Straightliners 2018

As we did in 2017, we attended this late in the year meeting to get some much-needed track time before the winter lay-off. Unfortunately though, we suffered an incident which did some damage to Storm and me (Lorcan). Both are repairable but will take a little time.

While tuning the turbo speeds a burst panel in the inlet manifold let go at around the eighth mile mark (165mph), sending flame under the seat and into the area that houses most of the wiring, the batteries, sensors and boost controller.

I don’t think I saw the fire immediately but as soon as I saw it on my right side I hit the brakes and scrubbed off as much speed as possible before the fire got too intense and I bailed out on the left side, hitting the ground at a speed we will find out later from the datalog.

My left shoulder blade is broken and there is a small burn on my right leg. My leathers were cut off by the ambulance crew and crash helmet will also be binned.

Storm continued upright after the bailout, clipping the wall on the right side. It has fire damage to the wiring loom and sensors, batteries and boost controller.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the Santa Pod medical team for looking after me so well and getting me to Bedford hospital so efficiently, to the Straightliners crew, the Storm team and especially Sarah for looking after me, running around with cars etc. to enable us to get home last night. You are all awesome! Thanks also to my boss, Chris, for his patience and understanding when it comes to his least risk-averse employee!

Here are some pics from Sarah and Kermit, and a little video. Time for a regroup and repair over the winter and we’ll be back stronger and faster next year.

Lorcan

National Finals 2018

Having secured the national championship at the Redline Rumble double-header event in August we went to the finals with hopes of improving our PBs and going some rounds, but it was not to be.

Rain all day on the Saturday meant a one-shot qualifier on the Sunday morning, but our ice tank leaked on the line, putting us out.

Congrats to Kars Van Den Belt on the Funnybike class win and for running an oh-so-close 7.005 in the semi-final! That little Blackbird will be in the 6s next time! Congrats too to Steve Woollatt on a PB 6.14.

Highlight of the event for us was seeing Storm on the cups in the Santa Pod bar!

Euro Finals 2018

The biggest meeting of the year, and the Friday qualifying sessions didn’t go well for us, or for some others in the class. On our first qualifier the bike didn’t burnout (rider error) and then hit the turbo speed limiter on the launch. After a 7 hour wait our next qualifier was at nearly 9pm, with immediate tyre shake.

We reverted back to our 6.56 settings for boost and clutch but the weather forecast for Saturday was not good.

At close of play Friday we were qualified 6th with Steve Woollatt in #1, Fast Fil struggling and Rene had grenaded his motor. Eric Richard was also struggling a bit, so it was all to play for if we could get a decent run in Saturday.

Saturday brought just one daytime qualifier due to rain, 6.94 @ 201 which put is in third place. The bike double-shifted from first to third gear, and cracked the exhaust headers on the run. We could weld those up in the morning and see where the pairings take us. Fast Fil went into the field at the end of the track on his run – he was ok but there was some damage to the bike. Meanwhile, Rene had rebuilt his engine and was back in the game! We elected not to run the second night time qualifier as it was run very late.

The team tried to patch up the exhaust on Saturday morning but it was impossible to weld without taking it apart and the patch didn’t hold, allowing our nemesis Dale Leeks to take the win in round 1 with a 0.05 margin 7.15 against our 7.25.

Steve Woollatt went on to win the event.

Redline Rumble 2018

Redline Rumble is a new bike-only event for 2018 at Santa Pod, possibly to capitalise on the demise of the Bulldog Bash but also to provide an event for those not wanting to go to the Hockenheim Nitrolympx which takes place the same weekend.

The format is effectively two one-day events with qualifying and eliminations both days and ACU championship points also awarded on each day. With many of our Funnybike friends at Hockenheim it was an ideal opportunity for us to get some track time and possibly extend our lead in the championship.

Q1 on Saturday we had some issues this morning firstly with the rider getting it wrong, then a crank/cam sync sensor error made the engine cut out at the end of first gear. 1.113 to 60′ was encouraging though. Q2 was a 7.41 @ 151mph shutoff. The front tyre was contacting the fairing landing from the first gear wheelie, pulling the front wheel to one side and causing the front end washout. Barry trimmed the bodywork to resolve it. In the meantime, we were qualified #1 for eliminations in the afternoon.

With only three riders qualified we had a bye run in the semi-finals and posted a PB 6.56 @ 208mph clicking off a little early into the 15-17mph headwind.

In the final Dave Peters was a no-show so we had another bye which got a bit out of shape and was shut off early, but this gave us our first ever event win.

Overnight we found that the steering pivot mount had cracked, so Mick brought his gas welding gear in Sunday morning to repair it. We missed the first qualifying session due to this.

Another out of shape Q2 meant we actually had to beat someone in the other lane to reach the final. Dave Buttery was having battery problems, but a 0.05 RT and a 6.75 ET made sure of the win.

In the final Dave Peters was also having problems, easing our path to a second win in two days.


Photo Gallery © Ivan Sansom and Rose Hughes:

Summernationals 2018

Q1, a broken wire stops us from running. Q2, the small turbo is hitting the speed limiter and the bike moves towards the centre line, but a 7.01 makes us #1 qualifier. Q3, we run 6.67 @ 218.24mph but hit the turbo speed limiter again (which cuts the ignition) 3 times in 1st gear. Overnight we diagnose the turbo speed issue as a split diaphragm in the wastegate, so replace it. E1 we lose traction at the end of first gear and the bike gets sideways, then tries to tuck the front under. Getting back on it just before the finish nets a 6.70 @ 206mph. Before E2 though, we find cylinder #4 is down on compression and so elect to retire. After the event we discover that the cam chain has jumped a tooth. No damage, and an easy fix.

We were very happy though to increase our funnybike record speed, and break the ET record which had been held at 6.70 seconds for 10 years by Neil Midgley. Congrats to Funnybike class winner Dale and all the other class winners, thanks to our sponsors Owen Developments, UWTSD, PR Fleet, Mr Sticker, and to the whole team and our fellow competitors for a hard, hot, but enjoyable weekend.


Photo gallery copyright Blackett Photography:

European Finals 2017

Over the summer break we realised that the clutch pressure sensors had been calibrated wrongly and set about putting them right. This meant abandoning the settings we had previously used to score our best 60′ time of 1.08 and starting again with the settings. We tried some tests remotely before the event and all looked good. However, the weather had other plans for us….

While we were waiting though this gentleman swung by and introduced himself as David Cooper from UWTSD (University of Wales Trinity St David). More on this later.

So after 48 hours of intermittent rain and heroic efforts by the Santa Pod crew in trying to dry the track we finally made it to the burnout box on the Saturday afternoon only for Eric Richard to fall off in front of us, followed within 5 minutes by another downpour. Thankfully Eric was fine and his bike sustained little damage. The crew were a little shaken but thankfully everyone was ok. Those sixes will have to wait til next year Eric! All the best from us, we hope we see you again soon.

When business resumed a couple of hours later we managed a decent burnout on the second attempt only for the bike to run weak and stall on the line. On investigation the drive belt off which drives the fuel pump and oil pump had given up under the strain. Graham noticed that one of the primary drive gears was cracked too, so that put us out of the event as we couldn’t risk using it and didn’t have a spare.

Congrats to Dale Leeks for his first event win, Stu Crane for an impressive 6.81 – unfortunately with a catastrophic looking fireball, great runs from Fast Fil and the SSB boys put on a great show as always.

We’re going to be out of action for the National Finals in 2 weeks but hope to make the bike event in October with new oil pumps and drive gears.

Main Event 2017

The Main Event started well with the van throwing a drive shaft the day before, necessitating a last minute repair by Barry before they even loaded the bike into the van!

At the event itself we continued to dial in the air clutch but the results were inconsistent. A PB 1.08 to sixty foot was followed by clutch slip, and applying more air to the clutch only seemed to make matters worse. There would be more to come with this issue. Q3 was shut off for drops of oil, but Q4 saw a near-PB 6.87 at 193mph to qualify us third in Top Fuel. Unfortunately the clutch slipped off the line in E1 against Otto Knebl which put us out of eliminations, and the event was then rained off.

Videos of the 6.87 run courtesy of Sarah White and Ian Blackett.

Pics from Santa Pod, Ian Blackett and Rose Hughes:

Race, Rock & Ride 2017

Race, Rock and Ride is a new “lifestyle event” for Santa Pod; bikes only and the first proper event for us with the air clutch. Problems in qualifying followed by heavy rain put us out of eliminations, but we did manage a 7.00 demonstration run with a 1.10 sixty foot so we were satisfied with that.

Pics from Sarah, Santa Pod and Mark Skinner.

Festival of Power 2017

The first meeting of 2017 for us, and we have a new “air” clutch installed. Designed by Barry, it is entirely self-contained, with no external piston or ram. It has around 28 square inches of pressure area, so 1psi of air pressure means 28lbs of pressure on the clutch pack, 50psi means 1400lbs of clutch pressure.

Up til now we’ve been running the traditional 6″ Bentec-type Top Fuel type centrifugal clutch in various guises, the last of which had input from the late Brian Johnson and had 3 sets of 3 arms. All of these clutches had some kind of air/hydraulic hold-off, as unlike a Top Fuel bike we can’t launch from idle, and need at least 8000rpm on the dial to generate enough boost to haul our 400kg, 3 speed, turbo bike off the line. Unlike a Super Streetbike though, there is no “off the shelf” Gann/MTC slider that we can use either. We need the power handling capability of a Top Fuel clutch with the control of a Super Streetbike clutch.

The centrifugal/hold-off combination has always meant compromises for us, with our best 1.0 sixty foots to date being achieved by slipping the clutch to the rev limiter, using crank inertia to launch, then bogging the engine to 6-7000rpm, then letting the torque of the compound turbo system haul the engine back up for the change to second gear. This hold-off also created a delay of around 0.25 secs between releasing the anti-lag, and the hold-off piston moving far enough to engage the weights and move the bike. This could often be seen in our videos as the bike in the other lane gaining a big holeshot. Fine for qualifying, but not for racing where a much quicker acting system is needed to prevent us losing to a slower bike.

Here are some pics of the new clutch, without the cover.

And with the cover on.

The new clutch design needed a special air seal, capable of high rpm. Clive Munns of Sealmasters came up with the goods, and at a very reasonable price, thanks Clive!

The clutch is controlled by an AMS2000, supplied by Brad O’Connor and installed by Mark Harrison from Owen Developments, along with a Motec dash to expand our datalogging capability. We only finished the installation just before the Festival of Power though, so with no time to test the set up before the meeting, we turned up a day early. Things over the next 4 days didn’t go entirely smoothly…

Try 1: Bike stalls when anti-lag engaged – applying pressure when it shouldn’t.
Try 2: No drive in mode 3 (race mode) – not applying pressure when it should.
Try 3: Burns out, shut off for oil leak.
Try 4: Bike warmed up, oil pump seizes.
Try 5: Burns out, stages, leaves line, clutch slips to the moon. Wrong clutch mode selected by rider. 25 second pass.
Try 6: Burns out, stages, stalls. Too much clutch.
Try 7: Burns out, stages, clutch slips. Not enough clutch. 15 second pass.
Try 8: Burns out, stages, turbo overspeed limiter kicks in, 8 second pass. Eliminated by Phil Crossley, who went on to win the event (congrats Phil!).

After all this the good news is that the clutch now does what it should. It has a neutral. It drives to the line just off idle. It will hold-off at any rpm and then launch instantly without bogging. (In the datalog below the red line is the air clutch, black line is our typical run with the centrifugal.) Next time out we’ll be raising the launch rpm and aiming to beat our PB 60′ time.

Thanks as always to the hard working team: Mick, Barry, Dave, Graham, Paul and Sarah, to our sponsor Mark from Owen’s and to Brad for pointing us in the right direction.

Pics of the weekend from Sarah White:

 

Pic from Mark Skinner:

Video from Sarah White: