Masters Of Morgan Park 2013 – 4th and 5th of May
My last Masters of Morgan Park was a washout back in 2011, the rain bucketed down and the event was toast after one very wet race. This years event in complete contrast could not have been more perfect, superb weather, track in excellent condition and the number of bikes and riders was exceptional. The explosive growth, proof that the event is starting to get a serious following. Add to this over 460 spectators and you have the perfect weekend of racing.
The team unpacked and setup our pit area. Bikes were scrutineered, riders briefing attended and then it was time to don the leathers. Kieran, Gary and I were all entered in both the Period 6 up to 250 class and unlimited class, we also opted to contest the Gregg Hansford if we qualified.
Q1 was up for the P6 Unlimited class, my goal was to ride slow and smooth to clean up my rear tyre after it suffered some tearing at the last meeting, and also to bed in the new front tyre I had put on. It was a nice drama free exercise, running no faster than 1:35 laps and the rear tyre was cleaning up nicely. Q1 for the 250 class went much the same, picked up the pace a little more than planned, getting into the 1:32’s but kept it smooth and the rear tyre was looking about as good as it was going to get, and the front was all scrubbed in and ready to be pushed.
Q2 Unlimited it was time to go out and see how I felt, the grid was shared with P5 Unlimited so a few 1100 Suzuki’s lead, followed by me in 3rd position with a best lap of 1:29.079, I was very happy to go sub 1:30 so early in the weekend and felt there was plenty more speed in me and the bike, Jeff (also riding a CBR250RR) snagged 4th with a 1:30.628. Jeff and I had put ourselves in front of a bunch of Ducati’s and a Kawasaki Z1000. Being on the front row was a bit of a surprise for the both of us with so many fast bikes on the grid – 24 in total on the grid.
Q2 250 I was out to take pole position, my strongest competition was going to be Jeff and Kieran. I got out early and put down some quick laps before I got caught in traffic. 1:29.246, it was enough to take pole. Jeff held onto second with a 1:30.687, Kieran was getting close to the party with a 1:31.262, the big shock was Gary toasting his PB and and breaking into the 1:31’s with a 1:31.840. Strong showing from Team Tiger with 3 on the front row, the grid was smaller than the unlimited with 11 bikes, fewer than expected due to a few riders pulling out with health issues at the 11th hour, Brendan Starkey and Paul Swanson. Unfortunately for Mojo his weekend was destined to finish early, he ran off on Turn 10 after setting a new PB, breaking into the 1:32’s, he put it down on the grass run off, in the process he landed hard and broke his collarbone, get well soon mate.
Race time! Race 1 of the Unlimited race and Jeff and I were in for a surprise when the lights went out, we were swamped off the line due the the vastly superior horsepower of the bikes on the 2 rows behind us. The race became a ragged battle for positions, on about the 4th lap, I had broken through the pack and was on the tail of the Kawasaki Z1R, a Yellow flag on T6 as I was planning a move really borked me, on the exit of T7 while still under yellow I came upon a back-marker, I followed the back-marker while the section of track I was on was still under yellow, I had made the error of overtaking a back-marker under yellow before, once passed the green flag the Z1R launched away from me with the extra 750cc’s making me a vague memory behind him. That was not the end of my luck, having to slow down to stay behind the back-marker allowed the pack I had just worked so hard to break away from to catch me, and being on a straight section they rode right past me with their extra HP. I retook a couple of positions into turn 10, but lost them down the straight. Going into T1 another back-marker came into play, I decided to take the outside line to try and take 3 positions with the one move – however I carried too much speed too deep and was unable to commit to making the corner – although looking back on it, I am certain that the speed I was carrying and the position on track I had it was perfectly possible to make the corner. A spot of dirt track riding and I was back on the track albeit well behind the pack I was in. I managed to bring it home in 7th place – my fastest lap was the 2nd fastest of the riders completing the race, however one fast lap does not win a race.
Now it was time to get serious, pride was on the line, it’s not often we get to race with just 250’s on the grid, normally we are mixed in with other larger capacity bikes which usually means our differing corner speeds stop us taking our preferred lines or we have to slow mid corner to not run into the bike in front. No excuses, now, all machines were evenly matched. I knew I had an edge but Jeff and Kieran were serious contenders. Waiting at the entrance to pit lane to go out on track Gary notices my radiator hose is just hanging free rather than connected to the radiator, I have no water in my bike! I turn it off and push it back to our pit area as quickly as I can manage, I suspect I am not going to make the race! I call upon Peter and Mike who are pitted opposite us, they help me get the hose back on, the hose clamp tightened, and fill the radiator with water. Surprisingly I make it up to pit lane before everyone is gridded up, I am allowed to start from pit lane, this does mean I get no warm up lap and start after everyone has gone past, still better than a DNS (did not start). I get the go ahead from Ralph once everyone passes pit lane, and I’m off, taking it a bit easy as I pass 2 riders on the first lap, my tyres are nearly up to temp and I pass another 4 on lap 2, lap 3 I overtake Gary to take the final podium spot. However Kieran and Jeff have quite a gap from me, I close up as much as I can as they battle with each other more concerned about who will take the top step. Clear track and with Kieran and Jeff in my sights I managed a fastest lap of 1:28.698, the race was not long enough for me to reel them in, I took 3rd 3.6 seconds behind them. Congratulations going to Kieran for beating Jeff and also setting a new PB, finally joining sub 1:30 club – with a 1:29.737. The good news – I finished with good points and the engine is not damaged due to dad spotting the hose off. Once we saw the photos it turned out when I ran off T1 on the previous race, hitting the bumps in the run off area must have jolted the bike enough to cause the hose clamp to slip a notch allowing the pressure in the system to pop the hose off.
With the first round of racing complete the grid sheet for the first leg of the Gregg Hansford was now decided, I had qualified in a very respectable 10th position, Kieran and Gary had also qualified for the event.
Before the first leg of the Gregg Hansford we had race 2 of the Unlimited class. This race started much the same as the last unlimited class race, being overtaken on the way into turn 1, however this time I was ready for it and combined with a better start, managed to slot in a few position ahead of where I was the first race, Jeff and I had clean air in 3rd and 4th positions I made a move stick past Jeff into 3rd on lap 2, I then broke away and rode a clean race, Jeff got caught up in a battle with the larger CC’d machines but I had made gap that allowed me to ride my race, with a best lap of 1:29.317. On the 3rd lap a mechanical failure for one of the big Suzuki’s gifted me 2nd spot outright (1st in class), Kieran took 6th outright once again finishing ahead of Jeff, and Gary took 9th ahead of some very nice bikes. A very good outcome for Team Tiger!
Gregg Hansford race 1. Surrounded by beautifully prepared historic machines it’s easy to forget your on a grid about to race against them, the lights go out! Instantly I lose a number of spots on the run down to T1, unsurprising as my little 250 is unable to accelerate as quickly as the larger capacity machines around me, although I regain most of them on entry to T1. Once again after the first lap I managed to gap the pack I was in and just had to keep the pace up to stay clear, the bikes in front of me running a much faster pace they left me behind. I ended the race in 9th with a best lap of 1:29.31, with Tony Carroll finishing 12 seconds behind me. Kieran finished 12th and Gary in 13th only 3 seconds behind Kieran over the 7 lap race distance.
This signalled the end of day 1, and all of Team Tiger were having great races and no serious bike issues. Another wonderful Warwick Indian experience and we were all in bed early ready for the action that day 2 would bring. A good nights sleep at O’mahonys Pub. We wake up to find it’s another stunning day for racing, blue skies. We arrive at the track with plenty of time to get organised and have breakfast.
