2012 Casey-Bass Coast HPV Series, Round 1. Casey Fields, Sat. Feb. 25th, 2012, 6 Hours
The sun belted down on the Casey Fields complex as 59 teams settled in for action, which many wondered if it would be as hot as the forecast 38 degrees. At the expected Pointy End, there were a few changes from past years; ExPats & TriSled were absent (the former "ran out of money" last year & are on an indeterminate hiatus, TriSled, after many years on the track have decided to take a sabbatical this year & focus on other projects), while my former team Tru Blu returned after their year off, and last years Series winners Aurora Racing were augmented with a second team, while a new team from Bendigo, FONC Racing, with an Infamous Nankervis among their lineup pricked up a few eyebrows. Platt Racing returned with their unusual front-drive/3-wheel-steer vehicle, which pehaps may not have packed as much advantage on the open Casey track as it might on more technical & congested circuits. And of course, my squad Dirty Mongrel Racing was there, with Unleashed
having been refurbished from its rather demanding first season.
With final preps done, the grid began to form as the start drew closer. Unleashed
was allocated a slot on the third row, reasonable enough. We held off for as long as possible before locking Blighty in the trike, due to the already warm conditions, waiting until the final call to clear the grid to drop the lid on him. We weren't the only ones.....
Shortly before 10:00 the troops were released onto the rolling start. EDEC's (Emerald District Education Centre) Zavanz
had their very brief moment of glory taking a jump down the straight & into the first corner, but were soon blown away by the rampaging Tru Blu
, Aurora (1)
& Platt's Silver Streak
. By the hairpin that marked the halfway point of the first lap, it was pretty clear that Tru Blu
would have to do something pretty major to lose it, and the real race was on for the lower placings. Blighty lost a little bit of ground in the early laps as others tried to make themselves look good in the first stint heroics, but after 20 minutes or so, things began to settle down as the early chargers blew up.
After a completely uneventful 30 minutes, Blighty pitted & handed over to Bug. By now we were settling in nicely & looking comfortable; given the heat factor, we abandoned our usual plan of a single hour-long stint, instead looking for about 30-40 minutes and doing a second rotation. However Blighty was double-booked, so was only available for the opening stint; we were down to five riders for the rest of the day. Bug's stint was equally uneventful, and after his 30 minutes, he pitted with us sitting happily in 4th spot.
Gus! was sent out for our third stint. Unfortunately, he was battling a lingering illness, so wasn't up to full strength, and Aurora 2
was able to slink ahead & push us back to 5th place. However he still managed a good consistent stint without problems, which is really what we're after. Some other teams weren't going quite so smoothly. Quite a few were popping tyres; whether it was the heat or stray gravel on the track I'm not sure, but Aurora
, Silver Streak
and numerous school teams had pitted to fix punctures. FONC
had the misfortune of puncturing on the short warm-up, and effectively started from the pit lane, which wasn't exactly an ideal situation for them.
Moose took our fourth stint, maintaining our smooth running. I knew the heat would also be taking a toll on our tyres, especially the heavily-loaded right front, so when he pitted we inspected the tyres. As it turned out, both front tyres were worn out, so we had a slightly longer than planned stop while both wheels were changed.
Our new recruit Peter (we haven't got a nickname yet) took to the track for his first run, easing his way into it, only having ridden Unleashed
once before, at training last week. By this time, the temperature inside the car was around 45 degrees. Funnily enough, I found the idea of not riding myself somewhat less intolerable than it had been previously.....
After Poida pitted, we sent Pink out to finish our first rider rotation. 15 minutes later he was back; it was our turn to suffer a flat. In short order we had the offending wheel changed & he was on his way again. We didn't see him for another 30 minutes.
An inspection of the flat tyre failed to reveal any external damage. I pulled the tube out & tyre off, and peeping out from under the rim tape was a crack in the rim. I peeled back the end of the rim tape and discovered a section of the inner rin wall was caving in! Further removal of the rim tape revealed the rim fracturing from virtually every spoke hole! It was on the verge of totally blowing itself apart.
We wern't the only ones suffering wheel troubles. Platt Racing had been carried back to the pit after one of their carbon wheels had delaminated from the hub. Two laps later, they were back in the pits with another wheel suffering the same fate. The cause turned out to be a sticking brake. The heat generated caused the glue to break down, thus detaching the hub from the rest of the wheel. Not long after our unscheduled stop, Tru Blu
made a rather forceful, unplanned entry through the pit fence as one of their wheels rims exploded, very much the same way ours had threatened to do. Tru Blu
had also suffered a heavy crash after cleaning up a primary school trike who had veered across the track after exting the pit, right into the path of the flying blue machine.
With Pink's stint taking us to a bit past half distance, we were on a good track for the guys to do only just over 30 minutes each in their remaining stint. Silver Streak
's wheel problems had cost them a lot of ground, dropping them to 16th place at one point, while FONC
had progressively recovered from their less than perfect start to creep up the field. We were still in 5th place.
The remaining stints ran like clockwork for us. In the final 20 minutes Pink cooked in the 48 degree oven we had, and on the very last lap Silver Streak
slipped past. We simply didn't realise that they were charging home so hard, and thought we still had a bit of a buffer over the teams behind us; if we knew it was that close, Pink might have been able to hold them off, but then again, given how the heat was getting to him, he may not have.
In the end Tru Blu
took a convincing win, some five or six laps ahead of Aurora (1)
recovered well to take third, ahead of Aurora 2
, Silver Streak
Well done to everybody who rode in that heat.