Mallory Park Sidecar Bonanza 28/09/2014

(c) Dominic BedfordSimon and I had a fantastic weekend at Mallory Park: he and Dave Gristwood nearly overturned the F2 (punctured front tyre), then redeemed themselves with a 3rd place and 2nd place in the Open 600 class. Mike Bellaby and I achieved his fastest lap time round Mallory with a 1:03.91 in race 1 (2nd in class!) and 1:03.74 in race 2 – but despite being on for a win in race 2, a final drive failure exiting the hairpin on the penultimate lap robbed us of our trophy.

Thanks to everyone who came to support – over £1000 was raised through the taxi rides. We’ll be back at Brands Hatch with Bemsee this weekend (3rd – 5th October), with taxi rides available on both days. Book through the Bemsee website. Edit 1st October: entries are now CLOSED.

Thanks to all our photographers – a selection of their shots below.

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Press cutting from Bishop’s Stortford Observer 25/09/2014

With thanks to Herts & Essex News for this coverage from our weekend with EMRA at Mallory Park. The photo is by the wonderful Sid Diggins.

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Taxi rides at Mallory Park 28th September!

Taxi rides at Mallory Park on Sunday 28th September! Details below. If you’re interested then get in touch with EMRA on the number below – and don’t worry if you’re short of kit, as we’ll do our best to have a whip round and make sure everyone is catered for. Please bear in mind you’ll need to pay an entry fee to get access to the venue on Sunday – with regret, while we’d like to get everyone free tickets, it’s just not going to be possible :(

“EMRA is bringing to Mallory Park – The SIDECAR BONANZA incorporating the international sidecar race of the year 26/27/28th September 2014, it promises to be the biggest event of its type. Stars from UK and Europe will be on track with F1, F2 and Classic machinery. If you need any more information, please call Iain and Joyce Rankin on 02476 317273 EMRA.

EMRA will be holding a session during Sunday for Taxi Rides for Charity £20 per person for a lap, anyone wanting a passenger ride must be 16 or over and have full protective clothing, including leather footwear, no trainers.

To book or offer to give taxi rides contact Iain for more info on the number above.”

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Round-up and exciting news

  • Simon raced at Darley Moor on bank holiday Monday (25th August) with the lovely Claire in the chair, and together they achieved a fantastic 4th place – well done both!
  • While Simon will be racing with Dave Gristwood in the chair at TT2015, I’m delighted to have been asked to partner François Leblond again, so will be there too.
  • At the Sidecar Festival at Mallory 26-28 September we’re literally playing musical chairs: I will be on the classic front-exit outfit of Mike Bellaby, and Dave Gristwood will be hopping onto the F2 with Simon.
  • Still no news of taxi rides at either the Festival or the Brands Hatch meeting in early October – we will bring you news as soon as we have it.
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Brands Hatch GP: 8-10 August 2014 (Bemsee)

With apologies, this race report is compiled from my Facebook updates as I didn’t get an opportunity to write a separate report afterwards:

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

We had a superb test day on the Friday on the Indy circuit, with the bike going brilliantly and Simon absolutely on it. With relief we heard we were no longer a reserve, but had a guaranteed grid slot. Phew! We did a track walk of the GP circuit in the evening, which alleviated some of the nerves.

On the Saturday we had our first experience on the GP circuit, which is absolutely immense and huge fun. It was a day of mishaps for others. After being stuck with a slow F1 for over a lap, a red flag accident in qualifying on Paddock Hill nearly collected us, Simon’s quick reaction and driving skills avoiding the accident by mere feet. The bike overheated as we pulled into pit lane, but after topping up the water we only had one more lap, leaving us well down the qualifying table.

Race 1 was full of drama, with a competitor stalled on the grid on our racing line so evasive action and quick braking required, dropping us back quite a few places, then an engine blown by another competitor and oil round half the circuit, then an F1 spewing fuel over us for the last 2 laps. We were really finding our way and starting to get a feel for the bike, but on our last lap the red flags came out again.

