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Thread: Fun and Run, Suzuka, full course special. 23rd-24th sep. 06

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    Default Fun and Run, Suzuka, full course special. 23rd-24th sep. 06

    Don't really know where to start with this one so I'll begin with a bit of a lead in.

    Last year and the beginning half of this year I've been practicing and racing in the Fun and Run race series on the Suzuka Higashi course (East course). This year the chance to race on the "full" course materialised, same course as was used in the MotoGPs till Daijiro Kato's death in 2003.
    I had been on an "organised" trackday back in 2002, about 6 months after buying my Aprilia, on the full course in which we were split into groups of about 15-20 bikes and had to remain behind an instructor, in other words overtaking the instructor is a big "No-No" which would probably result in a severe wrist slapping or even a letter home to Mummy, not that I was fast enough to be able to pass the instructor, the best I managed on this 1st attempt at the Full course was a pathetic 2:52 to 2:53. Still, breaking the 3 minute barrier on the first attempt is considered quite an achievement.

    Fast forward four years to the present, have done a plethora of practice sessions at TI Aida race course, the previously mentioned last two seasons at Suzuka on the East course, 2 years of supermotard thrown into the mix and this year in June I did my first Full course "sports practice sessions" (racers only). This first day I clocked in at 2:43.5, I was really pleased because since I'd last been on the full course they'd added a chicane a hundred meters or so after the hairpin where the entry to 200R is. This was done to slow things down a bit because 200R was a corner you went into in 3rd gear, fully cranked over and with the throttle nailed to the stops in 4th, 5th and 6th gears so there were quite a few very high speed crashes on this corner resulting in many riders badly injured and some fatalities. So, the general consensus is that the adding of this chicane probably makes the lap times about 4-5 seconds slower and this factored into my 1st attempt lap times meant I'd made an instant 14 or 15 seconds improvement on previous lap times.

    A couple of weeks later, June 16th I practiced again, new personal best of 2:38.83.

    Then, for the next month or so, every time I had sessions booked for practice it was raining so nothing gained in July. At the beginning of August I had a day with a couple of good practice sessions, not so much for lap times as for a couple of good "dogfights" with other riders.

    August 25th, actually a bit of a hellish day, we had to use the West paddock to enter the course, there is no cover whatsoever and temperatures were hovering somewhere around 36-37 degrees centigrade in the shade and the track surface temp was over 50 degrees, saw me get a 2.6 second leap up the lap time ladder to 2:36.14, mostly thanks to another rider who was slightly faster than me who I could follow and keep within range for a few laps.

    Next time I practiced was September 15th. Again, another good day's practice. Achieved some great overtaking at various different corners on braking/entry and also managed to knock a further 0.3 seconds off the personal best. Now I'm into the 35 seconds bracket at 2:35.88.
    Here's something I wrote elsewehere regarding this day's events.


    Stuck on the 520 chain and new 16/44 sprockets the other day, went to Suzuka and practiced yesterday and for the first session everything went really well. Managed to knock another 0.3 secs off my previous best so got the times down to 2:35.88 and running pretty consistent mid 36s to low 37s. Managed some good overtaking maneuvers, going up the inside on the left through the 1st corner of "spoon", both on the inside and outside through "Dunlop", on acceleration out of the hairpin then on braking for the right. left. right chicane that exits midway through 200R. Even managed to get my 1st corner entry speeds a little quicker too. Also, with this gearing it's a little easier to go hurtling into 130R in 5th gear which, after apexing and throttling on, gives the perfect fade to the outside for another quick spurt of acceleration in 6th then heavy braking for the final chicane.
    Second session I went out and the track seemed busier than the 1st session and making any progress on lap times was difficult. I ended up only managing a few 37s with a bunch of 39s
    Was pretty pleased with the day's practice all in all, but afterwards when looking over the bike I realised things were not quite as they should be
    Not sure if it's because the 520 chain has too much sideways flex or some other reason but the tyre and swingarm have been chewed up a bit. Quite a bit of aly swarf all over the place too. Using 190 rear but never had anything like this happen before


    On to race weekend.

    Friday evening left Osaka at about 7:30PM bound for Suzuka, arriving about 9:15. Went to the supermarket and got the necessary supplies for the evening's meal. Ate and drank till about 1:00 AM then jumped into the hammock for a few hours sleep.

    Saturday morning began at 7:30 for me. An announcement regarding the riders briefing that you had to attend so you could get a stamp on a sheet of paper allowing you to enter the course for the "race specific" sports practice session, in other words everyone on the track practicing at the same time as me would be racing in the same class tomorrow (X-Formula twin 1(( various ducatis; a 999, 999S X 2, a 999R, a 749S, a VTR1000SP2, VTR1000SP1 X 2, an RVT1000R, a Buell XBRR and 5 Aprilia RSV mille)) and NK-1 remix ((NK-1 remix being open class for any in-line four cylinder bikes of the early '90s, so a bunch of GPZ900Rs, an XJR1300, a GSF1200 and a Kawasaki NJ-2, whatever that is))). Some people had been there since the previous day as there were a few of these race specific practice sessions scheduled but I'd knocked off work, for my expensive little hobby, a few times too many recently so it was probably prudent not to devote another work day to racing.

    First part of Saturday morning was mainly spent trying to get the bike ready for scrutineering, lockwiring the oil filter housing and sump plug, ascertaining whether or not, which eventually turned out to be "not", the front sprocket was on the wrong way round and therefore causing the chain to hit the tyre and swingarm. My gear, helmet, gloves, boots and leathers and the bike blazed through scrutineering no problems so now it was just kick back and try to relax until our practice session at 1:55.
    I go out for the 30 minute practice session, that's all we got for Saturday because of Friday's schedule, and things are flowing pretty well, I was the second bike out of pit lane and for the entire 30 minute session only 3 bikes passed me. I also managed to pass a bunch of bikes through the session and when I returned to the pits and someone asked "how did it go?", I wasn't really sure. I mean, it felt like I'd done quite well but I hadn't looked at the lap timer once so I didn't know if I'd made any improvements. A quick look at the last few laps recorded told me that I'd got another personal best of 2:35.22 and more importantly quite a lot of low 36 second laps so consistency was up there too.

    The problem I'd been having with the drive chain slapping around and chewing the rear tyre and swingarm was still there and the tyre was looking in even worse shape than before but, luckily enough, I'd already taken this rear tyre to it's "race limits" of longevity, well on the sides at least, the centre still has an abundance of tread and it'll be finding a new home on Takeshi's TL1000S for a few more weeks of road life, so it was time to get a new rear tyre from the Bridgestone race support guys. New Bridgestone BT002 pro, hard compound, on and it's back to the pits to replace the wheel and tighten the chain to a suitable tightness to reduce the amount of slap and also reduce the amount of damage to the tyre. Tomorrow would be a 15 minute(6 laps or so) qualifying session and then the final race; 8 laps of Suzuka circuit.

    Qualifying;

    Sunday morning, 11:00 is our qualifying slot. One warm up lap, back into the pits for 15 seconds then it's on!!!!!!!

    The only thing I can really remember is on lap 2 one of the GPZ900R riders runs off the track at the first, left hand, corner of the "esses" into the gravel, bins it and sprays gravel across the entire track right at the apex of the second, right hander, of the "esses".

    A few overtaking and dicing moments see me at the checkered flag having overtaken 2 of the VTRs and right on the tail of another, but my best lap was a 2:37.88.
    So, my place on the grid is 17th, 5th row . I decide that I've GOT TO
    get a good start.

    So, 25 bikes in qualifying, 4 didn't make the cut, the previous race winner has automatic entry and there're 22 bikes on grid for the race.


    pre-race countdown;

    As has always been the case with any competition I have entered I'm getting gradually more and more nervous in the couple of hours leading up to the start. Multiple trips to the toilet ensure I'm the lightest I possibly can be. due to a bad highside in one of the races on the second corner of the "esses", that race is black flagged and finished after 5 laps so the schedule changes and my race is brought forward by half an hour.


    THE RACE;


    Warm up lap I try to see how good I can get off the line, not bad at all, and also maintain the heat in my tyres for the hair-raising scramble that ensues the moment the red light goes off and everyone goes like buggery to be the fastest into turn 1.


    Red flag goes down, red light comes on. The only thing that's on my mind is not popping the clutch too quickly and having the front wheel vertical. Red light goes off and I get a spectacular start, past the two guys directly in front of me on row 4, threading it between another few riders before hitting the brakes, clicking down to 4th gear and entering 1st corner. I reckon I must be somewhere around 10th place coming out of turn 2 and accelerating full throttle in 3rd to peel into the "esses". Still noone coming past me. final left of the esses and into "gyaku bank" (anti-bank curve) long and precarious but I throttle on smoothly at first then give it a handful as I get the bike upright for a 1/4 second before hitting full bank left and into the beginning of dunlop. 3rd gear in, slightly more than partial throttle to start with then gently open up to 3/4 before short shifting to 4th and getting the throttle back to the stops to ricochet round the final part of dunlop to hit Degner 1, BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    at the very last part of dunlop this fuckwit on a GPZ900R comes rocketing into my shoulder, knocking me upright, both of us fly off the track and onto the grass, both of us manage to keep it upright and come back onto the track after about 100-150 metres, just in time to brake a bit more, re-adjust my line and enter Degner 1, but by this time everyone else has come past and I'm in last place.


