End of season round up 2020: BSB Oulton and No Limits Donington
The last three rounds of the season took us to Oulton Park and Brands Hatch with BSB and Donington National with No Limits.
Oulton Park was one circuit untested this season so set up data was gathered from wide and far (Many thanks for help from Josh Day). Keeping the suspension open but controlled was our aim with hopes that the wheely problem of the Stock 1000 seasons would not infect the nice handling V2 - it didnt. Gearing was open to analysis as ever but eventually we settled on a working set up which achieved improvements every session. Initial practice on Friday returned a healthy 4th position with a reasonable time eventually improved again by over a second in qualification. A second row start in 5th on Saturday saw Sam pushing for a top three finish and his lap time dropped again in the chase. This race was effected by blipper issues resulting in rider stress - never a good contribution to performance during any race! Carl Stevens was in competitive mode as was John McGuinness and with Sam’s clutch misbehaving the team settled for another top five result behind JMcG.
Warm up on Sunday morning was a rare opportunity to test gearing changes. Unfortunately clutch adjustments had not been completed correctly (there was no clutch action) and in the short session available no chance of resolving the problem in time. Another lesson learned means in future any such change will always be tested and no assumption of completion until checked and running. A minor oversight was soon put right ready for the following days action.
Our Ducati checklist gets longer and longer. All good preparation for next years possible season in the Ducati Challenge – Covid allowing. The latest addition, especially after repair or development work is ensuring the rider gets on the bike to check all controls are in the best position and actually working; clutch and brake lever reach, rearsets, blipper, rear brake and bars. Obvious, but sometimes, when time is pressing between sessions and issues occur the rush to pitlane, easily overlooked.
Race 2 on Sunday saw a new lap record achieved by the in form Levi Day at an incredible 1.40s. A battle for 5th ensued towards the end with Carl Stevens pushing Sam hard all the way to the line. This close contest was awarded with extended TV coverage. It ended with Carl sliding off at Shell Oils without harm and Sam giving him a lift back to paddock on the in lap – all captured nicely on Eurosport. Another 22 points in the bag this weekend – looking back - turned out the most successful of our 2020 campaign which was a great achievement considering our lack of preparation at a difficult technical circuit. Our Oulton dog has left!
At Donington two weeks later #31 Coxxy had already wrapped up the Ducati Challenge Championship at round 4. This outing was more saddle time in preparation for BSB. The qualification session was wet on Saturday morning, the first the Echelon SCR Ducati had ventured out to a damp track all year. It went well with a 2nd overall on the grid for the first race. Being cold and damp, lap times were somewhat slow during the first dash off the line. Nevertheless with a steady tracking of the front pack Sam brought her home in 2nd with only a capable Robert Cresswell on a ZX10 a few seconds down the track.
Sunday brought more cold but almost dry conditions. Electing to take on the early warm up session was, in hindsight, an unnecessary outing but track time is so precious during these restricting times. With nothing to report after five of six laps we were on the point of returning from our Redgate Corner viewpoint to then wonder why Sam’s TSL tracking 31 icon stopped at Coppice. We had not seen the big event down Craner. An instant front end let go on transitioning left onto the colder side of the tyre. The ploughing of bike and rider through the soggy turf resulted in both bike and rider returning like some bog monster. Although soft on landing the bike had dug itself in and then ruined many of the softer front end elements as well as Sam’s normally durable race suit leaving a nasty skin wound on his left arm.
Back at base the following strip down and repair lasted 5 hours or so with four of us working through the issues (Thanks Tony, Iain and Leon). The electronic throttle was torn off but some tricky reconnections achieved a working engine and responsive right hand gas control. Patched up and just in time- ready for scrutineering - saw us sprint to technical control for checks. Unfortunately the rear brake was initially inadequate in performance so a rushed re bleeding was required to satisfy scrutineers. Straight onto the back of the grid for race 4 followed immediately and after a pushy start, by the second corner, Sam had moved up into the top 10. By lap 2 he was 6th pushing for further places. By lap 7 he took 2nd having reeled in the front three and began to catch the leader 2 seconds down the track. Finally into the lead on lap 8 of 10 we cheered him on for a potential race win only for the red flag to halt proceedings. On the previous lap count back he was actually second but a strong moral victory was claimed.
Preparation for the final BSB round of the season started immediately. Lots to check on the bike with several new parts being ordered from JHP Ducati Coventry to get her ready for battle. This last round turned out to be dynamic, stressful and ultimately promising for next season so a full blog post will cover events next week.
Thanks for the support of our sponsor Matt Baxter @ Echelon Consultancy who has attended all our BSB race rounds – in short supply this year – but all eventful! Our team have worked really hard to get the bike ready on time and competitive. Times are coming down at each round and speed trap data shows excellent pace. Follow us into the next round here next week.
Sam Cox & Team
#31 Ducati Tri Options
Sara and John Bickley
Andy White (Kais Suspension)
Rick Hackett (JHP Ducati Coventry)
Ian, Joe and Wilf (Motorapido Ducati)
Rob Baxter, Rbps Photography
Frankie Ridley Fink
Matt Jones and Family
SILVERSTONE TAUGHT US MORE LESSONS
We had good hopes going into Round 3 at Silverstone. Our preparation was exacting and we have followed all advice in ensuring the exotic beast that is our V2 has been pampered, serviced and spoilt in getting her ready.
All good plans and that……….so technical circumstances; a real ball ache of a mistake on the writers part (now relegated to tea boy) spoilt the weekend in a debilitating way. It began well with a prolonged set up of our new marquee extension. Jamie Perrin needed a new home for the round so we grabbed the opportunity of building the jigsaw of our new awning addition to give us another 18sq m of space. It worked well and was great to share with the friendly family team that is the Perrins. Jamie had a great weekend with some awesome Supersport combat, narrowly missing podiums.
The technical mistake has really taught us to never assume we have everything 100% buttoned up. Our checking has developed to one person doing a job being checked by another. The next check is a growing list of technical inspections covering all sections of the bike from suspension to chassis to bodywork. Every nut and bolt before leaving the marquee. Then we have Homer our nut and bolt checker. He fastidiously scours the bike with his own tools looking for issues.
Somehow the two hub bolts were left insecure and missed by all these checks! Not on the checklist, not checked as they are sensitive to over tightening but undone for chain tensioning – which was ok – and then left loose because. Brain simple. But racing disastrous as on the out lap to grid, the chain untensioned itself and slipped off. There goes race one.
Warm up on Sunday was a different matter entirely. Because we didn’t make the race we needed some set up and track time to see what the bike was capable of. Coxxy didn’t let us down and pushed hard to achieve a promising P1 position in the dry Sunday morning session with a great time of 56.9s. Another PB and predictably enough to make the top five at Silverstone and possibly podium.
However, Missing a result in race one put Coxxy at the back of the grid for race two. 34th position. It started well. By lap 7 he had climbed to 9th and was tracking two riders for a pass into the complex that starts with Brooklands. The race footage shows fluid squirting from Sam Middlemass’s bike in front. Sam backs off but the inevitable highside happens and Sam M catapults right on line moving to the outside of the corner trapping Coxxy #31 against the verge. After pulling up completely and then finally returning to track, another 6 places had gone by and the final laps were spent making it back up the grid to finish 11th.
Grabbing saddle time has been the focus this year. Adding miles to the riders experience in this shortened season helps to build confidence and this last weekend a club outing to Cadwell has also increased experience on the new V2. With only scrub tyres to race with Sam enjoyed several successful races winning the No Limits Ducati Championship with a final round still to go. The races themselves also allowed us to experiment with suspension set up and also start practice. Times were good and with new rubber aboard we would have been heading closer to top five territory again. We will return there for the BSB season next year.
And so we get ready for our return to Oulton Park this weekend. OP is a really technical circuit. Just as well we have tested there recently and have some good set up data ready to roll. Our visit earlier in August gave us useful track time as well as some competitive races in the No Limits Ducati and Club 1000 series against more powerful bikes.
Thanks for your continuing support. As the season develops its inevitable ups and downs, when you are down there is only one direction it can go! Lets go forward and hope that Oulton Park is more enjoyable with some solid results. As you can imagine our checking process is going to be exacting to ensure reliability on track and fingers crossed there are no other curve balls waiting in the wings to unseat us. With over 10 years in the BSB paddock our experience of competing fairly at all times should bring its benefits, so wish us luck and watch the timing screens at TSL timing!
Sam #31 & team
Ducati Tri Options
Apologies for recent lack of write up here. Most of the time spent since BSB Donington has been recovering from the first two of four race weekends and putting the bike and kit back together in good shape for weekends 3 and 4. Keeping ahead of the issues is key as the time gap between ending a round and leaving for the next has been 3 days. Thankfully our experience and strategy has paid off so far and we have managed to get out to track with few real issues.
From BSB Donington earlier in August we survived some more hot temperatures which gave us good experience in tweaking the V2 to cool itself on track with developed cooling changes and better airflow to deal with the added heating pressures. This took several days of graft and the results paid off keeping water temps down in the low 100s. As before Sam dominated the No Limits Ducati races as well as leading the Club 1000 races after gaining the holeshot off the startline. Finishing 3rd overall by the end of each session was a great result with good set up data in the bag for the BSB Round there in September.
Getting ready for BSB Round 2 at Snetterton went well except time was even tighter. With a new graphic wrap booked for Weds midday at Sublime (nice job Levi Day) and a dyno check early that morning at JHP Ducati Coventry lots of early miles were covered even before getting to circuit.