Unfortunately it was our awning-buddies Sean and Mark, having had a racing incident with another competitor on the way into Clearways on the final lap. I’m pleased to say that after a very anxious afternoon and time in hospital for Sean, both seem to be merely walking wounded. The bike is looking rather sad though In terms of our race, Simon did some great overtakes and I think we finished 11th F2, 17th overall.

(c) David Daisy

(c) David Daisy

With several stoppages throughout the day our second race, along with all the solo races, was cut from 6 to 5 laps. We had a good start, but yet more incidents made for excitement – another blown engine, someone had dropped a *lot* of fuel around Druids. I felt the engine was flat but Simon disagreed and the time sheet proved me wrong, taking another 1sec off our fastest lap.

Sunday was a real change of fortune for us. The bad weather swept in overnight so Sunday’s warm-up session was very damp, with very little grip anywhere. We only had 2 laps, not really enough to do anything except reassure ourselves that MSV hadn’t reconfigured the circuit overnight. An F1 spun in front of us at Druids (nicely avoided by Simon!) and we heard of other pirouettes elsewhere.

Our first race was distinctly damp, and I’d already decided I was going to sacrifice the lefts to try to keep weight on the rear wheel. This is something I’m always nervous of doing, but works brilliantly as long as I can overcome the headology of thinking the chair wheel will come up. Simon was relearning the great grip levels possible on the wet tyres. Off the line the real wheel spun up dreadfully and we found ourselves in a huge bunch going into Paddock. Visibility was a real issue, and as we went up into the GP circuit the rear wheel was struggling to find any grip, even with me completely draped over the back wheel. Left-handers felt much better with me keeping my weight inboard, so that was a positive.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

I could feel something was wrong within a couple of laps as the power seemed intermittent and Simon was struggling to keep us going. The same F1 spun in front of us at Graham Hill, collecting another outfit in the process and causing a red flag. We were sent back to the paddock for a very quick lunch break, before the race was re-run over 5 laps. We changed the tyre pressures to try to get more heat into them and improve grip. Simon wondered if the engine was cutting as we were hitting the rev limiter with the rear wheel spinning.

Again, a very poor start with the bike spinning up, and then a couple of laps in we also spun on the exit of Druids: a very neat 360 and we rejoined almost straight away. The engine was cutting out, and despite Simon doing everything he could to diagnose the problem while on the move, we retired at Stirlings. Water in the electrics seemed to be the culprit, so after making our way back to the paddock after the race (under our own steam) we stripped the fairing off to try to find the issue.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

Simon went through everything, liberal applications of WD40 and contact cleaner, and the battery connectors tightened. The lanyard had been checked but didn’t seem to be causing an issue, and of course we couldn’t replicate the problem in the paddock – how frustrating!

The weather was variable all afternoon but eventually the warm breeze and sunshine started to dry the circuit and we switched to slicks for our last race. The warm-up lap was fantastic and we were both feeling confident ready for the start from the back of the grid, but within seconds of the lights going out we knew we hadn’t found the fault. Hand in the air, we retired almost before we reached the end of the start-finish straight, limping round the indy circuit before returning to the Hailwood centre to watch the rest of the race.

At least one other competitor had chosen to pack up and go home earlier in the day as their engine was cutting out too, so we wondered if it was just the rain getting into the electrics. (Some days after the event Simon finally tracked down the issue: a broken connector for the lanyard.)

However, although we had two DNFs on the Sunday we had a really positive weekend. Friday’s practice was superb, and the racing over Saturday and practice in the wet on Sunday gave us both a chance to feel the bike sliding about and learn how to control it better. We’ve quite a lay-off now, as we’re not out until the middle of September, but a lot of work will be going on in the background over that time.

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Donington 26-27/07/2014 (North Glos)

What a blistering weekend – on several levels. With temperatures that wouldn’t have seemed out of place on an expensive holiday to the Med, we managed a lot of track time and a lot learned.

Saturday’s free practice was tentative as it was my first time racing at Donington and Simon’s first time there on an F2. On lap 3 the fault light came on (the one we’d seen at Mallory but couldn’t diagnose as the code blinked off too soon) so we whizzed into the pits and were able to identify it as a broken wire feeding the secondary injectors. The FSRA British F2 timed qualifying was superb, with 8 laps completed and a 6sec improvement in lap time. Qualifying position: 28/29.

 

(c) Richard Glover PhotoBikes

(c) Richard Glover PhotoBikes

Club qualifying race was next, where we’d been gridded 5th. A superb start and Simon was chasing hard when a momentary distraction of another sidecar going into the gravel at Coppice meant we followed… and beached ourselves. The marshals did a great job of digging us out after the race but with gravel in the brakes and half a ton in the undertray, quite a bit of cleaning was needed. It did give us a chance to track down an intermittant water leak and fix it though.

Our next race was the 10-lap FSRA British F2 race. A long way back from the lights but Simon had a fantastic start and we were holding our own and did our best to stay with the back of the pack. We had another wild-card team behind us too. Unfortunately we were lapped by the winner moments before the finish line so only completed 9 of the 10 laps, but took another 0.6sec off to 1:24.2 and finished 19/20.

Jenny Triker Wells 6

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

There seemed to be quite a delay before the club race but eventually we were called, and gridded on row 8. Again Simon made a fantastic start and proceeded to munch his way up the field, having a cracking battle with John Saunders (with novice passenger, son James, on the side). With outfits to chase and increased confidence we kept John at bay and crossed the line 8/14 with another improved lap time – this time 1:22.28!

We were both really pleased with the handling and the lap times and ended the day on a high. Sunday was one of those days of racing where it just felt so good to be out on circuit with friends and having a right ding-dong battle. Another hot day but with a slight breeze to make everything a little more bearable. Simon & the wonderful Andy Martin had a quick fettle with the brakes first thing in the morning, changing to super-expensive-whizzy brake fluid, but elected to sit out what we thought would be a very short warm-up session. As it happened it was a reasonable number of laps, and we could have used the track time to get the brake fluid level just right, but hey ho.

John Mushet 1

(c) John Mushet

The club Qualifying race had us gridded in 5th again with a 7-lap sprint ahead of us. A good start – Simon does enjoy aggressive starts – and we were in the thick of it and battling hard. A few overly-deep moves into corners meant we were swapping places with others the whole way round, but no trip into the gravel and a battle with 37  (Morphet/Halliburton) before we crossed the line 9/14, just ahead of them. The last three laps had been appalling – both Simon and I found ourselves exhausted, with nascent arm pump, dehydrated and fighting the bike. The cause? The front brakes were binding on where the teeny reservoirs couldn’t quite accommodate the new brake fluid after the change. Our best lap time reflected the problem, managing only a 1:24.68, slower than some behind us and only Simon’s late braking and wide outfit keeping them at bay.

We’ve known for a while we need to change to larger brake reservoirs, and a few ml of fluid removed fixed the brake issue – but for the two of us it was several litres of fluid to be added! A quick trip over to see superstar taping and massage saint Sue Hunt, then it was a short break before the start of the British F2 FSRA race. Our target was to complete all 10 laps without being lapped ourselves.

Glyn's Photos 1

(c) Glyn’s Photos

We were gridded back on row 15 after Saturday’s result, and Simon made the most of every inch of the tarmac when the lights went out. It’s safe to say that whilst Simon was on the circuit for the whole run down the start straight, I wasn’t! We made a dash all the way down the outside to Redgates with me over the grass, and stayed with the pack ahead of us comfortably for the next few laps. We could both feel that the tyres were on their last legs, with me needing to use my full body-weight to help steer round Redgates by throwing my leg off the back of the bike to spin us. Huge fun, but not something I’d want to do at every circuit We found the *perfect* line round Coppice – just once – so we knew how that could flow when we got it right, then 3 laps from the end we saw Tony Thirkell ahead, obviously having some difficulty. Simon chased hard, passing then nearly running too deep at Craner Curves and allowing Tony back through, but we managed to squeeze back past again and hold him off to the line. I kept checking behind me, but no sign of the race winners, and we took the chequered flag 23/24 with a best lap of 1:23.14. So great to see Sean Reeves and Mark Wilkes take the win again – congratulations both.

