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History/Spirit Racing

History of Spirit Racing
Donington July 2023
Darley Moor July 2023
Cadwell BHR May 2023
Mallory Park April 2023
Darley Moor August 2022
Festival of 1000 Bikes
Brands Hatch 7-8th May 2022
Spirit Racing 2022
Spirit Racing 2021
Spirit Racing 2020
Cadwell September 2019
3 Sisters August 2019
MRC Track Day July 2019
Spirit Racing 2019
Spirit Racing 2018
Spirit Racing 2017
Spirit Racing 2016
Spirit Racing 2014
Spirit Racing 2013
Spirit Racing 2012
Spirit Racing 2011
Spirit Racing 2010
Spirit Racing 2009

Spirit Racing 2022

This year I am once again prioritising road bikes over racing, but curiosity got the better of me and I have had another go at the Cub. I bought an expensive new alloy barrel from a previously reputable supplier – as well as saving weight it also helps with cooling. Unfortunately it had at least one of the holes for the studs that hold it (and the cylinder head) on in the wrong place. I tried opening up the holes a bit to give a bit of wiggle room but the error was too great to be so easily corrected. I sent it back, with a promise that it would be sorted – it came back a few days later with the suggestion that I should just tap it down to overcome the still tight fit. That resulted in forcing one stud over so that the head would not go on. It was out by a country mile. With time running out I just had to spend 3 hours with a Dremel and round file carefully shaping the holes until it all worked; just making the holes bigger and bigger was not an option for various reasons. To say I was not impressed is a considerable understatement.

The studs need to be central in the holes, not wedged against the edges.

There was a test day at Mallory Park in March, which I had no wish to attend with the likelihood of freezing to death. However, the weather was quite nice so I arranged to meet Jenny there; she was hoping to sell one of her excessive quantity of unready race bikes. Upon arrival I was told that there was a trophy for me in the Race Office – what could it be for? It transpired that, with only two race meetings being held between lockdowns in 2021, and a lot of riders not attending. My efforts at Cadwell had secured me second place in the 500 BEARS championship. Second out of two competitors, none too impressive!

I had entered for the BHR Mallory Park meeting in April to try the bikes out prior to a Brands Hatch CRMC meeting in May, so work continued on the Cub, with extra breathing arrangement to try to stop the mystery oil leak, as well as checking the oil pump and all the oil lines. The front brake was also fettled again. It was very fortunate that I have the rolling road in the shed so that I could run in the new barrel, the head needed tightening down several times causing concern that the steel sleeve inside the alloy barrel might be moving. It felt happy enough though, and looked oil tight, so cause for cautious optimism. The 500 Morini was checked over and new exhaust gaskets fitted.

By Friday 8th April everything was ready for an early arrival to get set up and the bikes scrutineered. Jenny had arrived even earlier, before the gates were due to open at 2.00pm, to grab us a good spot in the paddock.

The cafe is just behind the marquee and scrutineering bay just beyond that.

Back home for dinner, and a 40 minute drive to the circuit in the morning meant getting up at an almost-reasonable time to be ready for the practice sessions. In theory I should have been able to practice on both bikes, but there were too many bikes for the under 500cc session, so I had to go out on the Morini in the overflow session and just hope that the Cub would survive having its final bit of running in during the warm-up lap of its first race. Happily it did, and finished with four Bantams ahead and three behind, chasing Robbie, who had got me in with the Bantams originally. I was quicker in some parts but he was much better through the Bus Stop chicane, getting a better run onto the start/finish straight. There was no sign of the super-trick Cub that was expected, I had spoken to both rider and mechanic – I wish I had one of those – at the test day, and it was expected to be much, much faster than mine. It was somewhat prone to blowing its engine up, however, and perhaps it had happened again.

The Cub goes out with several other classes to get a full grid, including the recently formed MZ 250 class. Though ungainly in looks, the MZ Supa 5 of the 1970’s accelerated faster that its Suzuki X7 and Kawasaki triple contemporaries, so is ideal for a cheap racing class. In the second race, Charles Ollis came past on the back straight on his MZ, giving me the challenge of getting back past him before settling down to chasing Robbie again. Charles was only a second behind me at the end, so we were both looking forward to a rematch on Sunday. Strangely, despite the extra effort being put in, Charles, Robbie and I were all about half a second a lap slower that in the first race, in the same good conditions. The weather had remained dry apart from the odd shower of hail, and although cold was quite sunny most of the time, so we did some wandering round and socialising instead of being huddled in the café between races.

I found some nearly new leathers in the loft, left by someone years ago, which give a bit more tummy room.

There were none of the usual Laverdas out in the 500 BEARS race, just an obscenely fast BSA B50 which thinks it is a full-race Manx Norton, not a humble modified road bike. Ahead of me on the grid were some very rapid 750 – 1100cc bikes in the big BEARS class, with a couple of Rob North triples just behind. Mallory Park is a circuit that favours out and out power, but I hoped that I might at least keep up round the first bend. No chance, the Rob Norths came past as if I was standing still and most of them disappeared into the distance. I found myself chasing an 850 Guzzi, and a 750 Triumph which I have diced with in the past – the Daytona had been unable to keep up at Mallory but the extra speed of the Morini put me in with a chance. I got past both of them about halfway through the 8 lap race, and kept them behind until I made a complete pig’s ear of the Bus Stop chicane, and while I caught up in the one remaining lap I needed another to get past again. So, looking forward to the second BEARS race.

In the event, time ran out and the second Saturday race was going to be the first Sunday race instead. We got there in good time, but everything was starting earlier than scheduled – a surprise with the very strict noise regulations at Mallory – and things got a bit tight. The previous day there had been long delays before both the practice session and the BEARS race, with the Morini getting very hot and bothered, so I did not rush when the first call for the race came over the tannoy. Responding to the second call generally gives ample time for warming the engine up, but this time the final call came almost immediately after. It being another cold morning, the Morini was a bit reluctant to start, but were still just about on schedule. It then stopped again, was started on the starter rollers again, finally I was off up toward the assembly area – and it cut out again. Rolling back down to the rollers it was hastily fired up again, warm enough now to blast up to the assembly area, but to no avail, just too late by a whisker. Ah well, still two more races due on each bike, so not too big a disappointment. The Cub was due out a few races later, just after the scooters, and I warmed it up a bit just before their race to be on the safe side.

On the very first lap of the scooter race two riders had a high-speed collision, one got up and rushed over to switch the engines off, the other lay ominously still. Eventually it was announced that the worst had happened and the rest of the meeting was cancelled.

Next race is at Brands Hatch in May, last time there was similarly tragic, of course everyone really, really hopes that it goes better this time.


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