Interesting, to say the least. As noted by Kitty, the track is as rough as hessian undies! A bit of last minute work went into SlipStream Racing's stealth-black "Hurricane", mostly to put a 9-speed chain on, rather than the 8-speed that some wise guy had previously put on. Needless to say, with an appropriate chain, the driveline ran a lot more smoothly than it did in practice. A bit more tuning was really required, but unfortunately time didn't allow us to get it done, so we had to battle on the way it was.
Racing got under way at 10:30, half an hour later than scheduled, much to the relief of the ExPats Racing boys, who rolled up around 9:30 and still had to go through scrutineering etc. before being allowed to take to the track. Our opening rider Khye, known around these here Forums as Nautilator, got a little ambitious on the parade lap and worked up to the front of the grid before the flag had even dropped, earning us a stern warning from the marshalls.
The stint started well enough, until the left crank arm decided to detach itself. In hindsight, parking the car, running back to the pit, dealing with the crossing nazis, getting the tools, running back to fix it was not the smartest thing to do, 'cos it cost us a swag of time. Getting a lift on the "tow" truck would have been slightly better. Better still would have been to just pedal back with one leg.
Anyway, problem fixed & we were back on the road and circulating quite well. The same could not be said for others, and many spills ensued on the hairpin. And here lies the overall problem of the race.
The marshalls were too keen to get the tow truck out to recover stacked cars. When the truck was on track, we were under full-course yellow flags - which means no overtaking. Now at most races, the marshalls kind of turn a blind eye if you sneak past between marshall points. Also at other races, full-course yellow is exceptionally rare. Most riders pushed their luck, soon to realise just how severe the marshalls were - five-lap penalties for each offence! Soon enough, there were teams out there who were effectively sitting on negative lap counts, so in a fit of compassion, the penalties (of which Khye had also acquired a few) were reduced to a single lap. Except for the TriSled team - more later.
After a tad over an hour, Khye pitted and Daniel was out, after a quick check of the cranks. A shortish, uneventful stint ensued, punctuated by the obligatory truck interruptions, and then it was my turn. Recruited as The Enduro Guy, the plan was to do roughly an hour, leaving enough in the tank for a second stint later on if necessary. The first 30 or so minutes went quite well - the others were actually staying upright, not requiring the dreaded truck to be brought out. "Hurricane" was running as well as could be expected. Very noisy and thumping the floor (and chassis spine!) on the bigger bumps, but otherwise OK. Then the Yellow flags came out. Not wanting to incur anymore wrath from the stormtroopers, this meant coming to a virtual stop at times.
We'd go around at snail's pace for a while, and then get the all clear. For a few laps. Barely having a chance to settle back into a groove before the next interruption was exceedingly frustrating.
I can't really add any more exciting news, as far as we were concerned. Having done about 80 minutes, I pitted and let Jenna go for a spin. Cramps brought her in after only about 30 min, so Michael took on a longish run, taking us through to the 70 minutes to go mark, again with nothing outrageous to report. Geoff took 40 minutes, leaving Khye to battle out the last 30 minutes, hurting like hell 'cos he decided not to take a drink bottle out for the last run.
Having made it to the flag, a check of the time sheets showed us to be 10th overall, and 4th in our category (community). However, a surprise was in store for everybody. At the presentations, TriSled, who had topped the sheets, were announced as Disqualified - for "unsporting behaviour". ExPats were then awarded the win, also taking second. So by default, we scored third in category.
I don't know yet the full story on the TriSled thing, but I suspect it was to do with the yellow flags. In the first stint, the were pinged something like 12 times for passing infringements. A "discussion" ensued between team management and the "Pit Bitch" - that was actually printed on the back of her hi-vis vest - which I suspect played a large part in the decision. I didn't hear much of what was said, but it wasn't nice!
So in all, something of a strange race.
The inevitable team mug shot:
L - R: Me, Geoff, Daniel, Jenna, Michael, Khye
More pics to follow...