After doing a total of three days on track in 2018 (February, Jerez), it’s time to start thinking about getting back out there. I did make good use of my extra free time and cash by getting married and supporting Danny at BSB, so it was actually quite a productive year.
I like the No Limits paddock and was keen to stick with them – their format suits and I like their choice of circuits. Plus I tend to be a loyal sort of a guy.
The Clubman’s grid has become increasingly competitive as people avoid the Pirelli grid. This means that at my sort of pace, I’m fighting just to earn a point where before I would be disappointed not to bag points in every race. The BMW has a few miles on the clock now and taken a lot of punishment, and I’ve had a bit of a battering getting wiped out in the mess that is the middle to back of the pack. I was hit several times in 2017 and two of those took me out. So I had to question if clubmans was right for me, if I wanted to keep piling in thousands of pounds to try to collect the odd point and if I was serious enough to want to invest in a new bike.
My answer to most of the above was ‘no’. I want to race, I want to have fun, I want to keep my BMW and I want to spend less money. The answer was mini twins – specifically standard twins because this is partly a money saving exercise. It gives me the opportunity to build my own race bike from scratch, we get to do every round, the bikes are lighter and less likely to destroy themselves in a spill and the running costs are significantly lower.
I wanted to run with an SV, mainly because I like the bike and ebay has a billion spares. This model appeals because it is injected (older ones aren’t) and has a removable subframe (newer ones don’t). In the standard class, I don’t think the ER has a big advantage so it was no big issue. The regs limit the performance enhancements to a full system and a PCV, which helps. Suspension can be tweaked plus all the usual racey things you do to a bike to help it crash better.
You can see the bike as I bought it above. A MY14, registered in 2016, ridden for 1,300 miles and repossessed, it was in great condition apart from some very light scratches from a car park spill and some corrosion from road salt (after 1300 miles – these low-end Suzukis really are made of chocolate).
Like the BM, this is going to be spoiled with quality parts. Woodcraft, Akrapovic and Ohlins are in the plans. As it stands it has had the bouncy bits stripped ready for a trip to Kais in the near future and I have built a race loom from a second hand standard one to replace the full one on the bike. Front and rear subframes are in the post, hopefully, along with a Lithium battery and some trinkets. Woodcraft sticky-out bits are on a plane from the US of A right now.
So here’s hoping that in a few weeks this old cheapo road hack will be ready to get on the treadmill at Dynotech and see what sort of shape she’s in. With only 1300 miles clocked up, it probably still needs some running in!
The one thing I keep hearing about is the prevalence of cheating in the standard twin class. At our level, is anyone really going to strip an engine to check for porting or performance cams? Will we have a dyno at every round? I’d love to know there would be a dyno but I doubt it – so it will be interesting to see how many competitors want a £3 plastic trophy so bad they’ll cheat to get it – but the temptation is there because there will be no checks and the country is awash with tuned engines from the unrestricted class. But as always, I’d rather be last on a standard bike than first on a tuned one.
I’m really looking forward to the season ahead – it seems ages since Heidi and I packed the van, hitched the caravan, trundled up the road to set up in the paddock and then rushed to hospital the next day. I’ve missed A&E since I took my time out.
All joking aside, it will be great to be back on track on something a bit less serious than the German killing machine, but I love the fact I have it to play on too. I can’t wait to climb off the SV (72hp) and onto the BM (200hp) – that’s going to be some shock to the system.