The first round of the Golden Era SuperBike saw RSRacing take to the track at infamous Brands Hatch circuit in Kent.
After a long winter of preparing the 2016 Continental backed Honda RC-51 the team and Ryan in particular was itching to get out for Friday’s test session.
The weather was dry but a very cold track would make for tricky conditions. Cold asphalt makes it very difficult to keep heat in slick tyres. But it wouldn’t be the weather that would cause a storm in the RSRacing tea cup. In fact a fault with the fuelling would set the team back.
“The bike is surging and lunging when I open up the throttle mid corner” Ryan explains to the team. An unstable bike that isn’t smooth on power deliverance is a riders nightmare. Team mechanic Dylan and team principle Chris set to work on the bike fault finding. Ryan took a back seat and could merely watch as the team worked hard to get the bike running right.
Every opportunity Ryan had to test the bike he would be on track, back to the pit. “Nope it’s running rough still” Ryan would bark to Dylan. This went on for 3/4 of the day till eventually the bike was rushed to a local dyno centre, who could potentially diagnosed the problem. As it transpires they couldn’t find the fault either. The team was stuck with some tough choices. Run the bike and risk damaging the engine or call it quits and come home scoring zero points.
Saturday qualifying Ryan managed 2 laps on a very sick RC-51, putting the team 21st on the grid. At the last moment, in walks Nick Williamson, fellow competitor in the Golden Era Superbike class. “I’ll let you borrow my spare bike Ryan but you have to promise me 3 things.” Nick said. “You crash it, you fix it. I crash my bike I have my spare bike back and finally, you do not over take me.”
A lifeline had been thrown to Ryan and the team. Although a completely different bike it meant Ryan theoretically wouldn’t drop too many points. Race 1 on Saturday came round quick and bar a short ride around the paddock Ryan lined up on the grid to compete on an unknown bike, the only thing remotely familiar being the ContiRaceAttack Rain tyres hastily thrown on the replacement machine.
The race was declared wet and if you’re a betting man, you wouldn’t bet against Ryan in the rain. Excitement and anticipation broke throughout the team. Sighting lap flag drops, Ryan takes off down paddock hill bend. “If he starts the race like that we could be on for a podium” said Dylan. As the bikes lined up on the grid for the second time something was wrong. Ryan was looking down at the bike, then it stopped, and wouldn’t come back to life. Ryan pushed the bike to the safety of the marshals posts.
Those on the pit lane could hear Ryan’s angry and frustration over the roar of bikes taking off on lap one. Once the bike was back in the pits the diagnostics could begin, quickly finding there was no compression on cylinder 1. That was it for racing on Saturday, with no running bike the team could merely watch.
Never quitting, Dylan and Chris set to getting some form of fueling map in the Honda. This was like operating with a spatula when a scalpel is required. Chris was constantly on the phone with the engine builder and shortly before evening had set in the bike was ready to race on Sunday. The Honda was still running rough and Ryan would have his hands full trying to control the power surges, whilst also getting used to the new ContiTrack Slick tyres. It was decided that old fairings would be used as the chances of crashing were much higher with the bike running as it was. Ryan finished the race 9th on track and 8th in class, overtaking an impressive 12 riders on a bike which was still not running as it should be.
The whole team were over the moon with the performance. Chris said “given how bad the bike was running Ryan did brilliantly.”
The second race saw much of the same. Ryan made a lot of his time up on corner entry and mid corner speed but was let down by the exit and straight line speed of the poorly bike. The team are now working very hard to fix the problem before going into round 2 at Donington park.
Photo credits to Ian Boldy Superbike Photography.