2014 January - June Racing
Please scroll down to see all the entries for January - June 2014
Taupo Winter Series Round 3, Sunday 29 June 2014
We travelled to Taupo with only one bike as the spare bike still needed some work to be completed. But after taking my time I felt confident that the 2013 one would be fine. A HUGE thanks to Patterson O’Connor Motorcycles in Rotorua for the very quick rebuild of both cranks! They got them on Wednesday and I had both back on Thursday at 10am!!! A big thanks to Sandra too as without her support this would be so much harder!
There was frost in the grass all the way and ice on the puddles. Would be a cold day! Vinny was again entered in his 11-12yo 85cc class and also in 12-14yo 125cc. Our plan was to fully focus on the 85cc class, but by having him entered in both classes we could use the 125cc class for practice.
After taking it easy in the practices (as motor was fully rebuilt) it was all go in the 85cc races.
In Race 1 Vinny struggled with the start and was approx 8'th at the holeshot. There was a 3 rider crash at the start so the race was red-flagged and re-started. This gave Vinny a chance to sort the start and he was 4'th. He then passed for 3'rd and it looked good! But a crash and he was down to 19'th. From then it was damage control and he managed to climb up to 6'th.
In Race 2 Vinny was 5'th at the holeshot. He then climbed to 3'rd before a crash in Lap 1 put him down to 9'th . More hard work and he finished the race in 3'rd.
Vinny did ride in the first 125cc race. In the second race we worked on his gating and he started after all others had disappeared. He only did a couple of laps. He did not race the third race.
For his final 85cc race Vinny was determined not to crash. A poor start and it was all uphill again. By some hard riding he manages 4'th. He still sits 4’th in the series with 3 rounds to go. Our aim is higher than that!
Afterwards Vinny told me he felt empty in Race 3. When trying to figure out the reason I soon found out that he had forgotten to eat breakfast!
Heath (who won all races) was the fastest on the track, but Vinny was often 2'nd fastest. The plan had been to push a little more today. We knew this could result in crashes but we considered it worth it for Vinnys development.
The Mighty Manawatu Curse strikes again for 4'th year in a row!
Mighty Manawatu 125cc and under Champs, 22 June 2014, Foxton
We had everything in place. Both bikes had gotten a thorough once over. We did not forget anything and we were well in time. This was going to be Vinny's year at Mighty Manawatu after three years of disaster:
2011. Vinny injured his hand at Wanganui weekend before and could not ride.
2012. We arrived with two bikes, but one refused to run and second one developed issues that we never figured out what they were. It was wet and muddy and Vinny just hated the day. He placed very poorly in the 9-11 65cc class.
2013. First year in the 85cc class. Again we had two bikes. Main bike developed clutch issues and for second race Vinny used the spare bike, but we forgot to move the transponder over so he got no points for that race... Third race went OK but by then it was too late.
Now in 2014 nothing like this was going to happen! At Wanganui the w/e before Vinny had used both bikes and they both worked perfectly. Fourth time lucky... The track had been given a real good upgrade and looked the best we had ever seen it.
Vinny was entered in two classes: Under 13 85cc and Under 17 85cc. We had plans of a podium in the U13 class. In practice Vinny was riding really well. He was sitting behind the two fastest riders, but I could see that he was not pushing it. He would let them pull away a little and then catch up. The bike developed a problem in second to last lap, but by then he had a good timed lap so we went back to the pits feeling confident. Vinny also loved the track and knew he could be really fast today!
Once in the pits we could not get the bike to start no matter what we did. And when kicking over all did not sound well... So for the U17 practice he went out on the spare bike. But only got 3 laps done. The bike was not running right... (A few weeks ago at HB Magic series we lent the bike to another rider who's bike got gearbox problems. He had a good first race, but for race 2 and 3 the bike did not run well. I did some work on the bike and the w/e after in Wanganui the bike was fine indicating that I had sorted the issue...).
Some more work on the spare bike where I swapped over the carbi and reed valves from the racing bike and things sounded better... Vinny made it in time for Race 1 in the U13 class (where he had 3'rd fastest practice time) and I remembered to move the transponder over! He came out of the start OK but bike was not right. A crash as motor died in a corner and he finished 12'th a lap down.
In the pits I took the two motors apart planning to make one good motor out of two. But after I found that both had faulty big-ends there was nothing even my White Mans Magic could do in 30 minutes.
So for the 4'th year in a row Vinny's Mighty Manawatu did not work out.
Back home I found that the racing bike's water pump had stopped working meaning the motor would have got too hot. And the spare bike's big end bearing probably just got tired (We bought the bike with a "just rebuilt big end"...)
But for the upcoming Round 3 at Taupo Vinny will have two freshly rebuilt engines!
3 out of 3 for Vinny in Wanganui!
Sunday 15 June 2014, Wanganui Winter Series Round 3
This time all was supposed to be in place and sorted (last time we had some minor issues...). The alarm was set for 4am... and it seems I turned it off and went back to sleep. Woke up 5.38am knowing someth...ing was not right. After some speedy work we were all packed and on the road a 6.10am. We had to be in Wanganui before end of sign-in at 9am. Some serious driving and we made it with 5 minutes to spare!
The track was again brilliant and Vinny was very keen to go riding. A little chilly in the morning but soon we had about 15 degrees Celsius for the day.
We entered Vinny in his 8-12yo 85cc class but also in the 125cc all-in Junior class (includes 250cc bikes).
