BHR Cadwell Park 25-26 September 2021 (Part 3)

Andy J

Hero member
Location
Isle of Man
There was little time between the completion of the aforementioned race (2nd BEARS race) and my next race, the Bonhams Auctioneers over 50’s (geriatric) Handicap race, to do anything other than let the bike, and myself, cool down a bit, add a drop of fuel, clean my visor and have a quick drink. Any further consideration of the bike and my performance would have to wait.

A large field of over 30 riders lined up on the grid riding everything between a 1958 Velocette to a 2012 Tigcraft 690, and with a timekeeper’s handicap applied everyone should have a chance of winning. The reality is, the system favours the slower riders, but is still fun all the same.

I was allocated a grid position a lot nearer the back than the front, and allied with the usual slow start, I had to adopt a slightly less gentlemanly riding style to make any form of progress through the field.

Bothersome started 11 places higher up the grid than me, so I had my work cut out in hunting him down but I slowly picked off the bikes between us. I eventually caught and passed him before the end of the lap but he must have tried to cling to my tail and for the last lap we recorded exactly the same time of 2.05. Despite having beaten him fair and square across the line, I was somewhat disgruntled to discover, once the handicap was applied, he was placed half a dozen or more places ahead of me in the results. I can only surmise they based his handicap on the one ‘touring’ lap he performed in retiring from the previous race. Bother! However, I did have the consolation of a backhanded compliment paid by him, once racing had been completed for the day, when he described my passes, at times, during the race as ‘psychotic’ and wondered what had come over me. Well it was pretty obvious to me, I wasn’t going to get beaten by a Morini.

There was then a bit of a gap before my last two races, which allowed for further consideration of the bike’s handling issues and the lack of a reliable tacho; the latter regularly giving a false reading of 11,000+ revs! In comparison to swapping the rear shock, replacing the forks and tacho seemed like too much effort, but would have been possible if there had been more at stake. So I decided just to ride around the issues for the next race.

The second BEARS race of the day, due to my quicker lap times in the previous race, saw me move up the grid a few more places, so I was pretty confident of avoiding the hassle of trying to get by some of the slower riders. This confidence well and truly bit me on the arse.

Lights out and away, change up to second and the bike almost ground to a halt as it bogged down and nearly stalled. In the meantime every sodding bike behind me on the grid shot passed and into the distance, including Bothersome. By the time I coaxed the bike back into life I had given them all a few hundred yards head start.

I gave chase the best I could and had picked off five riders by the end of the first lap and had Bothersome in sight, but a combination of chatter and fluffed gear changes made the chase almost a forlorn hope. So on the third lap I decided to save myself, in particular my hands which were becoming sore from wrestling with the errant handling, and the bike from unnecessary abuse and backed right off with a view to just taking the points.

This just left the final race of the day for me to prepare for, in fact not just for the event but the whole BHR season. Not only was my pride on the line - i.e. to avoid being beaten again by Bothersome but I also needed to avoid a DNF.

A discussion ensued between me, Andy B and Phil Todd regarding the front end chatter. Phil suggested dropping the forks through the yokes to put more weight on the front end. Although it was thought this could increase the possibility of instability, it may also reduce the chatter I was experiencing in certain corners. After some further deliberations between me and Andy we agreed on a 10mm drop in height to add to the 5mm (excluding cap) already protruding above the top yoke, so by no way a large adjustment, but hopefully sufficient to make a positive difference.

By the time the final race was called the organisers had cut the race length down to 4 laps, which was a mixed blessing as if I cocked up the start again it would make my life harder. On the other hand a good start would mean it was going to be more difficult for Bothersome to beat me.

However, of more concern was the sun was now starting to get low down and, as I anticipated, the run through Charlies was directly into the sun meaning it was almost impossible to see anything in front of you, and risked a collision with a slower rider.

Nevertheless, the business still had to be done, so I would just have to be a bit more cautious than in previous races.

I was allocated a grid position on the same row but one place back from Bothersome, so essentially we were starting ‘even-Stevens’ so there could be no excuse of being handicapped by a much lower starting position. I had already decided when the lights went out I was going to hold it in first gear for longer than in previous races to avoid a repeat of the bogging down/stalling incident. Even though this action did prevent a repeat of the last race, Bothersome still got the drop on me and led into Charlies, and despite my anticipation of being badly sighted and needing to take things a steadier I still found myself having to brake harder and slow down by more than I thought necessary.

By the end of the first lap Bothersome still led by the slenderest of margins, but through trying too hard to pass on the second lap I cocked up a couple of times and he pulled out an advantage of nearly 3 seconds by the end of the lap. Telling myself to calm down and just concentrate on riding more smoothly by the end of the third lap I had halved the gap, but still had plenty to do. Heading down the Park Straight I seemed to be no closer to catching him, and I had to give myself an even sterner talking to and to ‘get my finger out’. It was now a case of shit or bust if I wanted to catch him, let alone pass him. So head down, albeit carefully managing any wobbles or shakes through Park, Chris Curve and the Gooseneck, and I was nearly up his backside as we took the drop down to Mansfield. Bothersome said to me later, at the moment he was thinking he perhaps ought to leave his braking a bit later than normal I shot past him on the inside and he realised his mistake! He also admitted it was a clean pass. Hurrah! Even so I made sure it was a block pass into the corner so there was no way he could get by again on the exit. I also held the bike in gear, revved it hard and left my braking as late as I dared in the short dash to the chicane. I also only changed up once in the charge to the bottom of the mountain and held a line that would be difficult for him to try and out brake me in to the tight left hander. For once, making a fairly clean run through the mountain section I again made sure I took as quick and as defensive a line through to Hall bends knowing that, although I was quicker than him in that section and through the Hairpin and Barn, if I didn’t have sufficient a lead exiting Barn he would probably out drag me to the line. I needn’t have worried as he wasn’t able to stick with me and I crossed the line two and half seconds ahead of him.

Honours, in some respect, were even in that we both won two of the F3 BEARS races over the course of the weekend but, by virtue of me having two second places to his one and a DNF, I came out top dog as I am the winner of the F3 Championship for 2021. Hurrah! 🥳

Looking back over the weekend, whatever the outcome had been, it was a fun, enjoyable event, despite some of the tribulations along the way. Perhaps I could have made life easier if the bike was more like it was when I previously raced it at the BHR event at Three Sisters in 2019. It probably would have helped at the starts, and out of some of the slower corners, if I had swapped the rear sprocket for a 44, but that’s all immaterial now. The bike is still a Championship winning machine. Offers over £10k accepted! ;)

Thanks as usual to Andy B for giving up his time to help prepare the bike and for his assistance etc during the weekend. Also thanks for the support from Richard and Phil and the banter with Gareth and his mates.

Roll on 2022!
 

Gareth99

Full member
Great report Andy and glad to finally see some people racing in the F3 BEARS series as it's been a pretty thin field this year.

I've been duelling with Bothersome for many years and I recall one incident with him at Mallory in 2015 where he was on the Morini and I was on the Jota. They were running with the Edwina chicane and the big old girl loved going round the previous corner (Gerrards) providing you didn't change lean angle, alter throttle position, or breathe, and I was going well. I'd caught up with Bothersome round Gerrards and we were side by side going into Edwinas. He told me that he knew he could brake later than me because his bike was lighter and he was "awesome" on the brakes anyway and so his strategy was to wait until I braked and then brake himself. He was on the inside and expressed surprise that I went well past his braking marker before I grabbed the lever, and as he did the same he realised he was never going to make the corner. I was still convinced I could get round Edwinas so tipped in - HE DIDN'T !!! I scuffed his leathers and stood the bike up and we both went down the slip road (the original circuit) and round the cones, rejoining at the esses. On the next lap we did exactly the same but I outbraked him and swooped round the outside and past him. I was well chuffed as it was the last lap, but we were both ushered into race control for a royal bollocking. He said a few years later that whenever he heard the Jota and the squeal of the tyres under braking, he moved out of the way - maybe all Laverda racers are "psychotic"!
 

Andy J

Hero member
Location
Isle of Man
Good story Gareth. The only other time I recall coming across Bothersome was at Three Sisters in 2019. Beat him soundly in two out of three races.
 
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