We were quite relaxed about the weekend, knowing where we stood in the championship standings. Ben Hunter's 389 points had won it with style on his 350LC or YPVS (whichever was going best ). We were in 2nd, with a 51-point lead over David Paterson and a 7-point lead over Scott Grant, the Bemsee two-stroke instructor who we knew would be our main threat.

So we rocked up Thursday afternoon, dragged the bike out of the van, and started preparing her for free practice. She started first or second kick, so we were happy. The settings from last year had been dialled in.

Friday - practice dry with damp patches. Pirelli Slicks.

It went well, considering I hadn't ridden for three months. The notes from Sadie's little book seemed to work. The bike felt crisp and powerful. We settled in for the evening. 

Saturday morning was qualifying. The fog had delayed proceedings. As well as the lack of visibility, the track was damp and conditions were freezing. It didn't inspire confidence, considering I was about to qualify on a bike that theoretically had been sold.

"Don't crash", was the last thing Sadie said, as well as the usual "I love you's" and supportive words. The bike came up to temp and stayed at a constant 58 deg, which was nice to see. We warmed up for a lap or two.

In the last session, I really gave her a bit of race pace and properly opened her up. We were going okay. That was until we entered Paddock Hill Bend a little bit too hot. I dropped two gears and braked like it was going out of fashion and as I turned in, the back of the bike locked up.

I promptly did a little wee, pulled the clutch in, gathered my senses, and wobbled round the bend and down the hill. Was it a partial seizure, or was it me on the back brake on the damp track with slick tyres?  All this was going through my mind as we coasted down the hill, so I let the clutch out and she fired straight away and felt completely normal. No nasty sounds or whining.

I rode back to the paddock with a bit of confusion. Took the plugs out and zorsts off, and has a look. All seemed fine. No scoring. The plugs looked about right mixture-wise, so we assumed that it was me on the back brake.

Race one, Saturday - wet track. Pirelli wets.

I got a good start and zoomed past the GP bikes with a sighting of Scott, just a couple of GP bikes in front. I got stuck in and was giving it the berries when it properly seized, coming off the gas into Paddock Hill Bend - DNF.

We whipped out the plugs and immediately knew something had gone wrong. Plug was a strange colour and the bottom piston has scoring on its side when we looked up the exhaust port. We took the barrel and offending piston out. It was a piston failure. Quite common, where a bit of piston between the rings above the oil holes breaks off and, this time, went straight out of the exhaust.

We inspected the barrel and, unbelievably, had got away without major damage. A nicely used piston and rings were reinserted and we went out for race two of the day.

Race two, Saturday pm - biblical rain, poor light. Pirelli wets.  

I had another good start but was riding really tight on the bike. I had taped up the rad, but not enough, and the temp was reading only 32 degrees. Not good at 12,000 rpm, with the possibility of a cold seizure. So I was listening to the engine and waiting for it to go bang again.

This was playing with my head and then I lost all confidence when I had a big slide at Graham Hill and almost high-sided. My visor, which I hadn't changed from a dark one, had fogged up, and I was struggling to see and be safe racing, so I backed off, knowing a 5th place and 11 points is better than the DNF I had that morning.

Sunday,  race 1 - bright sunny drying track. Pirelli Supercorsas.

I had a great start and kept the GP bikes behind for at least a lap, which is nice. Unfortunately, Scott and another GP-F guy were off like the clappers and I couldn't catch them, so I had a blast round on my own and finished 3rd.

Sunday,  race 2 - bright sunny dry track. Pirelli Supercorsas.

I had a great start again, but Scott and another GPF bike shot off like scalded cats and I had a cracking little race with Rick Pickly Hickling on his little 125. I'd be braking at the paddock and he'd be changing up a gear. Two or three overtakes per lap, it was by far the most fun I've had for ages. I beat him, of course, and came 3rd again.

So I just didn't do well enough this meeting to secure my 2nd place in the championship. But we got 3rd overall and, considering I missed two complete round, we're not unhappy.

I'd like to thank everyone for the support they've shown me whilst racing the little two-stroke these past three years. I really enjoyed it and I'm sure the series will grow over the years. I'll be racing a diesel next year. Actually, it's a very nice little Honda RVF 400 NC 35, which has been track-prepared and should go without taking apart every two minutes. I'll be racing again with Bemsee but in the Formula 400 Sub 64 bhp class.

A huge thank you to everyone who helped us over the season. I couldn't have done it without Wemoto, which supplied the pistons - and more pistons, and even more pistons -, rings and all those things that make it go, including some very nice tyres. Thanks also to Steve Smith of The RGV Workshop for his spannering abilities.

Thanks for reading and see you in 2019

Nick, Sadie, and the Skint Racing crew

Posted by Nick Cooper
for Wemoto News on 16 October 2018 in Racing

Edited By: Daisy Cordell



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