First of our races for the day is Race 2 of the 250 class, the race starts with a clean start from pole position, not as good as Jeff’s as he takes the hole-shot into turn 1. Jeff turns on the pace straight away and I decide to just follow for a few laps, his strongest point on track is the excellent corner speed he carries through turn 7 and it gives him excellent speed down through the fast section. I decide it time to make a move and plan an attack on turn 6, as we approach the corner I see the yellow flag is out, it will have to wait till turn 10 or the next lap. As we get to turn 9 we see the race has been red flagged, had I left my run too late, would there be a restart? We drive into the pits and they inform us there will be a full restart of the race, so we have 5 mins to refuel before being called to pit gate. The restart is a carbon copy of the previous one, until coming down the hill into turn 4 I am close but Jeff is incredibly late on the brakes, he was expecting me to make a move – it seems he was too late, missing the apex, I go through into first position. The following laps I attempt to keep upping the pace hoping to break him, he manages to hold right on my tail, I attempted to carry more corner speed through turn 7 to stop him from driving past me down the back section. Lap after lap we keep picking up the pace and he is always right behind me ready to capitalise on any error I make. We cross the finish line and I take the win. Once we see the time sheets we are suitably impressed, we did 4 laps each in the 1:28’s in a row! With my best being a 1:28.094, Jeff right behind with a 1:28.125, both of us doing our best in the last lap of the race. Gary had swapped bikes as the rear tyre on his primary bike was shagged, the engine in his spare bike started making that horrible noise informing him a big end bearing was no longer doing what it should be, the bike was handing identically to his primary bike, so that was pleasing.
Period 6 Unlimited was our next excursion, all was going well, I got a clean run through the pack on lap 4 and then found myself stuck behind the Z1R again, I almost collected him into turn 7, which destroyed my corner speed and drive out the corner, allowing the pack to get back on top of me, I got through them again and made a pass on the Z1R on turn 6 – losing and saving the front end mid corner. The Z1R had the power to get in front of me for turn 7 but I knew I was going to be close enough to make a move on him that I could get to stick, I did a fairly average run through turn 7, the Ducati TT2 750 drove back past me and Tony Carroll got his VFR400 up beside me on the run into turn 9, I decided to try an outside line in the expectation I would ride around them, I let myself get too wide and found some bumps and dirty bitumen, the front started to slide… I don’t think I’m going to save this one… There she goes, I’m on the ground at around 160km/h, at least I didn’t have to fall far, the question is will I ever stop! I slid for what seemed like an age, I managed to keep on my back, I felt my body trying to go in a roll, but I used a bit of elbow to keep me on my back. Finally I come to a stop and I’m about 30m from the edge of the bitumen, I pick myself up – I’m pretty sure I actually came to a complete stop and maybe even took a breath to ensure I was still alive before getting up off the ground – however the crash footage shows the bike is stationary for about 2 seconds before you see my shadow arrive to switch the bike off, so I don’t think I was stationary for very long. I check out the bike. Handle bar is bent but throttle still works, the end has broken off the brake lever. I pick it up and jump back on, right rear set is broken too, that’s OK I’ll just put my foot on the exhaust, I never use rear brakes anyway. I go up the hill and down the straight to receive the last lap board. I don’t go full speed down the straight as I’m not sure how much pressure I can apply to the handle bar, I did check the brakes were working didn’t I? I get off the gas for t1 extra early and apply front brake – no brake, I give it a pump and still nothing it feels solid but there is no stopping. I instinctively lean back as I go straight off turn 1, the handle bar snaps off and the engine revs up as the throttle cable gets pulled by me pulling away, I get my hands forward again and click through the gearbox down to first gear as quick as I can, I’m going MUCH faster than I want to be right now with no brakes. I turn the engine off in hope it will slow me a bit quicker, I hit the first ash ridge – probably there for this exact reason – it launches me and I clear the other 3. The wall is approaching, starting to think I’m going to have to put the bike down to stop in time, my speed must have reduced to a point where the rear tyre being stationary was now getting some grip on the dirt and I slowed much quicker with a good 3 metres before I hit the wall. Phew! If crashing at 160 was scary that was positively frighting! I stay where I am for a couple of seconds, I notice people are getting the chequer flag and on their cool down lap, I decide to just coast around the track to pick up a couple of points, after two near death experiences I feel I may as well cross the finish line, even if it takes me 4 mins to complete the lap.
Back in the pits everyone asks if I am OK, Jeff and Tony saw me go down. Tony was worried he had pushed me out wide causing the crash, I informed him I managed to crash all on my own. For 20 minutes after the race the adrenaline was still pulsing through me, not sure how I’ll feel later but physically I feel fine now. My brother Ian and Gary get to work on replacing the broken item on my bike. Thanks to their stellar efforts, 30 minutes later I had a bike ready to go. The amazing Mick’s Fix had my leathers and boot (sole needed some glue) repaired! If you need leather repairs of modifications he is the man to talk to, always comes to the meeting at Morgan Park, does an amazing job and does not overcharge! Jeff it turned out was not able to finish the race, his bike gave up the ghost at turn 3, Ian and Jeff worked to find the problem – turned out it was the stator, the pick-up had come loose and destroyed itself. They stole the one from Gary’s spare bike and got Jeff back on track – however he did miss the next race.
The 250 grid is a nice place to be, just ride clean lines and no one has extra horsepower to drive past you. Currently I was tied with Kieran on points for the championship, I was not sure how fast I could ride with the crash still fresh in my mind. Kieran got a good start and I followed him for a few laps, I made a pass on the brakes into turn 4 and tried to put the hammer down and break away, however I could not shake him, I was relieved to take first, however he pushed to my mental limits, I was getting tired on the last lap and feeling the pressure of not being able to gap him. My best lap was 1:29.566 on the last lap, Kieran’s best was 1:29.923 on his 5th lap, I was pleased to lap under 1:30 the race after such a fast crash.
Next up was the second leg of Gregg Hansford, I decided I would sit the Gregg Hansford out and just relax so I had the energy to finish the final races strongly. Kieran and Gary both went out and put in stellar efforts to finish 9th and 7th respectively.
Jeff’s bike was now repaired and he was ready to get one over me in the final Period 6 Unlimited race. I got off to a good start with Jeff once again bettering me, we both got through the pack quickly and broke away, we swapped position throughout the race but I lead the last lap and pushed hard through turn 7 to try and hold the lead down the back section, I was successful and led up the hill into the final S of turns 11 and 12. I pushed too hard and ran wide through 12 up onto the ripple strip, I kept it on the track but not without handing the position to Jeff on a silver platter. It turned out I had around a 20 metres gap and I only required a half decent run through 12 to hold my position. I ended the race in 4th and managed a best lap of 1:28.778 on lap 4, back into the 28’s hurrah! Gary managed another screamer lap 1:31.853 – his fastest ever lap in a race, and it was done on incredibly worn tyres. Tony Carroll took victory in the unlimited class over the weekend, Kieran took 2nd, their consistency paying off, I was quite surprised and elated to find I finished in 3rd, with Gary taking 4th, very impressive results for the whole team!
Next up was the final leg of the Gregg Hansford, with only one race between it and our final race of the day I decided to sit it out and save my strength for the final 250 race. Kieran and Gary both went out and finished in 6th and 7th, giving them a tie for 5th position overall in the event! A mighty respectable performance from Gary and Kieran!
Last race for the weekend, I got away and took second position behind Jeff with Kieran right on my tail, I put down the laps as quick as I could, Jeff having the confidence to push harder on each lap, he won the race leading from start to finish, putting in a best lap of 1:29.454 without anyone to follow. I could only manage a 1:29.904, but it was enough to open a little gap to Kieran and take a comfortable 2nd place. The Period 6 up to 250cc Queensland Champion was me, Kieran took second place, and Jeff took 3rd his DNF costing him, Gary finished the weekend in 6th due to his mechanical DNF.
Overall it was a fantastic weekend, the quality of the meeting really shining, excellent spectator attendance – thank you to all that came out and waved to me on the cool down lap, I hope you enjoyed the event. Excellent grids with some fantastic close racing – and all the riders were a pleasure to share the track with. The number of volunteers that gave up their time to help run the meeting was amazing. Great to see so many out there ensuring our safety. The event was a credit to the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland, and with event’s of this quality it’s no wonder that competitor and spectator numbers are rising to new levels!
Thank you all for reading and I hope you enjoyed. Thanks also to Wayne Reed of Osella Photographics for taking wonderful photos of us over the weekend.
If you are interested in being a part of Team Tiger – pit crew and sponsors are most welcome, contact email@example.com.
If you wish to be a part of the sport get in contact with the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland and come out and have a great weekend.
Full event results can be viewed – http://www.mylaps.com/en/events/891627
Here are the video’s from my onboard camera, I didn’t get the first race and I left it running after the second last race of the weekend leaving no battery for the final race of the weekend.