The concern at JHP Ducati Coventry was the reluctance of the blipper to engage smoothly going down the box from 6th. With the GSXR it was always bang, bang, bang……..no probs. The Ducati starts to rev out a lot lower around 11,000rpm and doesn’t like such aggressive shifts down into 5th then 4th. The poor old thing protects itself if the electronics calculate the next downshift is going to push it over its safe limit. Obviously a sensible device for road biking but for racers a real dampener on proceedings. Combined with a rearset gear lever which did not have sufficient leverage to prod the blipper, made the whole process unnecessarily stiff for the rider.
By measuring the stock rear set dimensions we discovered a gearshift ratio of 5.5. Our current set up was only 3.3 so adjusting this to gain force closer to stock was the answer. Small changes in link pivot position brought about the desired ease of shift.
At Snetterton practice on Friday came with very strong winds making laptimes difficult to reduce below our test times. Nevertheless, Sam had P2 on the pitboard for the majority of the session until a trio of competitors pushed him down to 5th close to the end. Time greatly improved over 2 seconds a lap during qualification on Saturday and a grid position of 5th for the first race looked promising. In achieving this, the plan was to scrub in two rear tyres for 5 laps each with a wheel change in pitlane. However, a useful tow on Elliot Pinson mid session ensured this didn’t happen as in the end the faster tow time was rightly exchanged for a fully scrubbed rear to be used in the first race.
The front five in this class seem to have a tangible advantage of 1.5% faster lap times and our aim is to get onto the back of this group and push the boundaries of riding to battle for those precious podium spots. Race one passed without incident and Sam finished in his favourite 6th spot. The tyre selection process of four tyres max over the weekend meant scrubs were onboard for race one with new rubber for Race 2 on Sunday.
A decision was taken to change gearing for Race 2. Probably a mistake in hindsight but we decided this on the basis of strong advice. The tyre calibration process (necessary after any ratio change) insists on riding the Ducati for 5 seconds between 30 – 32mph until it is confirmed on the dash as successful. Sam achieved this on the out lap to the grid. Whether related or not the actual start off the line turned into electronic mayhem. Starting in 7th position the bike really bogged down and refused to drive efficiently. Position dropped towards 15th by the third corner so lots to do. As the V2 sorted itself out three near out of seat moments encouraged full focus on keeping her upright.
Within a couple of laps Sam had begun to retake places and slowly worked back towards a final 6th position over the line. That 5th was possible in this race – due to a non starting David Shoubridge – rubbed salt in the wounds but the learning process continues. The V2 has sensitivity in the electronics, structutral weakness in the exhaust system, potential failure in the water pump gearing and a clutch which has a tolerance of wear of 0.4mm. A real exotic Italian lady!
Upon return to the workshop the clutch had indeed worn to its minimum operational limit so maybe this was the root cause of the start problem besides a suspicion that calibration should not be done into a race situation. We need a spot of race start testing to iron out these issues.
Overall a great weekend for SCR. Keeping ahead of the issues and learning how to prepare the V2 for racing keeps us busy. Next up is Silverstone where we have some set up data to base our approach. With only 6 corners to contend with on the National circuit things may be hopefully more simple except BSB have introduced the alternative Pirelli Supercorsa again. Stringent tyre pressures are enforced on the grid and – as Jamie Perrin has found out – disqualification off the grid is half a PSI away, or in his case 0.08psi !!! Yep that’s what we are dealing with folks, try measuring that on an analogue gauge whilst being shouted at.
Wish us luck, we are moving forward and with your support will push to get on that podium soon! Thanks to our team members: Frankie, Iain and Tony for their hardwork and the continuing support and help from Matt Baxter and Echelon Consultancy
Sam & Team
#31 Ducati Tri Options
Without the time to write up our most recent tracktime – there has been so much of it and preparation to match – a fleeting think back reflects nothing but progress and positivity during July and August’s outings. The trip to Snetterton with No Limits two weekends ago was designed to obtain set up data for our BSB trip there later this month.
The only issue we encountered was the searing heat predicted and experienced during the Friday practice day. Knowing full well the Ducati Panigale is prone to heat issues our preparation concentrated on this area of the bike. The Echelon backed team had invested in the full race radiator from Febur as a means of lowering oil temperature and protecting the engine to improve reliability and durability. We cannot afford another expensive loss aka R1 at Thruxton two years ago. Bang!
Engine temperatures on Friday were indeed high with 110c achieved towards the end of each session and then the slow down spike as air flow drops on the run in to the pits. No water overflow though and a careful eye on the system ensured no nasty surprises.
After practice on Friday we faced qualification and four short races alongside the No Limits clubman class of other Ducatis and 1000cc inline 4s. Sam posted pole position and a decent time of 1.58.3s in Qualy showing we were in the front mix. Further suspension tweaks achieved a remarkable event by Saturday close of play. The rider returned with the feedback that the bike felt ‘Good’ ! An almost non existent term in bike set up experience. We celebrated with team chest beating. The races themselves returned results of 2nd, 2 x 3rds and a 5th position.
