Casey - Bass Coast HPV Series, Round Three, Casey Fields, 6 Hours, Saturday May 14th, 2011
Blimey, what a change from the last race here, as far as weather goes! Cold, wet, windy - this was going to be a challenging day for everybody. Arriving soon after 7:30, I found a couple of fellow Mongrels & we made our way to our allocated pit & began unloading the gear. The boys began setting up while I was directed first to the trailer parking area to stable our mule, then traipse off into the distant paddock to park the car. Which was already proving troublesome for some people in the rather moist conditions.
Sorted, I returned to pit to make a final check before going to scrutineering. To find the horn button well & truly stuck in the "on" position after last week's even wetter training session. Some surgery got it free enough for the time being, but it did stick again as the day wore on. We got through scrut with no dramas, so that was enough. Given the conditions, I'd prudently decided to keep the vented side windows from Wonthaggi, just to ensure clear sighting of the track edges through corners, as well as the presence of other vehicles of course. I had also surface treated all windows, inside and outside in an attempt to reduce water buildup and fogging - always a big concern for enclosed vehicles in these conditions. "Lab" testing in my kitchen showed the treatment to be quite effective against bigger drops, although fogging was inconclusive. A redirected Powah Toob (fan-fed) blew air onto the inner side of the windscreen to help clear at least a central strip. This was the first field test.
And so at 9:30 we were asked to make our way to the grid, where we were placed on the second row, behind Aurora & ExPats, and alongside Platt Racing's Silver Streak
. At 10:00 the field was led away on the very short warmup, with Moose taking our first stint. Not surprisingly, ExPats, Aurora
& Silver Streak
took the jump off the line as they usually do. Moose was content to just find his own groove and had a bit of a tussle for a few laps with Woodleigh School's Helter Skelter
. After about four laps, Platt's opening sprint wore off & we crept up to third place.
Even within the first 15 minutes, it was clear (or not!
) that some teams had sorted the fog monsters better than others. And that while not perfect, we were certainly enjoying more visibility than most others. At one point we even briefly took second place after Aurora
took a little excursion into the dirt. It was clear that they had more of a fight on their hands than the previous two races. Somewhere along the way our right front brake cable unhooked itself, but that wasn't causing any real headaches, and in any case, wasn't actually noticed until after our first pitstop.
After 50 minutes of pretty wet & mucky riding, including a bit of a cross-country trip after being cut off on the straight by another trike, Moose pitted & handed over to BJ. A couple more excursions into the dirt occurred during his 40 minutes, so he pitted to get the windows wiped & was abruptly told the get the hell back out there by the other crew, but nothing else really out of the ordinary. ExPats and Aurora
staked their places at the top of the field, Silver Streak
slipped back ahead of us, which we did expect sooner or later, but everything was pretty hunky-dory.
Gus! took the third stint, and after only two laps was back in the pit lane because there was "a noise", but stopped at someone else's pit instead....
Didn't seem to be doing any harm though & he put in an otherwise uneventful 55 minute stint. We lost another little bit of time off Silver Streak
, and began to build a bit of a buffer behind us.
Coot (derived from "Crash Bandicoot" after putting the first scratches on Unleashed
the week prior to the first Casey race) had a mixed bag of weather, but was able to put in a strong showing, latching onto Aurora
's tail for several laps & making the most of the tow. Although the first complaints from the driveline were being heard after some punishingly wet sessions over the last week......
After a good solid 50 minute stint, Coot pitted & we did a routine check of the tyres. The rear was a bit squishy, so I thought giving it a pump would be quicker than a wheel change. Unfortunately, the leak was a bit quicker than anticipated, so we had to do the swap anyway. Once that was done, I hit the track, but immediately it was apparent the driveline was running like a pig. Something was dragging somewhere, as the chain was falling slack on the floor & not pulling smoothly into the derailleur. I pitted, we threw some clean water over the derailleur & guide rollers & did a bit of tweaking & it seemed to be fine, so I went back out. It was good for a few laps, but after getting baulked by traffic & a rough gear shift it started running like a pig again, this time jamming & skipping, so I pitted again. We diagnosed the problem to be the second guide roller that keeps the long span of chain off the floor & feeding into the derailleur; it had become clogged with grit & wasn't spinning freely, so the derailleur was unable to take the varying chain slack. Compounding the problem, the chain had become twisted & was running on it side through the main roller. While I got that sorted, the others took the troubled second roller out & we planned to just run the chain over its axle bolt. Not ideal, but better, so I set out for my next attempt at a stint. I got out of the pit lane, around the looping first corner & back behind the pits when I watched the chain drive straight off the ring & land in a useless unattached pile on the floor...... $^&^$&*&%%*&%&^!!!!!!!
I rolled as far as I could, all the way down the hill, around the corner & up the next hill, such as it is & pulled onto the grass at the hairpin when the momentum ran out. I found the ends of the chain and discovered that nothing had actually broken, but one of the joining links (I have two, to make it easy to adjust when I shorten the chain for use with the small ring) had parted company. Got a lift back on the recovery truck
, but in the time it took to get there, in hindsight I could have walked/run the trike back to the pits. Very fortunately, I happened to be wearing a piece of bike chain as a bracelet. 10-speed of course. Fitted with a joining link!
Once back at pit, we got the chain fed back through, which is a pain of a job when it's three times the length of a standard bike chain, and you're working in the very resticted space of the fairing's tapered tail. At the same time, our pit neighbours from Crusoe College gave us a replacement jockey wheel for our guide roller, so we fitted that as well. Big thanks guys!
By then we were basically on schedule for a rider change anyway, so Bug was sent out to do his thing. And he did it well. Between Coot's stint & Bug going out, we lost 11 laps on Silver Streak
, and three places overall. At first glance that looked quite alarming, but we slipped right into a group with three other trikes, all separated by only a lap & a half. And we were comforatbly quicker than the other three. Bug pulled a ripper 45 minutes, not losing any real time from the leading three, and more importantly, clawed back our lost places.
Following Bug's stint, Blighty took the final 45 minutes, completing the recovery to our 4th place, and not losing any real time on third.
The competition at the front was hot all day, and eventually Aurora
opened a four-lap margin over ExPats to take the race win, thus rounding out the series in style with a clean sweep. ExPats had nine laps over Silver Streak
, with us in Unleashed
a further 16 laps behind, and two laps clear of Woodleigh's Helter Skelter
, EDEC's Zavanz
& Creek Rd College's Sprocket
Congratulations to all.
No rest for me though; there's a fair bit of surgery to be done, with another training run next weekend, and the first round of the Super Series in Adelaide the following week. Busy stuff!
Pics will follow shortly.