Southern Downs Road Race Series 2014, Round 1

Gary Dickson and Simon Dickson under the Morgan Park Bridge

Round 1 of the Southern Downs Road Race Series held over the weekend of the 15th and 16th of March, marked the start of the main series Team Tiger competes in. The 2014 series is comprised of 5 rounds, 2 of the rounds (3 and 5) will decide Queensland Champion for the 250/300cc Production class. The series is run by the Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland and competition is conducted at Morgan park Raceway in the town of Warwick – an easy 2.5 hours drive from the Gold Coast.

Gary Dickson

Team Tiger would like to mention some new and expanded sponsorship we are receiving to help us through the year. Penrite Oil has taken up sponsorship of the team supplying all the various oils the team will be using, both in the bikes and in the team vehicle we use to tow the bikes out to the track. We look forward to being involved in some great racing over the season and thank Penrite for their support. has expanded their sponsorship to the entire team! The community have been amazing, together they crowd funded their contribution to Team Tiger! If you have an interest in 250cc/300cc bikes it’s a fantastic discussion forum with lots of information and great people contributing. Kaiser Baas have also taken up an opportunity to supply Simon with a brand new X80 camera and some of their Go-Pro compatible accessories to help mount the camera.

“Kaiser Baas is proud to help Team Tiger with their amazing on-board footage from the X80 Action Camera.” – Neil Boland – Marketing, Kaiser Baas

Simon Dickson

Gary was the first of Team Tiger to arrive at Morgan Park on Friday and spent the afternoon setting up the teams Pit area to make Saturday morning a more relaxed affair. The rest of the team arrived later that evening and got an early night to be fresh for the next day. Walking out of the pub on Saturday morning the fog was thick! Visibility was about 30m but on the short drive out to the track the fog ended abruptly at the entrance to Morgan Park. There had been a fair bit of rain Friday night and we were worried the track may be wet but the blue skies and a gentle breeze would leave a perfect track for racing on, another day in paradise!

Kieran McGeown and Sam Phillips

With 16 riders in the 250/300 Production class (referred to as 250 Production) the usual grid  was no longer mixed with Formula 3. The grid comprised of 250 Production and Moto3/125GP. Having to pass twin sport bikes (650 twins) from Formula 3 with their ability to make lightning starts was not something the riders were going to miss. With 28 bikes in total on the grid, getting a good qualifying position was going to be critical! Formula 4 was not much smaller with 25. Every position was going to be earned this weekend.

250 Production Competitors

Qualifying was a mixed bag. The first sessions for 250 Production and Formula 4 saw a big wet patch on the entrance to turn 6, so everyone was saving the pushing till the second qualifying session. Simon experienced a chain link failure on his out-lap for the second 250 Production qualifying session so that session he became a spectator. By the time a new chain was fitted the second session for Formula 4 had already begun and he was unable to get a clear lap. Luckily he had managed better than expected times in the previous wet sessions, to bag himself 5th in the 250 Production/Moto3/125GP race (2nd of the 250 Production bikes with 1:29.259) and 6th in Formula 4 (1:29.996). Gary and Kieran kept to their recent form of qualifying in side by side positions. Kieran getting the better of Gary in 250 Production with 11th (4th 250 Production with 1:32.475) and 12th (5th 250 Production with 1:32.580) respectively. Gary taking the lead in Formula 4 to grab 8th (1:31.807) with Kieran in 9th (1:33.350).

Kieran McGeown

“I’m happy with my qualifying times and positions, after a month in Ireland and too much Guinness I was worried I may have lost a bit of pace with the extra kilo’s I’m carrying. With the 250 class growing, a good qualifying time is becoming more and more important” – Gary Dickson

Race 1 of the 250 Production class was red flagged after a start line incident meant two riders were transported to hospital, thankfully both were able to leave the hospital that day with no life threatening injuries, just a broken bone and some bruising. A full 6 lap restart saw an excellent battle unfold between Simon and Sam Phillips (Honda CBR250RR) and the Moto3/125GP class bikes of Lachlan Epis (Moriwaki MD250H) and Justin Hall (Honda RS125) making it a 4 way battle all the way to the finish line. Simon set a best lap of 1:28.668 however he was unable to find a way to get in front of Sam. Gary and Kieran kept close together, finishing with a few tenths between them in 4th and 5th. Gary’s set a best lap of 1:31.620 and Kieran put down a 1:31.177.

Gary Dickson

“That was an awesome race and came down to the last corner. There was a back-marker in the way on the final turn, I caught up to Sam and thought I had timed it right to take advantage but picked the wrong side and missed my chance. The whole race was a real classic for quality racing” – Simon Dickson

Simon Dickson in the middle of a close pack

Race 1 of Formula 4 was a 6 lap affair and would be the last race on Saturday for the team. Simon and Sam were again in close quarters for most of the race but Jason Hermann (Honda RVF400) moved up in the middle of them with one lap to go. Simon and Jason traded places all the way to the finish line but Jason was able to use the extra power of the 400 on the run to the line and relegate Simon to 4th (best lap 1:28.730). Gary got a good start and laid down consistent fast laps (best lap 01:31.460) to move up a spot from his starting position and take 7th. Kieran was involved in race long battle with Michael Webb (Honda VFR400) and David Tomlins (Kawasaki ZXR400), but his bike suffered a radiator leak and he ended at the tail of the trio to take 10th (best lap 1:32.439).

“During the race my temperature gauge started to really climb so I nursed it home the rest of the race. Michael Carlsen has been kind enough to allow me to borrow the radiator from his spare bike so hopefully that will solve the problem and I can ride normally tomorrow” – Kieran McGeown

Kieran McGeown

Sunday! Temperatures were set to climb above 30 degrees! Fitness and hydration would be important with races as long as 10 laps. But clear skies and bitumen with too much heat is better than cold and wet if you ask most riders.

Josh Mercia leading the train

Race 2 of 250 Production saw Simon get away early on the tail of Justin Hall and Lachlan Epis and they crossed the finish line in this same formation. Simon produced a best lap of 1:28.595 which would be his fastest for the weekend. Gary and Kieran spent the race embroiled in a 3 way battle with Moto3/125GP competitor Josh Mercieca (Moriwaki MD250H). Gary crossed the line behind Josh to finish 3rd, his 250 Production bike punching out a best time of 1:31.72. Kieran was only 3 tenths of a second behind and set a best lap of 1:31.57.

Kieran McGeown looking for a way past Gary Dickson

“The laps were of a decent speed and felt very easy to punch out while in the tow of the GP bikes. There were many chances to overtake but I don’t feel I would have been able get away from them and scrapping with them would have slowed down our pace, possibly enabling the guys behind to close in on us. It was a lot of fun to sit in a train with only inches between our wheels in places and try to encourage the riders in front of me to just ride smooth to make it easy to keep ahead of my main competitors.” – Simon Dickson

Lachlan Epis, Simon Dickson and Jeff Duke

Formula 4 race 2, Simon moved before the red light went out and earned himself a jump start. Tony Carroll (Honda VFR400) got away early leaving Simon, Sam Phillips and Jason Hermann to mix it up. Around the 7th lap, Sam closed the gap on Tony leaving Simon and Jason to battle for position over the final laps. Simon pushed to the maximum to open up a little gap over the final turns to try and make it to the finish line before the power of Jason’s 400 could close it back up. Simon was a little shy of victory finishing behind Jason by 0.002 of a second. A low paced race with lots of position changes resulted in a best lap for Simon of 1:29.293! After the jump start penalty was applied Simon was relegated to 6th. Gary spent his race sucking down the 2 stroke fumes of Sean Purcell’s Honda RS250 to finish in 7th, his best lap a 1:32.277. Kieran still had not solved his overheating issue and brought it home in 9th, just managing to keep ahead of Matthew Bushell (Honda CBR250RR) with a best lap of 1:32.209.

Sean Purcell and Gary Dickson

“Normally I like to keep the revs right up so I’m having to adjust my style as the engine is getting too hot if I use the final 1000RPM. I’ll keep at it and make sure I keep finishing races and taking home points.” – Kieran McGeown

Kieran McGeown

Race 3 of the 250 Production class was a 10 lap affair. Simon got a clean start and it was again a 4 person train consisting of Simon, Sam Phillips, Lachlan Epis and Justin Hall. Simon ended at the rear of the pack as the second 250 Production bike (5th outright) after a number of errors while pushing too hard on the final 2 laps meant he lost touch of the trio in front. Gary spent the race in a busy pack of 5 riders. 2 Moto3/125GP machines of Sarah Fairbrother (Moriwaki MD250H) and Josh Mercia lead Gary across the line but he kept in front of the 250 Production machines of Glen Chandler (Honda CBR250RR) and Matthew Bushell to finish 4th of the 250 Production class (10th outright) with a best lap of 1:31.586. Kieran was successful in completing the race without overheating his bike although it required a low RPM riding style. He finished 7th (13th outright), with a best lap of 1:33.001.

