| 2011 Iveco Australian MotoGP|
125cc Wildcard Race Report
14th-16th October, 2011
The biggest racing weekend of the year had arrived, the 2011 Iveco Australian MotoGP. The team and I arrived at the island Tuesday Evening to get ready to set up our Pit Garage Wednesday morning. We picked our Pit Garage and started setting up and organized our credentials for pick up from the IRTA office. The nerves were starting to build up as all my fellow racers were turning up to the circuit.
You never know what to expect when you go down to Phillip Island. It is one of the most unpredictable places you can think of when it comes to weather and it makes it hard for set up. Phillip Island is a real horsepower circuit. Being a fast flowing circuit for the 125cc Race Bikes and having very little braking areas, you make up a lot of time out on the circuit with outright speed so this would be another area we would be focusing on.
Once we finished setting up our pits, it was time to just relax, take in all the atmosphere around the paddock and try to not over think about racing as I didn’t want to tire myself out before my first day of Practice.
Thursday was quiet a laid back day. My mentor Rob Carter and I went out on the circuit to examine the circuit and analyze the cambers in the corners and to pin point apex points out on the track. While I was down in Turn 9, we ran into Darryl Beattie who was more than helpful. We spoke about qualifying lines and racing lines and he helped me out a fair bit for the 20 or so minutes we got to talk for. He gave me a lot to think about and note down in the pit garage before race day. I was really pumped and looking forward to practice. That night we went into town, had a good feed and rested up for the next day.
The way our schedule worked was that we would have Practice 1 and Practice 2 on Friday, Practice 3 and Qualifying on Saturday, and Warm Up and Race on Sunday. IRTA also informed us that if we were within 107% of the fastest time in any Practice or Qualifying that you would automatically qualify for the race on Sunday.
Our aim for Practice 1 was to qualify and go as hard as we could with the set up we had to take some pressure off me and the team as it would then give us the flexibility to take risks in different changes to the bike. The weather was picture perfect, only with a very slight breeze. I was out in practice, and only being my second time on this bike, I knew that we would have plenty of room for improvement. The main issue I had was the front was using full stroke and bottoming out as I went into many of the hard braking corners, causing my front end to chatter on the brakes and push a little wide. Even so, I was able to achieve a fast enough time to qualify for Sunday’s race with a 1:44:5 which put me in 32nd in Practice 1.
For Practice 2, the conditions changed dramatically and it became overcast and quiet windy. The wind would pretty much stay for the rest of the weekend. The changes made to the bike didn’t improve the handling of the bike, instead, the bike wasn’t steering into corners and I was having trouble staying on a race line. By the end of the session, we hadn’t improved on our set up and it showed in our lap times as we were more than a second slower than the previous session. For the next day we would go back to our base setting and work from there. We would also look into ways of improving on our top speed as we were down a lot on power.
It was a new day, a fresh start and it was time to go out for Practice 3. The conditions were still quiet windy which wasn’t helping with trying to get the right suspension set up as well as trying to work on getting more power in different ranges of the bike. The bike was handling as well as it did in Practice 1 but with the change in conditions from P1 to P3, it affected our lap times as well as the other riders lap times dramatically. I qualified in Practice 3 in 32nd position. We still had plenty of work to do to improve on our set up and our lap times.
For Qualifying, we made a few changes to the rear end to work on building up some temperature in the rear end of the bike as well as work to the front end to improve the front end chatter. Qualifying was quiet tricky as there was oil from Turn 12 all the way down to the exit of Turn 2. It was directly on race line and it made it tricky to trail the brakes and get on the gas as it was like skating on ice. In the end, you would just try not to think about it and hope for the best outcome which in the end benefited for me. I qualified in qualifying in 32nd position, and was the only Australian Wildcard to qualify in the Qualifying session. The lap times improved from our previous session but we were still about .5 off our Practice 1 lap time, but due to the conditions being much more harsh and windy, we thought that the way the bike was handling was an improvement.
The Big Day had arrived, and it was time to get out for Sunday Morning Warm-Up. It was wet at the start of the session so we opted for a wet compound tyre. It wasn’t the right decision to make as the strength of the wind dried out the circuit pretty quick so by the half way mark into the session, the track was dry. I still decided to stay out there while the other teams changed back to slick tyres because I knew that we would not be able to get the wheels changed in time to really get the track time we wanted. I was 29th fastest in morning warm up and was pumped and raring to go for the big race!
The race is here and we are lined up on the grid. I’m praying for the rain and the clouds start to come over pretty dark and quick. As I’m standing beside my bike, I see Darryl Beattie on the starting grid. He came over to interview me before the race, asking me questions on what I’m hoping to achieve in the race and as I say that I hope for rain, it came down on us. On went the wets and it was all looking positive for the race as we knew if it were a wet race, it wouldn’t come down to horsepower but it would come down to tactics and staying as smooth as possible.
There was a 10 minute delay for our race but only 5 minutes before our race start, the rain stopped. The track was drying out quickly but we didn’t have enough time to get our slicks back on as the team was called back into pit lane. Majority of the teams were able to get the slicks back on the race bikes before the race start.
On the warm up lap, as we were sighting the track, the circuit seemed to be just about bone dry. Sure, there were damp patches through Turns 1 and 2, and through the fast Turn 3 but it was conditions that would work in favor of a slick tyre.
The Red Lights on… 3,2,1, Off we go! I was determined to make up as many positions I could as early as I could. I made up about 3 positions into Turn 1 on the outside and another 3 positions on the outside of Turn 2. I lost some pace down the short straight into Turn 3 but made up another position and by the time I was coming back onto the main straight, I had made up 10 positions, only to lose 5 positions by the Finish Line. Coming into Turn 1, I noticed my bike was running quiet hot. I kept my head down hoping it would cool down. I worked at trying to make up more positions out on track and was able to move up 1 more position but lost it again down the straight. At this stage as I was a few hundred meters from entering Turn 1, my bike was running hot into the danger zone of a possible seizure. I tried slowing down in certain areas of the circuit to try cooling down the bike but it wasn’t working.
Eventually I had to pull into Pit Lane. I had the team take tape off my radiator and I got back out on the circuit. The issue I had this time was that the bike was now running under temperature and in risk of a cold seizure. It was at this stage which I was a bit disheartened and eventually retired from the race.
It was a weekend of ups and downs but it was one of the best experiences of my life. I am grateful for being given the opportunity to participate as a wildcard in the 2011 Iveco Australian MotoGP and would to thank Motorcycling Australia for the opportunity. I would also like to thank the RSW Racing Team for all there long hard hours in prepping my bike and getting it ready for the big race, My best friend Sam Clarke for all his help and support over the weekend and my sponsors:
Winna Parker PTY LTD
KBC Helmets USA
Shogai Imports – Puma, Clover, Dainese
Carbon Imports and Accessories – BST Wheels, Capit Tyre Warmers
Two Wheel Custom Paint
Impact Safe-T Armor
Without my sponsors and supporters, none of this would have been possible and I thank you all for your generous contributions and help through out the year and previous seasons.
Nicky Diles Iveco Australian MotoGP 125 Report () 10/25 07:16 AM
The views and opinions expressed in these pages are strictly those of the authors and cannot be taken to represent the views and opinions of Formula Xtreme Promotions Pty Ltd or the Australasian Superbike Company Pty Ltd (Ausco).