The weekend provided useful saddle time and further experience for the team in relation to engine temperature management. This was going to be key learning going into the BSB Round 1 practice day the following Friday at Donny, another scorcher.
After Snet, the bike strip and inspection on Monday which is best done early as possible showed up a hole in our front exhaust pipe right next to the engine sump! At only 10 x 4mm it was worrying in relation to component failure and its potential to cause safety issues. Richard Spencer Fleet had experienced even greater fracturing. With the Lambda sensor having been blown out on his new V2 and another hole appearing close by could we be facing an endemic problem?
A short trip to our local motorsport fabricators and welding suppliers soon settled the issue with a patch weld but the feedback given spoke of poor material quality, manufacturing faults and the likelihood of further issues.
We have reported this to our bike suppliers Motorapido and the Ducati Tri Option’s organisers for relaying to Ducati UK. Unfortunately we suspect nothing will be done for us. Ducati will not admit liability for commercial reasons but could at least help their ad hoc test riders and racers out? Watch this space.
Our preparation was therefore set back a day or two. The Echelon V2, due to be graphic wrapped on Tuesday was still being rebuilt. Our graphics guy Craig White at Chalkies Decals had also fallen ill so attention turned to improving airflow and temperature efficiency.
Following set up at Donington, friday practice day looked exceedingly hot again. As it happened several bikes suffered overheating issues up to the max recorded on the dash of 120c. Usually an indication of head gasket failure ours actually ran 10c cooler with our airflow and cooling changes paying big dividends in power and safety.
Practice 1 on Friday went well. Set up was inherited from Snetterton but soon proved to be less than satisfactory. With front and rear support and movement issues respectively we developed ideas to counter these through Redgate and Craner especially. With a front softer spring change and added rear preload we went in a direction that improved time but remained lacking in corner exit speed and absorbing bumps. P1 time was 1.12.8s and 8th position. Not a bad start.
Qualification brought new tyres and an improved lap of 1.12.4s and position 8th. Gearing was definitely wrong however. We should have opted for a longer ratio and when we did into Race 1 it provided a big leap forward to 1.11.7s. The race was characterized by getting boxed in at the first corner then Sam working to attack 7th and 6th before tagging John McGuinness (5th) for several laps who slowly pulled away (new tyres onboard) towards the end of the race.
Finishing 6th with an improved time on scrub tyres was great news. Engine temperature had stabilized around 105c when running and the team celebrated our first set of points in the Ducati Tri Options hot Championship.
Race 2 was also exciting and with a strong start and plenty of TV coverage. Sam quickly overtook John McGuiness and began a three way battle with David Shoubridge and Craig Neve for 4th position. Watching the time screens, Sam showed he had faster pace in key sectors but an incident at Goddards clearly affected his final race result. Craig Neve had a near highside on exit blocking Sams progress on his immediate tail. Shoubridge capitalized and took both into 4th. With 2 seconds lost, Sam lost the tow on these two (who then pushed on into low 1.10 laps) and settled into a final 6th position. The big news was in chasing these down earlier in the race Sam smashed his PB and achieved another leap forward with a 1.10.9s lap.
Next up is Oulton Park with No Limits this weekend. More useful data to collect to support our push into the top five of the BSB Ducati series when we race there later in September. Many thanks to the SCR team again comprising Tony Homer, Iain Rowatt, Frankie and dad of course. We also have had amazing support from JHP Ducati Coventry (Rick Hackett and John Burrows) and Kais Suspension (Andy and George). Finally bug thanks to Matt Baxter and Lisa Stevenson at Echelon Consultancy for their continuing support in helping to provide a competitive race package this season.
Wish us luck, COVID 19 has changed 2020 in negative ways for many but this short race season should provide us with some great practice for Ducati Tri Options next year. Stay safe.
Thanks for following our story, if you would like to help the team with costs there is a DONATE button below. We use all funds to stay on track, every little helps!
Sam & Team
#31 Ducati Tri Options
CADWELL WARM UP GETS THE SEASON ROLLING AGAIN
It seemed a long way off and booking a track day in the middle of lockdown was speculative to some degree. Thankfully the easing of restrictions left us gathering kit together, waking at 3am and driving the long 4hr stretch to the Lincolnshire Wolds. It turned out to be a fine day without any serious issues. Even the weather behaved!
The V2 had performed well in Andalucia and had sat mostly collecting dust for 3 months. Checking her over had revealed the scuffed brake line and HEL had replaced these FOC and 50mm longer. The new trial pads, fully tested in Spain, still had 7mm of thickness on them or 4mm of material. Our contact with the UK importer puts us in a great position to obtain these with a good discount. Compared to Brembo ZO4’s they have felt better all round (very surprised by this) in a blind back to back comparison. The EBC GpFax set also faired well and the prices of these alternatives comes in at 30% cheaper. Any Ducati teams interested please get in touch with SCR.
The V2 definitely uses less brake material, fuel and tyre rubber than our previous 1000cc rides (GSXR and R1). All of these factors will contribute to savings over even this shortened season. With only 4 tyres allowed in the Ducati series each weekend the tyre bill will never be more than 600 – 750 depending on our choice of combination, 3 rears or just the two? The downside is the relatively expensive Ducati parts required to make our bike competitive. We await the delivery of the full race Febur rad. Coming out of Italy it may arrive this year and will help keep engine temperatures down towards 80c, a potential saving of engine loss due to excess heat. Currently the locally wired fan – always switched on when engine is running– suppresses the heat spikes on warm down lap but will be inadequate when track temps get up towards 30c.
We have a great connection with Rick Hackett at JHP Ducati Coventry. Over the Cadwell test the engine management light came on and even though the bike seemed to be running fine (two unaffected sessions) it proved a worry. Running it up to JHP and plugging in to the very exclusive Ducati software found a large number of errors on the ECU. These were mostly error errors or stuff that were to be expected from electronics that had things missing like indicators etc. A software update and 20 mins selected deletion has left the ECU cleared and ready for the next outing.
Keeping ahead of future issues has left us changing the JT sprocket carrier and sprockets to a Renthal set up. Having bought the JT 520 carrier + 39 and 40 sprockets it was reasonable to expect we could source others in the required set (41, 42 and 43). No such luck. Conversation with JT: “do you supply 41 – 43 sprockets”? “No”………..”Why not, you supply 39 and 40”?..........”We are awaiting demand”………..????!!!!!! Well I’m demanding them as I bought one of your sprocket carriers! FFS Idiots.
The next two weeks will be spent prepping fairings for the next outing at Silverstone (BSB Test). This is a must attend event as we race there in September so getting some good data will be the target. So far the V2 seems relatively easy to set up suspension wise. During the Cadwell test, although we made changes, they were quite minor. Initially dropping the front (the usual change at Cadwell) didn’t give any better feel and the bike was running wider on exit once race pace was approached. With more height at the front and added rear support it was soon back on track. Gearing was too short but at least we now know the rear sprocket required – Renthal providing!
As soon as the Silverstone test is over the V2 is booked for its first major service at JHP. Apparently it is important to get valve timings adjusted after the first 1000 mile initial running in period. With new switch gear also ordered to cover the right hand controls we will have easy access to rain light and transponder function. Lots of other road related unnecessary bits will be removed and the bike should be ready in fighting trim for its first weekend race outing at Snetterton with No Limits Club 31st July – 2nd August.
Wish us luck
Sam #31 & Team
Sad start to a shortened and strange season.
As we write our thoughts and best wishes are sent to the family and partner of Ben Godfrey. As is widely known he lost his life in a tragic accident at Donington circuit this past weekend. Ben was a friendly and supportive rider who took the trouble to help Sam #31 as a fellow competitor throughout our time in the BSB Stock 1000 Championship during 2018 and 2019. At Cartagena at the beginning of 2019 we were parked next to Bens team in the Pit garages and banter was soon flowing. His whole team (JDR) were friendly and helpful and when Sam had an off they helped by returning his gear back from the med centre. From then on it was mutual support and nothing was too much for JDR to help our season.
Ben was a fast and skillful rider. Pushing hard to score points regularly in the Stock 1000 Championship he was expected to challenge for the regular podium spots in 2020 and had also entered the Ducati Tri Options on a newly supplied V2. That we were expecting to find tough competition from him is an understatement and he will be sorely missed in the BSB Paddock. Rest in peace Ben Godfrey. You were a kind, considerate and lovely guy.
Our own preparations have been badly affected by these events. But we have no choice but to remember Ben fondly and carry on living and racing - he would approve we have no doubt.
This week the V2 will be restored to testable standard and checked over ready for its first outing since Andalucia. This process is not to be underestimated. Even though we have a checklist of kit and bike related issues, not having been out for three months means we may be rusty and relaxed. Not the optimal riding combination. As you can imagine our approach will focus on safety at all times. Check check check!
A prolonged inspection of the V2 this week has covered all areas including wheels, chain and brakes etc. Wouldn’t you know it was worth it. Not having ridden the bike since March, we have a trackday at Cadwell on Sunday. The bike performed well in Andalucia but one area had caught our attention before we left. The supplied brake lines (free) from HEL as part of BSB support seemed shorter than expected but fitted ok.
In Spain we had adjusted the front forks through the yokes to max height. It appears that the right hand brake line had over straightened on fork extension and just touched the tyre edge sufficient to wear the steel braiding – see pic. Not good. Hidden from view, the damage did not breach the inner pressured brake line but nevertheless a huge risk. HEL are now supplying replacements FOC 50mm longer.
