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Dave Bone was left disappointed, and without any racing this season, following the cancellation of this years Manx Grand Prix, however he has been getting regular updates from our very own race stars.Track traumaAfter the mechanical nightmares he had before his last race, Liam Gallagher was confident that everything would be OK for his annual trip across the water for the ‘Bob Mac’. Wrong! So what happened Liam?Two days before we left, the van decided it didn’t want to play anymore! After the initial panic and cursing we traced the fault to the glow plugs which had run out of glow! Nissan wanted £148 for new ones (only available as genuine parts!) so we cleaned up the old ones as best we could, got it running and said a prayer it would go the distance.We arrived at East Fortune (south of Edinburgh) at 3am and I settled down to the smell of Avgas and oil, I was sleeping with the bike in the back of the van while Andy spread himself across the front seats.I spent the first session getting to know the circuit again and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the bumpiest parts had been resurfaced. The second session was timed so I got the head down, the arse up and went for a decent time. I must have done something right as I qualified on the second row, 8th fastest. Then it rained, just enough to leave some damp patches for the first race. I would rather it be totally wet or totally dry as you know what to expect then. Three laps into the race and I got a monster two wheel slide going into the fast right hander at the back of the circuit, I was sure I was going to bin it but the track is so wide that, through luck alone, I stayed upright! My heart was doing twenty to the dozen and my tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth but at least I was upright. I was a bit more careful the next time round! I finished in 8th spot so I was well chuffed.And then it rained, and rained, and rained.For Race Two we had probably the worst conditions I have ever raced in, visibility in the middle of the back going down the back straight on the first lap was zero, zilch, nothing, and as I couldn’t see where I was going and didn’t have sufficient circuit knowledge to ride it blind I was going backwards compared to the locals. Once the main pack got away I was left to ride my own race and try not to slip off. And then I got major fright number two! Flat out in top gear (about 120mph) along the start finish straight and the rear wheel started spinning! There was so much water lying on the track that there was no grip at all. The first time it happened it scared the life out of me but after that I was ready for it but still concerned about aquaplaning and losing it. I was glad to see the chequered flag through the spray as I was soaked! The club abandoned the meeting for the day after that as conditions were just getting too dangerous (five riders slipped off in the 350cc race). Sod’s Law being what it is half an hour later the sun was splitting the stones and everywhere was drying up!Saturday night saw Scottish hospitality at its’ best with a marquee, bar and a cracking wee band laid on. It was just like a bike rally. There was a prizegiving too and I even got a trophy for being part of the Irish team in the match race. Our results counted towards each country’s final score. The Irish finished third (out of three but we’re not telling anyone that bit) but it was still nice to get something. The Scottish were second and the English won, and of course were met with lots of good natured booing when collecting their trophies!Sunday morning….
Sunday morning practice didn’t go well as the bike had oiled up a plug in the warm-up area and it refused to clear itself, eventually cutting out at the back of the circuit. I freewheeled to a marshal’s post and waited on the recovery van. I knew the problem was the valve guide on number one cylinder which was ‘floating’. Not an ideal situation but there was nothing I could do about it as we wouldn’t have the time or parts to sort it. We just had to time starting the bike so that it wasn’t idling too long.Race One was hectic to say the least and I rode the wheels off the bike dicing with a G50 and a Manx Norton. The standard of and money spent on bikes in Britain is a lot higher than in Ireland, and at the pace I was riding I would have been on the podium at home whereas I was fighting for 10th! It was good fun though and I finished eleventh.Race Two was the hardest race of the weekend as the G50 and me went at it like two kids on 125s! I think we swapped places half a dozen times over the eight laps. I had more straight-line speed and he was quicker down the back of the circuit so it was a pretty even scrap. It came down to a last corner, side by side battle on the brakes but luckily I had the inside line so he had to go the long way round and I crossed the line a wheel’s length in front to finish 11th.Race Three saw me get a terrible start and no matter what I did I couldn’t catch my sparring partner on the G50. The valve guide problem was getting worse and with a leaking gasket I had oil over the left side of the rear tyre but luckily there are only two left handers on the circuit so I just hung on and let it slide! As it was the last race of the day I just settled for a finish and came in 13th.Tim Capper was unfortunately unable to compete at Oulton and Mallory but was back in action at Snetterton.We awoke Saturday morning to a damp Snetterton again. We fitted wets for practice and they stayed on for the first race. I was placed 25th on the grid as Bemsee are now operating the superbike grid formation. A poor start left me last into the first corner, but slowly I picked places off to finish 20th, which meant a better grid position for the second race.I got a better start for the 2nd race but it was red flagged after 2 laps. On the restart, I got a better start still, and finished 6th when the race was red flagged again. A 3rd was on the cards as I was lapping 2 seconds a lap faster than the guys in front, and was right behind them when the race was stopped.Sunday was another damp start but looked more promising as time went by. I was again placed 25th on the grid, but a good start saw me midfield. Dad Iost count of my position, but it turned out I was fighting for 10th when I slid off at the end of Revitt straight at about 130 mph. Oil on the track was the culprit we think, and thankfully I was OK, though the bike fared less well.A hectic session with tiewraps and gaffer tape saw the bike through scrutineering just before the 2nd race. Another good start from 21st on the grid was wasted into the first corner, but a fighting 16th was the result. I was feeling a bit sore by now and couldn’t get going. Cadwell next, which will hopefully mean I won’t be at such a disadvantage speed wise.Tim was featured in the local paper, which has a huge circulation in Kent. Almost the whole back page with a big colour photo, it looked very impressive.Andrew Marsden has been clocking up some impressive results this year in the singles championship and looks on course for a good championship placing at the end of the season.Snetterton, held on 14th and 15th July, combined both the British and European Championship races. With all the best riders and machinery all at Snetterton, things were not going to be easy. However, qualifying was in dry conditions and I qualified for third row on the grid. I was trying for better times but a massive front end slide at the first corner, after the straight, told me to calm down a bit – so that was that!Saturday’s race was held in torrential rain with thunder and lightening jazzing things up a bit, with a few of the top riders crashing in the wet conditions. I finished in fifth position in my class.Sunday was dry and sunny and I changed the gearing for dry weather and lined up on the grid with the top blokes and faster bikes. I struggled to get ninth place on such a fast circuit! However, I was still holding onto fifth position in the Championship.Next to Aberdare!
Aberdare Road Race is held in mid Wales in an old Victorian park with the same run off as the TT and Irish road races, with a lot of names such as Jason Griffiths and Ian Lougher competing.All weekend it was either drizzling or heavy rain with the track never drying out completely. I raced both my TZ250 and 710 Supermono, qualifying second on the Single, and fourth on the TZ250.Results – Saturday – TZ250 – 7th position – Single – 4th position.
Results – Sunday – TZ250 – 8th position – Single – 2nd position (and more trophies!)Sunday’s second place was my best result at Aberdare ever and I was ‘pushing’ Ian Lougher, who came in first, all race long but could not get close enough to pass in such wet conditions.Next to Pembrey!
