2013 July - September Racing
Sunday 29 September 2013. Taupo Winter Series, Round 6 (Final Round)
The Taupo Winter Series is where you go to get an understanding of where you sit in your class. Sure, there are riders who do not race here, but the chance to come up against them is small anyhow as they do not travel. You find riders here from all corners of North Island at every round. We have been coming here for 4 years now. Initially when Vinny was racing 50cc bikes as a 8 year old. Then for two years in 9-11yo Mini's and this year in his first year as a Junior in 11-12yo 85cc. 2013 was always going to be a year to learn to ride on the senior tracks. To learn how to jump, how to pick lines, bike control at higher speeds, to find out if Vinny had what it took to get serious re MX.
I am glad to inform that Vinny's enthusiasm for MX is as high as ever. He has learnt heaps in his 6 months on the 85cc bikes. His riding is becoming more complete and he has learnt to analyze his riding and understand what works and what mistakes he made. It is very rewarding to see the improvements that he is continually making. Here at the Taupo track he has now become a top five contender in each race, and when taking in to consideration that none of the riders in his class stands still in their development, you start to realise that Vinny is actually on track to becoming a very good rider! (In Round 1 here at Taupo he placed 10'th, 11'th and 9'th. In Round 5 he had his first top 5 placing!)
Today we had two goals: To get one holeshot and to finish all three races inside top 5. We almost achieved those goals!
The day was dry and chilly. Some sun popped out from behind the clouds, but not enough to remove the cold air. There was 22 of the 11-12yo 85cc riders lined up for the first race. Vinny started for the first time from the left side of the track (looking from the riders view) as he liked the r/h side more as it allowed more space when he got to the holeshot. But this time all spots on the right were taken when he got to the starting gates, so he had to pick a left hand gate. He got a good start and was, together with two other riders, side-by-side at the holeshot making it impossible to determine who was there first of the three. A 3-way holeshot perhaps? He soon settled in to a 4'th position that he held with his strong riding. He looked very much in control and made no mistakes while riding faster and jumping further than before here. On the last lap he had 2 corners, 3 jumps and two straights left when the clutch died and he crashed out. The bike could not be started so a DNF was the end result.
After pushing the bike back to the pits we found that the whole clutch had come loose. I had replaced the clutch as it failed at last w/e's Mighty Manawatu Champs. All new parts were fitted. But I had forgotten to order a new lock washer that stops the nut that keeps it all together from loosening up. So I fitted the old washer back in. The washer had now broken and allowed the whole clutch to work it self loose. After some repairs the bike was again up and running and ready for next race.
In race 2 Vinny had another good start and was 3'rd at the holeshot corner. He then lost one place but stayed in 4'th the whole race showing that his performance in the first race had not been a fluke. We were very pleased that he again raced so well. And we were not too concerned re his DNF in race 1 as what we were looking for was to improve on Vinnys racing and that was happening.
In race 3 Vinny's start was a fraction off and he came 5'th at the holeshot corner. He also did not have the same energy as in the two first races and placed 6'th after a good race. The loss of one hours sleep as NZ had changed to Daylight Saving time plus having friends over for the night was the probable cause here. But again, we were not too worried as we now knew that he could finish inside top 5 when all went according to plan.
A very encouraging display of riding from Vinny. He placed 8'th in the Winter Series and we are OK with that as the plan was always to build for 2014 when we will be back aiming for a podium.
Please scroll down to see all the entries for July - September 2013
22 September, Mighty Manawatu 85cc and under Champs
In preparation for this championship we had raced at this track twice recently. We had big hopes of a podium for Vinny in the Under 13 class. Sadly it all fell apart already in the first race. We learnt some harsh lessons and will not make same mistakes again!
There had been some heavy rain in the Manawatu region in the last week and there was water all around the track making the ground very soggy and slippery. The day was not actually cold, and apart from rain in the 3'rd race, we only had some minor showers through the day. After looking at the list of entrants in to the Under 13yo class we felt that a top five was achievable, but a podium was what we were aiming for.
The practice went well even if Vinny had one crash in a corner. Not all bad, he would have learnt the limits from that. Before race 1 the bike seemed all fine and Vinny told me it was running really well. We were hoping for a good start so he would not get stuck in the pack and risk getting caught if/when someone crashed. But Vinny's start was very slow and he was second to last at the holeshot. Strange. He climbed up a few spots as riders struggled in the dirt and by end of the first lap he was sitting 7'th from 12 riders. He was riding OK, but lacked that little bit extra. A few laps later a crash, then one more and it was clear that all was not as it should be. Vinny got back up and finished in 11'th position. Clearly not what the plan was.
Once back in the pits we found that the clutch was slipping badly. This explained the poor start and the issues he had while riding! Time to use the back-up bike. This is a 2009 KTM85sx that was Vinnys first 85cc race bike. A very competetive bike that had a full motor re-build in March this year. Sadly we had robbed parts from it to keep the 2011 bike running and had not replaced them with new bits. So now we had to move the bits back to the 2009 bike so Vinny could race in race 2. We were running out of time to complete the setup of the bike in time for race 2 (and sadly this is when mistakes are made). Vinny managed to get on the line with a few seconds to spare! But all was not well... When fitting the kick start we forgot to use the bolt that keeps it in place and the kickstart fell of at the starting line (Vinnny could not afford to stall the motor in the race!). But worse; we forgot to move the transponder over! Vinny finished in 8'th position, but without a transponder he did not register in the results and got no points for this race!
For race 3 we moved all the good bits back to the 2011 bike and also the good clutch from the 2009 bike. We had this done well in time and had a good check over to make sure that all was in place. With only his first race registering in the results there was no chance of a top five finish. Therefore we agreed that Vinny would go out and enjoy the racing and not worry about the placings. He was sitting 5'th at the holeshot but then got passed and allowed the rider to do so while he settled in to a ride that had no pressure of a top result. With no crashes and the bike working well he finished in 6'th.
As a result of this meeting we have now decided to keep both bikes in top shape so there won't be any need to move bits over if the other bike is needed for a race. Vinny placed 10'th in the results. If the second race had counted he would have been 7'th, so not a big difference. If the day had not been filled with issues we feel confident that a top five had been achievalble. But it was not to be. We learned an important lesson here and will correct our mistakes!
This was also the first time Vinny had his new RePlay XD helmet cam fitted that was supplied thanks to our sponsor Motomuck. We have the first lap of the first race recored by a side-line vid cam and same racing by the on-board camera to be able to compare. Interesting! We expect to get better at the filming and also the editing in the future!
Sunday 15 September 2013, HB Taylor Corp. Magic Series, final round
A chilly day in Hastings. Clouds and some drizzle at times. The club had done a brilliant job on the track, and it was the best we ever seen it! This was the last round of the 2013 Magic Series. It was supposed to be a 5 round series, but the wet weather in the last two months had put a stop to that, so now this re-scheduled round 4 would be the final round. Vinny was sitting in 4'th place after 3 rounds. In the first round he had just started to get the feel of 85cc riding. Round 2 had gone better and he was 3'rd after that round. But round 3 was one of those that you rather forget. Poor placings and one DNF dropped him to 4'th. We still had hopes to climb back up to 3'rd in the last two rounds. But as mentioned, there was only one round to do that in now, and with 17 points behind 3'rd place it was almost impossible.
There was also $30 holeshot money in race 2 and 3 today. For the occasion we had fitted the "holeshot device" that we had waiting in the workshop. We tested it out the day before and Vinny gave it "Thumbs-Up", so we came here to grab some holeshots!
For first time the two 85cc classes had a split start. This worked really well and we hope that will continue next year! In the 8-12yo 85cc class there was 8 who lined up. Hadley, who is already 13, was leading the series and Jacob, who Vinny had beaten at last round inTaupo in all three races, was sitting 2'nd. And Bailey McKinley, who Vinny had some good tussles with in the past here, was in 3'rd.
In the first race Vinny got his gate spot on. He flew out and was straight away ahead of the rest. At the holeshot point (at top of the hill) he held a 3-4 bike lengths advantage. He kept the speed up and was still in the lead at end of the first lap, but Jacob (who has always been fast on this track) was on Vinnys backwheel. Jacob passed Vinny at beginning of the second lap and then Hadley started to close up. (Hadleys Honda had in practice broken it's gear leaver shaft, so he was now on a borrowed Suzuki). In the final laps Hadley managed to pass Vinny. A well deserved 3'rd was the result for Vinny in this first race.
We had been surprised with Jacobs speed, and even if he had until now always been faster than Vinny here, we had hoped for Vinny to have a chance to beat him. We learnt that Jacobs Yamaha had new suspension fitted front and back as the old setup was for a 70Kg rider, so with Jacob weighing less than 40Kg it would have made his riding very tough. That explained the improvement!
For race 2 we stayed with the same plan as in the first one. Vinny was ready to fly out of the gate again! But this time he outgated the gate... Once he did see the gate start to drop he dropped the clutch and took off... only to get stuck in the gate that did not have enough time to drop. He quickly reversed his bike and got going still making 5'th and the holeshot. Again he rode well and passed Bailey for 3'rd spot, but could not catch Jacob or Hadley.
For race 3 we moved Vinny a little further from the gate to allow the gate time to drop. This worked well and again Vinny was first out of the gate and took the holeshot with two bike lengths. (Vinny's first ever holeshot money!!). Jacob and Hadley were chasing him down hard and just before end of first lap Jacob made his pass. A couple of laps later Hadley also passed Vinny.
Three 3'rd placings was the result today. Not enough to climb up to 3'rd in the series. But we are very pleased with todays racing:
- Vinnys two holeshots were awsum! And who knows what would have happened in race 2 if he had not hit the gate... Good reflexes!
- Vinny now clears all the jumps on the track. Each time we have come here he has made improvements, but this time they were very noticeable!
- No mistakes in any of the 3 races!
- Vinny also told me that today he often found himself having the throttle fully opren! That indicates a bigger confidence.
A couple of meetings ago we had started to focus on Vinnys gating as he had lost the ability to get holeshots he had in the 65cc mini's. We now consider that box ticked! A top day of fast racing on a track Vinny used to dislike. Not anymore!