The whole day Vinny did ride faultless. In Race 1 Vinny was 2'nd at the holeshot. He then passed for the lead and was never challenged for the win.
In Race 2 the boy who managed the holeshot crashed straight after and Vinny was lucky that he did not crash in to him. He was again in second and passed soon after for the lead. Rest was a copy of Race 1.
In Race 3 Vinny managed the holeshot and held the lead all the way to the end.
The 125cc class races were straight after Vinnys 85cc racing. This would be a little tough. There was also no start gates left for Vinny. So as soon as he had done the sweep lap (the winner does this at Wanganui) he lined up at back of the field and went out racing again. In Race 1 he managed approx 12'th from 27 riders. In Race 2 he took it easy and did not finish the last laps. And he skipped Race 3.
We had a few goals that were completed:
- To manage the step-up in one whole jump. Vinny had already sussed how to sort this in practice and jumped the step-up fully each time.
- To fully jump the table top after the step-up. Again Vinny sorted this in the practice. Only when lapping other riders just before or on the step-up did he land a little short.
- To manage the whoops before the finish line. In Race 3 we got this sorted and Vinny easily cut 2 seconds of his time in them!
A brilliant day of racing! Sadly next round will be a clash with the Hawke's Bay Magic Series. We will need to decide where we race that weekend... Or maybe the weather will make the decision for us??
Sunday 8 June, Hawke's Bay Taylor Magic Series Round 3.
A sunny winter day greeted us. There was no wind and temperatures on the day were close to 20 degrees. The track had again had some alterations made to mix it up. The club had done watering the day before, but from experience we knew that the track would get quite hard as the day went on.
Vinny would again ride in his 8-12 85cc class, but also in the Junior 125/250cc class on his 85cc as we are still looking for the right 125cc for him. In the 85cc class there was only one thing that mattered: Three wins! In the 125/250 class he was to 'go racing proper'. Until now he had always started after the rest at the race meetings he had also raced in this class. This to learn how it is to mix it with the bigger bikes. Today his orders were to fight for placings.
In the 85cc class Vinny struggled a little in the starts. (Still not sure why. But the plan is to fit a new clutch this week.). In Race 1 he very quickly passed for the lead and pulled away. But then the bike started missfiring and he worked hard to keep her alive for the last laps. Vinny still managed to get the win. When in the pits we fitted a new sparkplug and it was fixed.
In Race 2 Luka (still a Mini rider) took the holeshot on his KTM65cc. But after a few corners Vinny was in the lead again and won the race. (Luka managed a 3'rd!)
Race 3 and Vinny again had to pass for the lead. Once there he increased the gap and had a good margin at the end. Vinny has been riding really well in the series and after three rounds now has 9 wins out of 9 races, That leaves him as the only rider across all classes with a clean record!
In the 125/250 class Vinny did ride Race 1 and 2 and placed 10'th in both races out of 16 riders. We are hoping that by next Round we have a 125cc bike for Vinny...
Jacob, who rides in the 13-16yo 85cc class, borrowed Vinny's 2011 KTM85sx (our spare bike) as his Yamaha lost all the gears in the first 125/250 race. Vinny had not been riding the bike for approx 2 months, but we expected all to be OK. Jacob got a 2'nd in the first race, but for the next two races the bike had an issue where it did not want to run clean at high revs. With only 3 riders in the class Jacob managed to finish all races with still a good tally of points!
Three more wins for Vinny at Hawke's Bay!
Sunday 8 June, Hawke's Bay Taylor Magic Series Round 3.
A sunny winter day greeted us. There was no wind and temperatures on the day were close to 20 degrees. The track had again had some alterations made to mix it up.
Vinny would ride in his 8-12 85cc class, but also in the Junior 125/250cc class on his 85cc as we are still looking for the right 125cc for him. In the 85cc class there was only one thing that mattered: to win! In the 125/250 class he was to 'go racing proper’. Until now he had always started after the rest in this class and raced to learn how it is to mix it with the bigger bikes. Today his orders were to fight for placings.
In the 85cc class Vinny struggled a little in the starts. (Still not sure why. But the plan is to fit a new clutch this week.). In Race 1 he very quickly passed for the lead and pulled away. But then the bike started missfiring and Vinny worked hard to keep her alive for the last laps. He still managed to get the win. When in the pits we fitted a new sparkplug and it was fixed.
In Race 2 Luka (still a Mini rider) took the holeshot on his KTM65cc. But after a few corners Vinny was in the lead again and won the race. (Luka managed a 3'rd!)
Race 3 and Vinny again had to pass for the lead. Once there he increased the gap and had a good margin at the end.
In the 125/250 class Vinny did ride Race 1 and 2 and placed 10'th in both races out of 16 riders.
Gisborne Winter Series Round 2, Kopua track. 1 June 2014
There was more clay than your bike could carry. But Vinnys KTM 85sx tried it's hardest and there was approx 20Kg of the stuff stuck on at end of a race.
On Sunday we had planned to race at Central HB 1h/2h challenge, but it was cancelled. So we swapped to Gisborne. The Kopua track is on the side of the main road to Gisborne and every time we go past Vinny tells me how sick it looks and that he really wants to ride there. Well now he got his chance but it was not what he had expected. As a result of some wet weather the clay surface was wet approx 20cm down. Below that it was all hard.
In practice it soon became obvious that parts of the track would be impossible to ride, and so the club shortened the track. But still many tricky spots remained, the most tricky one would be the hill up after the start.
We had by mistake entered Vinny in Junior B (should have been in Junior A). But as he would not ride any other rounds of the series it did not matter. They would race with the Ladies class in a split start.
In Race 1 Vinny had a good start, got the holeshot and easily pulled away. But then it all went wrong. A crash at beginning of lap 2 and one more half way of the lap. Then one more crash in beginning of lap 4 and Vinny almost gave up racing for the day. But we got the bike back to the pits, scraped of all the mud, had a serious chat and he was ready for Race 2.
Sadly two riders in a seniors class got badly injured. There was an ambulance and a helicopter and a stop of racing for a good one hour. The decision was made to only hold two races. (We learnt later that neither rider had any broken bones and both were home to rest in the evening)
Race 2 went better for Vinny. Only one crash in a corner. And by taking a different approach to the treacherous hill (getting the bum OFF the seat!!) he managed to complete the race and came second (we think).
A steep learning experience for Vinny who prefers hard and fast tracks.
We wish the injured riders a speedy recovery!
Hard work and potential unfilled for Vinny at Taupo Winter Series Round 2 Sunday 25 May.
Friends of ours had been blown of the Napier-Taupo road on Saturday evening. Trailer with bike and new ute now an insurance claim. Luckily no serious injuries! We were a little worried that the wind would still be there in the morning, but no problems. The day was chilly but dry and even some sunshine.
Vinny would again ride in his class 11-12 85cc and also in 12-14 125cc, both classes on his KTM85cc bike. We were here today to climb up from the 3'rd place he was sitting in to 2'nd. But it became one of those days...
Two of the current top 8-10yo 85cc riders had been allowed to step up one class, and as both are very fast, it would be much harder to get top placings! (Brody and Ryan)
In Race 1 Vinnys start was poor and he was around 10'th at the holeshot. Then Crash 1 for the day and he was in 12'th. Some good riding and Vinny climbed up to 5'th at end of lap one. Two laps later he was in 4'th and planning a move for 3'rd. But on the last lap Crash 2 and Vinny finished 6'th.
Change of start gate and some focusing for Vinny and he was supposed to get a better start in Race 2. But he only managed a few places better. He then swiftly moved up and was in 5'th lining up the two ahead of him. Then a crash (Crash 3) that took down both of them plus Vinny, and suddenly it again was much harder. More passing of riders and Vinny was back up in 5'th at end of lap 3. In the last lap Vinny was planning a move for 4'th, but Crash 4 of the day dropped him to 6'th.
Vinny had bruising on his arm and leg and was in pain. A visit to the 1'st aid tent, some ice and he was ready for Race 3. Vinny got his best start and soon was in 2'nd wanting the lead. But Crash 5 of the day put a stop to that and Vinny managed a 5'th. Vinny now sits in 4'th in the series. But with 4 rounds to go we are still aiming high!
Vinnys riding was fast and without the crashes he would have deserved top three placings in each race. There was a little of sharpness missing today. His poor starts clearly indicated this. But we take the points and come back next round to challenge again!
In the 125cc 12-14yo class there was no pressure on Vinny and he only did two races placing around 10'th in both.
Wanganui Winter Series Round 2, Sunday 18 May 2014
We were on time, got all setup and Vinny had a good practice. Vinny's 8-12yo 85cc class was scheduled as 6'th in the programme, so we had heaps of time to relax and get ready... (well, so we thought...) But without warning the club swapped the 8-12yo and 13-16yo 85cc classes around and suddenly Vinny needed to be on the starting line as second class instead of sixth! Vinny was nowhere to be seen so I went searching for him after doing an oil change on the bike as we had approached the magical five hours limit. Vinny was found and he got to the starting line just in time but ended up on the outside as he was last to arrive. In the panic I had also forgotten to tighten the oil-drain plug properly... While on the starting line the plug fell off and the motor drained itself of oil. (Lucky this did not happen in the race…) I asked for 2 minutes to either get the spare bike or fill up oil, but my request was refused. As the race started Vinny rolled the bike to the pits where we filled up new oil and made sure the oil plug was tightly secured. He then went out, but was already 2 laps behind and finished 16’th and last.
In Race 2 Vinny came back with a vengeance. He did not get the best start and was T-boned a few corners in to the race leaving him in 12’th. But he calmly picked the bike up and started catching and passing riders. With 3 laps to go he was in 4’th. He then very methodically passed each of the three riders one at the time and at beginning on the last lap he was leading. He finished well in-front of the second place getter.
In race 3 his start was the fastest and for a moment he was heading for the holeshot, but his speed was a little too high in the first corner so he had to scrub some off and settle in to 3’rd. At end of the lap Vinny was 2’nd and on the next lap he was in the lead. Vinny again comfortably won the race.
Sadly we missed Round 1 as Vinny was racing in Wellingtons 2-day Capital Champs. And it is a big possibility that we will miss Round 4 also as the Hawke's Bay Magic Series Round 4 is on the same day. But all good. We will be back when we can to race here as Vinny has now elevated this track to be his "Second Most Favorite Track"!
Gisborne Beach Racing Series Round 1, Sunday 17 May 2014
The idea was to be in Gisborne well in time so we could relax. Sadly I got that wrong and ended up driving from Haumoana to just north of Gisborne as fast as legally possible… and we arrived 10 minutes after the practices had started. As the club knew we were coming we were OK. But as a result Vinny missed the practice and the chance to get a feel for the beach.
The weather was on our side. Sun and about 20 degrees. Nice!
The club had separated the 125cc bikes from the 85cc ones for this season (They would race together but be scored separately). Sadly only three 125cc ones turned up. The 85cc bikes were split in to Junior A and Junior B. 125cc and Junior A would ride together but be scored separately, and Junior B would have their own race. Vinny was riding in Junior A.
In Race 1 missing the practice showed and Vinny struggled in the start and in the corners. Also in finding the best and fastest racing lines (the beach has different sections and the idea is to use the harder areas where the bike does not get bogged down). He still managed a 2’nd.
In Race 2 and 3 Vinny had it dialled in, and even if his starts still were lacking a fraction, he was never really challenged for the two wins and even managed to race the riders in the 125cc’s class at times.
So after Round 1 of the Beach Racing Series Vinny is in the lead. We will be back for Round 2 in June, but we might miss Round 3 as a result of other racing plans. We will see...
Hawke's Bay Taylor Magic Series Round 2, 11 May 2014, 8-12yo 85 cc class.
Nice and sunny day! The track was in a brilliant shape after some work by the club. Vinny would ride in his 8-12yo 85cc class, but also in the 12-14yo 125cc class to get more riding time.
After the 85cc practice Vinny came in and told me he had problems with the bike "bogging' and loosing power. I got the 2011 spare bike running and sent him out on that one in the 125cc practice while I tried to figure out what was going on. Cleaned cary and replaced spark plug and everything seemed fine. Vinny took the bike out for the 125cc first round and when he came back in he told me all was sorted! Phew!!!
In Round 1 Vinny had won all three races in the 85cc class, but he had started the day slowly and had no urgency before Race 3 after I had a talk to him. Today it was totally different and Vinny came to race!
In the 125cc class Vinny was allowed to not race 'full-on'. His directives were to study the track, not come last, not be lapped and to enjoy the riding. He managed all those and did not look out of place, placing around 10'th (out of 16 riders) in the two races he did ride.
In his 85cc class it was different. Here we wanted him to race to his limit and push the boundaries. The 13-16yo 85cc class started 20 seconds earlier in a split start and Vinny was to try and catch and pass the last of their riders.
In Race 1 Vinny's start was not the best. He was 4'th at the holeshot from 10 riders. But then he got going and was in 1'st soon after. He held that placing all the way and managed a 1/2 a lap lead over the next rider. He also got close to the last rider in the older class, but not close enough to pass.
Race 2 was a better start, 2'nd at the holeshot. Very much the same all the way as Race 1. But this time he caught up with the last rider in the 13-16yo 85cc class and just managed a pass before the finish line.
In Race 3 Vinny got the holeshot. He then started the chase to catch the 13-16yo riders. On the last lap he was getting close, but his only small mistake of the day, in a corner, cost him approx 5 seconds and he never got close enough.
A very good days racing from Vinny. He looked fast and rode well to take three from three in his 85cc class. This puts him on max points after two rounds! Next time he will also ride in two classes, but with the difference that he will then be racing for placings in the 125cc class too. All still on his 85cc.
Taupo Winter Series Round 1, 4 May 2014
Redemption time at Taupo for Vinny! After his poor performance at NZ Juniors last week, Vinny was very eager to prove to all (including himself) that he was much better than the 17'th placing. And where better than Taupo, with 22 riders in his 11-12yo class, to start that process.
A nice and sunny day greeted us. The track layout had been changed a fraction (like they often do to make it more interesting) and looked mint. Vinny was hanging out to go racing!
We entered Vinny in to his class (11-12yo 85cc) and also in to the 12-14yo 125cc class. The logic here was to get as much track time as possible to increase his racing fitness, give Vinny a chance to know about the changing track in advance (the sand track would, as we knew, get loose and develop bumps and holes as they day went on) and also get him used to the class he will soon be racing in when we get him a 125cc bike.
In Race 1 (85cc class) Vinny got a OK start and was 3'rd at the holeshot. He then dropped a couple of places to be 5'th at end of lap one. Next lap he passed for forth. The leader, Heath (who would go on to win all 3 races) had a 20 second lead at end of the race, but Carlin 2'nd, Trent 3'rd and Vinny 4'th had a good tussle the whole race keeping swapping places and all finished inside 2 seconds!
Vinny then raced in Race 1 of the 125cc class. We had agreed that there was no pressure for him to place well. Only three things was to happen: 1. Don't come last (he placed 11'th of 14 riders) 2. Look closely at the track and try different lines to see if you can be faster in the next 85cc race. 3. Don't get lapped. He achieved all those three!
Vinny was fired up for Race 2 (85cc) and wanted the holeshot. He was focusing on getting away as soon as the gate started to drop. He achieved that, but his reflexes were too fast and he caught the gate just before it touched the ground. He had to pull the bike back to get going in last place. At the holeshot he had already climbed from 22'nd to 15'th and was determined to hunt down the leaders. At the first jump he was 10'th and at end of lap 1 he was in 4'th after Heath, Dylan and Carlin. Heath was again a bit ahead of the rest, but the three others then kept on changing places. At end of the race Vinny had settled in to 4'th.
Before Race 3 there was two serious crashes in the class before. Both riders were carried off on a stretcher. We sincerely hope that the riders will recover soon!! All this took approx one hour while Vinny's 85cc class were sitting at the gates waiting for their turn to race.
