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History/Spirit Racing

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3 Sisters August 2019

A wet weekend in Wigan

First proper race this year, and wet, which usually is to my benefit. However, the circuit was resurfaced recently with good grippy stuff which inspired confidence in everyone, rather negating my advantage. I had been here once before at a track day, 20+ years ago, so had long since forgotten which bends were where, but recall that it suited the Daytona very well. Unfortunately the priority was to try out the Morini, so the Daytona stayed at home. Having modified the Morini's exhaust to quieten it I was hoping that the cutting out problem might also be improved; the engine had behaved perfectly when trying to simulate accelerating out of corners on the rolling road.

A secluded spot for the tent.

The daytime living quarters were in the paddock.

My first race was on the Cub, which went pretty well, coming in ahead of a 250 Suzuki, a 350 Ducati and a 1938 350 Velocette as well as the usual Bantam or two. The heavens then opened and there was an early lunch break followed by a further delay until the rain eased and the track and paddock were no longer under an inch of water. The first race on the Morini went quite well too, starting from the back I got past five bikes, and my lap times were about the same as the next few ahead. The next race on the Cub was disappointing, I let the bigger bikes get past me and the two Bantams behind me failed to finish so I came dead last. I was slightly slower than before, and not sure why; rather dispiriting, but Jenny turned up with extra beer supplies since the club house had no beer worth mentioning, and we had a pleasant walk round the track during a break in the rain.

This was after the water had receded!

Sunday dawned somewhat brighter, but the track was still wet for the Morini's race (delayed from the previous day) and once again I was a fraction slower than before and despite starting further up the grid, ended further back, though fending off a couple of big Nortons in a good tussle. Part of the problem was the return of the cutting out problem – I could overtake going into a bend, only to be taken back as the engine went briefly onto one cylinder. Good entertainment, apparently, but somewhat frustrating. By the time of the next Cub race the track was almost dry, and while that helped the more powerful bikes to stay ahead, I still kept a couple of Bantams at bay and thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

A rapid BMW, a neighbour in the paddock and on the track.

And so on to the Morini on a dry track. I was getting better at riding round the engine problem and moved up through the field, but then outbraked myself at the hairpin twice and finished behind Susan on her 500 Guzzi, who had only outbraked herself there once. We both determined to try to keep smoother in the last race. The problem with the Morini is that if the front wheel locks the forks freak out completely and I can't just let go and throw it into the bend the way I can on the Daytona. And as I summoned up extra courage over the appropriately named Coward's Summit I found that fork judder was the limiting factor there, which is a bit worrying. I checked that all was well externally after the race, but what goes on inside the Italian forks is a mystery to me.

Getting ahead of Susan.

The final Cub race was enjoyable, with a good scrap with one of the Bantams I had beaten in the previous race though, alas, he got me in the end.

Hot Bantam on Cub action.

And so, one last race to get a decent result; just a 5 lap dash as the races were shortened due to the lost time early in the meeting. And on lap 3 it started raining again, creating uncertain conditions – with the tyres warm the grip should still be good, should I back off and if so how much? I decided to go for it and got ahead of Susan and two or three others, up with the fast boys now. And then I overdid it at the hairpin again, this time the engine cut out too and refused to restart, so I was out of it altogether. Aargh! And did the wheel lock up because of the wet surface, or is there a real problem with the forks? And can I get things sorted before going to Cadwell Park at the end of September?

We still had an ice cream.


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