Sunday 8 September, Rotorua Winter Series Round 3
The idea had been to travel to Foxton and race in the North Island Junior Championships Warm-Up this Sunday. But with the new 8 - 16yo 85cc class that MNZ has put in place, and no reply from MNZ re concerns we are having (after a month and 3 letters to them), we decided not to race in the Champs this year. This also meant that we could pick any race meeting we wanted this Sunday. So Rotorua it was! This will also work out well with the Rotorua R4 being same w/e as the NI Junior Champs. Means we will get that round in too!
In Rotorua there was sun and some wind. A top day on a well prepared track (thanks Mike Phillips!). Vinny would ride in the 8-11yo 85cc class that had 13 riders. We had left the changes we did to the bike for the Beach Racing Nationals, as Vinny felt they helped the controll. Would be interesting to see how the bike handled on a MX track.
Today we really only had one goal: To sort Vinnys gating. When riding 65cc Mini's Vinny had, in the last 6 months before moving up to 85cc, become a good starter and often would grab the holeshot. But in 85cc Juniors he had yeat to find the magic to repeat this. So the idea was to start the work to get that important part of the riding back! (I am very pleased to say that in Race 3 he did indeed get the holeshot! It also cost me $10...). We also signed up Vinny as a club member (he is now a member in seven clubs this racing season...) so that he would be in the points.
In the first race his start was lacking a bit and at the holeshot he was 6'th. From there it was the climb up to the top of the hill to a sharp corner. Vinny decided on the inside in the corner, but dropped the bike. He got back up fast and found himself in 11'th place. He then started the chase and kept on passing riders until 2 laps from the end finding himself in 2'nd. He slowly was eating up the advantage the leader, Logan, had. But he run out of laps and placed a very creditable 2'nd.
In Race 2 he got a little better start and was 4'th at the holeshot. He quickly passed two of the riders and again found himself looking at Logans backwheel. He was getting closer and planned to pass Logan before the end of the race, but again did run out of time. This race was cut short and only lasted 3 laps as a crashed rider was staying down on the track.
For Race 3 we finetuned his gating a little more, and even if he was not first out of the gate, he kept the throttle on and managed his first holeshot in 85cc Juniors. (Perhaps it was the $10 promised by me if he took the holeshot that made the difference???). But at the top of the hill Logan showed how the inside line was used and passed for the lead. (After his crash in Race 1 Vinny had decided that he play it safe and use the outside). Logan and Vinny again pulled away from the rest and in lap 3 Vinny passed for the lead. But only 1/3 of a lap later he crashed in a corner (using the inside...). He got up quickly while still in 2'nd and started the chase. But for the 3'rd time today he did run out of laps.
This was a really good meeting for Vinny. There was no pressure to perform, we sorted the main problems with his gating, he got his first Junior 85cc holeshot, he had to fight every race and he came away wanting to go back to win the races next round! We also agreed that the changes made to the bike would stay. In the School Holidays Vinny will have his second coaching camp for this year with Mike Phillips here. And as the next round of this series is only two weeks after we will aim for holeshots and wins in each race!
Saturday 7 September, NZ Dirt Track Racing Beach Racing Nationals, Makorori Beach Gisborne
Vinny had now in 2013 been to 3 rounds of the Gisborne Beach Racing series and the East Coast Beach Racing Challenge on this beach. He had in both placed 3'rd, so we did come here looking to better on that today. As Gisborne had put on a brilliant sunny and warm day, this was to be the day!
We had done some changes to the bikes setup (dropped the suspension one inch and wider handlebars) as he needed all the help he could get to be able to beat the 125cc bikes on his 85cc in the Junior A class he again would ride in. The two he had been battling in all races here, Gary and Taylah, were agan there and we knew what we were up for. When looking around we were surprised that, apart from familiar faces from the earlier Beach Racing here, there was not really any others that had turned up for the National title racing. Ah well, their loss!
In the first race Gary quickly took the lead, and after the first corner Vinny was sitting second. Taylah was in third, and even if she challenged a couple of times, Vinny managed to keep on to his 2'nd spot.
In the 2'nd race Gary again quickly established a lead and it was up to Taylah and Vinny to fight for second. Taylah had swapped from her 125cc Honda to her 85cc one, and even if Vinny was faster down the straights, she was very nimble and quick around the turns. Coming up to the last turn Taylah was leading Vinny for 2'nd. He decided to chance it all on one move. He threw himself (on the bike obviously...) on the inside ov Taylah hoping to push her wide. But Vinny was a fraction late and hit Taylah's back wheel and he went down. He got up quickly and finished in 3'rd. Now it was all down tp the 3'rd race.
In the third race (on vid) Gary once again showed that a KTM125 will always beat a KTM85 in straight speed, and took the lead. (Everything going to plan we should have a 125cc bike for the 2014 series...) Vinny and Taylah needed a lap to sort out their order, but this time Vinny came out ahead. (Taylah had reverted back to her Honda 125 and lost the cornering advantage she held in Race 2). Vinny placed 2'nd and this gave him 2'nd in the Championships! We will be back in 2014 and the aim then will be to win all 3 (The series, the EC Challenge and the Nationals).
1 September 2013, Round 1 of Manawatu-Orion MCC Club Champs
The first round of the MOMCC Club Champs was run at Flipps MX Track where the Mighty Manawatu Champs will be run 3 weeks later. Vinny is entered in the champs, so any additional riding he gets on the track will be an advantaga. The idea was not to do the whole 4 rounds of the Champs, as we have other racing commitments a few of the weekends. But we decided to join up and be part of the Champs just in case.
The club runs their 85cc class in two groups: 8-11yo and 12-16yo. As Vinny's birthday is in October he would ride in the 8-11yo class. We realised that as most of the riders he normally race against had already turned 12, meaning they would ride in the 12-16yo class! As the Tokoroa racing was cancelled this weekend there was a big group of their riders who had travelled down for some racing. In Vinnys grade there was only one: Bailey, who we knew to be a tough little rider.
Last time here Vinny had done quite well, and this time we had some specific's that we wanted to aim for. In particular for Vinny to jump the step-down instead of riding it, as this would give him an advantage in his age grade as not many of the other riders did do the jump.
it was a windy and chilly day even if the sun popped out from the clouds at times. Some minor rain fell later in the day but not enough to change anything. Vinny was suffering from a sore throat and a slight fever but the decision was to battle on as long as he was able to.
9 riders lined up for the 8-11yo class. In the first race Vinny did not get the best of starts and had to climb up from the back of the pack. At the stepdown he was in 4'th place. But he was not brave enough to do the jump yet. He then passed the next two riders and at end of lap one he was in second place. When next time coming to the step-down he decided to give it all...and jumped, passing for the lead and gaining a good 10 meters on the other rider. As the race went on Vinny kept jumping the step-down and the only other rider who started doing it was Bailey. Bailey had also managed to pass all the others and lap-by-lap he got closer to Vinny. At the start of the last lap he tried a pass but did not manage to make it stick. He would have a few more goes before, 1/4 of a lap before the end, he managed to pass Vinny. By now Vinny had started to run out of umph as a result of his slight illness. But a 2'nd was a good result, and in particular as Bailey was not a club member and so would not count in the points!
We did some minor changes for the second race and also selected a better starting gate. But again Vinny's start was poor and he again had the whole field to pass. This time he did this quite soon and at end of lap one he was in the lead. This looked promising. Bailey had been ahead of Vinny but had crashed handing Vinny the lead. Then in lap two Vinny crashed in a corner while holding a good lead. He got up in third and started the chase managing a pass before crashing again. This time it was obvious that he was running out of strength as he struggled to lift the bike. Once he got going Bailey had just managed to pass him. They chased the other riders together and Bailey managed to finish 2'nd with Vinny on his heals in 3'rd.
It was a very disappointed Vinny who came back to the pits. He had crashed twice while not under pressure, he had not once jumped the step down and Bailey had again beaten him. We took some time and decided the last race was the one that counted!
In the third race the start was very similar. Vinny missed the gate and had to chase all again. At the stepdown he again refused to jump and Baiiley had managed to pass him. Then one more crash and it was obvious that this was not a 100% fit Vinny. He raced as well as he could to the end but only managed 4'th.
As Bailey is not a club member Vinny is sitting in second place on 67 points 5 points after the leader. We have yet not decided how many rounds we will ride as 2013 is all about becoming a better rider and not really re championships. But a podium finish does wonders for a little boys self belief, so...
Sunday 25 August, Taupo Winter Series Round 5
There was rain promised for Taupo, but when we arrived no such coulds could be seen. We were prepared for rain, and in fact had been looking forward to a wet day of racing, as Vinny tends to do quite well in the wet where many of the Juniors tend to struggle.
The plan was to make today count. We felt Vinny was ready to take on the two we had been measuring him against for most of his racing career in Mini's and now in 85's. The only time Vinny had previously managed to beat either of them through the years had been when they did a mistake. And clearly to hope for mistakes from your opposition was not a strong plan. Much better to be able to rely on your own capability.
So today we had a few goals that we planned to reach:
- To beat one of the two riders we measure Vinny against.
- To conquer the Dam Jump by compleatley jump over it.
- To place inside top five in one race.
Vinny had never done any of the three before, so it was a tall order. But he told me he was ready and wanted to complete all three today!
But it did not start well. In the first race Vinny got stuck in the soggy sand in his gate and when he at last got going everyone were already past half way to the holeshot corner. Vinny turned on the throttle and started the chase. And by end of rhe first lap it already started to look good: He had passed 15 riders and was now sitting in 10'th, he had one of the riders we were targeting well behind him (he had actually already passed him at the holeshot corner!) and he had fully jumped the Dam Jump! His speed looked really good and he seemed well in controll of his riding. Vinny passed one more rider before end of the race to finish 9'th. When he came in to the pits he was buzzing. (Almost as much as me...)
For the second race we dug away all the wet sand from his starting gate to make sure he did not get stuck again... When the gate dropped and everyone took off Vinny was not moving. He had selected neutral so when he dropped the clutch and twisted the throttle the only thing he got was a stationery bike that was revving high... He can be seen shaking his head in the video and then once again start the case. At end of the first lap he had climbed up to 13'th, he had again passed the same rider we have been measure him against and again fully jumped the Dam Jump. He now also had the second rider we measured him against in his sight. He soon caught him and passed. Only to be passed back little later. They swapped positions a few times until the other rider managed to pass Vinny for the last time just before end of the race and Vinny again placed 9'th. He was again in high spirit when comeing to the pits. He told me that in the third race he would have them both beaten!
For the third race Vinny went early to the starting gate area so he could pick another gate, as he was convinced that the gate he had started the two first races from was a bad luck one. He selected the gate from where his mate Ethan had started the two races, and Ethan took Vinnys old gate. We told Ethan and his dad about the gate, and they smiled at us. When the gate dropped Vinny got a good start and was approx 8'th at the holeshot. But Ethan did not manage to get out of his gate before everyone else was already half way to the holeshot... It had started to rain before this race and even if the Taupo track is a all weather track and does not get very slippery, it still changes the track and some specific spots get a little tricky. This affected some riders (as we had expected) and as Vinny handles wet riding well he kept on climbing up. He had already at the start passed the two riders we had our sights on for today, and none of them managed to catch him again! We already had the next rider sorted who we would start to chase after these two were done and dusted. But as he is a year older and a few levels above Vinny we were not expecting to catch him for a few months. Today all that did not matter. The rider had a small crash and Vinny managed to get past him and finish ahead. This was an unexpected bonus for the day. OK, so Vinny beat him as he fell, but we will take that! And it did not end there; Today Vinny had made no mistakes while riding (the two poor starts we put down to a cursed gate!) and in this last race he placed fifth! A day of ticking all the important boxes!
On the way home we kept buzzing and chatting in excitment! A brilliant day of racing, in fact one of the best of Vinny's 85cc racing sofar!
The video is 10 minutes long, but no excuses for that. Today deserves it!
Saturday 24 August, East Coast Beach Racing Challenge, Gisborne
A nice and sunny day in Gisborne. The beach was flat and relatively hard, the track's ready and any obstructive drift wood and sea weed had been removed. Alll was ready for a brilliant day.
Vinny had raced here three times in the Gisborne Beach Racing Series, where he placed third after Gary and Taylah. Both were back for this event meaning Vinny would have his work cut out. Apart from Garys KTM125sx there was also a second one of them ready to race. Add a few 250cc bikes and Taylahs 85cc and the Junior A class would be a tough nut to crack. But we were here for a podium finish, and that was still the plan.
In the first race 7 bikes lined up. After an even start the two KTM 125's went their way fighting for 1'st and 2'nd placings. They would do this in all three races, so best Vinny could do on his 85cc was get third. But nothing was simple. A 250cc was sitting in 3'rd and Taylah seemed to have more straight line speed than Vinny. Her cornering around the two cones was also faster. No matter what Vinny tried he could not pass her. So he placed 5'th in the first race. This had not been the plan! We straight away got stuck in to working on solutions. Some minor changes to the bike was first done. Then we discussed the racing and agreed that Vinny should revert to how he had done the turns before today, as it was clearly not working, (We had changed his turns to have more speed and him taking them a little wider instead of the sharp turn he had preferred in the series). Of some reason he had also stopped moving his weight back on the straights. we agreed that In race 2 he would start doing this again to get more grip.
In race 2 the 250cc did not come out. Most probably a technical problem. This meant that he now had to beat Taylah in race 2 and 3 to place on the podium. The two 125cc bikes again took off and left Vinny and Taylah to fight for 3'rd. Vinny managed to build a slight lead and kept it until the last corner where Taylah caught up. It was a drag race to the finishline that Vinny won with half of a front wheel. They now had same points, so all would come down to the last race.
Vinny straight away settled in to third place at the start of the 3'rd race. The two 125's again took the lead and Taylah was chasing Vinny. At beginning of the last lap Taylah managed to catch Vinny and pass him. But Vinny was not to give up his plan of a podium finish and fought back. In the last turn they were again side-by-side and again Vinny won the drag race to the finish line just beating Taylah by a wheels length.
This meant that Gary won with the other KTM 125 in second and Vinny in third. The Beach Racing Nationals are coming up in two weeks and we will be back. Let's hope there is a separate grade for the 85cc bikes as we do not have much of a chance against the 125cc ones on the 85cc.
Sunday 18 August, Wanganui last round Winter Series
Last w/e we did not race. The weather and our planning let us down. Once we realised that we should have driven to Rotorua to race it was too late. So this w/e we made sure that this was not repeated.
We had Wairoa, Central HB and Wanganui on our radar. At 5.50am on Sunday none of them had cancelled, but the prediction was for a day of rain in Hawke's Bay, so we took off for Wanganui. The furteherst away of the three options, but the securest bet. (We learnt later that Wairoa had a good day of racing). It was a good decision!
In 2012 Vinny did ride in Wanganui's 9-11yo 65cc Mini series, so we knew the place even if he had never been on the senior track. After the racing he told me that this was now his favorite track and he wants to ride here more! As a result we have already scheduled in Wanganui as one of his Winter series for 2014.
In his 8 - 12yo 85cc class 15 riders lined up for a start. We were very familiar with a few of them: Hayden, Zac and Keanan. Hayden and Keanan are a year older than Vinny and good riders. Zac is same age as Vinny and they have for the last two years been fighting each other at most races. Zac has sofar had the upper hand, but Vinny is very slowly getting closer.
As Vinny is not a club member and this was the last round (of four) of the Winter Series we were not here for points but to get more riding experience. The plan was to use the practice and first race to learn the track and then add some speed.
The practice went well and Vinny was hanging out to race. In the first race he got third at the holeshot (after Hayden and Zac) and held that placing until end of the first lap when he was passed by Keanan. The whole race went well and only in the last lap did Vinny get passed and finished 6'th. A good start to the days racing!
For race two we agreed that he would add more speed. His start was not as good, but he came out from the first corners in fourth (behind Hayden, Zac and Keanan). He raced really well and allowed nobody to pass him finishing in fourth place.
Before the third race we had a chat where we again decided that he could add some more speed. The idea was to beat one of the three that had finished ahead of him. This was Vinny's best start and he was in second place for almost whole first lap, but then Keanan managed to pass him. Zac had a poor start and tried a fraction too hard to climb up and crashed early in the lap. This brought out the yellow flag, and as he stayed down for the whole race, the part where he crashed was under yellow flag until the end. This affected the racing and the race was also cut short. Vinny finished in 3'rd behind Hayden and Keanan. (Zac got a badly bruised hip, but luckily nothing broken!)
Vinny's jumps were really good, his lane selection was also much better than before and his speed is increasing. We are definetley on the right path for 2014 podiums!
Sunday 4 August, MOMCC Pre-Chams warmup, Flipps Himitangi Manawatu
Once again rain was to be what the gods provided this w/e in most of NZ. The MOMCC Pre-Champs race meeting was our top pick for this w/e, (We have no plans to participate in the Manawatu Champs series, but will be here for the Mighty Manawatu Champs later this season, and so this was a good opportunity to get a feel for the track). But we had 3 back-up plans in Napier, Gisborne and Tokoroa. As it turned out, the Manawatu meeting had the best weather and some of the others were cancelled!
After staying the night in PN we arrived at the track in good time. A little chilly and some wind, but apart from that the day was good for MX. The 85cc riders would all be in the same class; 8-16yo 85cc. At the practice we estimated that approx. half were 8-12yo and the other half 13-16yo riders. But as all do not use the number plate colouring that shows what class they ride in, we were not 100% sure re the split.
Vinny came back after the practice very excited re the track and the riding. At last year's Mighty Manawatu he had been riding in the 9-11yo 65cc Mini class. They use the Mini track, but in the Champs also parts of the big track, so Vinny had some experience of the track. The surface is a sand/dirt mix that on a dry day becomes loose in the corners and in places heavy to ride. The track has a nice flow with a few long straights, nice corners and a selection of jumps. All you need really!
In the first race he elected to start behind everyone so he could settle in to a rhythm and pick off the slower riders from behind. As it turned out this also avoided him getting caught in the holeshot crash that was the worst of the crashes for the whole day. He quickly caught up with the other riders and started overtaking. He then settled in to a fight with a Kawasaki and a Yamaha rider. (These three would fight each others in all three races). There was no lap-scoring at this meeting, but we think Vinny placed 8'th (out of the 20 riders) in his first race.
In the second race he started from the tapes. At the holeshot he was around 10'th. This race went well as he increased the speed and became a little more comfortable with the track. He managed to beat the Kawasaki and the Yamaha and placed 7'th.
The third race was very similar. His speed had again increased, his jumps became a fraction longer and he was quickly in front of the two he had been battling with. He was then hit on the back wheel in a corner and lost some momentum giving up one place and finishing 8'th. (Note that all placing's are a little of guesswork without lap-scoring).
A good days racing by Vinny. He improved with each race and as we were travelling back home he was eager to have another chance to race there and do longer jumps and faster speed! When analysing his riding this day we agreed that where he lost out was in most of the jumps where his apprehensive approach made him slow down when coming to the jump, allowing others to catch up and at times pass. But as we know that this is an area where he needs to improve, and we are already working on it, this was no surprise.
Our aim for the Manawatu Champs here is a top five placing in his 11-12yo age group!
Sunday 28 July, Taupo Winter Series Round 4
A cold night would create ice in the hills we concluded, so we had an early start to allow for careful driving. Apart from a few slippery spots nothing to report, and we arrived in Taupo on time. The sun was up and would continue to shine all day making the track nice and dry. The club had made some changes to the track; they had added corners and reduced the number of jumps. After practice Vinny informed that he liked the track and we were ready to go!
In the last month or so Vinny had developed as a rider. At almost every race he had become faster and more confident. He was sitting in 8'th place at the Taupo Winter Series after three of the six rounds. But more importantly he had managed to reduce the time he was behind the winner at the end of a race from over 2 minutes to just over one minute. He had also started to close up on the two riders we measure him against and our aim was today to beat one or hopefully both of them. As all Junior riders keep on developing, it was very encouraging that Vinny's progress was measurable against others in his grade!
In the first race Vinny had a good start and was 5'th at the holeshot (from 20 riders). He then dropped a few places to approx 10'th. On the second lap he was lining up a pass in a corner, but the rider he was trying to pass did a very late line change and hit Vinny's front wheel making him crash. Vinny got back up in 16'th place and managed to improve that to 14'th at end of the race.
His start in the second race was not as good and he found him self in 12'th at the holeshot. He had an incident free race and managed to pick up a few places to finish in 9'th.
Before the fall in the first race and through the whole second race he had been battling with the riders we measure his development against, but they just managed to beat him again.
In the third race we aimed to finish ahead of the two! Another poor start made this more tricky, but for three laps he held one of them behind. The boy managed to pass Vinny, but then crashed allowing Vinny to finish 9'th.
As parents will know, all kids have days when their performance just is not up to where you know it can be. Today was one of those days for Vinny. He knew it him self, but just could not lift his game to the next level. After some clear improvements at each race lately, today the progress stalled. From experience we know that this is just how it goes and we will postpone the beating of the two riders till next months race here! But even so, there was a small improvement where Vinny had cut down the lead the two had over him to just a couple of seconds.
Sunday 21 July, Wairoa Winter Series Round 4 (Final)
We had plans of riding in the NZ Mini TT at Taumaranui this weekend. But decided to leave that for next year and went to Wairoa instead. Vinny had ridden in Round 2 of their Winter series 2 months ago. And as luck would have it, this round was held at the same cool private track owned by Shorty (who's son Keegan was fighting with Vinny for placings last time). Vinny liked the track and was really eager to race there again.
A 17 degree sunny day and no wind was laid out for us. The track had been under water in the week as a result of all the rain, but the water was now almost gone leaving only two of the corners in a soggy state. The ground held on to the moisture, that did not disappear the whole day, making the riding heavy and at times slippery. Many riders had a few crashes as a result, but no injuries to worry about thanks to the soft ground. Vinny crashed twice in the first race and once in the third one dropping him down one place both times.
Last time the start had been a 'Le Mans' style one where all riders had to run to their bikes held up and running by a support person. This time it was a 'Superman' start where the riders were lying on the ground on their stomach with arms stretched out, and then jumped up to get to the bike and take off. Vinny would again ride in the A grade Juniors.
In the first race Vinny had not really figured out how the 'Superman' thing was to work and lost a couple of seconds. But he took off quickly and it did not take long before he had climbed up to second spot. He was now straight away doubling the whoops and fully clearing the table top jump! When watching his riding it was now very obvious that he had made some good progress. The two fast riders that had easily left him behind the last time were not that far ahead this time, and a faulty bike for one of them allowed him to settle in second place. Then a crash in a corner by Vinny allowed Keegan to catch up, but Vinny held on to 2'nd spot. Then one more crash and Keegan went past leaving Vinny in 3'rd place.
I had noticed that Vinny had not picked the best lines in the damp and heavy corners and this was also the reason he crashed both times (he tried to use the inside but got stuck). So before the second race we walked around the track deciding on how he should take the different corners.
In race two he got it all together and managed the corners well and had no misshaps! He also had the start sorted and got the holeshot and kept the lead for just over a lap before being passed by the two faster guys. But the difference in the riding between them and Vinny was very small and nothing like the last time. Vinny finished 3'rd and well ahead of Keegan.
In race three the start had been changed and the girls started on the front row, then the B-grade juniors and last the A-grade. There was a good field of riders, somewhere over 20, but after a lap Vinny had passed all apart from the two who he was chasing all day and he was back in 3'rd. Then a crash by one of the two ahead of him allowed him to slot in to second and it looked like tha placing would be his. But a mistake in a corner where he changed down one too many and ended up in neutral. Then when he turned on the throttle and expected the bike to push forward... nothing! And he fell. He was quickly up again, thou it was all Keegan needed to get past, and even if Vinny was catching up, the race finished a lap too early for him and three 3'rd placings was his tally for the day.
This had been a very encouraging day of racing for Vinny where his improvements were clearly visible, and it also made him very happy to find out that since two months ago he had moved forward! Sure, we could have lived without the three crashes. But as Vinny has only raced in two of the clubs 4 rounds, it was never about anything else than to focus on speed today. And we had achieved that!
15 - 17 July, MX Coaching Camp in Rotorua
Vinny had been hanging out for this one! He thinks the world of Mike Phillips after first meeting him a couple of years ago when I did run MX Holiday Programmes in Hawke's Bay in my past job. And the other coaches Mike had coming along were all top riders too: Rhys Carter, Nick Saunders and Cam Vaughn!
Our plan had been to ride in the HB Magic Series on Sunday and then drive up to Rotorua early Monday. But then the rainy weather played havock with our plans as HB was cancelled. So we hatched a new plan to drive up early Sunday am to ride in Rotorua's round of their winter series and for Vinny to stay on at Mikes place. But that also fell apart thanks to the weather gods. Now the only race meeting left was Gold Coast Winter Series in Foxton on Sunday. But that would mean 3 hours of driving down early on Sunday (doable) and then 3 hours back on Sunday evening arriving back home at around 8pm. Then sort the bikes and pack the gear for the three days of coaching and leave 5.30am on Monday for Rotorua. We discussed this option and decided against it. Vinny would get 3 days of riding Monday - Wednesday anyhow, and I did not hang out for a all-nighter sorting stuff. This also meant that Vinny would be fresh for the coaching and be able to take in more of it.
I had in advance informed Mike re what I wanted to get help with for Vinny: Not to freeze when in the air while doing jumps, ruts, selecting lines in corners, learn how to come up to a jump and also to try to stop front wheel from washing out in corners.
Mike was OK with Vinny turning up on Sunday afternoon, and so we arrived just after 4pm at the Phillips farm. The Rotorua MCC track is situated on their farm so that was where all the coaching would take place. We know this track well from earlier race meetings there and Vinny likes the base that is a mix of sand and clay. The track also has a nice flow to it. All up 20 junior riders attended. Mikes mum, who was the designated cook, would have her hands full!
