Assen has become our number one place to race for several years. The atmosphere, history, the fan interest level and the great facilities are too good to miss. That the ferry fare is free seals it as a must go trip.
Unfortunately the Stock 1000 class does not go there so SCR entered the Dutch and Belguim Championship races that combine 1000cc and 600 Stock and Supersport bikes into a large and busy grid of over 45 entrants. We were not 100% sure of the regs or rules but travelled knowing the start to the weekend would be straight into qualification on the R1 without any prior track or set up time.
This is where our relationship with Maxton suspension is really useful. Richard Adams provided guidance to set up suggesting a stiffer rear and softer front spring set would suit the sweeping curves of the big, fast ‘Cathedral of Speed’ layout. We duly adjusted the bike and started with a long wheelbase and gearing at 16:41.
Our hope was to get into the top 10 as previous British Stock 1000 racers had shown their competitiveness in previous years. With Ben Godfrey, Leon Jeacock and George Stanley all entered we knew to get on the podium was going to be tough. Our other aim was to ensure we had a mechanically trouble free round giving Sam the best chance of demonstrating his riding ability without hindrance, our plague this season.
Our preparation includes two days prior to leaving, servicing and checking over the bike and kit. This means the truck, the pit gear and tools as well as spares and tyres. It’s a big task and missing one item can be crucial to success. On this occasion our check lists and experience got it right. No dramas, failures or mistakes only a gearing ratio which wasn’t the best to begin with. Our chain worry (see previous Blogs) was addressed by investing in a new DID ERV3 with new sprockets from AR Racing in Bristol.
Qualification straight out of the box is an odd way to start a weekend but with our Endurance racing this year, Sam often rocks up, straight into it setting (usually) either pole or top 3 at most rounds. At Assen the 25 minute session went really well with an eventual time of 1:44.1s, half a second slower than Sam’s PB of 1.43.6 set last year in the final race.
The Dutch peoples are very nice peoples. Our chats with the many interested onlookers included a local chap who also raced on an R1. He helpfully commented that 16:45 gearing works best at Assen allowing use of 6th gear. We had set up to use 2nd – 5th gears so a rethink was in order to get better drive from higher engine revs. 15:42 amounts to 16:45 and allowed repeat use of the chain fitted and a reasonable swing arm length of 602, right in the ball park for optiminal geometry (we have discovered). Plenty of stability and turn speed.
In Q2, although we lost a place from 6th in Q1 to 7th, Sam’s best laptime dropped to a PB of 1:43.0s. The main problem we were having was getting drive out of turn 5 the hairpin that was affected by excessive wheelying. It also affected the exit of the final chicane.. This perennial problem has dogged us all season. Our strategy has been to keep wheelbase longer, the whole bike lower and fit a thumb brake. Even with these factors working against it the R1 still manages to pop the front wheel up when you least need it. In discussion we decided to lower the whole chassis 2mm front and back with a slight bias towards the front. With additional electronic control – setting 3 on the dash – the bike was as controlled for anti wheely as possible. The problem with this is that the drive is damped on the throttle on exit. However, it was decided that greater control was better than less control at these moments so into Race 1 we had hopes of better lap times.
Race 1 went really well. With the 15 sprocket providing good straight line drive Sam kept his 7th starting position down the track into turn one but then gained places around the outside grabbing two positions into 5th. With a fight back from surrounding riders Sam’s race position alternated until the end but our pleasure in witnessing the lap time was immense. On lap 4 Sam smashed his PB and achieved an amazing 1:41.5s which registered that the bike was working well albeit still wheelying too much!
Finishing 5th was a great result but the grid position stayed the same (7th) due to class rules from qualification. All to do again on Sunday. Following a lovely meal Saturday night with our main sponsors Echelon Consultancy (Matt, Lisa, Kelly and Fiona) in Assen town, our weekend was turning out pleasant and positive.
We know what you are thinking right now, where is the rub? Our past experience has been to develop these situations and then get slam dunked by an unexpected event, usually mechanical. This time we just kept moving forward and enjoyed the best race of the season and best result of the year. Our double-checking process had uncovered no issues and so it transpired.
Race 2 enjoyed further dry weather although it was cool enough to help with engine temperatures if not tyre heat. The start went well again with Sam moving up to 5th and then 4th ahead of George Stanley. These two battled throughout the race with the Suzuki saddled Stanley enjoying better drive out of corners and Sam working to keep the R1 front down. Nevertheless they matched each other during the key moments in the middle of the race.
Eurosport TV focused on #31 and #54 (Stanley) for a large portion of the race as these two were the only closely contesting riders; the front three had gapped the field at the front. With passes every lap, 4th position changed hands several times and it was a really close, enough to keep the pitlane team on tenterhooks. Team Army could be heard from the spectating terrace “go on Coxxy!”.
Two front riders then crashed out. First Nigel Walraven on lap 7 and then on lap 11 Leon Jeacock lost it to leave Sam and George fighting for 2nd and 3rd place! By Lap 11 of 14, back markers began to make their presence known more frequently. George was making use of their positions to dive up their inside at key moments and eventually opened a gap to Sam of 2 seconds. At this time of the race it was strategic for Sam to finish safely in 3rd and a first podium of the season beckoned.
At the end in 3rd the team were wildly ecstatic as were sponsors and supporters including our Dutch friends Jacque and Tineke. Collecting in the winners enclosure felt brilliant with high fives and hugs all round. This is what we had been working hard for all season, a taste of success and a cheap plastic trophy representing all the aggravation we have overcome!
Well we came, saw and conquered to a great degree at Assen. That Sam’s riding was the best we had seen is a testimony to his growing confidence and hard work. Never giving up has been his mantra and he carried the hopes of his whole team across the line. Well done Coxxy #31!
This weekend we hope to finish off our National Endurance Championship challenge with Team Army 1 at Donington, it looks wet on Saturday so it could get interesting. Finally we have Round 12 BSB at Brands GP in two weekends time. It would be good to see all supporters and followers there to finish off a busy and ball busting - at times - season.
Big thanks to Frankie, Sami Mellows, Becci, Dad, sponsors Echelon Consultancy, Intact Electrical, Valbro Scaffolding and Southern & Country Roofing for helping it happen!!
Thanks for the support and good wishes
Sam and Team SCR
Silverstone Race God doesn’t stop the progress
Sometimes you just have to accept the race Gods have their own agenda. Difficult when you don’t believe in God at all but hard as we try the circumstances of our racing effort seem to be sailing into an onshore breeze at times and the rocks can get dangerously close.
This time we skated perilously close to poor fate but we got a break and we all came home in one piece, the most important result most teams would accept.
Our planning for BSB round 9 had included a test on the GP circuit the previous week. During that day we developed set up and finally got a good base setting that Sam could push on with and further develop during the race practice the following Friday. Due to the MotoGP debacle the Race Gods decided Silverstone GP was surface fucked and the National configuration became our new challenge – bye bye GP Circuit. Bye bye useful set up data.
A third in size, the National layout really only contains four corners including the Brooklands complex that turns left and long right. Studying the layout and in consultation with two other suspension advisors it seemed sensible to change both gearing and swing arm length. Wrong.
At the test, swing arm length had been 598 then changed to 605 for P1 on Friday morning, gearing was 16.44 changed to 16:42. The effect was dramatically worse. The front end felt horrible and harsh. Not having any real previous data for this shortened track we had gone the wrong way. Into P2 we altered the configuration. Back to 598mm but kept the 16:42 gearing and instantly we got the bike turning, staying on line and lost a whole second on laptime.
Measuring relative progress of the team can be worked out by looking at the fastest time achieved by the leader in each session. In P1 we were 4.3% slower but in P2 we had narrowed this to 3% slower per lap.
Two events now conspired to shake the ship, blow the wind into our face and move us closer to those rocks. After practice had finished we religiously (to avoid the race gods wrath) got on our knees and went over the bike checking all components, changing oil and filter etc. The weather looked as if it could play a part in qualification the next morning. It did. This is an acceptable act of ‘God’, we planned our tyre changes and new rubber accordingly.
During our development of the bike we had fitted a thumb brake using the existing rear cylinder onto the left hand handlebar. It dampens the wheelying effect of the R1 under acceleration but does not have great braking power. However, when the rear wheel is out don’t touch the thumb brake lever folks. It shifts the piston and pads requiring the brake caliper to be taken apart and re aligned. Annoying but not too difficult in less then 15 minutes. Part of the process requires removing the rear wheel sensor. This sits very close to the rear wheel speed sensor disc. Incorrectly fitted it fails to picks up rear wheel speed and the electronics will send a fault code to the dash.
Qualification arrived on Saturday morning, the track was decidedly wet and the team set off to support Sam on the grid. The trolley and kit headed for the Pitlane middle gate (open throughout Friday) this was now locked. A short delay saw us arrive in pitlane a little late but the bike had already returned after one lap but the rider had gone momentarily AWOL! Poor Frankie stood holding the bike as Sam had gone to consult Mark Sadler on the likely cause of the engine management light now flashing on the dash. You guessed it, the rear wheel speed sensor was misplaced. Quicly cleared and sort but valuable time lost.
By the time the bike rolled out of pitlane we had 13 minutes of 25 left. With less time to build up pace in the damp conditions Sam could only qualify 30th , 5.7% behind the leader. A rotten experience all round.
Our next big challenge on Saturday was the double race scenario at 2.00pm, two 24 lap races 10 minutes apart. Known as a ‘stupid idea’ by most of the paddock it puts an added strain on logistics. Extra fuel, tyres and spares have to be loaded into pitlane and the marshalls are like prison guards shouting and blowing whistles to get teams to follow the rules. Rules they rarely make clear in the first instance.
Race 1 went well. After a boxed start Sam made his way up the grid from 32nd to a pack of riders at 26th. Swapping places with Nick Anderson he finally finished 25th with a best time of 56.8s (Relative time of + 2.1%). The bike could have been adjusted at this point but by the time the rear tyre had been swapped out, the bike refueled and an errant drive sprocket nut replaced (it had fallen off) we made pitlane exit with 10 seconds to spare – no time for suspension analysis this time. Thanks to MCams for the new nut and washer!
Race 2 went without incident, another 25th position over the line but with no improved lap time. The continuing worry about drive components including tyres, chain and sprockets and their security held Sam back but this time the additional problem was delaminating tyre treads. A chunk of rubber had removed itself from the rear tyre carcass and we were one of three competitors to suffer damage. Many more was to come on Sunday.
Sunday morning warm up went really well. Another PB of 56.6, (1.7% greater than the leader). A gear change to 16:41 had helped in a 4th gear corner and we had got the suspension working better but as the rider goes quicker changes are always necessary.
Expectation for the final race of three at Silverstone built up following warm up. Our Echelon sponsors rep had arrived and Lisa and husband helped us celebrate Sam’s birthday later in the day. First the race.
Getting off to a reasonable start and moving up from 27th on the grid to 25th happened in the first five laps. Then a red flag brought proceedings to a halt. After 10 minutes the race restarted with the usual warm up lap but before the lights went out a disconsolate Sam was seen pushing the R1 up pitlane. Another fucking chain break!
Its unbelievable how many component failures we have suffered this season. The chains have been checked and set up correctly and have now broken twice this season, relatively unheard of. It didn’t break at the soft link but the inner plate where the stress got too much. The maker (EK) claims a healthy strength of 37.8 KN against the DID version of 38.5. Not a huge difference but on this occasion the EK chain came recommended by a supplier so the only way to find out their reliabilty is to test them. Turns out Sams sister and partner have access to a large test rig at Warwick University so we will see how strong these chains really are!
Not a bad weekend however, we are setting the bike up well each round and progressively improving lap times at what is always a strange circuit for our team and the R1. We are nearly at the end of the season and have Assen and BrandsGP to come. Assen involves an entry in the Dutch Championship as the Stock 1000 class doesn’t compete there. More news about that and our 2019 plans as they unfold next week.
Thanks to: Tony Homer, Frankie Ridley Fink, Iain Rowatt and Becci Byers for their paddock support and our sponsors who continue to back us:
Southern & Country Roofing
We have exciting plans for 2019 and will outline them soon before we travel to the Cathedral of Speed, Assen in Holland in two weeks time.
Sam & Team SCR
#31 Stock 1000 Championship
This was an all round tough but fantastic weekend. The Team SCR of Frankie Ridley Fink and Sami Mellows,Tony Homer, Iain Rowatt and Graham Cox worked tirelessly all weekend to support Sam on Track. His huge effort at the end in the big race not only broke masses of sweat but also smashed his PB at Cadwell by a country mile. His best lap previously was a 1:32.8 set in the Supersport series last year. Here he pushed hard from a terrific start to post a 1;31.2s; a huge improvement over Saturdays qualifying time of 1:32.3s.
Thruxton had knocked us all for six. The engine loss has been a huge blow to our pockets and also progress. The flow we had built up since Brands GP into practice at Thruxton was blown out of the water. Putting our efforts back together has been exhausting and stressful but ultimately worth it.
The support from Road & Race in Verwood and Alan Cook has been superb. Repairing our original engine, which was already in for a refresh, was a real necessity to get back on track. R&R transported the whole bike up on the day before practice. As soon as it arrived on Thursday morning and the marquee was set up, we set to inspecting every part and system to ensure we had a reliable weekend.
The braking system was a key focus. The problems with fade are well documented in previous SCR Blogs. The need for a thumb brake is obvious when so much wheelying is happening causing loss of control and drive. Both these areas are weaknesses of the R1 Stock set up. In discussion with McCams Yamaha team and Matt Truelove our attempts to improve matters was not necessarily the right direction to take. McCams were using stock Yamaha pads which were performing better than Brembo Z04’s !
Advice was to look carefully at Brake disc condition and straightness. Without resorting to testing the fitted Brembo HPK race discs for trueness (they looked fine) we opted to replace them with a brand new set. This, along with further bleeding of the fluid and fastidious cleaning had a positive effect – no more fade. The front master cylinder is also being inspected and serviced. On track in FP1 the best lap time of 1:32.6s, a PB, was an indication that our base set up and improvements were working.
The fitting of the thumb brake with borrowed parts from Bill Philp of Draper Racing took all of 6 hours to get right. Even then its performance was somewhat weakened with the heat of initial use – more fade! However, with further adjustment, more bleeding and an incident in Sunday warm up where the back caliper locked up, things were beginning to work and wheelying became more controlled over the mountain and other affected sections.
The caliper lock up in Sunday warm up was another narrow escape for Sam. Coming down into Mansfield on lap 2 the rear tyre started skipping over the tarmac. Having adjusted the pivot point of the thumb brake lever we had unwittingly misaligned the piston with the cylinder. With use, the master cylinder piston moved into the barrel but then jammed in position and the caliper got very hot! Pulling off track into the care of worried Marshalls (smoke coming from the caliper) they struggled to move the bike at all as the rear wheel was seized in position. This problem was easily reversed and fixed back in the SCR marquee.
We rely on Richard Adams at Maxton for suspension advice. We are also getting adept at tuning the Maxton kit and getting the bike turning and riding the bumps. Having his input also adds enormously to our decision making.
After qualification we looked at sector times and it was obvious the twisty section from Mansfield to Barn was where more time could be lost. Making the bike easier to steer through this section, transition from left to right and then drive better was all solved with one small change: an extra tooth on the rear sprocket. The change shortened the wheelbase – easier to turn. The shorter wheelbase raised the rear end – quicker transition. Increased engine revs improved the drive and settled the bike through the succession of turns.
With the bike changed into its Echelon race colours and dry conditions beckoning in front of a big crowd, Sam got off the line really well (he had ditched the launch control electronics) and made several early passes from 21st on the grid to16th or so during lap one. This was shaping up to be a hell of a ride.
By mid race Sam had settled into a steady rhythm of 1:31s and 17th position. Rob McNealy was making up space from behind and eventually muscled Sam off line at Park Curve almost causing a mid race exit. With further laps to go Sam tagged McNealy until the end and finished a commendable 18th. The biggest achievement was his new PB lap time of 1.31.2s. An amazing 1.1s off best qualifying time and a real relative leap forward on the rest of the field ahead.
All the team and rider had worked so hard for this and this was reflected in an exhausted Sam in Parc Ferme with congratulations all round. Packing up and driving the 4 hours home seemed easier this time. With Silverstone in three weeks we have a period to really prepare well and hopefully welcome our sponsors along with some new interested supporters.
Our plans for 2019 are beginning to form. Discussions with various teams and other providers are beginning to take shape and if we can maintain progress through the next three rounds, especially Assen, we hope to make an announcement soon.
As ever we thank our sponsors for continuing their generous support. Apart from our official sponsors Echelon, Intact Electrical, Valbro Scaffolding and Southern & Country Roofing we have had recent generous donations to help meet the Race fuel costs from:
Phil Sansom John Nettercott Gill & Peter Fink
Max Coates Andy Surridge Joanie Shepherd
SCR are very grateful for this support as it really helps meet the ongoing costs of running the team and keeping #31 on track.
Its not too late to help us in this way and help maintain the positive momentum we have worked hard for. Go to this link if you would like to help:
its easy and any level of donation can be made by Paypal or credit card. Every little helps!
Sam Cox & Team
#31 BSB Stock 1000
Photo Credits to Bonnie Lane
THRUXTON COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
After the success at Brands GP two weeks previously (see previous Blog) the team prepared for Thruxton in a positive state of mind. With the new engine performing well it was nevertheless rechecked at Road & Race in Verwood ready for the fast run out at the UKs fastest track.
With a base set up provided by Richard Adams at Maxton, Practice 1 went well with reasonable times posted and no issues reported on the bike. One suspension change on the rear sorted out movement and improved grip. Tyre pressures were a focus of concern as the track was very warm. The Thruxton track surface is very abrasive to both front and rear and heat generated adds to the danger of over inflation.
From calculations tyres often increase pressures +10% on top of tyre warmer heated temperatures. In this situation we had heated the rear to 20 PSI yet it still blew up to 23.5 after 8 laps. By dropping it another 1 PSI it continued to work well and the wear rate was good. The front was also showing lots of abrasion as the fast flowing, wide corners at full throttle take their toll here.
Most supporters know we lost the engine during the last 5 minutes of P2. There was no warning at all. Following a red flag incident the session restarted and the bike sat for 5 minutes in pit lane while it was cleared.
From Church corner the gas is pretty much full on until Club chicane in front of the grandstand. Coming up Woodham Hill the throttle is then shut to make the complex before the finish line. It was at this point that No 2 Con rod decided to fracture. This engine is now scrap!
Sam was lucky the bike did not lock up. At this point he would have been travelling in excess of 150mph. The oil and water spewed onto bike, wheels and track and keeping it upright with clutch held in was a seriously tight situation. The crankcase had been punctured front and rear so any following riders must have had a real fright of smoke and mayhem. Luckily no one crashed in the aftermath and with marshalls in attendance Sam was soon walking up pitlane - disconsolately - minus bike.
The weekend was completely ruined, the cost of the engine loss expensive and to miss racing at a favourite circuit heart breaking. Even worse,looking at the final Sunday Race result and lap times recorded there were points available for SCR.
Our analysis of why this happened began early last week. In discussion with YART in Europe it appears that oil temperature is a key element in maintaining reliability with these engines. The weekend had been hot. There is an oil cooler fitted to the engine and the water temperature had settled at around 82f in running conditions – a quite normal figure. Ensuring good airflow over both rad and oil cooler is one area to improve which will lessen the risk in this area. Unfortunately the BSB Stock rules preclude any modifications to body work but fairing position can be altered to help airflow.
We are now waiting the repair of our original engine at R&R. On inspection this had suffered a cracked crankcase due to the broken chain incident at Snetterton. This has been welded up now and the rebuild should be completed by Weds for collection. Road and Race have been excellent in supporting us here. The relationship we have has developed positively and their response to our engine issue has been fantastic.
Cadwell is coming up fast this weekend. The tight twisty circuit has provided fun and games in the past. Last year we struggled with conditions and set up but still gained a good place of 14th in the Supersport class. Hopefully this weekend will remain dry (it looks so at present) and we can enjoy an incident free round before Silverstone and Assen comes along.
We are beginning to think about next season already. 2019 is almost certainly going to be a Stock 1000 season we may also be considered the development of the team into a two bike entity. Watch this space.
Our sponsors continue to support us each round: Echelon Consultancy, Intact Electrical, Valbro Scaffolding and Southern & Country Roofing provide us with the tyres to race and test. We are very grateful to have these great companies behind us and hopefully we provide them with a quality race experience in the BSB Paddock. The Brands GP result was very exciting and we continue to work to get SCR further up the grid this weekend.
Unfortunately this engine failure incident has knocked a large hole in our budget for the rest of the season. To complete the last four rounds well at Cadwell, Silverstone, Assen and Brands GP further support would really help our efforts. In the past we have been very grateful for the donations from followers that have covered our fuelling costs. On this occasion any contributions would help keep the team on track and complete all four rounds left.
To help the team go to our Ifuel account page where the link will connect directly to our Sam Cox Racing fund and keep us rolling! Any contribution small or large will be well used and the team most grateful!
Wish us luck!
Sam Cox Racing
#31 Stock 1000
JUST A PERFECT WEEKEND
Our test at Brands GP two weeks previously had caused as many issues that it had solved. Racing in the extreme heat had given us solid info on tyre temperatures and a sound suspension base setting. However, the chain situation had cast doubts on chassis alignment, chain tension and suspension set ups. Road and Race at Verwood gave the R1 a serious check over and pronounced all was straight and aligned. The chain had been new and recent discussions with other teams has established the issue of copy parts but on this occasion the supplier was assured in authenticity. During the BSB weekend chain tension was checked religiously (on our knees) and it needed normal adjustment throughout.
Building rider confidence is essential and bike reliability is critical here. Dealing with excessive wheelying on the R1 is a known issue but we seem to be struggling even more in the braking department. From good braking to none happened at Snetterton and since then our efforts have doubled to flushing with brand new Brembo fluid, surgically clean calipers and prepped pads. Further advice is being sought as are shims to insulate from further heat and new master cylinder seals.
The circuit sessions at Brands were all positive and we built performance through to the final race on Sunday. Practice went initially well in the first session until Sam came into the pits complaining of ‘stiff’ steering. This turned out to be the damper which was inexplicably wound all the way on – flummoxed as to how this happened. Its now a bigger part of our check list!
A change of set up into P2 upset the feel of the front end. Increasing to 11.0 springs and adding rear preload proved too much on turn in requiring a return to our Brands GP base set up of 10.75 in the forks. This worked better to help Sam match his PB of 1.29.9s.in qualification with a grid position of 25th.
BSB have created a ridiculous double race scenario where two 17 lap races are run with a 10 minute refueling and re treading gap in between. That it puts pressure on teams, excludes them due to issues and removes riders from the second race grid is clear from the results. Well done Mr Higgs, hindering racers racing is not a good idea. Whats the point of it anyway???
Our experience in Endurance racing and Sam’s fitness levels gave us a small advantage in the second race however. Having finished a commendable 17th in race one with another PB of 1.29.8 we were making positive progress and the set up was proving good. The second race proved the best of the whole season.
Sam made a great start and then started attacking positions especially into Paddock and Druids. His final position of 14th could have been even better with small time gaps in front but the brakes were again holding him up, but not enough so to speak!
Having finished both races with more ideas on set up to come, the big race on Sunday beckoned. Our sponsors, Echelon, Valbro, Intact and Southern and Country all came along to support as well as many other friends, family and supporters. The whole day was brilliant for meeting up and enjoying the paddock and lovely hot weather.
In warm up we threw the dice again. With consultation from Richard Adams at Maxton our rear spring was changed to a softer 8.5Knm with a drop in height at front and rear too. Grip increased and better front end feel continued.
Sam’s performance in Sunday warm up is becoming legendary. Under strict instructions to test the settings, “take it easy”, he oftens does his own thing. And did. Another PB of 1.29.6s and 14th in a full grid.
Clearly the set up looked promising as it was achieved on scrub tyres. Unfortunately despite the great progress and time achieved in race 2 Sam still had to line up in 22nd on the grid for Race 3. Another weird BSB issue where you can post a good lap time, crash and still line up in front of a marginally slower rider who didn’t crash?!
With a packed crowd, sponsors and team looking on Sam again pushed on and achieved another PB of 1:29.5s finishing in 16th behind three other slower riders who might have been passed with better, more reliably performing brakes. A great weekend and, at last, some return for all our hard work this season. Never give up works. We were all very happy not the least our rookie 1000 rider #31Coxxy with his first point in the bag.
Big thanks to Becci Byers and Carl Goodchild in pitlane and paddock, Tony Homer for all things bike, Sami Mellows for the hospitality, food and logistics and Richard Adams at Maxton our suspension suppliers. Our sponsors are helping make this season work for the team: Echelon, Intact Electrical, Valbro Scaffolding and Southern & Country Roofing.
Alan Cook at Road and Race, Verwood set up the R1 again recently and fitted a replacement engine last week and it is clearly working strongly, it may make even better power next outing at Thruxton in two weeks time. We continue to work to improve the braking situation and if solved can look forward to even better lap times at this favourite track.
Sam Cox Racing & Team
#31 Stock 1000
Snetterton Round 4
We had tested at Snetterton in May with some good times and a problem free day. This weekend was about to present a succession of issues to us which, one could argue, were impossible to prevent or plan for.
The previous weekend we had achieved an amazing result in the National Endurance Championship winning the outright race with Team Army 1. A small spill down the corkscrew in the mornings sprint race had put us under pressure to get the bike finished but with the help of paddock buddies, Army engineers and good Samaritans the bike was fixed and performed flawlessly. After many race incidents we finally won overall.
In preparing for BSB Snetterton we had serviced the Blipper at Road and Race, serviced the bike over and replaced all bent parts. Practice one started fine on Friday morning with the focus on testing the bike all right and shaking down the rider. With a flat 1:55 lap time and a few adjustments mid session we hoped to complete without incident.
Towards the end of the session however the chain gave way driving out of Williams corner onto the Bentley straight. Coasting to a stop, the team were glad it was a seemingly straightforward fix.
Upon inspection the chain had taken out the primary sprocket guard and unbeknown slapped the crankcase just behind the generator. In prepping the bike for P2 a tiny fissure in the metal was not noticed until right before the off when engine oil was discovered to have coated the belly pan in a fine mist. Slapping some Leakfix over the degreased and abraded wound area was our only option.
The idea in P2 was to complete 2 laps, have a look at the crankcase area for oil and continue if dry. However, Sam got into a tow with some other riders and continued to push on for several more laps so that when he came in his lap time had dropped significantly to a PB at 1:53s.
Another inspection ensued where no evidence of leakage could be seen but another coating of Dev Con was applied to ensure a 100% repair overnight.
On Sunday morning a precautionary Dyno test by Richard at DynoJet was completed and the bike returned free of oil and reportedly churning out 193 BHP in good health.
On the suspension front we had begun to struggle with front end harshness probably due to the faster pace. Once we had set the Geometry correct for cornering, focus changed to the front entry and exit of corners. Spongy mid corner feel was solved with more front tyre pressure but this then exacerbated stiffness due to previously applied extra preload and more closed rebound setting on the front.
Qualification proved that nothing can be assumed in racing. The fuelling for P1 & 2 was sufficient to finish with no fuel light appearing on the dash. With similar laps expected in qualy another 9 litres was added to the tank expecting 2/3 litres in reserve = 12 in total.
Unfortunately we suspect that the higher gearing chosen for qualification (16:44 to 16:45) also impacted on fuel consumption. With three laps to go the dreaded orange light appeared on the dash and the engine began to choke just as Sam began his flying lap approach on the new rear tyre.
Coughing all the way around the circuit he pulled into pitlane most disconsolate. We all sympathised but were also pissed off that another issue had affected our efforts to push him into the 52’s and a top 20 grid position. As it was he still achieved a 53.6 but a lowly 32nd on the grid. The crankcase was still dry.
The warm up on Sunday morning passed peacefully and further suspension changes were made in preparation for the race that afternoon. The big race was approached with some caution..........
Tony Homer has been working with the team for the last few rounds and has had an influence on Sam’s expectations and positivity. With a suggestion to drive hard on the first lap Sam did just that. Taking several places around the outside of the hairpin by the end of lap one he had climbed straight up to 21st position. A remarkable achievement.
There then followed another set back (as if we hadn’t enjoyed enough already). Pushing forward down the Bentley straight, braking pressure was lost and although the lever was back to the bar the bike was not slowing down!
At 160mph this was a frightening experience to say the least “I shit myself Dad”! but our hero hung on, went straight on, down the slip road, across the grass and managed to control the bike sufficient to get back to the track by the Bomb hole. Luke Mossey had tried the very same thing earlier and not been successful! Motox practice had paid off.........
This should have been the end of things. Most riders might have given up at this point. The back of the race was disappearing around Corams, last position is a deflating place to be.
Sam is not built like that however and off he went in pursuit of the Stock 1000 pack. Over the next 12 laps he reeled in the back markers, overtook a succession of riders and saw his position climb back up the ranks finally finishing 22nd. As an example of ‘never give up’ this was it. The team were very happy again after all the issues we had dealt with through the round.
We were glad to be going home from Snetterton! The Crankcase was weeping oil.
Thanks to Echelon Consultancy for their support and generous encouragement, Intact Electrical, Valbro Scaffolding and our new sponsors Southern & Country Roofing.
Frankie and Sami Mellows with Matt Baxter did a great job on the pit board and Richard at Maxton was there when we needed him for suspension advice.
We now dodge Knockhill, test at Brands GP soon and prepare for BSB Round 6 there in July. Both engine and bike are due a complete refresh, lots to do…………..
Sam Cox & Team
#31 Stock 1000
SNET TEST MAY 17th
This test was an important part of our longer term build up to Round 4 at Snetterton in June. With an Army Team Endurance round behind us there in March, we travelled with a base set up and a reasonable best time of 1.55.6 set in busy conditions.
Looking at where we wanted to be in the BSB Stock 1000 results, a 1.52 would see Sam in the top 15 based on 2017 results there last July. In competition, riding is pushed harder so we set a reasonable target for the test of a 1.53, pretty challenging considering Sams PB was a 1.54.7 set on the Supersport Triumph in 2015 but achievable.
The test was divided into 3 longer sessions the last being over an hour long. Getting a good set up was our main aim for the day though and with the bike set up long, softer springs from Brands but the same gearing (16:44) we felt we had a good chance of more progress. The first session went well for us with a best time of 1.55.3 but for Shakey, yes that Shakey Byrne, his demise at turn 3 with a tumble was worrying. Sam passed him lain unconscious on the grass. Thankfully revived but having suffering serious back and neck injuries. Get well soon boss!
Session 2 got underway and by then we had adjusted several settings:less front preload as it had felt too harsh and not enough travel was being used (even with softer springs) with 2 clicks off of compression. On the rear an increase in shock length gave added height and this assisted corner exit. The spectre of wheelying was returning and Sam began to use the rear brake tactic to keep it under control and by the end of session time had reduced to a healthy 1.54.8 just above PB.
Session 3 brought new front and rear tyres, warm track temperatures and within a few laps Sam's best time of the day dropped to a promising 1.53.4s. Job done and we now have plenty of data to take with us into our next BSB Round there.
NATIONAL ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP AT DONINGTON
Following the Snetterton test we began to get ready for the next round of Endurance racing. The No Limits National Endurance competition has provided good tracktime this year and after two rounds the Army Team 1 were sitting in 2nd position overall.
This 6 hour race was completed with 4 riders. Sam, Moggy, Pep and Andy Carpenter. Sam made an excellent start having qualified in 2nd and took the lead over Luke Jones by over 5 seconds for the first period of racing. The start can be viewed HERE
After 20 minutes however, Sam unexpectedly returned to the pits. A misfiring engine had brought his first stint to a premature end. A full two hours of investigating, wrangling and finally fixing ensued. Fault code 33 had flashed up on the dash and this indicated a fault with an ignition coil. With tank, airbox and throttle bodies stripped out No 1 cylinder coil seemed less than secure on its plug but was in fact cracked through. On attempting to pull it off it halved leaving the bottom still on the plug and somewhat stuck. With Spence to hand and a self tapping screw it was eventually pulled clear but even then a handy replacement refused to bottom on the plug top. With focussed camera shots into the plug housing we could see detritus and plastic pieces melded stuck around the bore. More scraping and prodding ensued which eventually loosened things enough to press the plug coil cap home fully. The fault cleared and the bike tested ready to go again.
By this time the race had run away from us somewhat, Pep had fallen at Melbourne loop and other teams had taken advantage of our loss of time. A red flag had also caused a massive interuption to proceedings with 8 bikes going down on an oil slick left by KT Motorsport, Championship leaders! Thanks guys, your behaviour was noted for future reference and complaint by many teams.
With the R1 ready to go we got another session in with Sam bringing the team back up into the top 10. After another refuel and calculations made on the potential time left to race, we figured Sam could do another 38 minute spell to take us over the line as high up as possible. Having unfathomably benefitted from the oil stoppage, KT Motorsport were also closing in behind so Sam needed to push on to get as high up the positions as possible - this definitely affected consumption as Sam broke his PB during this chase and got down to a 1.33.8s.
With gains made to 6th and 10 minutes to go Sam held off Luke Jones (KT Motorsport main rider) until on the last 3 laps and with an 8 second lead, the R1 began to misfire again but this time due to low fuel. With the R1 faring on no power over line, Jones scraped past in time and beat us by 0.3 secs. A bitter pill to swallow all round. In racing its not over until that bike is over the line. Anything can and does happen!
We now prepare for Anglesey Endurance and the Snetterton Round 4 of the BSB Stock 1000 Championship. The R1 will have new Ignition Coils, spark plugs and a full service with a cool new graphic wrap newly designed by Del Dowd of IRP Graphics.
Alan Cook at Road and Race has a plan to further map the ecu and squeeze more ponies to close the power gaps with our rivals in Stock 1000. With a few weeks to accomplish this we hope to be ready to roll and push further up the grid to our first points.
New teamware available soon, watch out on facebook for new design and prices!
Wish us luck!
Sam Cox Racing & Team
BRANDS INDY ROUND 2 STOCK 1000 – a right positive set up
What a great weekend of racing at the Brands Indy circuit for Round 2 of the BSB Stock 1000 Championship. After the cold and damp squib of Donington Round 1 where #31 didn’t get to race at all, it was a welcome change to enjoy a weekend as a team making progress each session.
Having spent time considering set up from limited track time recently it was decided to opt for similar gearing to Donington but with a shorter swing arm for more precise turn in and line holding. Controlling the swing arm length is important on the R1 as it works better longer but at the Cartagena tests we had also discovered a set up shorter than the median 605mm that we had begun on.
At Brands Indy In practice session 1 & 2, the problem of wheelying was effecting the exit from Druids corner in 2nd gear and having to change into 3rd by Graham Hill was another moment that further destabilized flow. However by dropping a tooth to 42 on the rear sprocket we achieved two improvements: no gear change into 3rd at all and a longer swing arm towards 605mm reducing the wheelying effect. Into qualification this helped enormously and dropped our best time from 48.2s to 47.4s and a start position of 25th on the first grid of the weekend.
Race 1 went really well with a good start using the launch control facility in the R1 electronics package. Maintaining start position over the first few laps, Sam eventually battled and passed Tom Ward into Paddock and then pushed on to the next three riders over 2 seconds ahead down the track. He then began to take chunks of time out of them and within 5 laps had caught 21st and passed and then 20th finishing in 19th and another PB of 47.3 secs achieved on lap 21 of 24. That the fitness regime pays off in these late race situations is clear and having the motivation to close a 50m gap, a testimony to how well Sam is developing both in confidence generally and making the R1 work for him.
The post video of this race recorded by Stephen Sheppard showed how well the bike was turning and holding a tight line through Druids with less wheely effect coming out into Graham Hill. Holding 2nd down the Hill and out of the following Graham Hill left hander was clearly working.
FACEBOOK VIDEO WORTH WATCHING: HERE
There now followed a full on discussion that evening, following feedback from Sam and looking at the sector times on how to improve the poorer sector 2 time from Druids to Surtees. With Tony Homer’s knowledge of Stock 1000 set up and Richard Adam’s (Maxton) extensive understanding of his suspension products it was a progressive decision to change an already working front end. We had reasonable rear grip but the front was very low on the stroke so the first obvious change was a harder spring set up to 10.75 from 10.5. Less preload to dial in but into the optimum working range of the fork.
It is not always a good thing to change more than one setting per set up adjustment. It can become confusing to know which has worked. Here we were discussing four. In the end we rolled the dice with a warm up session to test them on Sunday morning. Harder spring, Lowered front, Sc2 rather than SC1 tyre and more pressure into the tyre.
With strict instructions from Dad to ‘take it easy’ – stand back, I obviously know my own son here – Sam went out into warm up with a shagged rear tyre, got onto the back of Race 1, 14th placed rider and buddy Jordan Gilbert and tagged him, passed him and tagged him again for 10 laps. New PB of 47.3s, 9th fastest overall and in the Sector 1 speed trap, 4th overall and in sector 2, 2nd fastest ahead of Reid, Rutter, McConnell etc All clearly following their own Dad’s instructions! Shit.
That the bike felt good was apparent from the grin on Sam’s face back in the marquee. What a performance for early on a Sunday morning.
Into the big race with new tyres on, the proven set up was barely changed and the race itself went almost perfectly except the slight interjection of rain spots 8 laps in. A similarly successful race start kept Sam in the top 20 and with two riders tumbling at Druids he then kept 18th position holding off others in the first initial laps. There were spots of rain falling from lap 5 and it was obvious this softened Sams approach to gaining 17th in front. Once this ended he then pushed harder and in doing so his PB tumbled to an impressive 47.0s on lap 13 of 24. Eventually catching and lining up a pass on 17th (Barry Teasdale), a back marker held up Sam momentarily into Surtees. Sam suffered from this interruption which held up his surge and the race effectively ended there. The manner of the PB saw great celebration in Parc Ferme and with an ideal lap of 46.9s the whole team were proud of him.
So we achieved a big burst of success after several set backs during the Spanish test trip as well as the poor Round 1 performance at Donington. The statistics of each session speak for themselves on how Sam progressed:
P1 50.3, 32nd (Damp, drying conditions)
P2 48.2, 27th
Qualifying 47.4, 25th
Race 1 47.3, 19th
Race 2 47.0, 18th
Bearing in mind every track is new to us in the Stock 1000 Championship and with this now under our belt we feel we can remain in the top 20 regularly and start preparing Sam for next year on a more competitive set up. Plans are afoot for testing on a later generation machine this summer and with our new sponsors Intact Electrical and Valbro Scaffolding onboard, we are further developing our growing team to achieve even greater things. We miss Round 3 Oulton Park for strategic reasons and look forward to Snetterton in June.
Thanks to Julie Elphick and Phil Sansom for their support in contributing to our iFuel Campaign which really helps meet the high costs of the race fuel we need each round. Supporters can chip in via the following link with paypal or card:
It’s easy and every drop helps!
Thanks for your continuing support and following
Sam & Team
#31 Stock 1000
DONINGTON, IT IS WHAT IT IS.
Is there such a thing as a bogey circuit, pitch or ground? Certainly counting up the weird incidences we have experienced at Donington in recent years it seems to be so. From brake and engine failures and now gear selection problems Donny has had it all!
In the end we had to accept this was a round that never was. The bike and rider were in seemingly good condition and had been checked over more than once by ourselves and our new techies Tony and Iain and had performed well at both Snetterton Endurance the previous weekend and also throughout practice and qualifying at Donny..
Both of the practice sessions went without incident. The track was wet initially and without any prior set up the settings were test and trialled but provided enough response to go into P2 with more certainty. In P2 the track was drier but not completely and through the old hairpin section there were still wet patches. Being cold the wet tyres were not really affected so much until the end. With a dry line appearing and 8 minutes to go we might have slung a dry on but to use a new tyre for limited opportunity and without a fully tested set up we cut the session short.
Qualifying improved times dramatically and Sam built steadily into the mid 1:35’s with each lap time reducing. Making the cut comfortably, the dry set up was much better than the bastardised wet set up in P2 and thanks to Richard Adams at Maxton for providing both gearing, suspension and geometry suggestions to make it work better.
The race never happened. Lining up in 33rd on the grid with all to play for Sam got off the line ok but then the first change into 2nd gear provided a shock. The Gearbox shift arm had snapped clean through and the pit lane was the next port of call.
With his wits about him, Iain saw the broken component and then asked Mcams team for a spare. This was duly fitted but as time passed so did the laps. Rejoining at lap 12 was not enough to begin the second race which began 15 minutes after R1. This format is a strange choice in what is already a difficult sport. Whether it provides anyone else extra entertainment or better sport we doubt. That teams have to refuel and re tyre in 10 minutes to a new grid is asking for problems and long may it disappear.
On this occasion we had been told we could join the back of the grid by an official as Sam had seen the chequered flag in race 1. However with the BSB rule book stating that 75% of the race had to be completed we were excluded from the second line up. It is what it is.
So now the rule book stopped our competition. The weather had been forecast really bad and snowy for Monday all week. We had experienced poor power supply in the paddock for 2 days. No lights, heating or tyre warmers at regular intervals and time spent hooking the generator up to supply the priorities. Wacky races would have got better. Considering the positive changes made at Donington; new paddock tarmac, improved restaurant etc the lack of power undermined our whole experience.
Having suffered the cold for long enough, we took the decision to leave that night as it remained dry until 2am in the morning. Watching the race at home in front of the fire felt strange and it was one we would certainly have enjoyed as it was almost dry against expectations and nothing like affected by the torrent predicted.
This weekend we are back at Brands Indy. We expect plenty of visitors and supporters there and have a supportive crew lining up to help. We are also about to announce two new associate sponsors who have generously agreed to help with funding Sam this season.
We look forward to a problem free weekend but as this is motor racing can hope for a safe proper start to the season.
Thanks for continuing to support our venture, please contact Frankie on 07584035974 if you are thinking of joining us.
Big thanks to Tobias Mellows, John Nethercott and Phil Sansom for their very generous contributions to our iFuel fund which helps purchase race fuel into our tank:
Its easy to use and contribute to our funding, every little helps!
Sam Cox Racing
#31 Stock 1000
SPANISH TESTING 2018
Thinking about the 2018 season as a whole the main priority was to get Sam bedded onto the R1 as soon as possible with as much pre season tracktime to facilitate this.
Last year we began with only 3 days in Valencia but this year we pushed the boat with 10 whole days booked across a three week period. Cartagena is a great testing circuit with all the necessary twists and turns, undulations and fast left and right corners to push the rider in preparation for UK tracks. Valencia is open, bold, fast and fairly flat relating to circuits like Silverstone and Snetterton, so plenty of variation for development.
The first Cartagena test went really well. The logistics of transporting bike and kit is always nerve racking with the worry of either damage or loss. This time the only problem was a leaking oil bottle spewing all over the now condemned wet tyres. These three days at Cartagena, shared with the Army Endurance teams went without a hitch, the Yoshimura exhaust can giving unsuspecting riders a scare with its unfettered loudness. Playing with the new electronics package enabled Sam to control the strong wheelying effect of the R1s bottom end grunt but changes to the Maxton suspension throughout also helped.
Alan at Road and Race had supplied alternative ECU set ups and it was clear how easily the fuelling on the R1 could be tuned to give significantly more aggressive drive where needed. The option of flicking to softer maps when wet was also a revelation giving further confidence in the damp.
Richard at Maxton had supplied a base set up which worked really well and was hardly changed except when gearing became an issue. Initially on a 14:42 set up drive out of the hairpin Sam was still in 3rd gear so a change to 15:41 enabled a 2nd gear exit. The shorter swingarm also allowed quicker transitions through corners and chicanes. It may only have been 10mm shorter but it was easily felt.
The problem experienced throughout our Supersport seasons was front end feel. Without prompting Sam did not complain once about the front. The only changes being made were as much for development and knowledge purposes to see what would happen if……. The selection of Maxton front and rear has paid off and the support we are getting from them is terrific.
By the end of the BSB Pro test we had solved issues across the bike which left us with a working set up ready to push forward with. That the weather played with our ideas on the last day was unfortunate as with new tyres Sam was ready to push into the 1:36s laptimes having developed further confidence with the bike. In summary, this time at Cartagena couldn’t have gone much better. Sam really gelled with the R1 and he looks much better suited to the bigger machine and posted very promising times in relation to other Stock 1000 riders there.
Valencia however was somewhat different. During our tests at Cartagena we had used Justin Weale at Motomechanica, Eleche for storage and service facilities. His knowledge of the R1 helped when we needed a new seal for a drippy water pump and a Blipper fitted.
On arrival at Valencia we had a shock to discover that the test had begun the day before! We missed the Sunday but fortunately the weather had been bad so no loss of track time incurred. Our next issue was getting on track to test the new blipper set up. At first the bike performed flawlessly again. We had dialed in a new set up with the help of Justin Weale putting more load onto the front end and made small adjustments on front rebound and rear preload to get the bike adapted to the new circuit.
As we were working through suspension changes Sam returned to the pits to report the blipper would not allow changes from 2nd to 3rd gear. It seemed the gear lever was not returning adequately for the electronics to note its position. First suspect was the gearbox detent spring so a trip back to Elche was necessary for an investigation.
Upon arrival the Detent spring was still intact but the mechanism clearly stiffer than normal. Working back though the gear change linkage it transpired that the push rod eyebolt internal bearing had seized. This very rare event was the culprit in stopping the system returning after each prod of the left toe. An easy fix but well spotted by JW.
Finally the third day arrived at Valencia all ready to go but the weather had then conspired to upset our hopes again. The track was empty of riders when the first session opened as clearly, dampness is not a condition of track expected in Spain. Sam got out however to test the repaired blipper and system and all was well.
The rest of the day was spent building better laptimes, adjusting the suspension around bike movement and chatter developing at the front. All problems resolved (3 clicks of rebound – off). The third session saw lap times drop again as the new tyres fitted produced additional confidence. In hindsight the additional speed was beginning to overload the softer springs on the front. We might have kept the sessions test short (3-4 laps) to make the necessary adjustments but this sometimes breaks up rider flow. Nearing the end of the session, at turn 5, pushing harder, the forks bottomed and the shock to the tyre saw Sam sliding off.
Minor damage, torn leathers and condemned helmet. A negative way to end a great trip and testing period. Overall we have learned a great deal about the R1. Our ability to tune the suspension ourselves, get the bike working without Data and with technical support from Maxton was important. With further track time this weekend (No Limits Endurance Championship) at Snetterton we are heading to BSB Round 1 at Donington over the Easter weekend with good confidence. On our Journey through this exciting sport this is another milestone ticked off!
Thanks for all your support and good wishes.
Sam Cox Racing #31 Stock 1000
Arriving late morning at Cartagena circuit on Monday, it was good to see that the bike and kit had survived the transportation to Spain. Within an hour or so the bike was ready to go out on track as the warm sun beckoned in the 2018 season.
With some coaching to complete throughout the four days we occupied ourselves with getting to know the Army team lads again as well as re acquainting ourselves with this great twisty circuit in readiness for BSB 2018. With another 60+ BHP to play with on top of our previously useful 135, the approach we took was to bed rider and bike in before pushing on towards the end of the test. This tactic worked and we managed to proceed without incident even with really ragged tyres on the rear which certainly duplicated the conditions expected in the longer Stock 1000 races this year.
The R1 certainly performed really well. Settings provided by Maxton were hardly changed and it handled with confidence through corners with some interesting inputs from the electronics to keep it straight and level. Wheelying was an intial problem but by keeping the swing arm length longish, a bit of anti lift dialled in and rider control, Sam slowly got the better of its regular threat to stability.
Having traction control, anti lift, slide control options on the dash was tempting. The advice we followed was to use nothing and get a feel for the R1 in its natural state. On the ECU we had two optional maps accessed via the hazard switch. The alternative to full power through the rev range was a softer map giving less grunt at certain revs to assist controlled corner exit. Again it was rejected to get full feel on the R1's raw capability which is strong to say the least.
After the first two days it was clear that Sam was getting into the bike really well. His description of the difference was that he was 'in' the bike rather than 'on' it as per the R6.
This would refer to the deeper seat position, the arse bump stop we had fitted and the overall need to keep low in the saddle and grip the tank harder with the legs. The whole experience developed really positively and as the laps passed, times came down to a healthy 1.38.6s on the final day which was the second full day on the R1 in non coaching mode. This was achieved during cold track day conditions among trackday riders so bodes well for our target into the 37's on the Pro Test next week.
The suspension settings were little adjusted and the ready support available from Richard at Maxton has been extensive. With further time at Cartagena this week (4 days) we have a good block of time to push forward among faster riders who will all have their own agendas in preparation for BSB Round 1 at Donington.
It doesnt stop at Cartagena. After a weeks break in Southern Spain we head for Valencia a superb circuit that mimics the fast, open layout of Silverstone and flatness of Snetterton. The time there is further track time among International racers which should, in total, give us the best start to a new class and new season we have ever had.
Our aim this year is to be competitive in a strong BSB class. By keeping in the chase and developing our practice we hope to get ever closer to regular top ten finishes.
Funding is always an issue and we welcome sponsor contributions from Echelon again this year, other new associate sponsors who will be announced soon and the important contributions we get from our supporters. The ifuel fund is still alive and will help supply both the fuel we need to fill the tank at BSB meetings as well as supplement our funding requirements.
If you would like to contribute in this way its an easy link to follow below and payments are by paypal or card:
With many thanks in advance!
Following the promising improvements achieved in 2017, Sam Cox Racing sat down and planned the new season ahead and considered the options. The Supersport experience had been tough and at times frustrating. Achieving a consistent set up seemed to be illusive and although PB's and an amazing 10th place finish were achieved we always wished to do better and enjoy more consistent top 15 results. This is motorsport and there are no excuses as we were always responsible for what happened. Sometimes a big change is better than tinkering so we waved goodbye to Supersport and bought an R1 for Christmas!
The lure of a larger bike to help the power/weight issue (Sam is heavy for 600s) helped make the decision to enter Stock 1000 in 2018. Sam is a large and strong enough rider to grow into the R1 experience and with a calculated change to Maxton suspension we hope the two will help progress rider pace and competitiveness.
2018 is very much a transition year however. The class change is one thing, the increased power is another and going back to a Rookie year brings back all the fun of the circus in novice like learning! This year we have developed an association with Road and Race who have a great pedigree in supporting the Stock 1000 class. Knowing the R1 and what works best means we have an efficient and well tested set up to begin with. The donor 2016 R1 was road going but only had 450 careful miles onboard. The dyno set up brought an easy 200 bhp at the rear wheel. Our experience in developing the R6 enabled us to make good decisions regarding the rest of set up. Exhaust is Yoshimura with titanium throughout. Rearsets Lightech (successful on the R6). With Yamaha kit ecu and loom connected, Renthal chains and gearing and GB Racing engine protection all bolted on it didnt take long to have it ready. Simon at R&R did some great work fitting fairings and wiring up the electronics. The dash mapping system is amazing with options for traction control and anti wheely built in. The only thing we are missing with this model is the auto blipper facility, available on the more recent R1's.
The biggest decision made however has been in the choice of suspension. At the end of the 2017 season we had already gathered a whole lot of suspension data. Carefully recorded, it should have been easier getting the feel required to push on harder at the front end. It was only at Silverstone, the penultimate round, when we tried a Maxton set up in the front end that things got better. With help from Tommy and Bill Philp their spare forks were slotted in ready for a practice run on race day. It rained, there was no track time. Into the race in fully wet conditions without any set up we rolled the dice and the Maxtons performed favourably with a element of feel in the front and better grip on the Ktech rear (now fitted with a soft spring). That Sam would have finished 10th but for a last lap slide was testament to what might have been.
Maxton MD Richard has since provided a whole new package of forks and shock with data for many circuits. This is a great start to knowing unknown territory. With promise of Pit Lane and paddock support at BSB we hope to tune the feel in the bike to realise greater confidence for Sam. With the added tools of traction control and different mapping options through the dash we have the tools to both experiment more and find that sweet spot racers desire but rarely find.
Sam has also committed himself to a testing and regular fitness programme over the winter. With help from Carl Goodchild (Team Army PTI) his gym work has been rigorous and specific. The measure of its success has been seen on the Motocross circuits visited during December and January. Probably more demanding that most two wheel experiences, the gruelling course at Ashdown Forest and Apex, Worcester showed that his strength and fitness is up there for strength related saddle time.
This will be an important factor in being able to test the Stock 1000 effectively and make the most of the 10 days we have organised in Spain pre season. Cartagena (7 days) and Valencia (3 days) is an investment we have to make in the build up to meeting Stock 1000 demands.
The cost of visiting Spain is expensive and takes months of preparation and planning. This year our committment to BSB is matched with an involvement in the Army Endurance team and the No Limits National Endurance Championship. To meet these expectations the extra test schedule is vital. By making the strategic choice of using funds available at the beginning of the season our gamble is it will pay off when we want to perform at our best later in the year.
Our main sponsor Echelon Consultancy and especially their MD Matt Baxter has continued his generous interest and backing for 2018. Our relationship with F3 Group has come to a sad end and we are on the look out for other associate sponsors to bridge the gap we are facing in the summer. Keith Taylor MD at F3 Group has been terrific in directing us to an anonymous supporter and this has helped with bike build costs but we have always to consider our budget limits carefully. Meeting the tyre bill alone in 2018 will require £13K !
In this respect, we have decided not to race at Knockhill in Scotland as the circuit is appalling and we consider it less than safe - we know the local hospital too well there as do many other riders each year ! Also Oulton Park (visited twice in 2018) has never been kind to us and as we are entering a transition year it makes sense to 'cut our cloth' according to our means and avoid the techinically tricky and demanding woodland track - much as we like the people there!
The Army Endurance team have asked Sam to help form a race partnership with one of their promising riders within their squad to help challenge for the National 1000 Endurance Championship. This event is getting larger every year and provides demanding riding mixed with a team orientated challenge. As part of a continuingly developing riders CV it will certainly allow plenty of track time on the R1 so will assist the BSB season too as well as support a great bunch of serving soldiers.
We will be posting further news as the pre season develops both here and via social media.
Wish us luck as ever and join the team in 2018 for a great new season!