Sunday, October 27, 2013

Another new Sponsor

Track Electronics out of the UK has agreed to provide one of their custom race harnesses for my EX650 racer at a considerable discount.  This company has had considerable success this year winning the Supertwin class in the Manx GP with rider Michael Russell.  Here is a you tube clip with the highlights...

Because information and pics of proper race er6/ex650s are so rare, with their permission, here is some details of their machine:

The Kawasaki ER6 Supertwin has benefitted from further developments since being raced at the TT by Dan Kneen with modified radiators/ new electronics/ a revised airbox design & lowered subframe - visit the Track Electronics Facebook page & "like" to get regular updates on "Project ER".
Bike Spec is as follows:
  • Chassis/ Frame/ Swingarm/ Air Intake/ Fairing Bracket - All modified & manufactured by local specialist bike engineers Silverback Manufacturing.
  • Exhaust - Full Arrow System (hoping to run MHP developement system @ MGP)
  • Front End - ZX6R (1998 G2) forks using Maxton Internals/ ZX6R Calipers/ Yokes witha Brembo 19x20 Master Cylinder & HEL Hoses.
  • Shock - Maxton GP10
  • Bodywork - Modified Triumph 675 Fairing/ CBR1000RR Seat Unit.
  • Electronics - Track Electronics Custom Harness (weighing less than 1lb)/ AIM EVO4 Datalogger & Race Dash/ Standard ECU/ Bazzaz FI Unit/ Translogic Quickshift Controller with Cordona Sensor.
  • Radiator - Standard with additional lower radiator (modified GSXR1000 Oil Cooler mounted below.
The bike has been designed completely "in-house" using local firms where possible & trying not to go the conventinal "chuck someone 12k to build me a bike route", examples being:
: Front end (1999 ZX6R forks/ yokes/ wheel/ brakes with Maxton internals - total cost £350).
: Subframe - designed & built by local bike engineering firm Silverback Manufacturing - its fully adjustable & allows us lower or raise the rear of the tank by 25mm & holds the ECU/ Battery/ Dalatogger/ Regulator -Rectifier.
: Radiator - everyone tells you needed a big rad at big £'s, we modified a GSXR1000 Oil Cooler to run below the standard rad - price including hoses £46, she's now done a TT, 4 Track Days & the MGP with no problems. 

Hmmm, interesting comment about the oil cooler... considering I can't see how the cooler would be mounted and plumbed with the Arrow Minitwin exhaust headers, I'd love to get some more details. The plan is to get a used 06-08 race loom off of eBay (already sourced) and mail it off to blighty for them to do their work.  The finished loom is apparently less than 1 pound in weight!

Some pics of their machine...
 Right rear.  Evo Minitwin exhaust, and a neat aluminum rear subframe.  Versys swingarm and Maxton Shock.
Other view of the subframe.
There is that mystery oil cooler.  From a gixxer 1000... just wondering how they plumbed it into the engine... perhaps I can convince John to send me some detailed pictures.  Apparently the bike also has a neat air intake system/ram air as well.

Please check out Track Electronic's website to the right.  If you want to look at specifics on their supertwin project, you can follow them on facebook as well; click on the facebook link in the text above.

Friday, October 4, 2013

End of Season Report

This is going to be a fairly multimedia-heavy post, as I have both pics and video to go with the write up.
I was able to get away from work at a decent time (not early, but not late either) and make my way to the track.  The forecast was for cold but clear temps; overnight would be hovering around the freezing point, but I would only have to stay in Chez Mazda for one night.  My parents were coming out for a visit.  Dad can watch from the track while mom is too freaked out... she'd spend Sunday in Gimli.  At least Saturday night meant a stay in a hotel room, which made me feel like a factory racer, at least for a day.
Saturday was my last day as novice trackday instructor.  It has been an enjoyable 2 years, but not racing on Saturday takes me out of any chance for a championship... certainly top 3 anyway.  AJ was out for the weekend and got some pics of me, with video camera perched on top of my helmet for the benefit of the new riders to see themselves.
One of the things we do is the "I lead, I follow" process.  I basically lead for 2 laps, and then in turn, each trackday rider works their way to the front so I can follow, take video, and offer some suggestions.  A smaller group this round, and they were all quite quick (until one guy fell in the afternoon -- lowside in turn 3).  In this pic, we are exiting turn 9 and I am about to go way wide to let the rider on the honda by so I can follow.

Eye of the tiger!  Prior to starting I talk about body position, being smooth, and foot position.  The key thing I focus on is vision -- looking through the turn, not just past your front wheel.  Overcast conditions, a clear visor, and AJ's f-stop setting shows that I remembered my own advice.

My hope for Sunday was to maintain my podium streak... that way I could say that every race I entered this season, I was in the top 3.  I'd really like to have a few "1s" in there, but it was not to be.  In both races I was closer to the front than before, but could not finish higher than 3rd.  Early on during the weekend I realized that the quickshifter was not working well with the agricultural transmission of the ex650, but the gearing change was better for top speed.  Another 7mph (indicated) and the ability to pull 6th gear on the front straight led to some better lap times on Sunday morning.  Going against my superstition (the last time I videoed my racing I crashed), I left the camera on my head and got both Sunday races recorded.
As always, from the rider's perspective it is far more interesting.  I made 2 errors this race that got in my way of improving my position -- I missed a shift on the start (you can see riders from behind me on the grid pass), and less obvious is a missed downshift going into turn one around lap 8 or so.  That left me with no drive exiting the turn, and Jason pulls a gap.  Got a solid 3rd, with 4th a fair distance (13 seconds) adrift.  A number of consistent laps in the mid 1:06 range.

My last race of the season was just weird.  Another crap start had me stuck in 5th, then 4th for awhile, before I got into 3rd place.  Everyone's lap times were down, and it resulted in a tighter finish 1st to 4th.  In a weird twist, had I kept the same pace from race 3 as I did in race 2, I would have won by 5 seconds.  Bizarre.  I felt I was going fast, but I obviously wasn't... the laptimer doesn't lie!  At seasons end, I finished 5th overall (again!) in the Expert Canadian Thunder Championship.  Not bad for missing 2 rounds and competing in only 8 out of 18 sprint races.  And I kept my season-long podium streak intact!

Some pics from AJ...

Looking at these pics I feel a bit old, only because for some reason, I hardly ever drag a knee at Gimli.  It doesn't seem to be affecting my speed or laptimes, but I guess my body position and slowly decreasing flexibility in my hips are making it more difficult.  While I am riding, I don't really care, but everyone likes to see themselves tipped 'reet over.  I think I am getting decent lean, but I just don't bother or aren't able to stick out me knee as much as I used to.  The track has something to do with it as well -- both MAM and Mid-America are far smoother with longer turns with more time at lean... I drag my knees all the time there!  But aside from a quick scuff (usually over a bump when the suspension compresses!) my knee sliders stay unscathed.  Perhaps some yoga over the winter...?

The off-season began as soon as the last race ended.  Pop helped me load the trailer, I had lunch in Gimli with my folks, and the drive home had me planning the steps to, as quickly as possible, get the old engine out and the new (finally finished) racebike engine in.  Kate had suffered long enough -- 8 months sharing the computer room/office with a motorcycle engine had to end.  The following weekend I got the old engine out, the new one in, filled with fluids, and with anticipation I thumbed the starter button.  The engine turned over, and over, and over, and... didn't run.  The process of the rest of the weekend and evenings over the following week would fill a book.  In a roundabout way, at time of this post, I am pretty sure I've figured out why.  No internal engine parts or small animals were harmed during this process... but if the solution I've arrived at doesn't solve the problem, all bets (particularly involving small animals) are off. I hope to post a video shortly to show what is up...