Following on from the rebuild thread, the Barry Sheene event was within 2 hours of being a total non starter for the Spaceframe this year, with the the team missing qualification on Friday for the main event and finishing the bike at 4am Saturday morning for a 6:30am departure for the track.
The changes made brought on from the last crash were significant and with no time to test the bike in any fashion we thought the best we could do was turn up with the bike as a static display. However, Blair to his credit after hearing the engine fire up on Friday night said ... "if you can finish it, i'll ride it" and with that I sent him off to bed at 11:30 pm so at least the rider would be fresh for the next day.
The gearbox was a problem for us all last season requiring a full engine strip down after every meeting to investigate the damage on the mainshaft to 5th Gear bearing. Our approach was to look for a new engineering solution and thanks to John and Andrew at Denni Machinery they machined up the ultra hard 5th Gear output sprocket to enable a much larger and more robust needle roller bearing to be pressed in.
Further work involved custom made locators between the new bearings on the Main shaft and the lower case bearing shells to take out any sideways movement in the bearing housing. Then we machined up an extension shaft which was pressed in to the outer side of the 5th Gear to allow a outrigger plate with enclosed bearing to support the final drive sprocket equally.
The new alloy tank finally arrived and a work of art it was, thanks to Paul from HAS Custom Metal Works.
We then needed to plumb in the vacuum fuel pump to the fuel Weir and make sure we had a useable and reliable fuel deliver system.
A new colour scheme and it was off to the track for some testing on a race weekend
We arrived at the track with not much time as we needed to get the bike scrutineered, which we nearly failed due to the beautifully billet machined starter plate from Steve B not being in keeping with the classic scene. We raced a whole season last year with no objections.
But we got through and back to the pits to prepare for the race, get the numbers on the bike and I turn to Blair and say ... "you've got to at least ride this thing round the car park to make sure it engages the gears"
and with that conversation sounded the 2 minute siren for our race, no time for such frivolous extravagances and it was off with a warning anything at all strange, bring it straight back in.
Blair started from the back of the pack due to not having a qualification run on Friday and began steadily to run the bike in at race pace. I was on the roof eyes fixed to the machine hoping we wouldn't have any issues with the fuel delivery in particular. Blair made it through the whole race and came in looking relieved he made it through to the end. There was a disturbing amount of oil towards the front of the engine which he hadn't noticed till he was back in the pits, but fortunately the problem was minor with a bolt in the cam cover having come loose.
A few changes on the suspension were needed before the next race and the fork brace was removed. The second race looked positive to moving forward on what was our test day, Blair enaged in a race long duel with a Ducati and a very fast BMW which had the legs on the Italians down the straight. The positions changed a dozen times but Blair lined both bikes up on the final turn 12 with faster exit speed and held off the fast finishing BMW to the chequered flag. Times were on the improve but still down from last year so we had more work to do to dial in the package.
Suspension and geometry setup seemed to be the main areas we needed to address with the new gearbox arrangement working exceptionally well, Blair commenting that it was the best it had ever been and was a dream to use. The fuel system was also working faultlessly so our major changes were holding up to the rigors of racing.
We made additional changes to the suspension after Ian M showed us some photo's indicating our rear was squatting down significantly under hard acceleration out of the tight turn 2. We left Saturday with a feeling of relief and happy we didn't have any work to do before Sunday.
Sunday racing was very disjointed with continual delays due to oil on the track and a serious accident to our club president Keith Higgs who's bike dropped entering the hard braking turn 9 which due to the track works no longer had a gravel trap and now featured a concrete wall. Keith sustained serious leg injuries sliding into the wall and we all hope he recovers without any serious complications.
Our race started brilliantly with Blair now moved up on the grid due to the progressive grid and he managed to perform one of his customary excellent starts jumping at least 6 bikes off the line and through turn 1. However by turn 4 it was clear he wasn't able to hold out the bikes he had taken off the line and progressively the bike slowed as the race went on with Blair buttoning off towards the end knowing he wasn't going forward fast and there was something not right.
We decided to call it a day as our testing had been successful for the major changes and we still had much work to do to get back up to speed. The engine had gone off song with our middle cylinder showing identical issues to our 1 hour endurance event last year, so something we need to investigate further to nail the root cause.
Thanks to Blair (your a gutsy player), Huw M for stepping in to wield the spanners, CJ for being the life blood of what we do and Ian M for your on-going support and photo evidence of what the bike was doing.
A huge Congratulations to Drmsby, Steve B and ICRBreganzane Team on dominating Period 4 Post Classic classes and the Ken Wooton trophy on the Laverda SFC twin, it was well deserved as the long term preparation from last year paid dividends.