Simon Dickson holding onto Justin Hall and Sam Phillips

“I really enjoy the longer races, and that was no exception. Normally you end up in a bit of your own space on the longer races but with the younger riders making a few errors, it meant our group stayed together and there was plenty of action. I had a close call with Josh, when he didn’t notice me coming up the inside of him and he slammed the door closed on me which cost me a position to Glen, however I put my best foot forward and found a way back past before the finish line” – Gary Dickson

Gary Dickson

Race 3 of Formula 4 was the final Formula 4 race of the weekend as the scheduled final race was cancelled due to a storm rolling in. The race started excellently with a 5 way battle for the lead involving Simon, Tony Carroll, Jason Hermann, Sam Phillips and Jeff Duke (Honda CBR250RR). All 5 riders held strong until coming out of the final turn of lap 3 Tony, who was leading the train, had his handle bar let go and he was forced to sit up and pull off the track. That left 4 riders together for the next 4 laps, until Jeff’s pace dropped off. With 2 laps to go Simon was suffering a lack of traction which led to him running wide into a few corners, enough to lose the tail of Jason and Sam. Simon still had a solid finish of 3rd with a best lap of 1:29.039. Gary engaged in a 10 lap clash with Sean Purcell and Michael Webb (Honda VFR400), the jet lag vanishing once he got on the bike. Gary finished the race in 7th place behind the pair, posting a best lap of 1:32.221. Kieran overcame issues with a loose foot peg to secure 9th posting a fastest lap of 1:33.300.

Kieran McGeown in a train

“That was a fantastic race, I had one of the most exciting overtakes of my life half way through. I got excellent drive out of turn 12 and was side by side with Sam at the end of the straight, which enabled me to take advantage through turn 1 by braking later. Michael Webb was just in front of Sam and I used the ripple strip on the inside of turn 1 to make my way under Michael on the apex of turn 1. It was utterly thrilling and everyone held their lines. I’m so impressed that we get to engage in close quarters racing, it really is a pleasure to race with these guys” – Simon Dickson

Michael Webb, Simon Dickson and Sam Phillips, ducks in a row.

The 4th and final leg of racing in the 250 Production class was 7 laps long with Simon and Sam engaging in another thriller! Simon was leading the final 3 laps doing his best to get an almost perfect drive out of the final turn but Sam managed to one up Simon with a superior speed on the exit of the corner and succeeded in getting past, crossing the line 0.014 in front of Simon. Simon finished in 2nd (5th outright) place with a best lap of 1:28.595 to equal his best lap of the weekend. Gary had another quality ride to take 4th (9th outright) with a best lap of 1:32.392, again managing to withhold the attacks of Glen Chandler who has really found his feet in the 250 Production class. Kieran made headway with his forced new, smooth riding style putting down a fastest lap of 1:32.521 to take 6th (12th outright) even though he started from pit lane.

Meeting Statistics

Simon Dickson Gary Dickson Kieran McGeown
Qualifying Time – 250 Production 1:29.259 1:32.580 1:32.475
Fastest Lap – 250 Production 1:28.595 1:31.586 1:31.177
Fastest Lap – Formula 4 1:28.730 1:31.460 1:32.209
Qualifying Time – Formula 4 1:29.996 1:31.807 1:33.350
Qualifying Position – 250 Production 2nd (grid spot 5) 5th (grid spot 12) 4th (grid spot 11)
Best Finish – 250 Production 1st 3rd 4th
Qualifying Position – Formula 4 6th 8th 9th
Best Finish – Formula 4 3rd 7th 9th

Team Tiger had a great weekend and thank the officials for their tireless efforts at the race track making these meetings run as smooth as butter. The Motorcycle Sportsmen of Queensland really do run a top quality meet! Special mention of the teams sponsors, CaraData, XCite,, Penrite and LiteTek. We would also like to thank Wayne from Osella for the fantastic photos and the riders’ family, wives and girlfriends for their fantastic support.

You can find all the lap times and complete results at MyLaps.

250 Production race onboard videos:

Formula 4 race onboard videos: