Assen BSB Round 11 rekindles our racing mojo
It’s a long trip to Assen for us now. Having moved to the other side of the country (Herefordshire) it’s a 2 day hike to get to the beautiful ‘Cathedral of speed’ circuit. Arriving Weds night via a 6 hr UK road trip, 7 hour ferry voyage and 3 hr Dutch road trip, we just got through the security gate in time as BSB Paddock supremo Gareth brought the barrier down.
As soon as you get there you know you are in a better place. The facilities are excellent and all contribute to help the difficult business of racing. There is electric hook up everywhere, water on tap, drains and oil waste disposal points at every garage. Each garage has its own shower and toilet and the overhead doors are motorised – magic! That we were actually given a Pit garage was a big bonus and enabled good shelter when the rain hammered down on Saturday.
On Thursday set up was quick with no Marquee to erect and a relaxing day included time to rest, explore the local town – which is beautiful – and finish the minor prep on the bike in time for practice the following day. With help from Bill Philp and team our set up has taken new directions with Maxton internals on the front and shorter wheelbases providing greater turnability.
In recent visits Assen has usually provided wet conditions but on Friday the day continued dry and Sam got a good feel for the track and bike through P1 and 2. No amazing lap times, just steady saddle time with a focus on adjusting settings around a new Geometry and fully grippy surface. In P1 he came in a healthy 17th and by P2 his time had dropped another 1.7secs a lap so moving forward progressively.
Looking at the weather forecast Saturday looked as if we could expect rain although the overnight downpour had stopped by 3am. In the morning the track was still wet but as other classes circulated it began to dry out. Most riders exited pit lane with soft wet rubber on rims but after one lap of the 25 minute session #31 quickly returned to the garage for a change. Our first change was to a dry rear only but this was shortly followed by another stop to swap the front too. Unfortunately with only 6 mins left of qualifying and a less than satisfactory lap time achieved so far the final change over did not go to plan.
On this occasion the normally straightforward removal of calipers, pinch bolts and change of wheel took too long – there were lots of fingers and thumbs. The calipers themselves were very hot, the lack of a second mechanic slowed down progress and by the time the job was complete there was barely a minute left on the clock. We had overrun by 2 minutes and this cost #31 several places in the overall standings.
The first race of the weekend on Saturday afternoon was fully wet. Bearing in mind we have recently experienced very wet conditions at Silverstone and Oulton Park resulting in DNF’s and an injured hand (almost repaired) this was going to be a challenge for the team and rider. The bike had been fully adjusted for these conditions by changing the rear shock spring down a full 1Kn weight and the front had already been dropped 0.5. Throughout previous wet escapades it has always been the rear that has let go and the importance of softening the rear has been proven to increase grip. The race passed peaceably without incident which, from where we have been, was a big step forward. The R6 felt comfortable at both front and rear although lap times were a victim of the atrocious conditions.
The weather finally dried out for Sunday. Our sponsors (Matt Baxter, Lisa Stevenson and Keith Taylor) were in attendance for the big race in front of a burgeoning Dutch crowd. They really love BSB and we had earlier watched some great Superbike races with them full of incident and intrigue.
Our own preparations continued without huge expectations for Race 2 as Sam lined up in 26th on the grid. Almost at the back - but not quite!
With stiffened front and rear set up the earlier warm up session had provided more confidence in feel, something we have been lacking throughout the season.
The atmosphere on the grid for the start was heightened due to the close proximity of a large and full grandstand along the pit straight. The sun was out and both bike and rider looked great in the Echelon and F3 colours and the repaired suit (Cougar Leathers again) was mint.
Sam got off to a good start and immediately picked off two riders by the end of lap 2. With a faller at the front shortly after another place was gained and then another by the end of lap 7 of 15. At this time Sam was mostly on his own but up ahead, 3 seconds down the track, was a pack of 4 riders circulating. With head down and his quickest lap achieved Sam slowly reeled in these positions and then began attacking them into the first and other corners. He more or less gained a place each lap thereafter and by lap 12 had moved up to 16th. With his good fitness levels, the end of the race is a time where Sam continues to push hard. In a tussle with Richard Steadman and another 600 rider he managed to nick another place over the line into a final finish of 14th. With a post result investigation affecting Keith Farmer’s (dangerous overtake) place to a relegation of 1 minute, Sam was officially 13th. An astonishing achievement and one that felt brilliant for the whole team.
At last Sam was able to push hard, attack other riders with more confidence and make corners on entry and exit without expecting to crash. This cloud has hung over us for some time and it felt like the monkey had finally jumped of our back.
We have to thank Bill Philp and team for the loan of their front Maxton fork internals as well as their advice at Assen for set up and suspension which saw us through the wet. That other teams are so willing to share like this just makes the whole experience that more enjoyable and affecting.
We are excited about Brands GP next weekend – the final round of the twelve. Our plans for next season are taking shape and we have a decision to take regarding chosen class, bike and approach to 2018. If we can keep ourselves in the mix, maintain our sponsor base and develop the team further our aim to regularly finish in the top ten will be closer. As it is we have scored points at 4 rounds this year. Not many but each one has been preciously earned!
Thanks again to our team: Danielle Mills, Frankie Ridley Fink and Sami Mellows. Christine at Cougar Leathers sorted out our two suits with some excellent repair work.
Phil Sansom and John Netthercott have continuously provided funds for our iFuel Campaign this season, thanks guys!
Wish us luck !
Sam Cox Racing
#31 BSB Supersport
Hard Ass Silverstone and a very tough weekend
Silverstone is a circuit we have not been to for 20 months or more. It was a Round 1 venue last season and in the end the Race then was abandoned due to horrendous conditions. If only we had been given the same leeway this weekend we would have avoided a very hairy experience..
Friday practice started with Wet conditions. Our set up was based on Snetterton but was still a calculated guess as we hoped to be able to tweek it into P2. P2 was damp and drying with half the track wet and the other drying. Tyre choices were wet front, dry rear but we knew the weather was playing havoc with our much needed tracktime.
It looked to be a dry day on Saturday and for once Qualifying was consistently dry with a reasonable time of 2min 15s achieved placing Sam in 18th. The first race was affected by an earlier downpour however and although 85% of the circuit was dry there were very wet conditions around Stowe. Tyre selection was very tricky so we opted for Wet front, dry rear probably the best choice in the circumstances but those brave enough went faster with dry/dry.
The race looked to be coming to a conclusion with Sam sitting in 14th with only 4 corners to finish when his chain parted company with the bike. The soft link had been less than secure and further inspection revealed some engine casing damage had resulted which was then suspected as a potential oil leak source. A run up on the dyno ensued but all was well but the power curve then showed another sharp dip around 11,000rpm. An inspection was suggested.
Clouds and silver linings! An airbox removal revealed the velocity stacks moving up and down correctly but the right hand pair had a broken connection. These stacks are produced by 3D printing and seemed solid enough but this small 5mm spigot had parted in use. With a good splodge of super glue overnight and assisting cable tie, the assembly was rebuilt Sunday morning ready for the big Race day.
For some time Sam has been struggling with front end feel – or lack of it. His corner exit has become stronger due to having to make up the lost time and speed into and through the turns. An improvement at the front could have a massive impact on lap times.
In discussion with various riders and teams around the paddock it is not unknown that KTech internals can be reliant on aggressive riding to work properly. Some riders excel at this but the feel that returns from this treatment is harsh and unsettling to a developing Supersport rider like Sam. Bill Philp (+Tommy Philp) had experienced exactly the same problem for more than two years with Tommy. After changing to a Maxton set up further gains were achieved and the front end issue of chatter and harshness disappeared.
At this stage we had nothing to lose by borrowing a Maxton set up ourselves. A large gamble but within an hour of Bill’s generosity we had a set put in the bike and dialled in.
Warm up testing on Sunday morning was much needed to see how this big change felt. Unfortunately as Sam exitted pitlane the drizzle hit the circuit and spoiled proceedings. With only one lap completed there was no way of telling if the change had improved things.
Now we faced the dilemma of entering the final race of 12 laps with untested forks and as it transpired, a wet track!
We decided to treat the race more like a test session and see how the set up worked. Without any pressure but very poor conditions the race began with steady laptimes in the 2.40’s which then dropped as the race went on. Riders were pushing hard at the front and paying the price and by the near end Sam was heading for a superb 9th placed finish. With 5 corners to go however his rear end let go and the race was over for #31. Of 23 riders on circuit only 13 had finished. The race itself was nonetheless a great ride by Sam – he hates the wet!
Probably the meanest result ever though. So close to a great result having done so much good work for over 25 minutes in atrocious weather and after one small moment it is all gone. To say the whole team were gutted and depressed is an understatement as the rain then hit the paddock, the wind picked up to awning destroying conditions and we still had to pack everything away and drive home. Times like these that you wonder what you are doing!
The BSB schedule doesn’t let up in September however. Having patched the bike up yesterday we leave for Oulton Park tonight for what we hope will be an improved experience.
All the time we keep pushing on, trying to improve laptimes, learning from mistakes and soaking up useful information we have that expectation of more great results.
This weekend we were very lucky to have help from Spence who made the constant tyre changes and adjustments go very smoothly. Thanks also to Bill and Tommy Philp for their loan of the Maxton forks and Richard at Maxton for the advice on set up. We also had Rider support from another unamed individual who we cant name but you know who you are!
The team and rider determination is there to not give up even when things are tough. With continued support from our sponsors, supporters and team we want to end the season in a good place. Wish us luck.
Sam Cox Racing
CADWELL BSB ROUND 8
Front end feel holds up the show!
Our preparation looked good on paper. We managed to secure a reserve place on an open pitlane trackday at Cadwell in the preceding week only to experience a wash out all day. Nevertheless we managed to secure a seemingly good wet set up on suggested gearing of 1:3. Normally this might have provided the basis for further development in the dry but events proved otherwise.
Going into P1 on this gearing and an adjusted dry condition set up did not work. At a higher pace the gearing was wrong with the engine bogging down in key sections and the suspension feel was lacking in confidence at the front with a lap time of 1:35.3s.
With further discussions, a change to new gearing requiring a shorter chain (thanks Tom Ward & co) we had hopes of a big improvement into P2 on Friday afternoon. We really needed dry conditions at this point. The rain Gods then did the usual on us and affected the session sufficiently to have us juggling tyres, set up and times when we really needed to prove a good dry set up ready for qualification next day. This didn’t happen, leaving the team struggling to be confident that our settings would help Sam push on further.
In Qualifying we improved laptimes a further 1.5s but this still left us at the bottom of the stack, 2 seconds slower than we needed to be. The data showed too long and too hard on the front brake meaning each corner, especially through the mountain section, was prolonged requiring harder gas on exit. The cause of this was a ‘terrible feel’ at the front stopping further aggressive entry.
All season we have had front end issues. We have double checked geometry, chassis, forks and shock and all are in good order and set up correct for Sam’s body weight. Where we have been led astray somewhat is following other rider set ups which don’t always suit individual styles. We have to get back to what we know works and test it sufficiently to reconnect with rider confidence and successful progress. K-Tech and Mark Sadler have been helpful with suggested adjustments and in each case at Brands and now Cadwell these have improved the situation somewhat but usually too late in the weekend to build upon for the final big race of the round.
After Qualifying, K-Tech looked closely at the fork internals and in particular the shim stack on the compression leg. Our compression setting itself was already pretty open at 23 so no further softening adjustment was possible or the fork would have bottomed out. By changing the shim stack make-up a different response curve could be achieved leaving hard force compression settings alone whilst easing off low end initial response. A quick 50 min change around was achieved just ready for the first Race. This was another roll of the dice!
The lap time lowered again to 1: 33.4 and this felt like a stepping stone to better things although we were still languishing in 17th over the line. Whilst improved, the new setting needed more track time to tune but as with many racing situations getting a spot on set up can be illusive without sufficient testing time.
Warm up on Saturday morning went well with another small gain achieved ready for the big race later in the afternoon.
At last the weather was settling down, the crowd size was growing and the adjustments seemed to be helping us make progress. The Race itself began well enough and by lap 3 another 0.5s a lap was lost to 1.32.8 – another PB. This time might have been expected in P2 and could then have been worked upon to achieve a better overall result than the eventual reasonable place of 14th. Judging by the problems in testing and practice however it must be accepted as a reasonable return for our efforts.
Looking back over the season so far we have definitely improved with several good finishes in 10th, 12th,16th and now 14th. The crash gremlins of last year have not returned but our main concern is the final finishing touch to a positive season and achieving our goal of top ten finishing. Gaining that extra 1 to 1.5% improvement to push us into the mid pack of riders where single digit places are available needs a little extra effort.
An analysis of our set up data can sometimes provide suggestions for improvement. On this occasion our suspension settings finished with rebound more closed off than previously. Rebound can sometimes be forgotten when compression and preload figures are being adjusted. In fact it is the more important of the three in that if too stiff can cause rear end high sides and front end confidence issues. The tyre will sink into a bump under load and unless allowed to (with an open rebound setting) not recover quick enough to deal with the next. The spectre of ‘packing’ and poor feel develops and this could be the region we need to explore next.
As soon as the racing had finished on Sunday the engine was stripped from the chassis ready for its second refresh. So far this season it has performed without fault. Our luck in the engine lasting five rounds instead of four plus a whole test day was with us and our general failure rate of other components has been kept at bay. We have employed a detailed mechanical checklist and a process that ensures every nut and bolt gets attention before leaving the team marquee. During this weekend the gear change footpeg was found to be loosening and a front tyre valve losing pressure. Each of these could have been a game changer but were caught in time.
Next round is Silverstone in two weeks time. The break of three weeks is really welcome as we have time to check equipment, truck and rebuild the bike. Oh, and the team mechanic can enjoy a weekend with family and re charge batteries!
Sam Cox Racing
#31 BSB Supersport
The last three weekends have included 2 BSB Rounds and one 8 Hour Endurance race. Writing a report during this period has been impossible as each BSB Round begins immediately after the last one ends. No time for writing! Endurance racing is exhausting!
The logistics of these occasions demand close attention to many different things and this whole team effort must go without fault to get the rider safely to the grid on Race day. Most of the time we get things right but recently we have struggled generally for better lap times than last year.
The R6 experience has opened up new demands and opportunities. Each circuit we visit we have no prior set up data so have to calculate the base settings from little prior experience. This is rarely fully correct and usually takes more than just the two practice sessions on Friday to get right. At Brands GP Round 6 the weather threw a spanner in the works and our dry set up proved less than satisfactory with poor front end confidence resulting. Not a good basis for a superb result in the damp conditions on Saturday then. Think again.
The Sprint race on Saturday looked less than dry. Our attempt at pushing forward in qualifying with a new dry tyre had been met with an immediate rain shower so lap times were poor (1.32.4s). A second opinion on set up was gained from James at K-tech who suggested we may benefit from 9.25 springs in the front. In hindsight this was an excellent move as the then calculated wet settings proved stable enough for Sam to push on in the race and gain a highly commendable 12th place Supersport finish. Sam’s best ride ever to date.
The main race at Brands on Sunday proved a big disappointment and this was in favoured dry conditions. Starting in a scary 14th position, the front end ‘feel’ issue was there again and held #31 up to the extent that the resultant lack of confidence cost him 7 places and a lap time 1.5s slower than the PB set on the Triumph last year. The head scratching then began.
Trying to unpick this type of problem you look at the bike, and then the rider. Sam has never been one to not want to ride hard in close racing at BSB level. He has been in some exacting situations pushing bikes that were poorly set up and pogoing all over the place – thanks Dad!. But he has also been badly hurt at times when he least needed it – mid season vying for Championships for example. Riding with a broken collarbone at Cadwell in 2014 springs to mind and even then he finished 2nd. These lessons are well earned and never forgotten. His approach now is more considered and appreciative of the consequences of poor set up. Pushing hard on a set up that feels unstable only leads to one ending and it is always hard.
Which brings us to the bike. After Brands GP the bike was sent to Motoliners in Maidstone for a chassis check. It came back straight except for a 1mm difference in swing arm pivot to spindle length. Small but significant.
Thinking hard about set up next, attention turned to the Rear shock. Was this affecting the front end? A suspension dyno test at K-tech in the Thruxton paddock proved the shock was performing almost to new condition with correct length and preload. Our settings were within range with sag figure correct too. Laptimes in race 1 on Saturday were still disappointing at a much favoured circuit.
What a puzzle !?
What followed next was fortuitous to Sam’s season. A chance comment in the post Thruxton Race 1 debrief pointed towards a potential power issue. His ability to overtake a competitors Kawasaki after slipstreaming him proved impossible. He could pass on corners but then lost it back from Church to Club chicane. More head scratching produced an obvious direction.
Sunday morning dawned and a simple trip to the DynoJet man Richard showed that the engine was making good power to above 131bhp with fuelling in the correct mix. Not bad for a bike about to be refreshed at Go Racing Developments after 4 rounds. However, the power curve showed a glaring hole around 11,200 rpm where the velocity stacks were lifting too early. This was costing 6-7bhp where it was most needed. Bingo!
"I have been getting increasingly frustrated with myself, the set up and our lack of pace and not knowing how to move forward. The SCR team had gone through just about everything we could think of. To find a hole in the power curve at such an optimum place was in some ways a relief. To have that amount back when we are already racing against some of the best teams in the country will help balance things a bit. I give this sport everything I have and will continue working hard to be a consistent top 15 rider this season. I still have to pinch myself that we are competing in this awesome class and want to return the faith my followers, team and sponsors have given me"
A simple software adjustment set the electronics correct to lift the trumpets later reducing the loss to a minimum. The effect was immediately apparent in Sunday morning warm up. With scrub tyres on Sam broke his PB from 1.19.8 to 1.19.1s. The relief was enormous.
With this illusive issue identified and problem solved plus two minor adjustments to set up, the big race on Sunday afternoon arrived. Within 3 laps of a good start Sam went below his new PB to 1.18.8s and began to tag the mid pack riders in front until a mistake dropped him off the important slipstream effect. He maintained his grid position but gained places by the end to a very successful 16th Supersport place over the line. A great end to a troubling and two hard weekends of racing in Supersport.
We travel to Cadwell this Wednesday for a useful testday before the engine has a necessary refresh at Go Racing developments having performed reliably over four rounds. With good saddle time, set up practice, new engine power and these problem solving experiences behind us we have definitely taken small steps forward…….
Wish us luck
Sam Cox Racing
Special thanks for all the help to:
Richard Spence Fleet & Connor
SCR Team: Frankie, Danielle
What a fantastic weekend! The sun shone throughout and a consistently warm and dry track provided the best conditions that we seem to have been endlessly awaiting.
For some time we have been getting everything right and trying to ensure our preparation is complete to give Sam the best possible chance to push up the grid, but the top 15 result we craved had always eluded us. Finally the circumstances to succeed appeared to be in alignment for the team during this Round 5.
Set up and Practice on Thursday and Friday was relaxed with no major issues presenting themselves. Times were not majorly fast but the end of the day saw low 1.56’s achieved with the bike behaving well. Suspension data showed a need to attack corners harder and carry more corner speed, so a front end adjustment to preload stiffened set up to support this.
Corner entry was initially better but unfortunately exit became affected and a previously stable rear tyre started to move about more. Further small adjustments to compression (softer) and rear rebound (open) stabilized these conflicting elements producing a decent improvement into Qualification to a 1:55.4s lap and race 1 position of 19th on the grid.
The first race started with a poor dash off the line getting boxed in to the hairpin and allowing a gap to appear in front by lap 3. This is an area the team need to work on, as by Lap 3, if 15th+ have pulled away, the race for these positions is usually gone.
Finishing across the line (just pipped – 0.03s - by Josh Daley) in 15th however, was a decent return for Sam’s hard work and his first ever BSB point in Supersport.
Celebrations were muted on Saturday evening as we knew the second race on Sunday was where we wanted to shine. With more sun predicted and main sponsors and guests arriving it would be important to get a solid result to thank them for their support this season.
It has been a very tough experience getting this far. Through 2015 & 2016 we have had many ups and downs but always kept going, sometimes against the odds, to keep Sam in the game.
The ‘tough keep going’ philosophy is all we had to achieve our Supersport goal of scoring some points. Whittling away at bike, rider and team performance enabled us to keep creeping forward, scoring PB’s, finishing more races and learning new things each weekend. 'Never give up' became our motto!
The continuing advice to rider from suspension data analysis, advising coaches and other racers has to a degree been too much in some respect. Too much information to process all at once perhaps but eventually this has begun to pay off as, for example, the throttle trace has strengthened (earlier and harder) the brake trace similarly and once entry, mid and exit join up we should enjoy even lower lap times. This will take more time and practice but the ‘continuous amalgamation of small gains’ ethos will help realise these improvements.
Sunday warm up again surprised the team with an excellent laptime of 1:55.3s; the fastest all round! That Sam does this is a mystery but it has happened before. Perhaps he is more relaxed during these sessions and can tag onto other quicker riders?
In the big race of the weekend in front of sponsors and large crowds, Sam got away to a better start and immediately began moving up the grid following early crashes. By race mid-way his official Supersport position was 13th which was exciting enough. With further thinning of riders and a closely following Josh Daley, Sam sat in 12th position on the last lap. With a bike length between them, Sam hung on until the final flag crossing the finish in an incredible 10th Supersport place!
To say the team was ecstatic was an understatement. With tears all round we rushed to congratulate Sam in Parc Ferme. Matt Baxter (Echelon) and Keith Taylor (F3 Group) were on hand to offer deserving hugs and back slaps! With Sam hardly believing it had finally happened we enjoyed the buzz of a top 10 Supersport finish for the rest of the week!
During this weekend of triumphs we had the help of Carl Goodchild working the bike mechanics, Barry Ellett and Paul West in the paddock, Frankie and Danielle in pitlane and grid and Sami ensuring we all remained fed and watered.
"As Sam’s Dad I felt very proud and happy all round. Firstly for Sam the racer who has worked so hard and put up with so much grief in this tough sport over 10 years to finally get his just rewards for never giving up. We have both seen talented racers come and go but here he is still batting away and doing well in the British Supersport series!
Secondly for Sam, my son and grown man, who has done so well to achieve all of this at the same time as finishing his degree at Leeds Beckett University last month and being awarded a B Sc 1st class Hons degree. That’s some going eh?"
Next weekend we are at Brands Hatch GP circuit where more preparation this week will be necessary as we start again from scratch. If you would like to support us please come along but also consider helping us with our iFuel fund. Mid season we are always grateful for any small donations to help meet the considerable fuelling costs due to the expensive control fuel we have to purchase at £3.60 per litre. And we need 60 litres or so each weekend!
Help us here:
Many thanks for your support!
#31 Coxxy & team
The last few weeks have been seriously affected by our house move from London to a temporary abode in South Wales. With kit in different locations not to mention vehicles and equipment it has put a strain on our ability to keep supporters informed of progress.
However, getting ready for Snetterton has finally been accomplished and we look forward to this round 5 as we have better set up data to work on, not the case at Knockhill during Round 4. Probably the worse round for a long time.
Knockhill is a circuit we would rather forget, in a hurry. Never kind to us and usually the place of crashes, often serious, it cannot be understood why BSB keep this track on its itinery each year. The fall off rate in each class was between 25 – 35%. That’s a lot of expense, damage and recovery time for riders and teams. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the grids were smaller at Snetterton as a result of this costly weekend. Our neighbours had a total of three crashes with both riders retired out for some time with medical problems. Hope they recover soon.
Sam had a bit of a horror in P1 with an early off causing the whole P1 & 2 practice sessions to be missed. A trip to Dundee hospital was required to check through the knocks and declare him fit to ride. Going into qualy on Saturday was not made any easier with a sore rider and no set up data. With a reasonable place achieved however, Sam did well to also finish the first race, later that day, in a respectable 16th.
The sky brightened for Sunday and with an excellent morning warm up completed in front of burgeoning crowds, all was in place for the big race.
Crashing at the same corner twice has only happened once in this race career. To say we were all disappointed for Sam was an understatement. Entering the hair pin the front end let go and with minimal damage the bike and rider returned to the pit lane to watch out the race. Coming away from Knockhill feeling that no serious injuries was almost a victory sums up why Knockhill wont be revisited. That a circuit has such a massive negative impact on so many riders indicates there are issues.
This weekend we have our ducks in a line again. The weather looks promising and we look forward to the visit of our two main sponsors F3 group and Echelon Consultancy. Keith Taylor and Matt Baxter will be travelling via bike and team Army are also visiting to offer moral support.
The rider has recovered his minor injuries and we will be working hard to achieve our goal of scoring points.
Our iFuel campaign is still alive and helps purchase our race fuel which we cannot race without. As ever our two stalwarts Phil Sansom and John nethercott have provided us with their regular contributions and if you would like to add to this go to this link, its very easy to buy us some laps:
Thanks for your support!
Sam Cox Racing
#31 BSB Supersport
OULTON PARK ROUND 3 BSB SUPERSPORT
Having taken something of an early season break following the busiest month of racing we have encountered, time to catch up with BSB round 3 at Oulton.
Following the test day there on April 20th we had gained a reasonable set up in preparation for the BSB Round 3 itself. BSB practice went well in the cool and dry conditions with a PB of 1:41.7 in P2. Usually in this situation an analysis of the data via the 2D Data logging system and discussion with Mark Sadler (Go Racing Developments) will enable further improvement, especially as in qualifying tyres are replaced in the push for a quicker lap time.
However, following this data analysis a decision was made to reset the overall set up of the bike and gearing. This was in an attempt to improve feel and corner speed as well as drive out of corners. In theory this should have been a step forward but in practice more time was required to bed these settings in and give the rider better familiarity to push on.
Other issues raised their head at this time too. Sam went into the qualifying session with the previous practice session rear tyre on. This tyre had its current sticker already attached. Not normally a problem, as the assumption was that the sticker was correct from the practice session before. Unfortunately this was not the case and instead of the correct red sticker the tyre had an orange one showing – we still cant work out how this happened! A frantic dash to the marquee produced the right one and despite the lung busting sprint return, Sam was soon out on track.
However, this unsettled start was compounded by the fact that the qualifying session was a 25 minute affair rather than the usual 30. Having lost 5 minutes already the pressure was on Sam to get some time on the new settings, return to the pit lane for a new rear tyre change and then set his best lap time effort towards the end of the session.
With less time to qualify than normal and with a whole new set of gear changes to adjust to it wasn’t too surprising that the qualifying time was slower than practice. The change had caused its own problems.
Tom Ward hitches a lift following his own experience with gravity!
Starting Race 1 in 19th position on the grid was disappointing but the race itself went well with a good start realizing a forward position and a final result of 17th - a season best with some improvement in lap time.
The weather forecast for the big days race on Monday was for dampness in the morning drying out in the afternoon. The rain held off for warm up but the track was not completely dry. Having decided to return to the original gearing set up these few laps re focused Sam’s thinking and we looked forward to the second 16 lap race later in the day.
Grid position was 19th due to Race 1 lap time and with a positive start Sam was where he wanted to be just towards the back of the mid pack of riders. Settling into lap 2 with all things positive and pushing forward, his entry into the second corner at Cascades was no different from many before but on this occasion the change from 4th into 3rd gear resulted in a ‘false neutral’. That dreaded of mechanical incidents whereby the gearbox trips up causing a loss of engine braking at the moment when it is expected and a resulting loss of control mid corner. This can result in a serious crash in most cases due to speed and front tucking or loss of track due to excess speed..
On this occasion Sam got off lightly. The gravel was traversed straight through and after exiting this it was a soft grass landing for him and the bike. Damage to pride and general well demeanour was far greater than the light breakage around the fairings. It was, however, a really upsetting end to the weekend for all.
Now the R6 is away for a refresh with Mark Sadler to be ready for the next outing at Snetterton and Knockhill in 4 weeks time. No doubt the inspection will show some worn clutch or gearbox component that caused this incident and this is a reminder that these hard raced road bikes are always taking more punishment than designed for. This engine had 3 rounds and 3 days testing in Valencia and almost made the refresh without fault. Those that string out repairs and maintenance can sometimes get away with it but the refresh leaves any bike feeling more precise, accurate and sharp nonetheless. This has to be the safer course of action for the riders well being and in relation to performance it should give a better peak on the dyno.
Picture by Mitch Du Cran photography
Finally, we were very pleased to be visited by our sponsor Matt Baxter and members of his family at Oulton. We also had Sara and John Bickley, their girls Lola and Megan and Phil Sansom in support.
With help from Tobias George and Carl Goodchild in the Paddock and Pit lane and the amazing pit board duo Frankie and Danielle, it was a positive weekend all round where we almost achieved our ambition.
Yet again we have to analyse our performance and attempt to iron out flaws in our approach and strategy to give Sam the best opportunity to win that first BSB point. If we maintain our effort and motivation it will come soon we are certain.
Next weekend we have an Endurance round at Donington to compete in and then following that our work up to Knockhill consists of:
June 4th Test & Tune Drag racing at North Weald Airfield (Start Practice)
June 6th Track test at Snetterton
June 7th BSB Test at Snetterton
June 10th Endurance at Anglesea
June 16th BSB Round 4 at Knockhill
Join us if you can, North Weald accept any bike or car, it’s a lot of fun!
Thanks for the support
#31 Sam Cox Racing
BRANDS HATCH INDY
BSB SUPERSPORT ROUND 2
Onward, onward and more onward!
Arguably the best weekend of our Supersport experience, this was the Round where everything seemed to click into place. Our preparation had run well. We had set up support from Barry Ellett and Paul West on Thursday leading to a relaxed and organised practice day on Friday. The weather throughout the weekend held off from any wet offerings although it sprinkled damp, tantalisingly close to Race 2s start, however there was no need for wet tyres. The only real gremlin was a minor electrical fault caused by a battery movement in qualification and a slight leak on a brake line connection early in the proceedings.
With the help of Team Army throughout the Round (Richard, Paul, Carl and Leon) the opportunity to focus fully on the bike and proceedings was maximised and smooth. This must have helped Sam, as his performances developed from promising through progressive to amazing over a total of 150 laps on track.
#31 came into the weekend with a PB of 48.1s achieved on the Triumph Daytona 675R in the last race here 11 months ago. This weekend we began with no set up data for the R6 but with some good track time already in the bag from Spain and Donington. Adjustments were relatively minimal and applied as the session’s pace improved. With Mark Sadler (Go Racing developments) crunching the data and providing useful rider feedback all things technical came together in a productive fashion.
For the sake of saving words, here are the session results:
The results here speak for themselves. Sam achieved an amazing improvement over the weekend at the short Indy circuit. To drop 0.8s on a different bike first time out was phenomenal. The other interesting fact is how much closer he gained from P1 to R3 in relation to the fastest rider (T McKenzie).
The significant events of a full on 4 day weekend were thus:
The big race on Easter Monday was an exciting occasion. Our new sponsor Keith Taylor of F3 Group visited with family and the whole lead up was helped enormously by further Team Army attention and support. These guys really deserve our thanks again.
The race itself was held in very cool temperatures which suited our stock radiator set up. Tyre pressures seemed to hold up on track however and set up had been additionally changed from R2 to suit the greater movement experienced at the faster pace.
Sam held his position off the line making a better start – this was partly due to holding the throttle open at much higher revs than previous, another piece of info gleaned from the data system. On the first lap, bunching into Druids was a serious affair with very little space to maneuver and gain places and as the race settled he found himself at the back of the middle pack which was proceeding at a pace of 47.2s a lap.
Early in the race this was quicker than comfortable and as Sam fell off the back of this group he joined two other riders, Kurt Wigley and Alex Persson for a race long battle into 17th.
During this 15 lap melee Sam caught Persson and Wigley, held the lead on these and then dropped to Persson following some serious overtakes and increasing lap times which is where the best time PB of 47.3 was set.
The final result of 17th in Supersport class (excluding the M3 bike) and the new lap time of 47.3s was the perfect finish to a testing weekend which the team and rider passed with flying colours.
So tomorrow we start again, we travel to Oulton Park for the official test there this Thursday in preparation for Round 3 in two weekends time. Wish us luck!
Many thanks again to the whole team and supporters and also our two stalwart iFuellers who regularly top up our IFuel fund each month:
Sam Cox Racing
Any HELP here: http://www.samcoxracing.com/ifuel-funding/
BSB ROUND 1 DONINGTON
The season starts with tragedy and hope
The elephant in this Blog report is the sad situation that led to the death of Mick Whalley in the Ducati Tri Options cup on Saturday. It is nothing to do with us and everything to do with us, which is why it is difficult to comment and make sense of. We recognise the risks in motorcycle racing as did Mick, and in taking part we accept them by default. None of us really expects our sport to end our life but in reality it is always there lurking in the background.
Mick Whalley was not known to us personally but in the small and close knit community of the BSB Paddock he was one of us. His wishes would certainly have been for racing to continue and to mark his passing, to show our respects to him and his family and then live on through our racing which fills our lives with so many positives. And that we shall do. So Mick and family, the greatest of respect from us to you and your family, you were a racer and a part of us.
Our own weekend seems tame in comparison to such a disastrous event but here is our experience for the record.
Our set up on Thursday took longer than normal due to the new truck and awning, the new equipment and kit but with the help of Barry Ellett and Paul West we had it all sorted in a matter of hours. The bike looks really great in the flesh and Jay Anthony (Jays Spray shop) has achieved a really eye catching colour scheme which fits well with our sponsors, Echelon Consultancy and F3 Group.
Friday practice began cold and dryish with later rain forecast. Donington is really slippery in the wet so grabbing any tracktime was essential after the very wet test there two weeks ago. As we set off out of the awning, Sam tested the front brake only to see fluid dripping from the banjo to caliper bolt. With further torque on the connection it refused to dry up so a complete removal of the offending item (the 2D Brake sensor connection) and a rebleed of the caliper resulted in a loss of 7 minutes. After testing on circuit the connection was fine but residual fluid had sprayed the screen offending the eye and worrying the riders confidence that all was good. Nevertheless P1 went well with 13 laps completed and a useful time of 1;36.2 achieved into 20th position.
Upon inspection this 2D Aluminium alloy connection had developed a hair line crack also impossible to see by eye but weep fluid it did. With a new HEL stainless replacement (FOC – thanks HEL) and further bleeding, cleaning and checks the bike was ready for P2.
In the second session Sam immediately showed signs of improvement and confidence, building up to complete some steadingly improving laps throughout the session and a healthy new PB of 1.34.9 by the end. That Sam is beginning to gel with the R6 is obvious from laptimes that drop so quickly without excessive tracktime. Putting one’s finger on why this bike is so much better for him is fairly straight forward: The R6 has the electronic capability to adjust engine braking through its ECU such that it is accessible to racers and their teams; therefore a proper kit ECU. The Triumph 675R had a locked down ‘kit’ ECU which was not adjustable, unless you know a man in Hinkley with those special expensive skills!
Saturday’s qualifying session was marred by mizzle and eventually rain. Thinking through our strategy, Sam and team decided to play it safe and sit out the first 15 mins as the downpour desisted, the track was becoming less wet and the risk of an ‘off’ had to be avoided (Sponsors were expected on Sunday and a functional bike was needed for the race later in the day).
With others taking the gamble and paying the price, it was sufficient to qualify down the grid and remain in one piece for the upcoming Sprint race later in the day. Here Sam could make up places in the dry conditions and set the grid position for Sunday’s big 18 lapper.
Unfortunately as we now know, the paddock later suffered the terrible incident at Swantz Curve where one Ducati lost oil, others ploughed into the slick and the resulting fatality ended racing for the day in appropriate respect.
From under this cloud Sunday dawned with sunlight and hope that refills the senses and returned us back towards the here and now, if that is possible in a race paddock. Warm up went really well. The track was dry, the bike in its new lightweight race fairings (Steve Ackah) and a palpable confidence and expectation in the team. Viewing from first Redgate and then Craner, Sam certainly looked the part in fast smooth action before a growing BSB crowd. We then met our existing and new sponsors in the paddock. Matt Baxter (MD Echelon) and his wife Sarah and Keith Taylor (MD, F3 Group) popped into the team awning for a cuppa, a chat all things Supersport and to offer their season's support. This interest and encouragement is the hope of all teams and we really appreciated it fully.
At 3.40pm the first race of the season got away without incident. Sam made a good start, maintained his 22nd grid position over initial laps and then started to build pace taking places in front of him to 19th. After 6 laps the Donington braking gremlins hit again (this seems to be an annual event!). On lap 7 brakes were good through Coppice, Esses, Melbourne and Goddards but into Redgate a back to the bar lever moment provided an unsettling shock only just making the corner. The next lap saw sector times lapse and places fall back to 23rd as Sam backed off to ensure continuity and safety. As the system cooled, braking returned and a riders initial decision to return to the pits was rejected in favour of pushing on.
Eventually Sam again began a battle for position and during this time he smashed his PB to 1.34.2s for Donington which is a major leap forward and bodes well for this season. Without this technical glitch a further place in the top 20 was a certainty and with more generous luck meteorologically, Donington could have given up its tricky circuit reputation and provided the team with its first BSB point. However, looking closely at lap times, we are now statistically 0.5% away from the top 15 so progress has been achieved already this season. A big thanks go to Richard Spencer Fleet for his terrific technical support, Danielle and Frankie on the Pitboard and make up and Sami Mellows for the lovely food all weekend.
Our goal is to maintain this progress and development and the team generally has also taken a step forward. Brands Hatch Round 2 happens soon. Over the Easter Bank holiday we will be even more expectant and confident of making a break through during two sprint races and a big 30 lapper.
Wish us luck!
SAM COX RACING
IFUEL thanks to TOBY MELLOWS, JOHN NETHERCOTT and PHIL SANSOM. We covered 90% of our Control Fuel costs with your generous IFUEL DONATIONS for the Donington Round
Supporters and Followers can help the team at the next round through our IFUEL Campaign here: IFUEL CAMPAIGN
The winter preparation period is over. The team has achieved a huge amount of development in the last 4 months. Changing from Triumph machinery to Yamaha; swapping Motorhome to Paddock truck and putting into place a whole new plan for sponsor support to ensure we meet the costs of a 12 round season.
The best news after a long frustrating off season slog, where we have struggled to meet deadlines, where parts and purchases have been held up by suppliers and manufacturers is that we have attracted exciting and new sponsorship as well as renewing existing support to kick start the season.
The national award winning Echelon Consultancy and Matt Baxter MD has taken an interest in Sam Cox Racing since we first met in 2008 whilst competing in the BMCRC Minitwin series. When this changed in 2011 to the Triumph Triple Challenge we remained in contact sufficient to attract funding since 2013. That we have continued support from Echelon for 2017 is fantastic news as the Echelon team are lovely people who have followed us around the BSB Championship rounds including the far off round at Assen.
That we have such supportive sponsors is one thing but that they have also introduced us to another prosperous company (soon to be announced) is tremendous. Through their contacts in the world of building and housing, Matt and Echelon have gained us further support and this could be telling in the season to come.
Until this is tied up and formalised we will celebrate the Echelon connection first and then wait to announce this new relationship soon. Watch this space.
Today we travel to Dover to catch the night ferry to France on our way to Valencia, Spain for a 3 day test. We have always wanted to achieve this before a season has started but for either funding or fitness reasons it has previously proved difficult . This year our gamble to make it work will hopefully pay off. The weather looks dry in Spain so with the new bike, promising an interesting and new 4 cylinder experience, it should provide a great start to our preparations to race in Supersport again in 2017.
Upon return we have 2 weeks before the first official test at Donington on March 21st. This time will be used for bike prep, finalising and spraying the fairing design, finishing the new leathers and packing the Race truck. With another visit to Silverstone on Saturday 25th with Spank Endurance team for a guest spot ride, things are beginning to warm up.
As with previous years we are continually seeking additional technical support in the paddock as well as funding for our expensive fuel costs. We have set up our iFuel fund for just this purpose. This can be from goodwill supporter donations or for those wishing to gain hospitality, entry tickets and other privileges associated with team level involvement. If this appeals either get in touch or help us with our fuel costs by clicking on the link below. We will always recognize these donations in our team promotions. Its easy to process via paypal or card and you will be literally buying us laps on track!
Sam Cox Racing #31
2017 Supersport season prep and it's mostly go!
Since November, when we decided to follow the Yamaha R6 route back into BSB Supersport, progress in the team has gone well. We needed to find a low mileage, road going 2013+ R6 at decent money. Just before Christmas we discovered one on Ebay which the Scottish owner was willing to part with for a reasonable sum. Immediately it was shipped south to Jay Anthony’s workshop in Wimborne, stripped down to its bare essentials and then delivered into the hands of Mark Sadler at Go Racing Developments for a Supersport engine upgrade. This was two weeks before Christmas and seemingly in good time for finishing in early Feb.
Sam Cox with Spank Endurance team at the ACU Awards in January
The motorcycle industry is notorious for not meeting deadlines (a seasonal scourge), or met at the very last minute. In our position we are at the end of the supply chain, waiting to put all the parts together and just one supplier can endanger the whole project. On this occasion we are fingers crossed on Piper Cams in Kent completing their work and Akrapovic delivering a full titanium system by early next week. Both slightly overdue and potentially the pause in proceedings.
Everything else has been sourced and is awaiting the big bolt together before returning to Go Racing for a Dyno run and mapping. The whole project has worked out at 20K including the bike, which is pretty good if you consider that an almost newly built Supersport bike would cost more to acquire if you didn’t do most of the work yourself.
Here is the full spec:
We hope to launch the built machine in its new team colours at the Ace Café in London at the end of the month – see FB Sam Cox Racing events. This will be dependent on much furious activity coming together in the next two weeks including the finishing of the new fairing designs via Superbike Technical Services in Three Legged Cross, Dorset.
Following this we will test at Snetterton on Feb 26th then go to Valencia for three days testing in early March. With the official BSB test booked mid March at Donington, we hope to have made a good organised start to the third year in our BSS career.
This beast arrives in March
We have other good news on the Race Home front. We decided to offload the comfy motorhome and trusty Sprinter van in search of a Paddock truck which would do both jobs. That we found one at a decent price with a resident workshop, awning and lovely interior has been a real boost. Based on a Mercedes 815 Atego 7.5t truck, it promises to give us a real race team look as we arrive in the Paddock. The living space, workshop and sleeping spaces are extra comfy.
As ever, sponsorship is the lifeblood of racing. Along with a rider it's the main thing we need to keep going and unlike the rider it can be elusive. We are lucky enough to still have positive contact with two personal sponsors and two commercial contacts who have really helped enormously in previous years. We have got this far due to their support and funding and we would love to encourage their involvement this season. That circumstances change for them and us is always a definite and times are tough for different reasons. Racing is an expensive sport and last season we were unable to complete every Supersport round although the Endurance racing with the Spank team and Stuart Fitton kept wheels rolling and led us to our first National ACU Championship.