    It was the red rag to the bull, I'm fuckin' furious, swearing into my helmet and determined to get this fucker back

    I'm on him like a fly to shit by the time we make the hairpin but his acceleration on the straights is as good if not slightly better than the mille, cornering he's all over the place, I'm not sure if it's just that he's just a completely barking, card carrying deathwish holding nutter or the bike is bent. The following two or three laps was a blur as we caught up to Keisuke, also on a mille, overtook him and then it turned into a three bike dogfight. This group, whilst overtaking each other and being overtaken by each other about 6 or 7 times, was also passing other bikes that didn't want to, or couldn't, get involved. Finally, and I'm not absolutely sure where or how because of all the confusion, I managed to get in front of both of them, possibly outbraking another machine between the right hander, after degner 2, and the hairpin. I made good my escape into the chicane, right, left, right, front lifting 2nd gear, short shift into 3rd and onto 200R. Full throttle 3rd, 4th, 5th whilst at near full bank, shut off, click down two and enter spoon in 3rd, fade to the outside right mid-corner before coming back in left to apex spoon's second curve, getting on the throttle a milisecond before I can see the rumble strip outside right at the end of spoon and beginning of the back straight, tuck right down under the screen and full throttle till 9,500RPM 3rd, 4th, 5th and into 6th gear to hit the highest speed I can manage. Exiting spoon there is a considerable downhill slope until 100 metres before the overhead walkway thingy so it's imperative to use this downhill shoot to get as much momentum going before the climb up the second part of back straight and before you hit the braking point for 130R.

    5th gear into 130R, exiting at about 185KMH and get on the the throttle as soon as you pass the apex, when you get it right you naturally fade out to the outside right and give it a quick blast in 6th before heavy braking for the final chicane, flick flack right and left then it's final corner, short shift 2nd and then full throttle 3rd thru 6th down the front straight.

    Going down the straight I glanced up at the control tower, 4 laps to go, I could see a group of 4 bikes entering 1st corner so I set my sights on them and by the time we hit anti-bank curve I was right on their tails. through dunlop and into degner I get past two of them and then the other two I picked off on the end of 200R, approaching spoon. Clear track ahead of me but as I exit spoon I can see a solitary bike at the end of the back straight and I decide to see if I can catch up and get him too. It takes a lap and a half but finally coming into the hairpin I am right on his tail, he glances round on exit, then completely buggers up his lines through the chicane allowing me to come round his outside to go into 200R and the track was bare again. I tried to put as much space between myself and him just in case Keisuke, from the earlier dogfight, was still on my tail. I've been told, never look behind you till the last lap, just concentrate on who your going to pass next. So next time down the front straight, 2 laps to go, I'm feeling pissed about the first lap, exhillerated by the way things have gone so far but I want to make sure I don't lose any more positions so I try to keep up a similar pace. Last lap starts, I'm thinking "don't do anything dumb, just ride defensively and smoothly so I did, Right the way to the checkered flag.


    Results,

    Finished 11th overall, 7th fastest lap time, 6th in class, 2nd fastest mille.


    Managed yet another personal best.

    Here are the lap times from start to finish;


    Lap 1: 2:50.40
    Lap 2: 2:39.73
    Lap 3: 2:36.04
    Lap 4: 2:37.14
    Lap 5: 2:34.85
    Lap 6: 2:33.29
    Lap 7: 2:33.10
    Lap 8: 2:33.62 and I thought I was taking it easy on the last lap :roll:


    What a buzz
    Rather the fool that knows he's a fool than the fool that thinks he's wise.

    who you are means nothing, how you are means everything.

    Absynthe makes the fart go Honda

  2. #2
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    excellent!!!!! good report and result!! nice to know there is another gaijin out there racing still!!!!

    ill be heading down to suzuka next month i think for a suzuki free track day. i guess you dont own a suzuki. but if there are any bridgestone days there let me know. i mught make the jaunt for a few laps!!!

    im racing this weekend at tsukuba. have the next 2 days booked and of course its gunna rain for both. :x

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    Whew! Fantastic! Thanks for the great write-up. Sounds you're really getting into it...
    ... and nothing like a bit of road rage to make you go quicker. :mrgreen:

    What were the fastest laptimes in your class?

    Cheers!

    :razz:
    :tool:

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    Cheers TB,

    Maybe I could put a really huge ugly seat hump on the Aprilia and tell them it's a TLR

    Next Bridgestone trackday I know of is at TI Aida, or Okayama international circuit as they call it now, on October 18th. Probably no more Bridgestone days this year at Suzuka but I'll see if I can get the definitive on that.

    Good luck with the weather and practice this weekend.

    Yo Roly :mrgreen:

    Fastest mille, 2:27.253
    Fastest V twin, (999s) 2:24.085
    First overall in race, Kawasaki NJ-2??, 2:24.162


    BUT, in qualifying the Buell XBRR, full international A class racer with Buell Japan backing up the ying yang, got 2:20.337 :o and the NJ-2 guy did three laps and managed 2:22.637
    Rather the fool that knows he's a fool than the fool that thinks he's wise.

    who you are means nothing, how you are means everything.