We both felt much better than we had after the club qualifying race, with just the worn tyres being our only real hindrance. Our last race was the penultimate one of the day, being gridded on the 5th row. I can’t actually remember every lap, because it was such close racing. We found that sweet line around Coppice a few more times, but with such little grip and steering it was a case of trying to run a wide outfit to keep others behind us, and make up for lack of grip by going deep into the braking zones. John Saunders evaded us today, taking around 4sec off his lap time to pull a long way ahead. We stayed with Morphet for a while, but were all being tripped up by a relatively slow F1 which baulked a number of good corner moves. For a long time we kept the Morgan brothers behind us, but they slipped past on the last lap, leaving us finishing 8/9 but absolutely beaming. The racing had been so close that it was impossible to be downcast about the end result. Our best lap was a 1:23.10, so although we didn’t get back into the 1:22s, we’d really consolidated our improvement over the weekend and made huge strides on understanding and feeling the bike.

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

(c) Jenny Triker Wells

I’d like to say thank you to everyone who was around and supported us over the weekend: Sean & Mark for their company (and paddling pool!), Roisin and Paul for looking after us, the boys for running errands, Andy Martin for being Mechanic Extraordinaire, all our fellow racers for such a great time on track, and all our friends and supporters who popped by over the weekend (especially David, Andy, Alan, Nick and Nancy).

We’re now in a waiting period: while we put in an entry for the Bemsee Brands GP race on 8/9/10 August, we don’t yet know if we have a grid space. We’ll let you know as soon as we do – if we don’t make that weekend our next outing isn’t until September. Which gives us time to save up for new slick tyres.

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Getting started in sidecars

With thanks to Sally Bly of the FSRA (Formula Sidecar Racing Association), this article is reproduced from their 2nd Newsletter of 2014.

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6th July 2014 – Mallory Park (EMRA)

We lucked out on the weather yesterday at Mallory and it was lovely to see so many spectators when the alternatives were to watch F1 (too many wheels), Le Tour (too few wheels) or tennis.

We spent qualifying bedding in our new brake pads but as the braking wasn’t feeling quite right Simon pulled in after only a few laps. We still qualified 8th from 12, but a lap time quite a way off where we’d like to be. A great start to race 1 saw us past a few outfits from the line, but going into Edwinas I thought Simon was being *extremely* confident with the lateness of the braking… except we had no brakes so went straight through the chicane instead.

The commentator announced we were in the sin bin with a 5 second penalty as we’d made places when rejoining <oops>, although Simon let them all through within half a lap. However with confidence knocked in the brakes, when a warning light came on shortly afterwards we pulled to the side of the circuit. Much frustration all round, but we thought we knew what was up with the brakes. We scrubbed down the brake discs and pads and fettled the brake fluid level in the break, then relaxed in the sunshine.

For race 2 we were further back down the grid, but again Simon achieved a blistering start and as we went through Edwinas on lap 1 we’d made it up to 7th place. A little overexuberance at the hairpin scotched our challenge as we gently pirouetted through 360deg, but we recovered quickly. We spent the next few laps chasing down the outfit ahead of us. In the process Simon achieved another personal best: a 1:00.629sec lap. Still not under the minute, which is the ultimate goal, but getting closer every outing.

We crossed the line in 6th overall, 5th in class. So, not quite as much track time as we would have liked, but a very useful day on circuit and has set us up well for Donington at the end of July. We’re wild-carding with the British F2s there as well as doing the club races, so it promises to be a busy weekend.

Photographs courtesy of Dominic Bedford, John Lockett (who captured the spin on camera!) and Kev Boitoult.

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03/07/14 – Solihull Observer coverage

Coverage of our Darley Moor weekend in the Solihull Observer, with thanks to Sid Diggins for the photo credit: http://www.solihullobserver.co.uk/2014/07/03/sport-Smith-and-Garnish-get-PB-at-Darley-110471.html

“Smith and Garnish get PB at Darley

 

By Adrian Murphy Wednesday 02 July 2014 Updated: 02/07 18:21

 

Latest News

SIDECAR: SIMON Smith returned to racing last weekend with a triumphant personal best at Darley Moor in Derbyshire.