We have committed to fewer Endurance rounds this year and hope to finish every one of the twelve BSB Rounds entered. This is a tough enterprise and will stretch our resources enormously. Looking at the sums, in reality we are an associate sponsor short of achieving this. Solving this problem will entail appealing to all supporters, followers and their friends for any contacts they may have who would enjoy being part of the team enterprise and contributing to our outgoings. This will definitely ensure we stay in the game for as long as possible.
In 2016 our iFuellers effectively paid for one whole round of racing. Each and every £10 given added up to the total cost of one round which is approximately £1800 – 2000. The ongoing fuel budget adds up to £180 per weekend x 12, which equals the same. That these supporters gave their hard earned cash left us grateful and humbled at their generosity. We will be developing new ideas to develop this connection in 2017.
Even the Paddock bike has needed a complete rebuild and polish!
All we can do is go forward with the experience we have gained in two hard seasons at Supersport, the second division in British Motorcycle Racing. Our dream has always been to reach the Superbike grid. Another season of survival and with the wind behind us we might reach this goal.
If you would like to be a closer part of our season or support our cause in any way you must get in touch. Visiting our IFuel page enables any small donation to go straight towards Sam Cox Racing and keeping the dream alive. If you can take this support further even better!
Thanks for your following, support and kind encouragements!
Sam Cox Racing
The new 2017 Season is underway already. The R6 Engine is in for Re-Engineering with Mark Sadler at Go Racing Developments (more news later), equipment purchases are running high, testing being booked and new fairings ordered. First place to start is at the trusty services of Christine Jackson at Cougar leathers. Offering a bespoke service Christine has built several first class race suits throughout Sam's career and the following article outlines why Sam Cox Racing would never go anywhere else. Supporters and followers of Sam Cox Racing can enjoy a Premier price and service by mentioning our name, why are you waiting?!
WHY USE COUGAR LEATHERS?
Since early 2007 Sam Cox Racing has only ever used one race leathers manufacturer: Ride magazine recommended Cougar leathers in Hertfordshire. With premises tucked away next to a railway line in the sleepy village of Shepreth it is hardly mass manufacturer territory. Only hand crafted magic here; no foreign based textile workers just Christine Jackson, her trusty sewing machine and lots and lots of top specification materials. But why not buy those racey looking suits often promoted online or in Motorcycle dealerships? As we know, buying Leather Racing suits is a costly business. Averaging over £1000 for the top of the market outfits it is important to make the right choice. But it gets even costlier when that suit lets you down when you most need it.
When we started racing we were attracted by the seemingly great looking suits that were also cheaply priced. To touch they were made of leather, there was padding and some kind of protection in the knees and shoulders. Where could we go wrong? It wasn’t until the inevitable happened and crashes occurred that we began to notice the prevalence of ripping, tearing and suits falling apart at the seams. On closer inspection the leather quality was insufficient to withstand the friction of sliding along a track surface and was wearing through to the skin. We tried suits from RST, Dainese and others and on each occasion they failed in similar ways.
We were shocked and perplexed. How was it that these – often British made products – failed so easily? On investigation we learned that many of these so called home products were actually made in the far east. Chinese suits can be easily disguised through re badging and who would know that Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey are all dominant in this trade? Where there were impacts on rumble strips, tears appeared and seams were pulled apart. After several repairs Christine refused to fix them anymore and was genuinely concerned for the riders safety and it was clear that her tailor made options were a great alternative.
So what advantages do we get when we order a new suit from Cougar leathers? First of all Christine has nearly 20 years experience in suit manufacture. She has made hundreds of suits and repaired even more. She knows the importance of quality materials, processes and manufacturing techniques that ensure there is no failure with her suits. We therefore KNOW what we are getting and can see it being manufactured before our eyes. Its well worth the reasonable costs for this peace of mind.
By taking a wide range of measurements from the rider, Christine ensures that the leather is cut to shape and frame with an emphasis in ensuring the rider is able to move freely on the bike. After initial sizing up she will make the basic suit and then call for a second fitting session. When other parts are added and finishing is almost done, these adjustments are then triple checked with the rider wearing their normal under suit garments. In this way, knee sections are in the right place, armour protects the parts they should do and the flexibility sections work to provide freedom of movement.
Seemingly expensive suits may still fit but do they use the best quality leather? How do you know if your protection on track is based on the ability of a soft Australian Kangaroo skin or that of a toughened Brazilian Cowhide? Are you aware that some manufacturers skimp on leather thickness of less than 1mm thick to promote lightness and comfort at the expense of safe protection?
At Cougar Leathers, superior South American Cowhides at 1.4mm thickness ensure maximum protection in the event of a slide off or impact. With double layers in key sections plus triple stitching and stretch panels that are Kevlar backed, this system is almost 100% guaranteed to be safe.
Added to these first class and bespoke manufacturing methods, which take over 3 days to bring together, Christine then adds tough YKK Zips and Forcefield Armour. Both these companies produce their own world beating technologies which are chosen to back up the structural integrity of Cougar Leathers products. On top of all these protective qualities racers and riders can chose their own colours and styles including the addition of sponsor logos and labels. After adding the back hump (all included in the price) and neatly edged cuffs and soft leather neck lines plus the option of perforated panels for good breathability you are getting a huge deal for a hand made and tailored suit. And its British!
In reality we have experienced several major crashes in our time. From high speed at 120mph to shocking highsides, entrapment under fallen machines or the abrasions of gravel, Sam has never had a Cougar leather suit fail. There has never been a panel fall apart or rip, no puncture holes or seams that have come apart. Without one of these suits we have had plenty of chances to lose lots of skin.
At Knockhill two seasons ago, despite our protests, Sam's Cougar suit was cut off him via two whole length slices down the whole leg and torso front. That the nurses struggled to complete this is an indication of structural integrity, that Cougar leathers rebuilt the whole suit back to new was another feather in Christine's cap.
This record is a testimony to Christine and Cougar Leathers and the high quality skill she has in what must be the construction of the safest suits in the UK. In relation to cost she has no competition. That her top spec suits, including, design, humps and badging come in under £900 is remarkable. That these can be personally fitted and designed is also amazing in the suit market.
We are happy to recommend Cougar leathers as a first class product. Christine is never not busy and a good time to place an order for the coming season is now!
CHRISTINE @ COUGAR LEATHERS is on 07599281592