Thursday, October 22, 2009

Racer Head Amatuer Edition by Nathan Sharrat 577

It was was brewing to be one of the most anticipated face off's in the history of the premier Clubman class, "MC#84 vs CC#76".
The hype had been building for weeks leading up to the two day event that is the Sam Buchanan Memorial, the KTM 144 of Clarke had received many new parts before the race and he was carrying enough factory spares to almost build another complete bike if need be such as filters and levers. And then there was the KX 125 of Cole, having some spare time on his hands Cole had done a full strip down on his machine and had it "dialled in" with settings sourced straight from Mitch Payton of the proven Pro Circuit corporation.

The weekend that was and the battle that wasnt
Both parties had been putting extensive training and the Waimakariri training facility, it was looking as if Clarke would have the experience to overthrow Cole early in the weekend but the #76 seemed to have the strength and stamina to go the distance and capitalize on any mistakes made by the KTM,
However whilst at the training facility on the thursday pre-race Big Horse would plant a leg and pop a knee, the hopes and dreams of his Clubman debut were slipping through his fingers and there was nothing he could do. Cole was out plain and simple.
His disappointment was evident, however this wont be the last we will see of #76 and i expect to see big things from him come early season 2010 when he is in full swing of his programme.

So it was off to the puffy clouds and blue sky of Amberley, but someone forgot to tell the rain gods there was an epic race on and we saw some moisture on the ground during track walk saturday a.m. Come end of practise and the ruts had started to form, these would only get deeper and longer throughout the day. There was talk of running a shorter track for Clubman to play it safe and not put these guys in the deep end so to speak, however it was overturned and they would run a full track like every other rider.
With the 2nd round of the NZ Champs booked in on the same weekend it seemed that entries were down in the Clubman sector, either that or there was a special on Woodstock and Bourbon the night before at Superliquor and a few riders had one too many.

Clarke was looking confident on thee 144, the torquey 2 stroke provided the right mix of power and traction on the greasy surface. He would post top ten finishes in all 4 motos on day one, running in 7th for most races after a mix of good and bad starts.
It seemed to be a good day for #84 but it wasnt without its controversy though, there would an altercation between Clarke and a fellow Clubman rider who obviously in his first race decided to stretch the rules. (The rules that allow Clubmans to exit and re-enter the track wherever they please in an effort to provide safety when there is a brake failure or stuck-on throttle)
The black plastics on this riders late ninties CR250 would almost see some orange paint of the 144 when racing for position he decided to cut the track and gain back a place lost to the KTM. Post race there were words spoken between the two and at one point it was a bit heated, however the rider of the CR250 could not really see Clarke up in his face as his visor was on a big downward slope. (this is allowed in Clubman only as they are usually without goggles) It would not stop there though and there was a block pass on day two made by Clarke of such intensity it reminded me of an early 2000's Mcgrath vs Carmicheal dog fight.

MC#84 arrived at the track with fire in his belly but sporting an injury from the previous day to his ankle it was questionable where he would place. Unfortunatly missing the start of moto 1 was not a good look, but it was within Clubman rules which allow riders to start the race in a staggered format. It would not deter him however and he soon started slicing through the pack all the way up to 5th. It was obvious he had the pace to win the race but with not enough laps left and more riders on the deck than upright he put in an effort that would question his future eligibility for this class.
Only one moto was run for the Sunday, and with the feature race looking as if it was going to be held in near hurricane conditions he opted out and booked a top 8 finish for the weekend.

Silly season is in full swing and one man who is in limbo is the #15 of James Rennie. JR who usually relies on the 11th hour deals looks to be cutting it fine this year as nothing has been realeased officially from the #15 camp. I spoke to James earlier in the week and he has a possible deal lined up with a canadian team by the name of ****** by this stage i would expect the ink to be drying on the contract but he has thrown us curve balls in the past and he may get some more deals after the 11th hour that might swing his decision. He has a good programme going this season and i am expecting Rennie to return to his form that saw him in the hot seat at Ocieania Games a few years ago. Lookout for a podcast with #15 coming here soon.

Some rumors have been coming out of the race shop at 110 colombo, aparantly Clarke and the #577 of Sharratt have formed an aliance similar to that of jason lawerence (yamaha) and max anstie (ktm) that will see them running a bi-manufacturer team out of the same rig. Word has it the new team semi will be similar to that seen in formula paddocks-

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