    Absynthe makes the fart go Honda

  5. #5
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    Awesome race report! Very intense stuff.

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    Fantastic report Dom!!

    I was wondering how the "this fuckwit on a GPZ900R" likes eating his meals through a straw.....? :badgrin:

    Cheers!
    Never be afraid to try something new! Remember, the ark was built by one amateur, the Titanic was built by thousands of professionals.

  7. #7
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    i know the feeling actually in my first race this year a guy on a cbr1000 did the same thing to me on the first corner at motegi!!! sent me from mid pack to the very last!!!
    i checked today there will be no more bridgestone days at suzuka this year.

    :(

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    Cheers Super Dino,

    I take that as a great compliment. I've always enjoyed reading your reports and look forward to more to come. I know you traded in "a racebike" for the DRZ but are you going to be racing again next year?

    Stu [-X : :

    Me!?!?! Violent!?!?! :lilangel: :

    I have to admit that, until I managed to catch up to his back wheel at the hairpin, I was seriously planning a suitable revenge :forcefeed:

    That pretty much disappeared for the next three laps of dogfighting and dicing, then new targets were aquired and eventually my elation at actually having finished this race kind of saved his ass ;)

    Now I reckon I owe the guy some gratitude really. If he hadn't come slamming into my side, losing me however many places, I would have possibly just tip-toed timidly through the race trying to hang on to the position I'd gained from the off for 8th or 9th place in a mediocre race, whereas his influence fired me up and gave me the jolt I needed for the most aggressive, yet funnily enough, seemingly, most controlled (don't remember the rear sliding once anywhere) race I've ever run

    Mind you, if he does it again :violent1: ;)
    Rather the fool that knows he's a fool than the fool that thinks he's wise.

    who you are means nothing, how you are means everything.

    Absynthe makes the fart go Honda

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by domrsv1000

    Fastest mille, 2:27.253
    Fastest V twin, (999s) 2:24.085
    First overall in race, Kawasaki NJ-2??, 2:24.162


    BUT, in qualifying the Buell XBRR, full international A class racer with Buell Japan backing up the ying yang, got 2:20.337 :o and the NJ-2 guy did three laps and managed 2:22.637
    Great to see that the not only the italian but even the american manufacturers have finally caught up with (1980s) japan... :badgrin: :badgrin: :badgrin: :badgrin: :badgrin:
    :tool:

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    Fantastic race and report from the Dom-inator! Cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gaptoothedclubfoot
    Great to see that the not only the italian but even the american manufacturers have finally caught up with (1980s) japan... :badgrin: :badgrin: :badgrin: :badgrin: :badgrin:
    :ahole: :


    Also, good to see that the Japanese makers have finally managed to get their bikes to handle properly recently, although they're still not any faster on the more technical parts of the course even with all their RWHP :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
    Rather the fool that knows he's a fool than the fool that thinks he's wise.

    who you are means nothing, how you are means everything.

    Absynthe makes the fart go Honda

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russ Dawg
    Fantastic race and report from the Dom-inator! Cheers!
    A thousand thanks Mr. Dawg :salute:
    Rather the fool that knows he's a fool than the fool that thinks he's wise.

    who you are means nothing, how you are means everything.

    Absynthe makes the fart go Honda

  13. #13
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    I finally :roll: had some time to read this.
    What a buzz, exactly Nice work 8) :mrgreen:

    I'm jealous ;)
    I wish to have no connection with any bike that does not ride fast; for I intend to go in harm's way.
    -John Solo Jones-

  14. #14
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    Thanks Solo

    Are you going to be using the superlight on track at all??? Would be great to have a spin around Suzuka with you, and the Blob on his RC51 :idea:
    at a Bridgestone day sometime next year.

    Anyways, here're some pics from the race.



    Here's "Abarenbou" on his Ninja :mrgreen:



    Keisuke, my main (friendly) rival:



    and finally a bunch of time lapse shots of the front straight and then peeling into turn 1. I think this was lap 2.

    Rather the fool that knows he's a fool than the fool that thinks he's wise.

    who you are means nothing, how you are means everything.

    Absynthe makes the fart go Honda

  15. #15
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    Cool photos 8)

    I won't be taking the Superlight to the track but if you can get my ZX6RR signed up next year, I'll be there :mrgreen:
    I wish to have no connection with any bike that does not ride fast; for I intend to go in harm's way.
    -John Solo Jones-

  16. #16
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    nice shots, same goes for the RC51. its street only, but you can count on me being there on my new Gixxer. at least once next year!!!
    a friend of mine is planning on getting his liscence there and doing a few all japan races there next year. so ill probably duck down to pit for him when(and if!!) he does.

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