s bike was cranky with the cold morning and would not start, leaving him stranded in the pits for the race.
Race 3 saw Simon on the pace, smashing his previous PB and getting down to a 1:25.824, the fastest lap a Honda CBR250RR has ever done of Morgan Park. A sensational battle raged between Simon and Jarred Brook and Jack Passfield (#42 Yamah R3). Jarred was able to get the best of Simon, however Simon was able to hold off Jack on the run to the line by 0.001! Simon was at least 51% sure he crossed the line first, the difference between the front wheels would have been an inch or 2! Kieran was only able to push through to 14th, with 5 other riders finishing in the 2 seconds before him. He was clearly trying, his final 3 laps were all 1:28’s with a best of 1:28.763. Gary finished a few seconds adrift of Kieran, however on his way he managed to do a new PB – 1:29.869! 3 and a half years in the making and he finally did a sub 1:30 lap of Morgan Park! Today was the day Gary completed a long term racing goal.
Race 4 had Simon, Jarred and Jack giving it everything again, this time the younger riders managed to shuffle Simon back to 6th, the 3 riders crossing the line in under a tenth of a second. Kieran made he way through a number of riders to finish 16th, every position continued to be incredibly hard to claim as all riders were pushing to their limit. Gary crossed the limit, running off the track at turn 10, thankfully he managed to keep it on the wheels and was able to rejoin to finish 21st.
The formula 4 races were all fairly similar over the weekend, Simon mostly getting left in the gap behind the fast 400cc riders, Kieran and Gary duking it out in the pack of 4-8 riders battling for 6th. A sensational weekends racing in a friendly class with some great machine variety. Simon took a best finish of 4th. Kieran’s best placing for the round was 6th, and Gary peaked with a 9th. Solid finishes for a grid of 29 riders!
Overall it was a fantastic weekend of racing, massive grids, personal bests, lap records being broken, no crashes from the team. Thanks to everyone that supports Team Tiger; Penrite, XCite Bikes, CaraData, and Litetek. Also thanks to William Course, for taking some cracking photos!
Full results and lap times available on Speedhive