Our main sponsor Echelon are backing our efforts again to compete in a compressed season of five rounds in the Ducati series – see dates below. 10 races is all we get but they will require lots of prep as this bike is an entirely new concept and its care requires new procedures and advice. Rick Hackett at JHP Ducati Coventry has been great. Always on hand for help and advice he is currently ordering our Febur race radiator and planning its fitment along with other items at his fantastic workshop in the Midlands. With new switchgear and better brake lines included in the service the bike is getting closer to a competitive weapon.
SNETTERTON TEST NL 31.7
BSB ROUND 1 DONINGTON 7.8
OULTON PARK TEST NL 14.8
BSB ROUND 2 SNETTERTON 21.8
BSB ROUND 3 SILVERSTONE 4.9
CADWELL TEST NL 12.9
BSB ROUND 4 OULTON PARK 18.9
DONINGTON TEST NL 9.10
BSB ROUND 5 BRANDS GP 16.10
In addition to these dates we are booked onto the BSB Test at Silverstone on 17th July.
Any supporters are welcome to come along if Covid19 restrictions allow but we may be ordered to keep numbers down in the actual marquee. Watch this space for further details.
The only thing we have not yet covered this season is obtaining support for a new set of rider gear for Sam. Typically we have a new test suit ready with replacement boots and helmet. These items are essential for Round 1 at BSB Donington in August to complete the new team colours and bike design.
The following Donate link allows supporters to share their love and help the team equip our rider with any contribution they can afford, every little helps!
Thank you for any help!
Sam & Team
Sam Cox Racing takes a new direction in the 2020 Race season
Its no secret that our well-laid plans in 2019 did not deliver the experience we all wished for in the BSB Stock 1000 season. Although we broke PB’s at most circuits and enjoyed some personal and team progress at each round attended, the brutal aspects of racing took its toll on team confidence and the ability to push forward in the series. That we survived and learned as a team reflects our strength of purpose and teamwork.
The BSB STOCK 1000 class has become very competitive. Try as we might to match the costs of competing with some really big names and teams it proved a stretch in 2019 and our decision for 2020 has been made in relation to reason, desire to compete equally and getting back to the kind of racing which we enjoyed throughout our time in the Triumph Challenge i.e. on a level playing field that is fully accessible to us. Our main sponsors (Echelon) are also delighted we are prepared to tamper with the exotic equipment that only comes from Italy! Ducati it is then…….
So the Ducati Tri Options is just that series and will provide an interesting stepping stone to regain our mojo as a team and rider. Sam #31 has always been a racer known for aggressive passes, steady and strategic race craft and the ability to win and podium as well as good endurance in fitness. Our hopes are that by providing a good opportunity to make the front rather than building from the middle, the adrenalin of the win will break our tempered approach.
Of course the Ducati series is probably cheaper overall with less rounds (8 instead of 12) and a restriction on tyres used (Max 4 instead of 7). These details matter as there is no point spending so much money in a class where our returns are less cost effective and the fun value is all but dissipated.
First job is to sell our beloved Suzuki. The bike has performed really well all season. Pushing out the same 190 BHP on the BSB dyno without a glitch and providing us with self tuning learning opportunities and a cheaper Suzuki supported refresh and service programme. Our support from Maxton has been excellent and the suspension supplied both responsive and tunable too.
The Ducati has proven itself well in the series so far. The new model, officially badged the V2, has been ordered and will provide some interesting mechanical lessons no doubt. News that some of the Ducati series bikes were suffering cooling issues has been discounted on the back of less than favourable servicing and care with Radiator clean and purging. Obviously exotic bikes like the V2 will have its idiosyncrasies but we have learned to prep fully for race weekends and our checking has become exacting to offset any early minor issues before they become major.
We have now to complete the change. Build the bike. Build the team and then test in time for the first round at Silverstone in April. Wish us luck, its going to be an interesting ride!
We are building the team for 2020 now. Any support welcome. We are looking to develop our sponsor base among commercial and private companies that would like further exposure in the BSB Paddock. A great place to bring clients and customers for an exciting day out with our own bespoke hospitality and paddock rights on offer. Get in touch!
Sam Cox & Team
DUCATI TRI OPTIONS SEASON TAKING SHAPE
Following the decision to go into the Ducati Tri Options Championship before Christmas, we have had a lot of work and some real challenges to swap out our entire Stock 1000 bike and spares and indulge ourselves with new Italian exotica.
We sold the GSXR fairly quickly (Good luck Mike) and are slowly realising value from all the spares built up over the season. A rather sad affair but the nature of the game is to get funds together to complete the purchase and build of the V2. With the excellent support from our main sponsor Echelon Consultancy onboard we have to get this done by the end of February.
Collection of the V2 was achieved on Feb 11th. The Ducati arrived at the dealers (Motorapido) and then with Akrapovic exhaust fitment, map installation and other minor tweaks it was ready to travel home.
With the V2 being a new Ducati model (and more different than a few tweaks and dials) all the aftermarket suppliers have to redesign items such as fairings to suit. This is why we have no race bodywork to date and are sweating on its production and delivery in time to successfully fit for the first test in Spain. Update: not arrived! Thanks to Gav Little for lending a spare.
Chasing down parts is a challenging task. The rear single sided swing arm requires either a new spare wheel for qualification purposes from Ducati at over £800 or a second hand one from an ex Ducati Supersport model at £300. The only place these are found is mostly in the USA and with delivery and customs costs this pumps the price further. Still a bargain at 50% less than new however. Now sorted.
A useful supplier is Tom Tunstall (BSB Stock 1000 rider) who runs Spider parts and he has provided a collection of bolt on goodies to add to the V2 as soon as it arrives in our rural workshop: Rearsets, Tank Cap, Yoke stops and other goodies.
Our relationship with GB Racing has produced some heavy discounting on engine protection and we are chasing a similar deal with JT Sprockets who may be generous enough to sort our gearing needs. Hel have been fabulous and given us a free set of braided brake lines in a natty bright blue colour.
On the braking front we have found that the Brembo Z04 prices for pads have gone up nearly 30% for the V2 in comparison with the GSXR. We find it hard to make our funds stretch the season so testing in Spain will involve looking at alternative pads that have just as good performance and are demonstrably cheaper. Testing in Spain will involve a lot of suspension set up and chassis related analysis and a blind but fair brake pad test will help establish our future stopping power decisions.
This year we have elected to try Ohlins all round. Having found a well priced Ohlins TTx shock we have splashed a bit more on a set of 30mm Nix cartridges for the front. Last year Maxton delivered an excellent product and really exceptional paddock support and we will be ever thankful to Richard Adams for this. We also know George and Andy from Kais suspension so they will have to suffer our likely need for ideas when the V2 wont go where its told!
Over the winter we have added another 45% of awning space to the marquee. GH Awnings serviced and replaced the roll out roof and mechanism and then built an extension to the truck rear. The whole thing looks great and will greatly assist the team when we have visitors and guests to accommodate.
Thanks to Intact Electrical in supporting our awning development but also welcome to Gavin Little MD who will be throwing his hand into competing in the Ducati Championship too. As an ex Triumph Challenge competitor he is returning to racing to have some fun again at BSB level. We are all travelling to Andalucia circuit soon with his earlier 959 alongside our new V2 so it will be very interesting to bed both bikes and riders in together.
Our final V2 dyno check and tweeking has gone to JHP Ducati in Coventry. Customer service there has been excellent. Probably the best support one could hope for. Very friendly and knowledgeable people and with the top man Rick Hackett on our case we sorted a few minor issues which could have been a problem on track. They are now our preferred technical support for this season.
We leave for Spain today so hopefully some positive days in the sun will enable us to begin the Tri Options series in April with some good set up information and a feel for this new machine.
Wish us luck as ever!
Sam & Team SCR
ANDALUCIAN TEST & V2 Developments
SCR planning for pre season testing this year was to cut back on Spanish circuits from the 2019 season build up and get more time in the UK before BSB Round 1 at Silverstone. Our decision and the trip to Andalucia circuit happened just in time to enjoy four days of sun and quality track time then return before the COVID 19 based lock down across Europe.
Bedding the New V2 in and getting Coxxy#31 tuned to its new feel after the winter break was ultimately well achieved. Having received the bike in mid Feb the initial build had gone well and with a dyno check at JHP Ducati Coventry, all systems were go and we completed 400 miles of tracktime without issue. JHP run a brilliant customer service and Rick Hackett MD spent several hours sorting code errors on the dash, removing unnecessary systems and giving the new beast a good check over.
5 days later we arrived at a sunny Andalucia Circuit ready for the first track session. Initial feel was comfortable and direct on the base setting provided by Kais Suspension. Brakes are really good on the V2 and the corner turn in felt natural without dramas. We were led to believe that handling was sweet on the V2 and it proved true from the outset. Our only task therefore was going faster and learning more about set up and geometry parameters.
With a need to make changes and try out different spring sets we initially played around with the base set up trying different combinations of harder and softer springs. Base recommendations were a good starting point but after some minor alterations from the chief suspension guru we found a further 1.5 second improvement mainly coming from improved drive on exit. Bottom end grunt being a feature of the V2 configuration meant peak torque was low down with peak power at 10,500 rpm which felt majorly different to our previously higher revving (13,500rpm) GSXR. This took some rider adjustments to get used to the new way of riding the ride in comparison to more revvy 1000cc engines the rider is more accustomed to. This should be something Sam can get more and more confident with the longer he spends in the saddle.