We had both Vinnys KTM 85sx bikes with us so that if something went wrong he would still be able to ride. The 2011 bike had managed to get a puncture while in the van! So the boys would take the front wheel from the 2009 and swap it over in the morning. I drove back to HB and heard nothing from Vinny for the three days!
I arrived to pick up Vinny a couple hours early on Wednesday and managed to see them all practicing starts from the gates. Then a session on technique and back to the camp where it was time to pack up the gear. Vinny had lost the back wheel and front wheel axle nuts from the 2009 bike, so even if the plan had been to use both bikes evenly, he only got an hour on the 2009 bike.
After some prizes being given out (The Camp Mother prize of a Renthal handle bar cover went to Vinny for all the work he had been doing in helping!) we had a chat with Mike re where Vinny's riding was and what to focus on. I was very pleased to be told that Vinny has all the technique and he is using it. He now needs to add more speed. So that will be our focus for this second part of 2013: To add speed! Mike also pointed out that it will most probably mean more crashes... but as we are not too worried re placings this year as we are aiming for 2014, this does not really worry Vinny or me (as long as he does not get injured!).
It had been a brilliant three days for Vinny; riding MX, talking MX, being fed, hanging out with other young MX riders, catching up with riders he already knew and meeting new ones. He was buzzing on the way home (until he fell asleep...)
Sunday 7 July. Taikorea MX Park 'Fun Day', Foxton
Our plans to stay in Gisborne for their TT racing on Sunday changed and we travelled to Foxton where the Manawatu-Orion MCC held a 'Fun Day' in the dirt. For those who don't know: The Taikorea MX Park has tracks for all dirt bike riders. From Mini's to senior MX, XC and more. A brilliant facility. But being 2 1/2 hour travel away we have never actually been there even if we have planned to a few times. This was the opportunity to check it out. And the verdict is that if this facility was in HB we would spend many days there!
Vinny signed up for the junior 85cc class that would cater for all 85cc riders (8 - 16yo) and also for the Mini 65cc riders who rather ride at the big track. 13 riders, mainly 13-16yo ones, got going for the practice lap. Vinny had a look at the track earlier and liked what he did see. It had been dry for a few days, and the sand based track was almost dry but without any dust flying around.
When Vinny returned from the practice he told me that this would be hard work! The loose sand made it tricky and heavy to ride.
In his first ride he was in the middle of the group at the holeshot. He then climbed up a little before a crash. He got going last and managed to pass a few riders. Only to crash in the same place again! He got back up and finished in approx 11'th. As this was a 'Fun Day' nobody was doing lap scoring, so there would be no official results.
In the second ride he had a little better start and was approx 5'th at the holeshot. He then settled in to the middle of the group. Then a third crash at the same spot! Again he got up fast and carried on but finished around 10'th.
The third race saw him one spot higher at 4'th at the holeshot. He raced well and stayed around that spot until a crash in a new place. This time he finished approx 8'th, but was far from happy with his riding. We had been asked if we wanted a 4'th race and we straight away said 'YES', as we were here for a good practice.
Vinny was all pepped up for his 4'th race. He came 3'rd at the holeshot and then passed for 2'nd. He was passed at the end of the long finishing straight and held 3'rd for close to a lap. A couple of laps later he was down in 6'th. He then managed to climb up to 5'th where he finished. This had been a hugely improved effort from Vinny and we were both buzzing. We both felt that with more time learning this track he could challenge for podiums in this group of riders, who all had prior experience on this track.
A brilliant day of learning and a hard work-out for Vinny, And thanks to the 4'th race he was on a high when we travelled home.
Saturday 6 July. Gisborne Beach Racing Round 3 (Final)
Vinny was sitting in 3'rd place before this final round (out of three). If he wanted to improve on that placing he would need help from Gary who was leading or Taylah who was in second. There was a very small chance that Vinny could beat Gary who on his KTM125 had been winning all races in round 2. Vinny had proved that he was capable of beating Taylah, but it would not be enough for him to place 2'nd in all three races if she placed 3'rd.
In the first race Vinny did not get the best of starts. But he picked up the speed and quickly settled in to second spot. Only to stumble at a turn allowing Taylah to catch up. He then fought with her swapping places and at the finish line managed to get his front wheel ahead getting a 2'nd behind Gary.
In race two Gary again took off and it was a fight for 2'nd between Vinny and Taylah. In first race Taylah had used her 125cc bike, but for the second race she came out on her 85cc one. Probably a little confused that Vinny had been faster this time than last round. We had moved over some of the plastics from Vinny's 2009 KTM85 to his new 2011 one, so Taylah would not have known that she was up against a different bike that has some different bits on it making it a fraction quicker. The track had been shortened for this race without the riders being told, so there was some confusion at the first turn and Vinny ended up behind some riders. He quickly passed them and tussled the whole race with Taylah but Vinny managed a good 2'nd again.
In race three Vinny sat in 2'nd for the whole race and finished the day with three 2'nd placings. But the fall he had in the first round came back to bite him and he lost out on 2'nd in the series with 3 points!
We like beach racing. It is a totally different type of riding compared to MX and gives Vinny some new skills. We will be back for the Beach Racing East Coast Champs in August!