Please scroll down to see all the entries for April - June 2013
30 June, Taupo Winter Series, Round 3
After R2 Vinny was sitting in equal 8'th in the series. Our aim for R3 was to climb up a little more inside top 10, to finish all races inside top ten and to get at least one top five finish. We achieved half of that on this dry and chilly day on a track that was very good but heavy to ride with all the loose sand after Saturday's Team Championships.
I had respoked the 2011 bike's rear wheel and all was ready for a day of good racing. It would be interesting to see how Vinny would do after having 2 days of coaching here a few weeks ago by Greg Moss from Moss Institute where he also coached the riders on how to attack the different parts of the track.
In practice Vinny was to try what he had learnt. The coaching had given him more confidence for his jumps and the plan was to use all of that and also push for a "full" jump at the Dam Jump. He had a small crash in the turn before the Step Up jump, but no harm done. After a couple of laps he decided to try the Dam Jump. But he got it wrong and turned the throttle on too late making the bike jump close to straight up (approx 75 degree angle). Vinny has the knowledge how to correct his jumps. But his brain went all blank, and when the bike was at the highest point (some 3-4m up in the air) he bailed. He landed on his bum and got a pretty good shake-up, but luckily the only real damage was to his "cool factor"... But the bike had decided it would show him how wrong he was to jump off. It safely landed on the wheels and carried on down the jump, then veered of the track and aimed for the dam (yes, there is water in that dam...). On the way to the dam it smashed it self on both sides and broke the two radiator shrouds just for good measure. Once at the dam the bike surfed across the water and parked it self on the other side leaning against the dam wall. There was a rush of people coming to help. Two guys went down in to the dam and the bike was pointed in the direction it came from. 3 kicks and the motor was back up running and one of them rode the bike out of there. Once back in the pits we replaced the shrouds with the ones from the 2009 bike. And after a full check-over the 2011 bike was ready for action. Sadly I had decided not to video the practice. Bummer, would have made such a great vid for his 21'st...
In the first race Vinny had for some reason decided that he would start from far out on the r/h side (from a riders point of view). This gave him a long way to the holeshot and, even if his start was good, he only managed approx 10'th at the holeshot. There was 25 riders in the 11-12yo 85 class, but some of them did not have transponders meaning that they would not show up in the results. Also for this time there was to be a split start and the 8-10yo 85cc class would start after Vinnys class. After the start Vinny dropped down a few places to approx 15'th. But as the race went on he passed riders to end up 9'th at the chequered flag. He had a good tussle with the riders we measure him against and it was obvious that he had developed as a rider since last time here.
In race 2 we agreed that Vinny would start closer to the middle of the starting line and he got himself a spot 3 places from the starter box. He had a better start and was approx 6-8'th at the holeshot. Very similar race as the first one. A few more riders crashed in the deep sand but Vinny rode well and finished 7'th.
Race 3 saw his best start and at a split moment before the holeshot turn (where he was on the outside) he was up in 5'th. in this race he had re-gained his confidence for the jumps (he had struggled a little in the jumps as a result of the crash in the practice) and he was again jumping properly and keeping the speed up. At start of the last lap he was sitting in 6'th and it was looking like he might even have a chance for that elusive top five finish. But two of the riders we measure him against managed to pass him and he had to settle for 8'th.
This was a much more consistent meeting for Vinny where all three races were very similar in most ways for him. He also stayed upright (compared to many who had off's). He has now cut the time to the winner, since Round 1, by half from over two minutes to just over one minute. He is fighting with the riders we compare him with instead of us measuring his improvement by checking how far behind he is. There is three more rounds of this Winter Series, and I predict that Vinny will, at the end of the series, be challenging for a top five placing and beating the riders we measure him against. We were hoping that he could get in to top three by Round 6, but it might be too much to ask. In any case he will have a good base for 2014 series where we aim to fight for wins!
And what about the three goals for this meeting?
Goal 1: Finish all races inside top ten. Achieved: 9'th, 7'th and 8'th.
Goal 2: Finish one race inside top five. Not achieved even if it at one stage looked like a maybe...
Goal 3: To improve on his placing in the series. 1/2 achieved: Vinny was sitting in shared 8'th coming in to this meeting. He now sits in 8'th on his own and only one point away from seventh.
15 - 16 June. Moss Institute MX Coaching, Taupo
Coaching of young MX riders. it is expensive, but if you do not have a coach at home, then there is no way around it but to enroll in courses/camps, pay the fee and learn as much as possible.
Vinny has had coaching by Katherine Prumm, Matthew Prumm, Mike Phillips, Rhys Carter and Evan Hood. Most of it as part of one weeks MX School Holiday Programmes that we were running in Hawke's Bay. But apart from a one day session with Mike and Rhys in Rotorua this year, the others were while he was riding Mini's and many of the riders in the H/P's were not serious about their MX, so most of it was about riding, having fun and basic skills.
This time the 2 day coaching was for Under 21yo riders and the theme was "Superior Skills". You were expected to already know all the basics as here the coaching was about details. Many small details of the riding, that added together would cut seconds of lap times.
The coaching was done using the Taupo track, so it was a good opportunity to learn specifics of how to tackle the track's different parts. Vinny learnt heaps from the coaching, even if he probably is not yet ready for coaching at this level. After less than 5 months in Juniors he is still lacking some of the basics you need to fight at the top on senior tracks. But even if we might possible have only taken away 25% of what was coached, it is still a huge amount of information for a 11yo to try and implement. There was coaching re selecting lines, riding in ruts, jumping, feet positions at different stages of the race, combining throttle, front and back brakes, gears and clutch at different places of the track, how to read what was happening on the track, how to prepare for different weathers, food choices, training outside MX and heaps more.
Saturday was a chilly but dry day at the track and we drove back home to HB buzzing re it all. Sunday was rain all day, and it only got worse as the day went on. Greg Moss is very passionate about his MX coaching and knows what he is talking about. A total of 40 years in the sport with 20 years as a MX coach is a proof of his commitment. He also has two sons who have been quite successful in Australia and also while racing in USA. Having him watching over the development of a young rider on daily basis would make a huge difference to a riders future. Sadly this is impossible so we just have to take what we can from it and do the best with the information we have harvested. But already from these two days we could see an inprovement in Vinnys riding at the Taupo track with him now clearing a few more jumps and picking better racing lines.
Greg will be back for more coaching seminars in October and Vinny will then be part of them again.
Sunday 9 June, Hawke's Bay Magic Series Round 3
Racing had been cancelled at many of the tracks around the country because of the rain. But in HB we had sunshine. This meant quite a few riders from other regions had turned up to get some riding done. In Vinny's 11-12yo 85cc class there were 4 new riders in this round, making it a 11 rider field. As they ride together with the 13-16yo 65cc class, the starting line had a healthy 22 rider line-up.
The track held on to some of the dampness for the whole day, and with the club having done some changes to the track it promised to be a good day of racing.
In practice Vinny had the chance to test a 2013 KTM 85sx. He found the bike more nimble than his 2009 one. It also had some more power at low revs. But even if the 2013 bike clearly had some advantagaes over his current one, the difference was not huge. And with a price tag of $6.5K it was a little outside what we could justify in his first season of Junior racing.
In the first race Vinny got a poor start and was sitting approx 15'th. He did not climb much from there as he rode very cautiosly and finished 7'th in his class. After 4 months of racing on Senior tracks he still finds the ruts and the lack of smoothness (compared to the Mini tracks) difficoult. We know this will change as he rides more rought tracks, but it is frustrating him when other riders seem to be able to handle it with ease.
Before race 2 we agreed that he would try and ride a little more outside his comfort zone and not play it safe. We are not much worried re the results this year as it is all about experience and getting better and then use this to push in 2014. Vinny had a better start and was sitting approx 12'th. He then worked his was up a few spots before the bike died. The spark plug had screwed it self out! (Never in my 40+ years of being involved with bikes have I seen that!). We tried to screw in the burning hot plug again, but did not manage to do so before the next race had started, giving Vinny his second DNF for the year (and in his 5 years of racing...)
For race three the bike was back working well (and the plug securely tightened in its spot!). Vinny was eager to do well and had the best start of the day. He flew out of the start-gate and was for a split second sitting first, before others passed him and pushed him down to approx 6'th at the holeshot. But more importantly he had outgated the two top riders in his class and was now ahead of them. Sadly both passed him in the first lap, but his speed was up and so was his fighting spirit. He finished 6'th in his class after a ride we were both happy with.
There is much riding to do and things to be learnt before Vinny can challenge for wins in his class at the HB track. But we are aiming for that to happen before the end of the year. He is now, as a result of the DNF, sittting in 4'th in his grade 17 points behind third. It would be nice if he could get third placing in the series by end of the year for his efforts. But if that does not eventuate we are OK with it as his development as a rider is the main focus.
Saturday 8 June, Gisborne Beach Racing Round 2
We arrived at Makarori Beach a little north of Gisborne just in time at 9.45am after a 2,5 hours drive. (Only problem with living in Haumoana; almost all racing, apart from the local HB ones, are over 2 hours away). At briefing we were told that the numbers were down from last time. In the Juniors, that Vinny was riding in, the club had changed their mind and there was no more two classes; A amd B, but only one "Juniors All In" meaning Vinny would race against 125cc and 250cc including the others on same 85cc size bike as his.
The beach was nice and flat this day, lacking the small un-eaven part and the debri from last time. The sea had sorted that one! 10 riders lined up for practice and we counted two 125cc and one 250cc bikes. They would have an hp advantage over the 85cc bikes on the 150 meter straights, making Vinnys job harder. Good!
In the first race Vinny had a good start and only the KTM125sx ridden by Gary Worsnop was too fast for him. He left the 250cc behind, but would tussle with Taylah Mitchell on her 125cc Honda for the whole race and after coming out from the last turn in 2'nd place Vinny was just beaten in to 3'rd by half a front wheel at the finish line.
Before the second race we agreed that he had done well on the straights and suprisingly had the measure of the 125cc Honda. But that Taylah was better around the turns and would get a head-start out of the corner. Vinny would then out brake her at the next turn. The plan was now to get the turns faster. Suprisingly Taylah came out on a 85cc Honda and even if she was still fast, she had lost her advantaga and at the last turn in the race Vinny was a 1/2 straight ahead. "Only half a straight to go to the chequered flag" Vinny was thinking... And lost focus, dropping the bike as result. Vinny finished 7'th after struggling to lift the bike in the sand and was very disappointed with him self. After 20 minutes, when he had calmed down, we agreed that the race ends AFTER the finish line. A good learning experience for Vinny!
In the third race same pattern as in race 2 quickly developed: Gary out front, Vinny the stronger of him and Taylah and even if she pushed him harder in this race, she did not have an answer to Vinnys developing beach racing skills.
Vinny finished the day with a 3'rd, 6'th and 2'nd. This puts him in 3'rd currently before the last round in July.
Flat-tracking on Queens Birthday weekend
There was no MX close by so we decided to spend the w/e doing flat-tracking. Nothing on Saturday, but on Sunday a Wairarapa MCC "Fun in the Dirt" day in Carterton and on Queens Birthday Monday the Manawatu MCC held their annual TT just outside Shannon.
The plan was to travel and ride in Carterton on Sunday, then stay in Palmerston Nth for the night and drive the short distance to Shannon to race on Monday. But things do not always go according to plans...
We left early on Sunday and arrived at the track in Carterton after 3 hours of driving. Perhaps "track" is not the right word to describe the smallish grass paddock, but never the less it looked like a fun day would be had riding with the locals. We signed up Vinny for the 85 and 125cc classes, and the club moved the Mini's in-between the two classes so Vinny would get time to get ready for the next class. Awsum!
Vinny had a practice with both classes and was looking good going sideways in the corners. He parked the bike after the 125cc practice, and that was when his bike decided it was all she would do for the day. As his first race got closer we tried to start the bike, but no matter what we did there was no spark. After close to an hour of ripping things apart and trying all sorts of stuff we had to give up. If we wanted to race the next day we needed to get back home to see if we could fix what was wrong. So all that was left to do was to pack up and drive the 3 hours back to HB.
Once at home we found that the stator had died. I had repaired it a month ago but clearly there was more problems. I decided not to try and repair it again, but rip out the coils and re-wind them. Once that was done and all back together the bike had a nice strong blue spark that Mr KTM had never managed to provide even when the bike was new. At that stage it was again time to pack up the van, wake up Vinny and drive to Shannon.
The TT track was on a huge potato field where a track had been marked up with some seriously long straights and sharp corners. This would be a great opportunity to compare Vinny's 2009 KTM to the two 2013 model bikes that were part of the 20 rider strong field in his 85cc class.
After practice Vinny felt good and it looked like he was able to match the other riders speed. In the first race he took it a fraction easy in the start and was approx 6'th after the first turns. He then climbed up to 4'th and it looked like it was where he would finish. But a crash on the last lap dropped him to 9'th. It was now obvious that the two 2013 KTM85sx bikes had a fraction higher top speed than Vinny's on the long straights. They also looked very nimble in the corners and very fast. The two riders, Riley and Zac, are both good riders and still a fraction faster than Vinny, so apart from the top speed, their riding ability would have contributed to them dominating the days event.
In the second race Vinny got a brilliant start and was for a split second in the lead just before the holeshot but then allowed Riley and Zac to pass. This was Vinnys best ride and he was for a few laps sitting in 3'rd spot before he got overtaken and finished 4'th.
For the last race we had agreed that Vinny could take it a little easier as the travelling and early mornings on both days had taken it's toll. He finished 8'th and we were happy with that. It had been a good day of racing and I also felt comfortable with my decision not to spend $8K on a 2013 KTM as the difference was really only the top speed. But as Vinny is focusing on MX where he very seldom would use the bike at top speed, this will make very little difference. And as I know that there is still a few Hp's lurking inside his motor that I can put to use, it is looking good.
Vinny complained about his hands hurting from the roost that was spraying up. As we did not have any hand guards with us I modified a couple of Powerade bottles and it did he trick!
Sunday 26 May. Vinny improves at Taupo Winter Series
The news had promised a rainy day in Taupo so we were prepared with rain gear and change of clothes. But when we got there the sun was shining (and kept shining all day). Predicting the weather must be the only job where you can be totally wrong and not get fired! There had been rain over the night, but this had only made the track better and full with grip!
There was 26 riders lining up for the start in the combined 8-10 and 11-12yo 85cc classes. We were here to improve on Vinnys position in the Series (he was sitting in 11'th place), to increase the speed and to get closer to the riders we measured Vinny against. I am pleased to inform that we achieved all that and more.
In the first race Vinny got a good start and was approx 10'th coming out on the straight. But on first lap he was taken down in a corner by his toughest past Mini rival (who had in fact done the same in two other 85 meetings to Vinny). He got up quickly and managed to pick up some placings to finish 12'th
Before the second race we had agreed that it was time to add some speed and ride just outside his comfort zone. And also to use some of the skills he has started to practice (late braking, ride in the ruts, outside-inside, and so on). Vinny's start was even better than in the first race, and he was approx 6'th at the holeshot. (The new clutch basket that we had fitted to alleviate the drag at the start, and the MOTOZ tyre that loves the deep heavy stuff, were both helping here). He lost a few placings before end of first lap, but picked them up again to finish 7'th in the race and 6'th in his grade.
For the third race we agreed that we wanted more of the same. Vinny initially delivered and had his best start with a 3'rd at the holeshot! He was then about 7'th after the first straight and jump and it all looked very promising. After the first lap Vinny had a rider in his sight to climb up to 6'th. He gave it a go on the bumpy straight next to the start-line. But got out of control and crashed. He got back up fast and managed a 11'th place at the finish line.
A day that gave us an indication of what is to come. If Vinny can be 3'rd at the holeshot after just 4 months of 85cc riding and place 7'th in a field of 26 riders it makes you wonder where he will be in a years time! In a months time at Taupo we will aim to finish all three races inside top 10 and one race inside top 5!
Sunday 19 May. Wairoa racing a good decision!
After on Saturday trying to race in the NZ Cross Country Championships, but very quickly figuring out that this required a set of skills Vinny did not yet hold, we needed a good day of racing to uplift our spirits. The plan had been to travel to Wanganui and race in the first round of their Winter Series (We did their whole Winter Series in 2012 when Vinny was racing 65cc Mini's), but the chance of serious rain in Wanganui was a concern, so we instead opted for Wairoa. A little over an hour up the road and sunshine was more to or liking.
We expected a natural terrain track on a farm, but we got a pleasant surprise when we arrived to find a purposely made track and a field of 18 juniors! There was two junior classes: A (125c and older juniors) and B (85cc and the younger ones). As Vinny is 11yo and rides a 85cc we signed him up for the B grade. There was no starting tapes or gates, so the Wairoa MCC had decided on a "Le Mans" start (where the riders had to run to the bikes).
In the first race Vinny was checking out the track and the opposition. We had practiced the start technique and decided that the second gear and the clutch held in for him, when he got to the bike, was the plan. In practice this had worked well, but in the real situation Vinny got it wrong and his start was not the fastest. Sitting approx. 12'th at the holeshot he started to climb up. The two front guys were out of reach, but soon a group of 5 riders developed that were all fighting for 3'rd. Vinny was perhaps a fraction too cautious but managed to finish 5'th.
