Danke ye well to Mechel Elhorst for the sweet riding photos
[Typing this from a train to Germany]
Saturday was my first time on the bike here in continental Europe, a moment I’ve been looking forward to since I started racing. Pre-season testing is super important for any real championship attempt and this day at Emmen TTT circuit underlined why multiple times over.
So how did the testing go? Having recently come out of the New Zealand national championship and off my 1998 Honda RS125, I felt comfortable very quickly. I spent some time “butt tuning” the suspension in the workshop to feel like my 125 back home and this clearly paid off. The air temperature was about 11*C in the morning with a classic Dutch haze all around and I’ve got a medium compound front, so I wasn’t pushing hard on the front like I normally like too. Still, I ticked the suspension box off very early in the day which was a great feeling. Speed? Well, I’m a lightweight, there’s no doubt about that. While the bike might not have the engine power of the others, I think I make up for it with weight and benchmarking myself against others, I feel it has enough straight line speed to at least be reasonably competitive. There are some pretty massive power figures floating around the pits so to tick this box off eased a lot of concerns I had with ending up on a slug.
Unfortunately, and this is where testing is so critical, it wasn’t a completely successful day. We chased a part throttle hesitation around all day. While wide open throttle felt great, rolling onto it upset the bike a lot and I was unable to be as smooth as I wanted. I’m not the latest on the brakes, or the hardest on the throttle so being smooth is super critical for my pace. The leaner we went, the better it ran until we ran out of needle and pilot jet options. This is an unresolved issue still but there are a few more things we can test down the road to hopefully fix this. In the last session, it sounded like the gearbox selector mechanism crapped itself and wouldn’t change gear anymore which ended the day for me. Unfortunate but thankfully it happened in testing.
If you’ve watched my previous videos you’ll see the Wobben 50 is a great little machine. It might not have the flash grand prix parts or the continuous development of the other Freetech (now nicknamed the Hightech 50 Cup) bikes but it’s a great base. My initial impression of pulling it down in the workshop and checking it over was “I can work with this”. After riding it on the track I’m still in the “I can work with this” zone but my focus has now turned to consistency. Every championship I’ve been in, it’s the riders who finish consistently and not necessarily the fastest which do well so this is where my head is at. As always I’m really doing my homework here and I think this will help me enter this class with the mental momentum I need.
Through university I spent a stupid amount of time reading and studying 2 stroke tuning on the internet. Far more than the university study I was supposed to be doing. One of the massive 'lecturers' in my 2 stroke education was this man, Frits Overmars, whose contributions to 2 stroke R&D within the world Aprilia Racing team can still be felt today. And who turned up to the track? Hi Frits! Meeting him was like meeting an acclaimed scientist whose work I've admired for years. Thanks for coming along and for the support Frits!
This championship is bloody awesome! We split start the grid with the classic 50GP bikes which means there’s a bunch of really unique bikes in the pits. Below are some photos of a couple of the machines which caught my eye. Cheers to the riders who came to have some fun and to those who showed me their bikes as I oogled them like a bewildered kiwi in heaven. Dry clutches, rotary valves, 61kg, carbon fibre, revs to the moon, home built monocoque chassis’, this is my kind of racing.