Bahrain Superbike Championship
Round 2 - 2nd December 2016

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Round two of the BSBK was due to a be a two day event but a last minute change by the circuit organisers who shuffled the schedule around and squeezed it a one day event on the Friday.

 

We flew out on the Wednesday evening arriving silly o'clock Thursday morning so we could spend the afternoon of Thursday prepping the bike ready for Friday's action packed day.

 

However, the series organisers who originally agreed to let us have access to the bikes on Thursday changed their minds and said we could only get access on Friday morning.

Well, a bit of a shame I thought as we had come out early just to work on the bike, but hey ho, Friday it was.

Arriving Friday morning we found all the bikes set up in the garages ready to go, except the bike with my number on wasn't the bike I raced in the opening event; and all my sponsorship stickers were missing from the bodywork - just as well we had a whole new set with us.

 

I had a quick wander round the garages to see if it was just me that was effected but by the looks of it all the bikes had been mixed up. I found the bike I rode originally now with 95, Mashel's number on it!

Action and paddock shots: BSBK

Anyway, there was lots of work to do dialling the suspension settings in, programming the dashboard with my traction and engine braking settings, and replacing all my personal sponsor graphics.

 

But the biggest issue was the rear sets and the gear lever needed moving to suit me, not a two minute thing adjusting the height of the gear lever.

 

It involves stripping most of the pedal and linkage to get enough length out of the change rod, or take the clutch slave cylinder off to then pull the short lever off the gear shaft and move it round one spline. It wasn't just me - most riders were having to rejig the settings to suit themselves and their riding style.

All of which takes time and our riders briefing was at 10:00 so most of the riders were a few minutes late getting to the briefing, it was then explained we would be receiving a 'penalty' for arriving late.

To be honest the briefing contained the same information as the original briefing at round one, 10 minutes of yellow flag, red flag stuff, so I couldn't quite figure out why we were there anyway every other Championship or series I ever done only had one briefing at the start of the season, except for new riders to the series who had an induction.

After all the rushing around it was time to get out in free practice, I had dialled in some setting to the forks I got from Cobb and Jagger, Leeds Ductai, in Bradford and it certainly seemed to help the bike turn into corner and not run too wide on the exit.

When I'd had enough and come in, I'd posted the quickest time, up till then so I was suited.

 

There was a short gap before qualifying and so officials came round asking the riders that were late for their briefing to pay 50 BD, around 100 quid  fine, as you can imagine I was most unhappy, as if I hadn't had to reset the bike up, I wouldn't have been late - I was asked to go and speak with the Clerk of the Course.

He told me I had to pay or I wouldn't be allowed to compete in the racing, well I was furious explained why most riders were late, what I thought of the fine and what I thought of them, it didn't go down too well with them as it ultimately turned out.

Now it was time for qualifying and I was in a foul mood, in fact if Id been in the UK I would have packed up and gone home I was so pissed off; but we were a long way from home and the money had been all paid up so the show had to go on.

Not wanting to use too much of the one rear tyre we get I found some space on track and did 5 laps posting a third place for the race start.

The bike was working well but my mood was the issue. Even though I paid the fine they came around again after qualifying with a signed document after having a 'meeting', without me in attendance I hasten to add, saying I had a further fine, suspended, of 50BD for inappropriate language and behaviour!

Let me tell you now, as you can imagine, I was Uber pissed off, but took it on the chin just wanting to put the whole ridiculous issue to bed, 'its how they do it out here' I was told. Right.

It soon came round for race one, warm up lap done and a great start running down to turn one hot on the heels of Mashel and Aaron with Fahed close behind.

Settling in for the first lap the two in front opened a small gap that I couldn't close down and which as much as I tried slowly opened up tenth by tenth until the pair had a now big gap.

Fahed hadn't given up either and was less than a second behind me so I couldn't relax too much and had to keep pushing to the flag taking a third place. 

Mashel won with Aaron second and looking at the times there wasn't a huge amount in it but enough to make it impossible to catch or close the gaps between us all.

I had done my quickest time yet and was quite pleased but Aaron wasn't happy saying Mashel's bike was simply faster. However, I thought it important to point out to him that Mashel was riding the bike I'd ridding in the first round, so figured it was probably the fact he was 10kg lighter than either of us that was making the difference!

By now the sun had gone down so race two was under the floodlights, ironically better than the daylight as you didn't have the sun in your eyes and the temperature was lower but it did mean we had to adjust the tyre pressure and suspension settings without any chance to test them in these cooler conditions.

 

The race two start was a carbon copy running down to turn one except I ran slightly wide at the exit and Fahad slipped underneath me on the run up the hill towards turn two and three. For this race I had gambled on turning my traction control off.

 

 

My thinking was I would ultimately get better drive without the traction holding back too much, normally the traction light would be on most of the way the hill to turns two and three so I figured I'd see how it would be turned off.

Big mistake as it turned out, now the bike would simply go sideways under power not just up the hill but out of most of the corners, I tried to adjust my throttle control to suit but I was officially struggling to even stay with a hard charging Fahad.

I didn't give up though and pushed as hard as I could eventually catching and passing Fahad after several laps only for my gear lever linkage to fall apart just after I passed him. I had no option other than to retire back to the pits.

Obviously disappointed, but still learning how the bike works. I've probably done less than 100 laps on the 899 and simply don't know what the optimum settings are to get the most out of one pair of tyres for practice, qualifying and two races on the standard road bike setup.

There's no one in the UK racing one in road trim, meaning limited help is available; so, I still don't think my results are that bad, I'll just have to keep on bashing away.

Fahed was very pleased to get back on the rostrum, he told me after finding me in the garage to see what went wrong with my bike in the race, that his mates back home had been giving him some stick about why he was letting this 'old man' beat him.

 

It does mean that I've lost third place overall in the series at the moment but there are still four rounds, eight races, left before the large lady sings. Round three is in the new year, currently scheduled for Friday the 13th of January lets hope its not true what the say about unlucky for some eh?

To complete the championship races I'm going to need to source further support or financial assistance to help with travel and accommodation. So, if you'd like to be part of my team for my Bahrain Superbike Championship campaign you can sponsor me easily by clicking the logo below:

Watch Fahad riding very hard to try and hold me off: