Summernationals 2021

The Summernats is an event we always look forward to and occasionally do well at. This year brought challenges, but was not without its rewards.

We elected to run the RWYB Friday test day before the event, to test the new clutch spigot and make sure there were no other problems before Saturday qualifying. We anticipated putting in 3 test passes, weather was hot and sunny with a slight tailwind.

Test 1: Bike drifted left so backed off to 40% throttle at 330′ then a squirt of power before the finish. 1.13′ to 60′ and 7.04 @ 192.

Test 2: shutoff for no boost (programmer error) and we also had an oil leak from a pump fitting, both easily fixed.

Test 3: 1.10 to 60′ and 6.67 @ 210mph. We put in a little more clutch for this run, which improved the 60′, and a little more boost brought us close to our “normal” run pace, but after the finish line the bike turned scarily hard left (from the right lane) and almost hit the left wall with the bike flopping from right to left, damaging the ancillary drive pulley.

Investigation revealed that the front tyre had contacted the inner fairing, wearing a hole in it and causing the front wheel to lock up on the brakes. Over the winter we’d reduced the steering rake and now there wasn’t enough clearance for the suspension to move fully. Mick H tidied up the pulley Friday night and Saturday morning the team cut the centre of the fairing piece away. The two remaining outer pieces were then bonded to the rest of the fairing. We checked clearance by pulling the forks down with a ratchet strap. More on this later…

Saturday morning dawned hot and sunny and we elected to make a banker pass to make sure we qualified.

Q1: 1.11 to 60′, 4.36 at the eighth and 7.65 @ 123mph at the finish, shut off at 500′. Straight and easy, no dramas.

Q2: Match up with UK Funnybike record holder Stu Crane. Craney slightly ahead all the way until Lorcan went for 4th gear at the eighth (we only have 3 gears) which put the bike back into 1st gear. Unlike most bikes this doesn’t do any damage due to our planetary transmission, but it was a shame not to finish the run under power as it would have been close with Stu. Until fairly recently we had a software protection built in which ignores any attempted gearshifts after 3rd is selected, but somehow we’ve lost this along the way. 1.10 to 60′, 4.31 @ 165mph eighth and 7.22 at the stripe made us #2 qualifier.

Q3: with more boost and more clutch we saw our hardest launch yet, 1.085 to 60′ and our quickest 330′ ever, 2.78, with the bike carrying the front wheel through the first two gears but again heading left. On landing the front wheel tucked under, slid and the bike hit the wall side on. Lorcan kept the bike upright but banged his arm against the wall. There was no damage to the bike, but although a quick check at the Santa Pod medical centre showed nothing was broken Lorcan was unable to continue to eliminations the next day.

We’re still looking into what happened on this run but a photo by Sarah shows the front wheel locked up on landing from the wheelie, so we suspect it could have contacted the fairing edge with the handlebars turned and the forks compressed. For the next meeting we’ll be cutting the fairing edges back further, replacing the 3 year old rear tyre and also replacing the ancient and ineffective Kawasaki-style steering dampers that are fitted.

Needless to say we were disappointed with the end result, but encouraged by the short times which would have put the bike comfortably in the 6.4 second zone. Stu who went on to win with a string of 6.4s and 6.5s – maybe next time we’ll be able to make him work a bit harder for it.

Thanks go to our sponsors Owen Developments, Horsepower Factory UK and ARP Fasteners, to the many well wishers who visited our pit over the weekend, and of course to the Santa Pod medical team and track crew who looked after us so well.

Until next time, keep storming!

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