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Here we are in May, and here is the progress with the Daytona:
Yes, it has the wheels back on, and may have its head back on by next month.
The Cub has had its first race this year, at Thundersprint, now held at Darley Moor racetrack. This is a venue prone to rain, but it was a bit extreme this time:
No, I have not taken to racing a pink sidecar outfit, but it's a great picture, and we spent a lot of time sheltering beneath their gazebo. There are no action shots of the Cub, the photographer's camera was waterlogged by the time of the Lightweight race, so here it is in the paddock:
The practice sessions on Saturday were merely damp, providing an opportunity to scrub in the new tyres and check that the engine was happy with its new Jawa valve springs – all was well except for some clutch slip, which was sorted on Saturday evening.
Although the weather caused the Sunday morning practice sessions to be cancelled, the Cavalcade provided an opportunity to check that the clutch was working properly. All very promising.
I had expected my previous nemesis Robbie to be there with his Bantam, but instead there was a 1978 Yamaha 125 TZR – the only way I was going to beat that was if the rider was afraid of the wet on such a beast, which he wasn't, putting in one of the best times of the day, a tad faster than Scott Redding on a 1000 Honda. That left three 175/185 Hondas and three rather fast racing 50s to cope with, it was clear on the warm-up lap that they were not going to give me an easy time. Instead of blasting cleanly off the line as it had in practice, the Cub stuttered and bogged down initially, but more or less cleared at high revs. This may have been simply due to the increasing rain getting into bits, the puddles were making life interesting and it was impossible to see the edge of the track through the wiggly bits.
In the end the Cub managed to hold on to 2nd place, so not a bad result. Unfortunately there is perceptible play in the big end so a strip-down is needed, I can't see me making it to Anglesey next month but I am looking forward to Brands Hatch in July. If engine, gearbox and clutch can all be persuaded to behave themselves, it should be good fun.
After discussion with the tyre man and getting permission from Sally, a large sum of money was invested in a brand new front tyre. In the second race I got round as fast as I have in recent years, still only good enough for 8th out of 13 in our class but if another second could be shaved off the lap time it would start to look respectable.
Failing to catch Jenny – and she had never raced at Brands before!
The races were later on Sunday, which gave me the time to finish off a top-end rebuild of the Cub after giving the gearbox some attention. Alas, it still did not feel entirely well, and the head gasket blew again after 4 laps, though at least the gearbox was behaving. As I write this, the engine has been rebuilt with a lower compression piston and the timing has been carefully checked again.
Getting down to it, and showing off the new exhaust system
The following weekend was the Beezumph rally, and a chance to take the Daytona round Cadwell Park if I could get there in time. Changing it back to road mode took longer than expected, and choosing a different route to avoid some known road works didn't work out at all well. I must get a more up-to-date map of the North Midlands. In the end I was too late for a ride but had a great social time in the blazing sun, followed by a ride back through a full-blown thunderstorm. Trying another different route I stopped several times to consult the map, and it was clear from the smoke blowing past me from the exhaust that further attention was needed. The new piston rings having bedded in nicely, the valve guides having been checked for any sign of looseness, and the engine breather arrangements being as they should be, it looks like an oil circulation problem. Much careful checking of pipes will be followed by a look at the oil pump if nothing amiss has been found externally. Two weeks to go before the races at Donington Park...
The Daytona went OK in practice, but I was all at sea, but two seconds off the lap time would put me dicing with my usual opponents. The first race was on the Cub, it was not going as well as it should, but at least I was getting the hang of the corners again, and I was really looking forward to the first race on the Daytona. Halfway round the warm up lap, it stopped. A connector had come off the battery - an ad hoc arrangement since its nearly-new normal battery had packed up - so I expected the bike to start as soon as I had reconnected it. But no. Back in the paddock, tests indicated that the electronic ignition had packed up.
This was a three day meeting, with just the one race for each bike on the Friday, so I was able to take the Cub back home to investigate the lack of power, and strip bits off road bikes to make up a new ignition system for the Daytona, duly fitted on Saturday morning. Still no spark, the problem eventually being traced to a broken wire behind the ignition pick-up. By the time that had been re-soldered, another race had been missed. The one race was quite fun, dicing with one of the bigger, faster bikes with a novice rider, but while I went the required two seconds faster than in practice, everyone else had had two more races to remember how to ride the circuit, so I was still two seconds off the required pace. The Cub just got slower and slower, but did at least finish, eventually.
Sunday was due to be wet, so even with it going slowly I could try out the Cub's new extra-sticky tyres, and I am more competitive in the wet on the Daytona. And rain it did, to the extent that most of the races were cancelled, including both of mine...
And that, as it turns out, was that, for this year at least, and maybe altogether. The problem with the Cub turned out to be the super new valve springs taking the tops off the cams, an alternative engine was almost ready for Cadwell Park in September but life has gone very pear-shaped with Sally getting an entirely unexpected and almost inexplicable infection five months after her hip operation, and with her scheduled for disassembly over Cadwell weekend I cancelled my entry, thus showing that I am getting old and soft and am not really a proper racer. As I write, Sally is still in one piece but still in hospital awaiting more test results, and the Daytona has been put back in road mode and has started throwing out loads of oil again...
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