First of all big thanks to Simon Stevens and John Crockford for working with Rowan over the course of the weekend, we would not have got the bike working so well without them!
To make sure everyone is up to speed with the story so far.This will be the first time Rowan has raced in the BMCRC Minitwins series, the first time he has ridden the Brands Hatch GP track and the first time here on the Kawasaki ER-6 The only ER-6 in the series.So what happened?
We spent Friday morninig Just checking the bike out after its repairs from the Snetterton weekend three weeks ago, new front suspension had been installed along with new chain chain catcher and oil pipe, I needed to check for any oil leaks under stress and generally see that we had no major problems. All was good and by the end of the morning Rowan was circulating at 52second pace with more pace in hand. Because of the noise restrictions enforced at Brands Hatch the Friday test day was restricted to the Indy circuit not the full GP track Rowan would be racing on over the weekend. Knowing that Simon and John would be arriving later I decided not to start chasing a set up on a track which Rowan wouldn't be racing on. We sat out the afternoon sessions.
Simon and John arrived during the evening and using Johns experience (after he had spent time with Row getting feedback on what the bike was doing on track) we made some major changes to the suspension setting, the evening was finished of with a walk around the GP track to give Row a clue where he would be going.
Rowan had 15mins practice/qualifying to get the feeling of the bike (after the changes) and learn the track at race speed, he also had to put in a reasonable ttime to make sure he got a good grid position, with this in mind we agreed to let Row doe the whole session in one stint. Row qualified in 6th position
RACE1 - GO Row makes a reasonable start and is lying 5th at the end of the first lap the front 3 are away and Rowan is at the head of the second group, during the next 2 laps Row manges to make a break from the group he is in and is in clear air chasing down the leaders, then one of the front guys has a big off at Paddock Hill bend and the race is stopped. They come around to re-form the grid and as they go away to start the warmup lap Rows hand goes in the air, the bike keeps stalling when he selects first gear..... Row is pulled from the grid so no re-start for us. Back in the garage we quickly identify that it is a side stand cut out which is causing the problem, I undo the wiring harness tape to find that the switch had been by-passed with a plastic scotch lock connector which has failed in the heat - the wires are stripped and a proper soldered joint is made, we put the bike onto the dyno to ensure all is good - it is.
RACE2 - So after a DNS in the first race Rowan is demoted to the back of the grid for the second - I think he can just about see the lights from his grid position! GO- Row gets a flyer and weaves his way through the grid - He makes up 12 places in the first lap and is up to 16th - 2nd lap and another 6 are disposed off - 9th - 3rd lap and hes up to 7th - he now has a gap to work on, it takes 2 laps to get to the next group, then on the last lap he gets another two and hops up to 5th place overall and 3rd Junior - well played. His lap times are on pace with the top 3.
we have a bit of a calm down after that!!
Row then does his de-brief with John and Simon the bike is stripped and serviced readied for Sunday. We wander up to the prixze giving where Row is awarded his 3rd place pot and gets Minitwin Ride of the day award!!
Sunday We make some more subtle changes to the bike ready for today and John has worked with Row looking at some alternative lines and techniques he can use, Row goes out and gets two laps for warm up to try everything out.
Race1 Well 10 mins before the race is due to run the heavens open and the rain comes down in stir rods, we quickly get the wheels changed to wets and adjust the suspension to a wet setting Row takes his place 5th on the grid - GO Row gets away with the leaders as they splash their way up to the first corner - Row in 3rd place they disappear into the trees at the top of the track - Row doesn't re-appear, we hear from the commentators that two have gone down but both riders are fine... we now have to wait until we get Row back at the end of the race to find out what happened. Sure enough 10mins after the race has finished Row and the bike are dropped off at parc ferme, "Got taken out dad, I was just going up the inside of the second place guy when someone hit my rear wheel, I was knocked over the handlebars then the rear wheel gripped and catapulted me over"We get the bike back to the garage and start stripping it, the biggest damage is to the petrol tank which has been flattened on one side and has split, luckily I have a spare in the back of the van so no drama. We get the bike cleaned up and ready for race two.
The weather during all this time has turned really nasty with constant black clouds dumping on the Brands Hatch circuit, a couple of times I thought that the club would have to postpone the rest of the meeting but with lots of work on the track and behind the scenes the club manages to keep the meet going although they have no choice but to reduce the race distance's
So with four laps to do and starting from the back of the minitwins grid again Rowan has it all to do. Once again Row gets an excellent start and spends three laps scything through the pack and into the last lap has a gap to the guy in 7th place, as they come around to complete the lap Row gets to the inside and drives through to take the place. So its 7th place and once again 3rd junior..... So all in all a good weekend with both Rowan and the bike showing huge potential.
We now look forward to the next round at Cadwell Park in three weeks time