In race 2 his start was better and at one stage in the race he was up in 3'rd place. But not doubling the whoops caused him to fall back as others passed him. He then had to spend the next lap again catching up only to be overtaken on the whoops section once more. Add to this one fall and he placed 7'th.
For the 3'rd race we made some changes to the bike and this worked a treat. We had also by now got the start sorted and Vinny was 4'th at the holeshot. At end of lap one he was sitting in 3'rd place and was now doubling the whoops not giving any of the riders behind him a chance to catch up.
After finishing 5'th, 7'th and 3'rd we upgraded Vinny to the A grade as clearly it was where he fitted in. The club was very happy that we had come there to race and it had been a top day for us. If we can fit it in we will be back! We were also told that in Wairoa they have 5 MX tracks...
Sunday 12 May, Hawke's Bay Magic Series, Hastings, Round 2
In Round 1 Vinny had raced to 5'th, 4'th and 3'rd, finishing the day in 4'th position. Today he was aiming to climb up to 3'rd position by doing even better. The track looked really good on this nice and sunny day and after the practice Vinny was eager to get on with the racing. Today we would "garden" his gate and he would fight for positions!
Vinny's start in the first race was not one of his best ones, and at the first corner he was sitting 12'th out of 18 riders. (Two grades racing together but being scored separately). He looked competitive and prepared to ride outside his comfort zone and slowly climbed up and finished 9'th placing him 3'rd in his 11-12yo grade.
In race two his start was better and he was 8'th at the first corner. He climbed up a couple of spots, but then at middle of the race a 13-16yo class rider, who had got a very poor start, caught up with him and in a corner pushed past, dropping Vinny. He got up quickly but ended the race a little lower and finished 4'th in his grade.
In race three he had his best start of the day and looked good for a higher placing. That was before a rider went down and caused a pile up where many riders, including Vinny, got caught. He still managed to place 3'rd in his class giving him 3'rd in aggregate for the day. He was now also 3'rd equal in the series on 112 points.
Today we focused on more speed on the straights and braking later, and this paid dividend. Vinny's higher speed today meant that he passed more riders and he did not get stuck in the ruts. Next time we will start the work on catching the two front runners in his grade!
Saturday 11 May Beach Racing, Gisborne, Round 1
Vinny had his first ever DNS last w/e (faulty stator in first lap of practice of the HB 2 hour series), so we wanted to race Saturday and Sunday this w/e. The only racing happening this Saturday was Beach Racing in Gisborne. So that was where we went. The racing was held at Makorori Beach 10km East of Gisborne. Vinny had never been beach racing so he was quite excited re this opportunity.
The racing was to be done round two cones that were 150 meters apart for the Juniors (the Mini's cones were 75 meters apart, the 250cc class ones were 400 meters apart and the 450cc+ class ones were 800 meters apart). After some advise from Vinny's friend Ethan (who had done beach racing before) and a practice, Vinny was ready to race. The Juniors had two classes; Junior A that catered for 125cc bikes and older juniors, and Junior B where the 85cc bikes and younger Juniors would ride. Vinny was added to the Junior B class but both classes would race together even if they would be scored separately.
Vinny had looked good in the practice and quickly learned the secrets re putting his weight on to the back wheel to get full grip. He was a little hesitant in holding the throttle "on the stop". But I assured him that it was fine, and if things went wrong I would re-build the engine.
In his first race he was late from the line as the race was started by using a green flag, and as Vinny was not used to this he missed the start. But he had soon caught up with the others (12 riders all up) and started to pass the slower ones. He got up to 5'th place and only had 125cc bikes ahead of him when he fell going around one of the cones. When he got back up he was down in 10'th place and had to do the overtaking all over. He did well and placed 7'th in the field and we are almost certain that he was first of the Junior B's past the chequered flag.
For the second race we changed how he would do the turn around the cone. We agreed that he would do a wider turn so he kept his more of his speed. He also now knew how the start worked and got the holeshot. This race went w/o incidents and he was fighting with the 125cc's for positions and finished 4'th of all 12 riders being the top junior B across the finish line.
The third race was very similar to the 2'nd one and Vinny was again fighting with the same 125cc riders but finished 4'th again as their higher hp got them quicker out of the turn.
Vinny should be leading the Junior B grade after the first round. A very cool day of racing and we have decided that we will be back for Round 2 and 3!
26-28 April, NZ Junior National Championships, New Plymouth
This was it. The biggest thing on a NZ Junior MX riders calendar in each year. The Taranaki MCC had done an awsum job preparing the Barrett Road track, just outside New Plymouth, for the National Junior Championships by grading, rolling, shaping and moving dirt. The track is normally a very challenging one, and this event would be no different. Vinnys "home club" Hawke's Bay MCC had 12 riders entered, but two had been injured even before they got here, so ten was left to ride in the different grades.
We were here to do three things: 1) To qualify for the finals. 2) To learn, and 3) To not place last. Vinnys grade, 11-12yo 85cc, had 34 rides who lined up to battle. In practice Vinny looked good, but crashed twice. In qualifying our aim was not to be last. And Vinny delivered by getting the 24'th fastest lap time. This he achieved even if he crashed twice. It was looking pomising!
That was supposed to have been all the riding on Friday, but as the prediction was for rain on Saturday, the club decided that there would be two rounds of racing on Friday. In the first race Vinny wanted to prove to all (including him self) that he belonged here. He got his fastest lap time of the weekend but also crashed twice placing him 33'rd. For the second race we agreed that he would slow it down a little, as it was time to get a race under his belt where he did not crash. (He had now crashed in his last 7 times ridig). Vinny followed the plan, and even if his lap times were much slower he finished in 29'th place.
On Saturdy Vinny's grade woud only have one race leavig two races for Sunday. We agreed to follow the same plan as yesterday and not race outside his comfort zone. After a "look lap" and one practice lap he was racing. But it was obvious that he felt lost. His lap times were poor and there was no real spark. He slowly climbed up and got to 25'th before a crash. He got back up and got going again in last place only to crash a second time in a slow speed corner. He finished in 28'th, but was not happy re it all. Time to go back to where we stayed and regroup! I spent the rest of the day doing work on the bike trying to soften the suspension for Vinny, while he was just relaxing and trying to be himself.
On Sunday Vinny was feeling much better. No rules today, he was to decide how he would ride. In the first race he started cautiously but then slowly climbed up and got his best finish of the w/e: 25'th. We both felt upbeat re this. In the last race there was more spark in Vinny and he climbed up to 21'st. It looked like a finish inside 20 was a possibility. Then in a corner his Mini MX mate (but also the one he had been battling all of last year) Zac Jillings tried to pass but only managed to make them both crash. Vinny finished the race in 28'th place and his first Junior Championship in 29'th place.
Vinny now knows what he needs to do to get to the top. It is a tough road (on some very challenging tracks), but we will both do what it takes. Next year the Junior Champs are in South Island and Vinny will still be riding in the same class. We have plans to finish much higher there!
21 April, Round 1 Winter Series, Taupo.
For the last two years Vinnys top wish (second to a brad new MX bke...) has been to race on the Taupo Senior track. He has had a few rides on the track, but not raced against other riders. Now the day was here! It had been raining in the whole country for a few days and many of the clubs had cancelled their meetings for this w/e. But as the Taupo track is an "All Weather" track and we have not had one cancellation in the five years we have raced there, we knew it would be on.
When we arrived the track was wet but rideable, even if the rain had not stopped. It rained for the practice and the first race. Vinny's 11-12yo 85cc class would start together wih the 8-10yo 85cc class, but the classes would be scored separately.This made it more than 20 riders on the starting line.
In the first race Vinny got an OK start and was 10'th after the first corners. He started to slowly climb up, but was side-swept by another rider in the middle of the race. He got up and continued to race strongly and regained his 10'th place for the finish.
For the second race the rain had stopped, and the track was drying up nicely. After a very similar start Vinny again found him self in 10'th. But before the first lap was finished he crashed heavily and did not get going before all had passed him. He spent the rest of the race climbing up the ladder and finished 12'th, but was lapped by the top riders.
Before the third ride the rain came back with force and made the track very slippery and filled with puddles. Many of the riders disliked this but Vinny has taken a liking to riding in the rain on wet and slippery tracks. We had also agreed that there would be no more crashes... After the start Vinny was sitting in 5'th place and looked in control. Then disaster. On the last lap with only a few jumps and one turn left he crashed while coming out of a corner. His kick start had jammed and he could not use it, but he got help from his friend Ethan Fladgates father Craig who push started his bike. Vinny finished the race very upset in 9'th position.
This had been a day of "if only..." where without crashes he could have been sitting in 6'th place. With a 10'th, 12'th and 9'th placing he finished the day in 11'th place. What we take away from this is the knowledge that there is more to come from Vinny, and as he is prepared to race outside his comfort zone it is only a question of time before the results start to materialise.
Sunda 14 April, Hawke's Bay Winter Series Round 1, Hastings
A sunny and warm Hawke's Bay day greeted us. Vinny was feeling good even if he had raced a full day yesterday at Rotorua. The track was the best I have seen it in ages thanks to workingbees by the club! (Even the Mini track had got an upgrade and Vinny would have loved to ride there once more...). The 8-12yo 85cc class had 9 riders and would race together with the 12 13-16yo riders making it a good 21 riders gate.
Vinny had in practice had two off's. But he was not worried as he knew why they had happened.
In the first race Vinny's start was far from perfect and he was in the bottom half at the holeshot. We again had the same approach as in other meetings this year: We focus on one race at the time and not the meeting. So Vinnys job was again to catch and pass riders. He did that and placed 5'th in his 8-12yo class.
In the second race Vinny got a little better start, and apart from an off in a hairpin corner (that did not alter his placing) all went well and he placed 4'th.
In the third race he again managed a better start and was approx 7'th at the holeshot. This was his best race of the day and he placed 3'rd giving him a aggregated position of 4'th after Round 1 (out of 5) in the 8-12yo class.
There is a double at the back that Vinny had been a little worried about, but he grabbed some throttle and easily jumped it each time, and after he told me that it was actually an easy jump... Then there is the BIG JUMP over the top of the hill. When Vinny was 6yo we came, together with his brothers, to watch the NI Junior Champs at this track. We were standing at the top of the jump watching the juniors jump a very decent distance. I was thinking this would scare Vinny, but he turned to me with glistering eyes and asked: "When can I do that dad?" Now the day was here... And even if there was others who jumped the double compared to Vinny, he did really well. Our plan is now to have him do the loooong jumps by end of the year... Check the impressive jumps in the vid below!
Saturday 13 April, Primary/Intermediate School Challenge, Rotorua
We travelled up in the morning (a 5am wake up...) and arrived at the track ready to battle. The club had done a stellar job in prearing the Senior track for all the 5-12yo riders, and Vinny was eager to get started. There was 45 riders in his 11-12yo 85cc class. As only 38 would fit in the start gates there was a qualifying. Vinny managed 9'th.
In first race Vinny did not get his start right and was 22'nd at the holeshot. Our plan again was to focus on the race and not the meeting. Vinny was to catch the rider ahead of him, pass, and then do the same to the next one and so on. Each lap Vinny passed riders and finished 9'th. A good race with heaps of overtaking and some good techique.
Second race had the same plan. Vinny did a litte better at the start and was 16'th at the holeshot. Still far away from where we want to be. But it will come! Vinny had climbed up to 7'th but then a yellow flag caused some confusion as riders did not slow down but used it as an opportunity to catch the rider ahead. There was also flag marshals who decided that they could slap rides with the flag if they did not like how they acted... And then on last lap a marshal on a 4wd bike was suddenly on the track causing more confusion. Vinny finished 8'th.
In the third race we focused on the start and it was Vinnys best one (even if we came with the plan of top three at holeshot in each race...) with a 12'th at the first corner. Vinny was battling with the same riders as in the earlier races and managed a 9'th. This gave him a 7'h aggregate placing in the Challenge. We were very happy with that, and on the way home we were planning the net steps of improvement!
Race 2 and 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiAGaYsgBgY
Sunday 7 April, 2brothes Coaching, Rotorua
Mike Philliphs (MX1) was missing his brother, but had brought in quality replacement in Nick Saunders (MX1) and Rhys Carter (MX2). In 2011 we had Mike an Rhys as coaches in a MX Holiday Programme we run, so Vinny knew them well and likes their coaching style.
30 riders from beginners to experienced turned up for the 9am - 3pm coaching day. They were split in to 3 groups and got one coach each. Through the day the coaches would swap groups. The sessions were started by a theory lesson and then all would go with their group to put what they had learnt in place. Gating, line selection, ruts, jumps, seated and standing attack position and more was covered.
After 10 litres of fuel and heaps of information, we headed home easily achieving our aim to take away at least one new thing for Vinnys racing. The added bonus was that as the Primary/Intermediate School Champs are held at this track the coming w/e Vinny is now familiar with the track.