Again, it was full ‘wets’ on for the qualifying session. I managed to get a clear run around the track with no slower riders holding me back, and I finished with a front row position and third fastest time!After a good start, also in very wet conditions, I was up to fourth position on Lap 8 of 12. There was an explosive noise from the engine and at the same time the rear wheel locked up solid. I was flat out, in third gear, on the straight at the time! I pulled into the pits and after stripping the engine I found the con-rod had snapped.After working in the tent till 11.00 pm on Saturday night and starting again early at 6.30 am, I managed to fit my spare, but standard engine, into the bike. Although very slow on the top end, I rode as hard as I could and managed to get fifth position.I am now, after my first non-finish all year, 6th in the Championship.Mark Clamp recorded his best result of the season so far at Snetterton:Snetterton – BMCRC Round 12
As a newcomer I was placed on grid 34 out of 40, I was so keen to get a good getaway that I almost did a ‘jump start’. Fortunately, I didn’t and I managed to pick up a few places in the run up to the first corner. I settled down in around 25th place and during the next 9 laps I fought my way to 17th place. In my second race of the day I started from grid 17 but it had rained just before my race. The track was almost water logged and as we lined up for the start the heavens opened again. I managed to avoid wheel spinning off the line and gained a few places. It was hard work concentrating so much in order to avoid slipping, but I managed to stay on and took my first top 10 finish with a 7th place.Snetterton – BMCRC Round 13
I got a clean start and was soon battling for 16th place. It took a few laps to get past the faster Yamaha R6 but I managed to out-brake him at the end of Sear’s Straight. I succeeded in holding him off and I felt that this finish proved that Saturday’s 17th place was no fluke. I was hoping to repeat my top 10 finish from the day before and this time the rain held off. I was locked in a battle with 3 other riders for 8th, 9th and 10th place but lost out to the superior horsepower of newer bikes to finish 10th.Snetterton – New ERA Superclub Round 5
I started from grid 31 and proceeded to prove my abilities with a very creditable 15th place finish. In an eerie repeat of the previous Saturday, the weather took a turn for the worst and it began to rain, thunder and lightening about half an hour before my second race was due to start. On with the ‘Wets’ and I was hopeful of a good finish from grid 15. I eased my way to 14th place and was engaged in a scrap with a Suzuki GSXR600and an R6. I managed to get in front of them by the Bomb Hole on the last lap. I thought they would try and out-brake me into the Russell Esses so I went in a little faster than before. As it turned out it was a little too fast and as I cranked the bike over for the left-hander I lost the front end. I was unhurt and the bike suffered slight scratching (well apart from the ton of mud in the fairing, battery box and almost everywhere else. That was my first crash of this season.Snetterton – New ERA Superclub Round 6
Over the 9 laps of this race I felt myself getting a little tired but I pushed on to finish 18th. The weather held and from grid 18 I was soon in a four bike battle. Although I tried my best, my lack of horsepower and my gradually diminishing strength saw me finish in 19th place. I felt totally drained, I think a few visits to the gym to work on my stamina may be in order.Mallory Park – New ERA Club Championship Round
I made a complete hash of the start and fell back to around 30th place by the first corner. I settled down into a good rhythm and worked my way up to 19th place by the chequered flag and in the process improved my personal best Mallory lap by one second to record a 55.7 second lap.Race 2 had me drawn on grid 26. A better start this time and I was soon up to 19th again. I was having a great time dicing with an R6 when exiting Gerard’s I sensed the engine revs increasing without the expected increase in speed. Furthermore, the rear of the bike was sliding out.Spectacular stuff but it meant that I could not ‘get the power down’. I soon lost sight of the R6 and by the end of the race I had been relegated to 24th place. We’d done one race too many on that rear tyre.Pembrey – New ERA Superclub Championship
My first ever race at Pembrey was heralded by torrential rain. In some places there was at least an inch of surface water. However I was soon to find out that this is one of the grippiest circuits I’ve ever been to. A clean start saw me in around 22nd place by the first turn, a first gear hairpin. Exciting wasn’t the word, 32 bikes all battling for a space big enough for one! Miraculously everyone got through unscathed. I eventually finished 18th and was soaked to the skin. Race 2 and I undid all my hard work of the first race in a bodged start and was last on the first lap. I couldn’t see a thing through all the spray so some blind overtaking moves were in order. I eventually clawed my way back to 18th place.Pembrey – New ERA Superclub Championship Round
Day 2, race 1 -the rain held off and on a drying track I elected to go for Pirellis Super Dragon Corsa tyres. By the finish I had improved my lap times by trying different lines. Again I notched up an 18th place finish.In race 2 I was determined to get a good start and I did, picking up 3 places by the first corner. I settled down in a two bike dice and soon passed them to chase after the next pack. I eventually caught up with them but ran out of laps before I could pass them. A 13th place finish and 3 points in the championship was my reward. My best lap of the weekend was 66.1 seconds; the top guys were doing 62’s.James would like to thank MAG Sport, Shoei, Sidi, Carrera Leathers, Tech 2000, Iceni Motorcycles, WS Bikes and CR Motors of King’s Lynn for their support.Remember you can get up to date reports on the teams progress and other MAG members who compete by visiting www.magsport.com