As Vinny is not as fit as he should be we agreed that he could pull out of the next 125cc race to focus on the 85cc's. In Race 3 Vinny had his best start and was 2'nd at the holeshot. He kept this place for a while. Then Carlin caught up and passed Vinny. But it was not over. The two of them kept changing places until the last lap when Vinny decided to settle for 3'rd instead of risking it as he had not had one off and did not want to risk a good days racing. I was OK with his decision as today was about rebuilding his confidence. And as we now have a detailed programme in place to get Vinny to be the best he can be, the time to challenge to the end will come soon enough.
One more 125cc race for Vinny. We considered it a "fun race" for him where he was allowed to ride at his own speed and just enjoy it. He still managed a 10'th and not to be lapped.
Four of the riders who beat Vinny at the NZ Juniors were racing here today. Vinny beat two of them in all three races, one in two races and only Carlin managed to beat Vinny in each race. But even so, they kept on swapping places in each race, and our aim is to change the final order next time here. Vinny sits in 3'rd after Heath and Carlin in the series after Round 1.
We were all smiles on the way home and I felt very proud of Vinny. Today had done wonders to expel the NZ Junior Champ blues!
2014 New Zealand Junior Motocross Championships, Ikamatua South Island, 25-27 April.
The aim was for Vinny to place in top 10. Sadly things did not go to plan and he finished in 17'th from 33 riders. We have now for a few days looked at what went wrong and how we can improve his riding so that in 2015 he places higher. We have already made a few changes and there are more to come!
After traveling across with the Bluebridge ferry from North Island, we signed in on Thursday, (800Km drive and 14h travel including the 3 1/2h ferry trip) had a look at the track and then went to the Motel in Greytown (approx 60km from the track) for the night. We got to the track early next morning and participated in the ANZAC commemoration. Then we were told that Friday racing was cancelled as the rain had made the track too wet, but as there was promise of no rain for Saturday and Sunday all would be fine. This changed the Championship from a 3-day 7-race one to a 2-day 5-race Championship.
Saturday morning we were back and the track looked good. Vinny had a practice and qualifying where he placed 19'th. But as all 33 riders would be racing and all gates were good, we had decided that he would focus on learning the track and not worry too much about the qualifying.
In Race 1 Vinny was a fraction cautious at the start but managed to pass some riders to finish 13'th. Many riders got caught out by the tricky track. We agreed that he could go faster and place higher in the next race.
In Race 2 he had a poor start and found him self in 20'th place. He climbed up some placings, but tried to change rut in a corner and crashed. Vinny managed a 17'th placing, but clearly things were not going to plan. As the ruts were getting deeper Vinny's confidence slowly dropped.
In Race 3 Vinny crashed twice on lap one and was 28'th at end of the lap. He then slowly climbed up to 21'st, but this was far from where we wanted him to be.
Back at the Motel I did some repairs to the clutch and also swapped a broken clutch leaver, master cylinder and linkage for the one from the reserve bike. (Vinny had damaged this in the first crash in Race 3). For Vinny to have any chance to place inside top ten he would have to race much faster on day two and be inside top five. Vinny wanted to give it a go, and as there was nothing to loose, it was the plan.
In Race 4 Vinny was 4'th at the holeshot and it was clear that he was gunning for a top five! He lost a few placings and was 11'th at end of lap one and 10'th at end of lap two. Then one more crash in a rut and he was down in 18'th. He climbed up to 15'th at end of the race, but was now out of a top ten finish.
A very disappointed Vinny lined up for Race 5 but was never higher than 19'th and after another crash finished a lowly 26'th. Vinnys preparation had been interrupted by his back injury that put him out of racing for 1 1/2 months. This had some impact, but the main issue is Vinnys dislike of ruts and his inability to use them in his riding. To solve this will be our main challenge for the rest of this year!!
If it had not been for the crashes Vinny would have had a top ten finish. His placings of 13'th, 17'th, 21'th, 15'th and 26'th were all below what he is capable of. But we will be back!
Capital Champs on a soggy track, Sat-Sun 19-20 April
The final workout before NZ Junior Champs. Last year Vinny placed 8'th in the 85cc class, this year we were aiming for a top 5.
The Kapi-Mana club had worked tirelessly to get the track just right, but the weather was always planning to play it's part. Before the Champs there had been two days of heavy rain, but over the two race days there was only some sporadic showers. The second day the track was shortened to eliminate some of the worst and boggiest spots. This made the track 1/3 shorter.
17 riders lined up for the 85cc class that is open for all 85cc riders (8 - 16yo).
In Race 1 Vinny was a little slow out from the gates and when disappearing in to the forest he was approx 9'th. He then climbed a few spots to finish 7'th.
Race 2 started better and Vinny was 3-4'th at holeshot corner. He did ride really well and finished an encouraging 4'th. (The three riders ahead of him were all from the 13-16yo class).
Race 3 again saw Vinny get a good start and fighting well to finish 5'th. That put him in 5'th after day one. Vinny had no mishaps in the first day, he left that for others. There was a selection of crashes and also riders who ended up in a pond (no names...).
There had been some rain over the night and the worst parts of the track had gotten even more soggy. As a result the club cut out bits of the track to make it rideable.
Vinny had his worst start in Race 1 of Day 2. The track was also very tricky and many riders crashed. Thanks to good riding (and some luck...) Vinny found him self in 3'rd place with two laps to go. Then he dropped the bike in a corner just after the finish line. He got back up in 8'th and finished 7'th (TBC).
