Archive for November, 2006
What a difference a race can make.
After Craig Lowndes’ relatively poor showing in practice and qualifying, then a lack lustre 9th in race one, he has clawed his way back into championship winning contention.
With Rick Kelly crashing out in race two of the program; it gave Craig the perfect opportunity to grab back a bag of points. The result was that at the end of this weekend he is now only 7 points behind Kelly, with one race to go. The final races at Phillip Island will be an absolute corkers, I may even travel down to watch it, although with Phillip Island’s fickle weather patterns a comfortable lounge room has its alluring qualities as well.
Well done to Jason Bright who gave Ford Performance Racing a well deserved round win and his efforts also ensured Ford secured the manufacturers title. If Craig can gain the drivers championship it will give Ford the ‘Triple Crown’ – Bathurst, Manufacturers and Drivers Titles.
It was also good to see my smokey (I have predicted he will do well in my last posts) salvage a solid 14th for the round after a disappointing first race. Steven Johnson (son of legend Dick Johnson), come from 27th in race one, to record an 11th in race two and a 6th in race three. A lot was said of Rick Kelly’s claw back after race two, but Steven deserves some praise as well.
Bring on Phillip Island….
Last Saturday, I was able to blast some of the cobwebs from my motorbike, the mighty Yamaha TRX850.
My mate Bob and I have ridden both Phillip Island and Broadford tracks, but this time we had the opportunity to blast around Calder Park in Melbourne.
So Saturday morning I packed the car, put the bike on the trailer and drove the family to the track. I was a bit nervous to say the least about this track, I always am at a new track, but this one didn’t seem to have a lot of run off if things got a bit ‘tricky’. My only exposure to it was watching some state level car racing on SBS about two weeks ago and it looked really bumpy.
I arrived at the track at about 8.15am and wheeled the bike into scrutineering. After the rider briefing and an adjustment to the chain (it was a little tight), we prepared ourselves for the first session.
Riding down the long pit straight, I prepared myself for the redline racing that was to be the next 20 minutes. After the first lap I knuckled down to find my groove.
Each session I attempted to improve my pace around the track, searching for the best line and searching for that extra bit of pace. Calder is a tricky little track, especially the back part, with some kinking right to lefts and you could even get a nice little power wheelie coming over the rise after turn three.
As always Bob was much quicker than me in the fast bits. I don’t know how he does it but he seems to be able to go 20km/h faster than me in the fast bits. He is a good rider, but a very modest one, he was able to mix it well with more powerful machinery, so was I but to a lesser extent.
Speaking of power, down the straights is where Bob and I could have down with an extra 30 to 40 horsepower. To give you an idea between the discrepancies in power output, my TRX is about 70-75 horsepower. Now a 2006 R1 is about 180 horsepower
My TRX’s top speed is about 225 km/h. I was almost hitting this speed about 150 metres from the 200 metre braking marker down the front straight. Now this might seem fast, but the myriad of R1’s, GSX-R 1000’s etc in our group where probably hitting closer to 300km/h, making me look like I was doing 60km/h. This can get frustrating when you do all the hard work in staying in front through the twisty bits, only to get swamped on the fast straights.
All in all it was a great day. I had lots of fun, got to catch up with my mate Bob, and my wife and son got to watch me race a round the track. Matt especially thought it was great to see me fly past where he was watching, and occasionally I would give him a quick wave as I sped past at about 180km/h. Thanks to Bill and my darling wife for taking some video footage of a couple of sessions.
I would encourage anyone who hasd a motorbike to get out and do at least one track day in your life, you will have an absolute blast. If you are in Australia I can strongly recommend contacting Scott or Nicole from Champions Ride Days they organise a great fun and safe day.
With the Victorian State election happening this weekend (25th November 2006), I have some questions I would like to pose to everyone…
Does democracy end as soon as you cast your vote?
Considering that after we vote we have minimal control or say over the winning partys agenda for their term in office, is this the point where we lose our democratic rights?
Sure we might be able to protest until we are blue in the face, but is this democracy?
In recent years in Australia we have had many instances where the federal Liberal party has implemented policy that the majority of Australians do not agree with. Yet this has not inhibbited the policies implementation.
So are we really living in a democratic society, or are we brainwashed to believe it?
his weekend sees the V8’s head off to Bahrain for their first ever race at the new track. They will be racing on a shortened version of the almost 6 kilometre GP track.
This round is make or break round for Ford ace Craig Lowndes. After the disappointing finishes in the last two rounds he really needs to win this one to set him self up for a chance at the championship.
No one has officially raced at this track, so no team should have a technical advantage over another, however the Toll HSV team, with Rick Kelly and Garth Tander should be strong. In fact Tander has driven the track before in a celebrity race earlier this year.
It will be tough for Craig to win this round, but if any Ford driver has the natural ability it is him. He and the 888 racing team have been in Bahrain since last week acclimatising themselves to the track and the conditions, hoping that this will give them the required edge over the other teams.
If any Ford team can win this round it will mean the manufacturers championship will be won by Ford, but we could forgive 888 from giving that goal a lower priority.
Drivers to watch out for this weekend:
The Kelly brothers
As a smokey, I would still like to see Steven Johnson have a top three finish. He has done well this year, with regular finishes in the top ten.
Look out for my qualifying and Top Ten Shoot Out results.
Late news update: As I write this the first practice session has been complete with Jason Bright being the fastest. Unfortunately for Craig Lowndes he is two places behing Rick Kelly in this practice session. Rick 4th fastest and Craig 6th fastest.
It has been a while since I wrote to you, I apologise for the delay, but you know how life can get pretty busy and you tend to focus on thing closest to you, like family and work.
I am a little concerned about a few things I have heard you doing lately, and wanted to see if you are alright.
It seems you are beginning to becoming the very thing you set out to attack. In your continued efforts to overthrow dictators, the democratic nations who are ‘upholding you’ are becoming quasi dictators themselves.
You seem to be getting more and more selective. I thought you where for everyone. How come you will help countries that only have resources to give back to you?
There are people in African nations that need your help as much as those in the Middle East. Sure, they cannot pay you in oil or masses of trade, but they would be eternally grateful, and surely it is the thought that counts (well that’s what my mum used to say whenever I got a crappy present from someone for my birthday).
We are going camping this year for holidays; you know roughing it a bit. Should be good, the family are really looking forward to it.
That reminds me, I heard you have a few people staying at your holiday house in Guantanamo. How are they enjoying it? Did you get the renovations completed? I think you have an Aussie enjoying your hospitality, his mum and dad say hi.
Say hi to the wife and kids for me,
Don’t be a stranger, I will write again soon
Ps if you are about for Xmas give me a call and we will go out for a drink
Earlier this month the Ducati MotoGP team completed two days testing at the Valencia track on the brand new Desmosedici GP7 800cc bikes. Both riders, Aussie Casey Stoner and italian Loris Caparossi put in some solid practice.
On the final day Casey completed 68 laps and Loris 75 laps. Some good news for Casey fans (such as myself and my 3yr old son), Casey posted a faster best lap time than Loris on the final day. Casey’s best time was 1 minute 32.940 secs, compared to Loris’s 1 minute 33.011 secs. Sure it is only a matter of 7 hundreths of a second, but in racing you will take that.
By all accounts the Ducati 800’s will really suit Casey’s (and Honda rider Dani Pedrosa) style. Casye was quoted to say ” The 800 seems similar to the 250s in rideability, allowing for quicker cornering speeds”.
The final round of testing is at Jerez, then the team will have a break over the Xmas period, to resume early in 2007. The season only ended a few weeks ago and I am already salivating at 2007s prospects…
Thanks to Justin for his comment on my last Casey Stoner post, and as requested Justin here is a photo of Casey from the Valencia testing.
Well, how easily your world can turn upside down. This weekends racing saw Craig Lowndes slender 30 point lead turned into a 73 point deficit.
To be fair to Craig, it was not of his own doing. The first race saw him caught up in a fracas after team mate Jamie Whincup was hit from behind and unfortunately he spun off the track. The resulting unplanned pit stop saw him go two laps behind the others. This was all in the first lap.
Craig should not have been in that position, but unfortunately qualified outside the top ten, which meant he was further, back in the pack. The accident pretty much signalled the end of Craig’s chances of putting in a podium finish, however he didn’t give up and was able to fight his way to 7th position in race 3 and 12th overall to pick up some minor points.
With the major incident that occurred on lap one of race one, I thought it was grossly unfair that the race stewards didn’t restart the race. Not just fro Craig sake, but for all the other drivers caught up in the incident.
Anyway with two rounds to go once again it sees the V8 championship going to be decided at Phillip Island and once again it sees Craig Lowndes with a great chance to take the #1 plate. Even after this week’s race, I truly believe that he can do it, although with a competitor like Rick Kelly now leading it will be tough going.
Go Ford, Go Lowndesie!!