Having been personally chastised by forum admin, here's the final Race Report for this year. Better late than never, as they say..... 2012 UniSA AHPV Super Series Round 3, 24 hours, Sturt Reserve, Murray Bridge, September 15th-16th
Well here we are, after months of training, preparation and 6-hour "sprint" races, the biggest race of the year was finally upon us. In the Dirty Mongrel camp, final-week preps began with a fairly substantial strip-down of Unleashed
, not the least to clean out all the mud & mashed worms (yuk!) following a rather damp night session, our last training run before the race, but also to finish off some last cosmetic repairs and just give the machine a general once-over.
All that done and packed, it was time to hit the road for the leisurely two-stage trip to Murray Bridge, beginning early Thursday afternoon. This leg of the trip went delightfully smoothly, reaching our overnight stopping place in Nhill trouble-free. However, Friday began a little differently. Leaving my mate's place, the very short drive to the bakery to collect a travelling breakfast was OK, but upon hitting the road proper, things were not OK. The car was very suddenly running very rough, lacking power, which you kinda notice when there's a half-tonne trailer hanging off the back.
I figured I'd go a short way & see if it was just a fuel block that might blow out, and a few kilometres out of town with it still running like a dog I pulled into a truck bay to do some investigating. In short order it was apparent that the car was only running on three cylinders, the cause being a fried ignition coil. Bugger. I turned around & nursed the few kilometres back to town, to lob at the local mechanic's workshop. He quickly confirmed what I had already suspected, and the tense wait began while he rustled up a solution. Things looked a bit grim when the nearest suppliers in Horsham, some 70km away didn't have the required item in stock. Aarrgh! At this point, the mechanic's lackey mentioned that Rick up the road's missus has an Outback that they might be able to borrow the coil out of to get me out of trouble for the weekend. After a quick phone call, the mech was off to investigate and activate Plan B. After what seemed like a hell of a long time, the mech returned with a promising-looking black box in hand. It turned out that we had resorted to Plan B, Version 2; Rick's missus's car was a different model to mine, and unfortunately the coil was incompatible. However, Rick happened to have a dead car in the backyard which was a suitable donor, so the coil was removed and the mech returned to see how it went. First glimmer of hope was that the plug to connect into the rest of the electric system matched, so the rest of the connections were made, and with bated breath the car was started. Success!! We were firing on all cylinders again!!
$200 & 1 1/2 hours later than intended, we were back on the road. Thankfully, no other problems were encountered, although I could have done without that stress with a 3-hour drive ahead of me and a limited time to muck around with.
Finally I found myself at the gate to Sturt Reserve, and quickly made my way to pit to find the advance crew & begin setting up before heading off to scrutineering. Which we passed, although not before being made to have a second run at the braking test because our test pilot overshot the stop line by something less than a foot.....
With scrut out of the way, we had some time for last minute little cosmetics, Fog Monster Repellant application, a track walk with the new kids & catching up with old mates and friendly rivals from Over There for a bit of a chat before the Serious Stuff began. Finally the track action began, with the two-hour evening practice session, which would decide the starting grid, or at least most of it, as the three fastest from each category, plus the three fastest all-girls teams would go into the Saturday Morning Shootout to determine the top 15 places. Princess's last-lap blast put us a very respectable 7th fastest overall, although because of the Top 15 setup, we actually placed 18th on the grid. Which in a field of 215 is not bad really. However, the thing that really made everyone sit up & take notice was the blistering pace set by both Tru Blu
and Bendigo Senior S.C. Both teams smashed the previous Friday-with-traffic best lap of 2:23.something, with BSSC's Gunna Have A Bad Time
topping the sheets in 2:19.5, a mere two-tenths ahead of Tru Blu
. The shootout promised to be something impressive!
And so it proved, with Tru Blu
taking Pole emphatically, smashing the previous outright course record by some five seconds, with a scorching 2:11! BSSC, Aurora Racing & Team Phantom's Beyond New
completed the all-Victorian front row.
Scattered in the mix were familiar challengers; Team Ballistic's Outlaw
, Platt Racing's Trump Trikes
, Strathdale Racing, Super Team Bluebird Bros.'s new Sutton Stelvio
, COCA Racing in their new Sutton Cycles
car (also a Stelvio design), Instinct Racing's new Predator
, Gleeson College's Lenny
and many others.
Finally race time arrived, and after formalities, the field rolled off on the seven minute warmup lap, which while painfully slow for the lead guys, is probably full-tilt for the backmarkers!
At the drop of the flag, Tru Blu
got a narrow jump over Gunna Have A Bad Time
& Beyond New
, with our starting rider Moose also making a great start to be hot on their heels. However after the initial burst, Moose tailed off a little bit as the awkward prestart had cooled him down a bit and he pitted after only about half an hour. Despite the early stop, we settled into a good rhythm, with Gus!, Webb & Boots putting in solid stints to keep us sitting around 8th place, but mixed in with a very closely-spaced group including Trump
, Pembroke School's Paradox
, Strathdale and even Outlaw
, until they gradually clawed their way up a bit. Things were going sweetly until Princess got in; a bit too much youthful exuberance got the better of him, and he put Unleashed
over on BYR corner, scoring our first minor battlescars for the race. He settled in pretty well, and although he went a bit cross-country through the Channel 7 chicane a bit later on, he kept it on its wheels with nothing much in the way of damage. Blighty & Sarge continued the smooth running as the afternoon wore on. Piglet's stint, in fading light began well enough, but he pitted reporting "something rubbing". Investigations failed to reveal anything, so we sent him back out, but he returned a few laps later suffering cramps. We pulled him out & I was on my way. Right away it was apparent that there was actually something rubbing, and I soon determined that somehow the forward fairing mount had begun dragging on the left tyre. I pitted after the one lap & we set to the problem. I tried to bend the bracket up a bit, but in the end, a quick check of the axle bolt revealed that it had loosened off a bit. With the thread not locked up, the wheel sagged under load & dragged on the mount arm, but when we had lifted the side of the trike previously to check that the wheel was spinning freely, it could drop away from the mount arm & not drag. So with that fixed, and a quick check of the other side, all was good again & I was back out for a proper stint, which went delightfully smoothly to finish our first rider rotation & bring us to 1/3 race distance.
All the while, Aurora
held a narrow lead over Tru Blu
, with Phantom only slightly back, and comfortably ahead of the raging battle behind.
Moose's second ride was much more like what we're familiar with from him; long, fast & consistent, more than redeeming the short opener. The scene seemed set for a solid night run, so I retired to bed for a few hours. However, it turned out the night session was not entirely without bother. Firstly, we found ourselves with a shortage of headlight batteries. I knew one had recently developed a dodgy plug, so that was for emergency use only. The third battery had been used without drama right up to last week, and when the time came to swap batteries, that supposedly good reserve failed before even reaching the pit exit. We'd like to thank Phantom's electronogical tech whizz Rusty for the loan of a super funky battery pack to get us through while our one remaining good battery was recharged.
Our second drama occurred when Princess had a bit of a wild run through Channel 7 which resulted in a badly strained groin. Although we still had eight reasonably fit riders, our most potent little powerhouse was out of the race.
Piglet had our second roll, but again fortunately the damage was only superficial. All this was replayed to me when I returned to pit around 4:00, after a decent 6-ish hours sleep.