In race 2 Vinny had a good start and was 3'rd. Then on the back section he got a landing after a jump wrong and crashed hard. When he got back up he was in 15'th place. He rode hard and managed to climb up to 7'th. (TBC)
Race 3 was important if Vinny was to finish inside top five. He managed a 6'th (TBC) and with only one point claimed 5'th in the Championship. Vinny was happy with this as all the four riders ahead of him were from the 13-16yo class making him the top rider from the 12 and under. As the Capital Champs has only one 85cc class the age does not make a difference here, but as we used this champ as a last workout for the next w/e's NZ Junior Chams where there is a 11-12yo class, it was encouraging!
Hawke's Bay MCC 2014 Taylor Corp Magic Series Round 1. Sunday 13 April.
On Saturday we went to Shorty's track in Wairoa for a "Open Day". Heaps of work had been done on the track and there was more jumps and widening added. A good chance to get some specific practice done. Vinny also had an opportunity to test a Honda 150CR 4 stroke. He found the bike heavy and sluggish compared to his KTM85cc 2-stroke. But loved the cornering with the Honda. He is in no hurry to get on a 4 stroke he tells me.
Sunday saw the first of the winter series start that Vinny will race in this year; the Hawke's Bay MCC 2014 Taylor Corporation Magic series. The first round was held at the clubs Valley Rd track. The track was heavy with some soggy spots and deep ruts developed quickly. As the day went on and no rain came down, it dried up nicely and the speed increased.
In Race 1 Vinny came well out of the gates but then the mud took a hold in the uphill and he found him self 4'th in the field of six 8-12yo riders. The boys he had last year been fighting had all turned 13 and were riding in the 13-16yo class. There was a lack of urgency in Vinny's riding but he managed to pass all the riders in his class for his first win.
In Race 2 Vinny had a better start and was 2'nd at the holeshot. He held this placing for almost two laps until passing for the lead and was never challenged. There was still a little of "out for a Sunday Ride" look to his riding. This needed addressing!
Before Race 3 we had a chat. I wanted more urgency and for Vinny to pass all the 8-12 rider straight away and then work on catching the 13-16 riders (who started first in a split start). Vinny had been happy winning his class, but we needed to up the tempo and ride on the edge. Vinny followed the plan and took the holeshot and won his class easily, plus also caught up with some of the riders in the older class and managed to pass them too. Much better!!
Vinny only had one off in a muddy spot in race two, apart from that he did well on a, at times, tricky track. A good workout and Vinny came away with a maximum points haul of 75 with the rider in second place having 60 points.
Saturday 5 April, Huntly Winter Series Round 1. Huntly.
A couple of years ago Huntly lost their very awsum track to the new Hamilton - Auckland Expressway. I know they are working on something permanent, but in the meantime they use natural terrain tracks in the area. This track was the one used a day ago for the St Pauls MX in the Maze HS Champs. We were staying in Huntly with my mate Paul and he was OK with us staying one more night, so the decision was made to race a second day at the track. No water truck meant the track would be very dusty. As Vinny had been riding here on Friday he had a good idea of the track.
All the 85cc classes would ride as one group but be scored separately. We liked this as there would be more and tougher competition. Sadly the chance we would ride again in this series is very remote as it is a 4 1/2 hour drive from Napier. One of the pre-favorites for the 11-12yo class at the upcoming NZ Junior Champs, James Scott #108, was also there and it would give us an idea where Vinny was. The 125cc classes would race together with the 85cc ones, but in a split start where the 125cc ones started first.
Twelve 85cc riders lined up for Race 1. Vinny charged hard and took the holeshot. (Sorry, had camera problems so missed it). With James on his heals it was only a question of when Vinny would be passed. This happened just before Lap 1 was completed. Then a few laps later Vinny was passed for 3'rd. He climbed back up to 2'nd but at the last corner on the last lap a 125cc rider crashed and Vinny was unable to avoid and crashed in to him. (In next race the same rider crashed in-front of Vinny again but this time Vinny was prepared and avoided getting tangled up.) He got back up quickly but placed 5'th.
In Race 2 James took the holeshot with Vinny in 3'rd. He lost one more placing and finished 4'th.
In Race 3 James again grabbed the holeshot, with Vinny in 2'nd. He held this placing for half the race until he was passed. He then climbed back up to 2'nd as James did a mistake. Then the leaders chain broke and for a short moment Vinny was in the lead. But James caught him and after trying for over a lap he made it stick and Vinny placed 2'nd.
We always knew that James was faster than Vinny currently. But we did not know by how much. Vinny's riding was very encouraging and we think Vinny was second in the 11-12yo class after the days racing. With 3 more weeks before the NZ Champs we will work hard on finding some more speed for Vinny!
Friday 4 April, St Pauls College MX in the Maze. Huntly
It was a sunny, hot and dusty day in Huntly. The track had been marked out in a harvested corn field. We have done corn field MX before and most times it is all flat, but this field had some natural ups and downs making it an OK track.
In High School (HS) MX there is normally 3 grades in every class: Novice, Aspiring and Competitive. No ager ristrictions. Vinny still has one year to go before he is in HS, but has never raced in any other grade than the Competitive one, as we come to these events to get a workout. This was St Pauls first MX and they had expected 30-50 riders, but got 170!! So it was a good day of racing for all.
