Well we’ve just completed the first round of the MCRCWA down at Collie again this time. The weather was torrential, making it more of a survival round as opposed to pushing for pb’s. On the Saturday night, sleep in the pagoda tent was mighty patchy. It seemed every half hour I awoke to check that the roof and the walls were still on, as winds were howling through, bringing the impending rains.
In the first practice, I was having a lot of troubles with visibility. My visor was fogging up terribly on the inside and if I cracked it, a stream of water was shooting straight onto my face off the front wheel. (Should have remembered the Muc-Off Anti Fog treatment! ) So we just took it easy, seeing how much grip there was, fortunately the wet tyres did a great job of dispersing water and finding what minimal grip was there. Although treacherous, the outfit had felt quite predictable, but we’d got 7th in a field of 7, not where we wanted to be.
During second practice/qualifying, our new passenger, Josh Mathers, showed his experience early on. We didn’t think there’d be much chance of lifting the chair in these conditions, so had mainly planned to keep weight over the driving wheel. Then at turn 5, the chair rose and we were running out of track to keep the machine balanced and controllable, Josh reacted beautifully, making the fine adjustments to lower the wheel and maintain traction for drive up the hill. He’s been a passenger on and off since he was 16, and rides a solo like a stuntman, his skill and commitment to going fast is valuable.
This session I realized that I could hold myself far enough forward, that I could leave the visor cracked to reduce fogging, and not have the stream of water shooting in. This saw us drop 6 seconds from the first session, and qualify in 2nd place.
At the start line, with visors fogging up without any wind flow, we got away better than ex-Aussie champions Jero Joyce/Corey Blackman from pole who were spinning it up for some time. Gen 3 Motorsport had an excellent start, shooting to first, leaving us in second place through turn 1. By the back straight, Jero/Corey’s outfit and fellow RHR team Graeme Evans/Jarrod Scott had made their way through on us. It made for a crazy scene chasing 3 outfits, a wall of water shooting off them, making it possible to just make out the rain lights and very little else. Graeme/Jarrod had a spin out of turn 4 on lap 3, allowing us to grab 3rd, but he caught us again by lap 5 and a little argy-bargy meant they claimed the final spot on the podium.
According to our team manager, Paul Matthews, it was Gary Cush/Travis Cornick who had the hairiest moment of the race. Spinning at turn one while the chair was at a 45° angle! They did the full 360° pirouette before continuing on. As well, in qualifying I’d seen Dion Marshall being dragged behind his outfit, letting go once he’d seen the coast was clear and running back to rejoin his brother Morgan who’d thankfully noticed his passenger was missing.
With all of these incidents, and an increase in the downpour after lunch, it was somewhat relieving that the race organisers deemed the track too unsafe. I sure didn’t feel like donning the drenched suit again, and wasn’t sure how we’d be able to see anything, given it’d been challenging enough the first time out in less rain! There was a recorded 32mm of rain at the track, it sure made for a unique experience to go as fast as you can in conditions that would usually have you choosing to stay indoors.