I hit the track for my second stint just as the first glimmer of daylight began tp peep over the river. Although I had tried not to push too hard in the first stint, my legs were going off a bit, and that was something I had been worried about heading into the race. I had the misfortune to suffer a bout of glandular fever early in the year, which kept me out of the first two Victorian races, and I was still feeling lingering effects that affected my endurance and recovery. So my own goal was to just get through to the end as much as anything. As day broke, we found another problem. Our anti-fog treated windows were doing a brilliant job at keeping the insides clear, but the light mist that had settled over the track was condensing on the outside! Visibility was OK while there was still enough darkness for the other vehicles' tail lights to stand out, but as the light increased, those lights became washed out & visibility became pretty poor, and navigating traffic became something of a guessing game. By the time I pitted & handed over to Moose for his third ride, we were basically in full daylight. We pulled him in for a quick wipe-&-go about halfway through the stint to try to maintain some visibility for him, but the Fog Monster loitering along the river had the upper hand for the time being. Reluctant to fully remove the windscreen, we cut out the inner layer in the hope that a bit more warmth from inside might help control the external fogging. It was about this time that I got a phone call from race control advising me that our transponder was no longer recording and had apparently been reported as being seen falling from our vehicle, although its whereabouts remained a mystery. Great.
While I was trying to gather information from various marshalls who had reportedly observed our transponder's desertion, the boys decided that the fogging wasn't any better, so cut out the windscreen & two rear side windows. It's probably a moot point whether turning the trike into an aerodynamic bucket was any quicker than not seeing anything.... With no information about the lost transponder, timing for the remaining 5 1/2 hours of the race was manually recorded by race control. We cannot express highly enough the appreciation we have for Tim From Timing for his dedication to this mammoth task.
We ran "open" only for about half an hour, just until the sun got strong enough to beat the Fog Monster into submission, at which point the windows were hastily reattached, and steeled our tiring bodies for the last push to the line. We had been running consistently just outside the top 10 for several hours, but the aero penalty we suffered took its toll on the last few riders, and we ever so gradually lost touch. When our intended second-last rider Piglet hopped in with two hours remaining, we made a last little shuffle to the rider order, primarily because I doubted I'd be able to do a full hour to finish. So we gave Piglet 45 minutes, then dropped Moose back in for a quick 30-minute filler (partially compensating for losing Princess earlier in the roster), and leaving me with the final 45 minutes. Which turned into 50 when Moose pitted after 25 minutes. I felt OK for the first 30 minutes, although definitely lacking grunt up the back straight, but then the calves began to cramp, followed by the quads. The last 20 minutes were absolute hell, and seemed to last for hours. Each 10-minute countdown board on the finish line was greeted with a wince & a fist-pump, as the chequered flag drew closer. Finally I saw the Last Lap board, and as I passed the pit I gave the boys a symbolic single finger (no, not THAT finger!) signal to confirm to them the final pass. Finally I found myself through Channel 7 Chicane & on the main straight, for the last run in to the flag, where I let out an almighty scream of relief. The cool-down parade lap gave a chance to try to ease my knotted legs before coming to a stop amid the mayhem on the main straight.
After 24 hours of racing, we had finished in 13th place, equalling our result from last year. Although we had failed in our aim to achieve a top 10 place, our 424 laps was a 24-lap (50km) improvement over last year, proof of just how much more competitive the field was this year.
At the front end, Tru Blu
took a narrow lead over Aurora
during the night, and held it through the closing hours to take their third win at this event, and smash the course distance record by 25 laps in the process. Their score of 522 laps comes very close to breaking the 1100km mark! Aurora
's second place was enough to secure the overall series win. Phantom's Beyond New
took third, 16 laps behind Aurora
, with a 28-lap buffer back to BSSC's Gunna Have A Bad Time
in fourth overall, and winner in the Senior Secondary Category. The remainder of the Top 10 was Ballistic's Outlaw
from Pembroke School (second in Cat.3), Trump Trikes
from Platt Racing, Sutton Stelvio
from Super Team Bluebird Bros, Strathdale Racing and Aberfoyle Hub School's Screaming Hubcaps
, who also took 3rd in Cat. 3.
Congratulations to all, and now it's time to go into hibernation and recover for a while.