A new and novel experience was the electronic Calibration system embedded in the Ducati dash menu. On the GSXR we were used to installing any gearing changes via the Yoshimura software. On the V2 the pilot selects the programme from the dash, presses ‘Start’ on the menu and then rides the bike in 2nd gear for 5 seconds between 30 – 32 mph! Get it wrong and the whole circus has to start again. Hilarious. Imagine going out on track at Paddock hill having to complete this process, or attempting to do it before reaching the track along an access road!?
The shock length was adjusted (we need an extra longer shock pin) but the Ohlins unit set up helped to provide plenty of grip and stability adding to gains in confidence and improved lap times. Front springs were hardly touched throughout test but we played around with front ride height to try and find greater support and more opportunity to attack corners harder. We managed to find some improvements in that area and surprisingly there was little resultant loss in other areas such as entry turn in or holding line on exit. Any minor detrimental effects were dialed out on the rear to keep her stable.
The Ducati engine never missed a beat and although it began to warm up towards 100 degrees on run in to pits, the locally wired lower rad fan kept a manual suppression on temperatures. Our next task is to fit the bigger capacity Febur Rad which will solve the temperature issues fully. We have a limited budget as do all teams in this championship, however when assessing where to spend our money the team concluded that at £1600 fitted, it is still a lot cheaper than a broken engine!
Throughout our four days we tested three different types of pads. For fairness we arranged a blind test where the rider had no clue what were fitted. For day 1 – 2 Pad A provided good bite and feel even when track temperatures went above 25 degrees. Day three we cleaned discs thoroughly to remove any resident Pad A material and tried the relatively unknown Pad B. Reports came back that these felt good too and had positive feel characteristics slightly preferred to Pad A. By day four track times had reduced and therefore braking was harder. Next up were Pad C (a well known brake pad brand), fully expected to give harder bite and consistent grip. Nothing was further from the truth. Coxxy reported they felt, quote “shit” , with inconsistent feel and bite! Less convincing then for the fact that the PAD C price was 2 - 4 times that of the others! We have had previous experience with these pads and generally have always been the better pad on the 1000cc bikes but maybe with less energy to disperse on the Ducati we can still operate with these alternatives unless of course things change when summer temps come along. Good to have choice and know their parameters though, another good positive to come out of the test. PM us for any advice in this area as we aim to market the above Pad B's to the paddock.
After his first experience on the Ducati, Sam #31 had these words to say:
“It was fantastic getting out to Spain and riding the new V2, I had been working hard in the ‘off season’ both in the gym and on anything else with two wheels so when we got to Spain I felt physically and mentally ready to get to know the new bike. As every racer knows there are two types of fit; Gym fit and Race fit. Although my fitness levels were high you can never quite replicate racing a motorcycle at high speeds in the gym so I definitely felt the sessions over the four days. Over the past few years I have pretty much changed bike every year, and each year Ive had to learn a new bike/way of riding. Looking back on each of those bikes and analysing it I find that the bikes I had greater success with I clicked with straight away. As an example the first time I threw my leg over the R1 it just felt right and the laptimes came easy on it, conversely when I first got on the Suzuki we didn’t quite click. This first impression of a bike (whether subconscious or not) has a big impact for myself as rider). So rather apprehensively when I first got on the V2 I was nervous as to whether if me and ‘her’ were going to “click”. But I am very happy to report that from the first lap out she felt like my bike, I felt I had confidence going into corners that I haven’t felt since I last rode with Ohlins in 2014, and this was before we even started to try and set it up. Over the four days we worked well and I got to know her better and we ended the test with a bike in one piece and loads more data about how to set it up. I came back with an inner confidence ready to start the UK testing schedule”
Update on development: Reactive parts have finally delivered the long awaited V2 fairings that look to slot straight on. Not. The lower catch tray has been ill shaped to fit the exhaust and support bracket set up underneath the engine. In a perverse design, supporting bolts are obscured by chassis members, the front exhaust bracket swivels front to back and the exhausts can swivel on their rear pipe sleeve. The provided belly pan does not match the front bracket shape. Seems this kit was rushed out or just the Ducati being a Ducati ? However, Covid19 has come along giving plenty of time for the big wrestle to resolve this Italian maxtrix of fiddling. Update: Now sorted after many hours of development and fettling!
So far the lock down has affected all racing and testing. We will be lucky to be out again before July when Round 5 at Brands GP is due on July 24th – 26th. By then the bike will definitely be ready to race but we may all be stir crazy by then if glad to have survived. And 2020 was going to be so much better than 2019!
Nothing is more important than health and family, so we shall use this time to take stock, fine tune the finishing on the V2 and get all the race kit checked and tidy. The summer will come in less than 2 months and hopefully this terrible Pandemic will disappear by then and we can start again with a clearer horizon.
Stay safe, stay isolated !
Sam & Team