In Vinnys class there was 15 riders and most (if not all) of them would have been from the 13-16yo grade, making Vinny (who is still 12) the youngest one. As we are working up to the NZ Champs in three weeks time, Vinny had orders of not going silly and taking unnecessary risks. It was about using the brain and doing planned moves. Where he placed was not really a concern. And as he was the only rider from his school (and from the Hastings/Napier area...) there was no chance of getting any school recognition as other schools had entered up to ten riders.
In practice all 3 competitive classes went out together and there was 63 riders on the track... A 125cc rider smashed in to Vinny from behind and Vinny stayed down. There was concern about his arm. But apart from a bunch of bruises and scrapes he was OK and wanted to ride in the races.
In Race 1 Vinny was still very sore and had a very average start. He was approx 9'th at the holeshot and then allowed other riders past until he was last. He followed the riders for a lap or two and then upped the speed and came 11'th.
For Race 2 we agreed that he would push a fraction harder but still ride safe. He had a much better start and was sixth. He held this placing until the end even if he came under pressure. (This is where his new "maturity" he has displayed is starting to show; Vinny mixed his lines so the rider behind never knew where Vinny would be, and when the other rider was making a move Vinny would block him!)
Vinny wanted to go "all out" in Race 3. We agreed that he could do this as he clearly still had more in the tank. After his best start he was 4'th and held that placing for 3 laps. He was riding very fast to keep up with the three in front of him, but also to keep the distance to the 5'th placed rider. In the end this became too much for Vinny and he crashed in the, by now, very loose dust pile-ups on the track. He did not get going before all had passed him, and only managed to pick up one place finishing 14'th. Vinny was very disappointed with him self, but we agreed that he today had put in place what he has been thought and was very mature in his riding. He finished 9'th equal and easily proved that he belonged in the Competitive Class
Sunday 30 March, Central Hawke's Bay Club Day, Sheele's Elsthorpe
The Sheele track was dry, hard and very dusty. But that was to be expected with a month of no rain! This was a club day and nothing riding on it for Vinny. We were here to get more riding and to work on Vinnys ride fitness. Vinny was told that there was to be no crashes, no silly risks and that placings did not matter. Passing was to be done but in a planned way. Thinking man's MX...
Vinny did ride in both the 85cc and the 125cc class on his 85cc. In the 125cc class he allows the others to start before he got going. He then tried to keep up. More laps was the plan here.
In the 85cc class Vinny managed a 4'th, 3'rd and 2'nd in a small field. Jacob, who Vinny has been fighting all his riding career, is now 13 and he has at last been given big wheels for his Yamaha. This took Jacob up one level and he was unstoppable in the 85 class! Initially Vinny was a little concerned re the hard and bumpy track. But as his confidence grew he started doing better. There was heaps of space on the track and he enjoyed the riding.
All up a good day of riding. Warm and dusty, but no incidents. Well worth the effort!
Saturday 29 March, Wairoa Summer Series R3 (final) Mangapoike track Wairoa
We just can't get over it, Wairoa has 5 (FIVE!!) MX tracks! Until now Vinny had only ridden Shorty's track, so with the Mangapoike track now done there are three more to check out!
This was Vinny's first race meeting after his back injury. As this was his first round in this series we were not worried re his placings. His job was to finish all races, not take any silly risks and stay on his wheels. Almost managed that:... In race 2, while in 2'nd place, he came off. He got back up and still finished 4'th. Our main aim was to work on race fitness.
The track is really cool! Many nice technical sections with tight turns and also some fast sections. A little tight and often only has one race line making passing something that needs to be planned. When racing in Wairoa in 2013 Vinny had been very competetive and fought for top placings. I knew he wanted to do the same again. And we were OK with that as long as he had the goal of staying injury free for the NZ junior Champs in mind!
In race 1 Vinny got a good start and was second at the holeshot. He then dropped to 6'th when he took the double jump over the entrance road. As there was nothing on this we had agreed that he could give it a go in racing, but as it was the slower option we knew he would loose some time. (We have been told that next time the double will be the faster option!!) He then managed to climb up to 4'th at the end of the race.
In race 2 again a good start and after a few laps Vinny was in second (Thomas Watts was too fast and won all three races!). But two laps from finish a mistake in a corner and Vinny dropped the bike. He got back up in 5'th and managed to recoup one place by using what we call a "Super Cross Pass". (You line up the rider ahead of you when coming in to the corner, you keep the throttle on and pass him on the inside and take his line. He ends up slowing down so he does not crash in to you and you are done!) Vinny finiished 4'th but was not happy re his mistake.
Third race saw Vinny fumble a fraction at the start. He ended up racing in 5'th, but slowly climbed up and after some good laps and one more of the "Super Cross" passes finished 3'rd.
A brilliant day of racing finished off with a free BBQ and a drink! Love to come to Wairo and race as we always get well taken care of!
New Zealand GP, Woodville, Saturday 25 January
This did not go to plan. Vinny had now started picking up speed and getting height and length in his jumps. In practice on Wednesday, before the GP, at the new Hastings track he cleared most jumps and doubles. It was looking really good! When we looked at the riders he would compete against at Woodville we were aiming for a top 5!
It was a nice and sunny day and the track was all sorted. At places a fraction damp and loose, but nothing Vinny would not be able to conquer.
In practice Vinny initially took it easy, then started going faster. But on the 5'th lap on the jump after the starting line Vinny got it wrong. His front wheel was pointing straight down as he was flying, and as it is a smallish jump, there was no time to correct it. He landed on his front wheel, flew forward of the bike and the bike then crashed on top of him. I jumped out on the track to protect him from other riders who were coming over the jump and the yellow flags got waving.
Vinny was in pain and was telling us he had hurt his spine. The first aid guys came and got him of the track to their tent. After some Morphine his pain became bearable. From here he went to the Palmerston Nth hospital. After X-Rays and a CT scan we were told that he has fractured three vertebrae's. Luckily there is no nerve damage! The fractures are small, but will need time to heal. Very glad that he is always riding with a body armour with a spine protector under his shirt!
On Sunday 26 January the doctors allowed him up from the bed to go to the toilet (as he refused to use the pan...), and he was told that he could go home very soon. On Monday Vinny was back home in Hawke's Bay. After more detailed checking it was established that Vinny has damaged his T5 - T9 vertebrae. He is out of MX for a minimum of 3 months. Once he is allowed to, we will start the rehabilitation and part of the plan is to start swimming.
So we feel lucky that the damage is at the lower end of spine damages. He will fully recover and he wants to he will be back riding MX. But we will make sure that the protective gear he has is top of the line!
King Of The Mountain, New Plymouth Taranaki, Sunday 19 January 2014.
Monday - Wednesday Vinny had spent at Mike Phillips 'Ultimate MX Camp' in Rotorua. And apart from a crash with his mountain bike and 4 stitches in his head, he had a top time. Then on Saturday we spent 3 hours at Taikorea park working on keeping the throttle open in the corners. And as the track is a sand one, if you throttle off you sink in and normally crash. After a few crashes Vinny started to get the picture... As Vinny's last meetings had not gone too well with crashes, broken bikes and DNF'es, we were hoping that more time on the bike would help his riding. I am pleased to inform that it worked. Still no top-of-the-podium ending, but a day without mistakes and crashes!
The Taranaki club had spent many hours grooming the track and it looked awsum! It also lasted perfectly the whole day. The 12-13yo 85cc class had 13 riders entered and we came searching for a podium, but were OK if Vinny placed inside top five.
In Race 1 Vinny wheelied for a few seconds at the start but managed to get hold of the bike. He rode well, but was clearly not going full out. He was sitting 5'th at beginning of the last lap, but lost one place to finish 6'th. It was OK, but we both knew he could do better.
In Race 2 Vinny had his best start of the day and was 3'rd at the holeshot corner. He fought hard in this race and placed 4'th.
In the 3'rd race Vinnys start was again average, but this was his fastest race and he managed to climb up from a 7'th to a 5'th at the end of the race. He also stayed closest to the ones ahead and was only 8 seconds from 2'nd place when the race ended.
With a 6’th, 4’th and a 5’th Vinny placed 5’th in the 12-13yo 85cc class.
This meeting was actually very encouraging for us. The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 has been tough for Vinny on the track; crashes, broken bikes and DNF's had become the norm. Now we had a race meeting where the only small spill was in practice. All three races went without incidents and Vinny's confidence grew clearly as the day went on. At the end of the day he tackled the jumps, the corners and the whoops with a determination that was easy to see. We are looking forward to next w/e's NZGP in Woodville!
Saturday 4 January 2014, 2 Day Boneyard Champs, Wairarapa.
This was the only racing on in North Island this first w/e of 2014, and many riders had made the effort to be here. In the 85cc class (covering 8 - 16yo) 14 riders lined up for Day one. This was to be a 2-Day Championship where Day 1 was a Flat Track day and Day 2 a MX day. You had to race both days to feature in the results. Sadly Day 2 was postponed to 1 February as the wind was too strong and the rain over the night had made the track porridge. As a result Vinny is one of the riders who won't make Day 2 as he will be riding in 'Golden Nuggets' in Reefton South Island that weekend. Disappointing, but not much we can do about it.
One of Vinny's friends, Tait, was on a Xmas visit to NZ from Ozzy where the family moved 2 years ago. We got the spare bike (2009 KTM 85sx) up and running and he was to use it in the same 85cc class as Vinny. But the bike lost compression before the meeting. So Tait used Vinnys race bike and rode in the MX 3 class up against 125cc riders. With little racing experience he only went out to enjoy the riding and had fun.
In Race 1 Vinny got pushed to the side in the start and struggled to keep up with the leaders. He also had 2 small crashes and was very disappointed with his 9'th placing (placing to be confirmed).
For Race 2 we made a small change in his riding and it worked really well. Vinny was 2'nd at the holeshot, but soon after got overtaken by one of the two green bikes who were unstoppable on this day. He then kept 3'rd place until Lap 2 when one of the leaders crashed. Vinny was now in 2'nd place and kept that placing until middle of the race by riding well and also making him self as wide as possible and riding the right lines stopping any overtaking from behind. The Xmas break has had an effort on Vinny's fitness and he was late in the race overtaken by a couple riders. He also had a small off and finished 6'th. (placing to be confirmed).
Vinny was fired up for Race 3 encouraged by his good racing in Race 2. He was 4'th at the first corner but soon grabbed 3'rd. At half-way of the race Vinny was sitting in 4'th, but a wrong line and a small mistake left the door open on the last lap and he finished in 7'th. (to be confirmed).
After the small change in his riding from Race 2 onwards Vinny became a contender for podium placings, but the Xmas break had taken it's toll and he lost placings late in Race 2 and 3. We are not too worried about this as he has now started a rigid training programme that will very soon provide the stamina needed.