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