Lord of Lydden - Sept 16/17 2000

I had mixed feelings about doing "the Lord". Lydden's my favourite circuit, but I don't really like mixing it with 600's and Powerbikes - they're not averse to bashing fairings, and the 250's always come off worst. It's a non-championship round, and I couldn't afford to hurt myself and wreck the championship, which is almost in the bag.

In the end - after a crap Saturday - it all worked out really well. I qualified on pole for the Lord, and then - if I may say so - rode brilliantly - and finished second in the Lord of Lydden Final. The Viscount of Lydden, perhaps?


Saturday

Lydden's near the sea, and has unpredictable weather. Sure enough - the promised sunny day didn't turn up and it was mostly wet.

Initial Qualifying

Not too good. The bike started to cut out after a few laps, and I had to pull in - diagnosed as a dodgy plug cap. We changed the plugs and plug caps as a precaution (a mere 80 quid's worth!)

Heat One

I was on slicks - and it pissed down. It had dried out, but there was the lightest of showers shortly before we went out. We figured it wouldn't be enough to wet the track, and stuck with slicks.

Others chose inters or full wets. Their choice was verified as it started to rain more heavily on the start line. Then, within a lap, it was chucking down. There was no way I could continue, so I pulled off on lap two.

Heat Two

Fortunately I kept my qualifying position rather than having to start from the back, but it was no help. The bike started cutting out again - though in a different way than in qualifying.

I pulled out again. That had blown my qualifying for the Sunday races.

We stripped the bike, but the only thing we found was a frayed power-valve cable. Might be the problem - we'd have to hope for the best.

Sunday

The weather was much better on Sunday, and the three-lap practice showed no remaining problem with the bike. It was looking good. I'd be starting on row 6, but in fact I was quite looking forward to that as I'd get to chase lots of people. I just had to finish in the top nine to get an entry for the mixed-class Lord of Lydden final. The better my placing, though, the stronger my grid position would be.

Lord of Lydden Semi-Final

Row six to fifth place in two laps. Yes! That was the way to do it! I was flying, and though the top four had a big lead by the time I got through, I was taking big chunks out of it every lap.

Ricky - who had great hopes for the Lord as the lap record holder at Lydden and nearly winning last year - crashed out at Pilgrims scrapping with Loz Hopper. I was gutted for him - but grateful for the extra place, mind!

By lap six there was only Loz Hopper and Frank Swaine in front of me. Both are supercup riders backed by Dave Hammond Racing.

I took Swainey with my trademark Lydden manouever - power hard round Chesson's, then up the inside on the brakes at the Elbow. Works every time! (Almost...)

I set off after Loz, and I think I was gaining on him, but there wasn't enough time left to catch him.

Second place! I was very pleased for this from row six, but better was to come. Loz had been docked 10 seconds for a flagrent yellow-flag overtake on Ricky, so I took the win! I also made the best lap at 42.74 - 0.3 of a second off the lap record (which I'd secretly been hoping for) but good enough to qualify me on pole position for the final.

Pole Position

I was nervous. I was VERY nervous. Suddenly I was in with a real chance of taking the outright Lord of Lydden title. I felt like a racing virgin at his first race.

Lord of Lydden Final

The four-strokes are much easier to get off the line than two-strokes. Even though I was on pole, I had a LOT of work to do getting past the early leaders who'd shot past me on the start.

I was riding pretty manicly. So was everyone else. To get past people at the elbow, I was having to brake much later than normal. I nearly came a cropper one lap when I did two people at once, with the back wheel high in the air. When it came down, the front bottomed out and started to pogo as I turned in. I just made it round.

My tyres felt like they were going off early in the race - but looking at the afterwards I think they were just sliding because I was pushing them much harder than normal.

Eventually there was just Loz Hopper and Graham Darracott some distance ahead. I was cutting into Darracott's lead when Jason McInulty showed me his wheel at Pilgrims, putting some urgency into the situation. I managed to speed up a bit, and caught Darracacott just as he met a back-marker 125. He went slowly round the outside, then gassed it and was rewarded with a nasty slide - allowing me to take advantage up the inside of both of them.

With only a lap and a half to go, I wasn't going to catch the flying Loz Hopper, so I rode defensively to prevent the sucidal counter-attack that I felt sure was coming. Certainly I'd have tried it! But in fact Darracott and McInulty were tying each other up behind and I'd broken clear.

Conclusion

Well, can't complain I suppose :-)

Loz Hopper richly deserved the win - which he dedicated to a friend of his who died two weeks ago in a motorcycle accident on the road.

So I was thrilled to get second place in open competition against the best of Bemsee's riders - including those like Loz and Frank Swain who mostly race at national level.

I felt sorry for Rick, who had managed a creditable sixth place from his back-row start, but had not only seen his Lord of Lydden hopes dashed, but had also lost the lap record - which Loz reclaimed, dropping it from 42.45 to 42.36. Nine hundreds of a second - doesn't sound like a lot, but believe me it is, when you're trying to find that time on-the-limit in a race.

Made a Profit??

Yup - it's true. For the first time in my life - I've made a profit on a meeting. The prize for second place was 600. I'd spent 400 on fuel, tyres, parts and diesel - and 140 on entries.

That left 10% of that 600 as profit - but hey - you can buy lots of beer for 60.


Final Bemsee rounds:
Brands October 8th
Silverstone October 21st.


Roger Ford


Setup Notes
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Gearing 14/39 - perfect
Jetting 390/400
Best lap 50.29
Miles: total 60