Simon had a six-week lay-off while passenger Anne Garnish competed at the Isle Of Man TT, but returned in style with a full weekend of racing and taxi-rides. It was an opportunity for Simon to say thank you to local Solihull firms and supporters, with sponsor The Bathroom Centre renewing their contract and Solihull fan Andy Edwards having his first taste of passengering an F2 sidecar in the taxi rides.

During Saturday qualifying a broken wire caused the team to retire early, leaving them at the back of the grid for the main race. Smith made the most of the wet conditions to blast through the field from 17th to mid-field before a flat tyre caused a spin and then retirement on lap 3. In the second race Simon repeated his aggressive start and they recorded a personal best lap time as they crossed the line in 8th place.

In the lunchbreak Simon, along with a dozen other drivers, offered supporters and fans the opportunity to try passengering with a three-lap blast around the circuit. Over 60 people had a high-speed ‘taxi ride’, each donating to charities “Help For Heroes” and the ACU Benevolent Fund and raising over £1,200 in the process. Participant Andy Edwards, who started supporting the team after reading about them in the Solihull Observer, said afterwards: “I am buzzing! This is the best experience I’ve had on wheels or wings, absolutely loved it.” He’s hoping to repeat his taxi ride again later in the year.

Sunday’s racing was dry, allowing the team to consolidate their Saturday improvement, qualifying 9th on the grid and finishing the two races in 8th and 6th respectively. Their next outing is at Mallory Park where Simon is hoping for a new personal best lap.

Read more: Smith and Garnish get PB at Darley | Solihull Observer

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Darley Moor (DMMCRC) 28-29/06/14

We had a thoroughly enjoyable weekend at Darley Moor, although the weather did its best to keep us on our toes! It’s a circuit which Simon knows and enjoys, so we were hopeful of some good lap times.

A couple of broken wires in the loom affected us in Saturday qualifying, meaning that we ended up in 17th and dead last on the grid. The fastest 17 F2s were in the first race, with the ‘non-qualifiers’ in the second race with the F1 bikes. As Simon joked at the time, he did his best to make us front of the pack for the non-qualifiers, but didn’t quite manage it ;)

From the very back of the grid – which is an awfully long way back from the lights, Simon fought his way up through the field with some aggressive manoeuvring at the chicane. We ere up to around 8th before retiring on lap 3. Our front tyre had lost all pressure, which at the time we thought was a puncture to the nearly-new wet tyre, but turned out to be a loss of seal around the bolts holding the rims together. Easier to fix than needing a new tyre!

With the weather slowly drying, Simon again gave us a good, aggressive and fast start, chasing down other teams and passing a few. We crossed the line in a fantastic 8th place in – and a personal best lap time of 1:07.22. During the lunchtime, Dean Banks had worked with Darley Moor to organise taxi rides for members of the public, each of whom made a £20 donation to charity. Many of the sidecar drivers took part, offering a selection of F1 and F2 machines, along with Phil Jones’ BEARS outfit. Over 60 people took part, each getting three laps o the circuit. We were delighted to have both friends and TT supporters on the side with Simon, and I was roped in to give a briefing to the aspirant passengers; none of them fell out, which I take to mean I did an OK job. In total £1260 was raised to be split between Help For Heroes and the ACU Benevolent Fund – what a cracking result!

Sunday’s racing was equally close: with the weather now pretty much dry, and despite brake issues in qualifying we managed 9th. The front brakes were locking on again, which could only ave been caused by changing the brake bias as that was the only modification since Saturday. In the two races we had fantastic battles with other outfits to finish 8th in race 1 (which would have been 7th or higher if jump start penalties had been enforced on a number of other teams who were a little excitable before the lights), and a brilliant 6th in race 2. That was even more impressive because race 2 was on a flag start, which is never as clear-cut as a lights start.

The sidecar is handling beautifully now and we’re looking forward to more track time so we can really start to move up the field. The British F2 championship at Donington will be our big test, but our next outing is on Sunday at Mallory Park.

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