Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Lakeside 2/7/2016 — Tyre Warmers and Giant Killers.

GSXR1000 vs GSXR750 (with tyre warmers).
It wouldn't be a trackday if we didn't top up with Wild Bean coffees on the way, so the Coomera BP garage was the first stop. And with one of their bacon and egg toasted sandwiches heartily disposed of, we were ready.
'Twas early morning. The sun was on the rise and catching the moon fast — just like an old GSXR1000 on cold tyres against a newish GSXR750 with warm boots — yep, about a lap in and it's all over. But more on this later.

For Queensland, it was cold first thing, but the weather was absolutely perfect all day. And it wasn't busy at Lakeside which meant plenty of room on track. Yellow group went out first and there were probably only about six or seven out there!

I made sure the sun warmed the tyres on the K6 because today we're finding out how much advantage tyre warmers actually are. I know everyone pushes hard from the first lap when using them, but never knew much about the temperatures involved. For instance: 
  • How hot do they need to be?
  • How hot are your tyres when you come back in?
  • Is there a sweet spot you need to maintain?

Old faithful, and the young upstart. 
Both Gixers, both bloody brilliant, but one would shine today.

The competition.
He's trying to up the ante. He's done a hundred trackdays to my nine, and he wants one thing — just to overtake that old Gixer. Just once... once would do.

Here he goes, trying to gain an advantage. Do you know, he even asked if I wanted to go out first just so he could overtake me while I was warming the tyres on the out-lap! What goes on inside that warped mind of his?

This is me getting psyched. I came with one purpose — to ride fast. I didn't, but enjoyed it anyway.

And back to the tyre warmers.
On the L2 GSXR750 we have 63°C in the centre of the tyre using tyre warmers. In the warm sun, using the Earth's natural resources, mine were around 37°C — that's body temp, and enough for me. How would they fare after ten laps or so?

Let's race.
First session and we went out at the front of the group. Off he goes, leaving me in his wake. The guys on warmers are all making their way past me, and I think bollocks and let them disappear. Two laps in and it's time to start reeling them back in. This is good fun. The Gixer is a handful around Lakeside and I'm getting a workout. I never feel really comfortable if I'm honest, but eventually the L2 starts coming back to me. And that, my friend, is reassuring.

So, after the first session of the day... 

The highest temperature on my tyres is 61°C. The proof really is in the pudd... shut will ya?

What interested me most was the temperature difference around the carcass. I didn't expect to see a 10-12°C difference from the centre to the sides. If anything I thought the centres would be the hottest from heavy braking/acceleration, but it was the sides that took the brunt of it.
As the day went on, the temperature went up to about 63°C on the sides and that was the highest we saw. And always about 10°C between side and centres of the tyres.

The rest of the morning went the same. It's been a long time since I was at the track and it takes a while to get my head around it. After lunch, I was getting back into the swing. Overtakes were easier and I was starting to enjoy myself. 
The chicane they call the "bus stop" (put in to make this track safe for bikes), has a few bumpy spots on exit. On the thou it's a fine balance between wheelies in second, and getting completely out of shape for the next turn. 
Following Bry out of here is strange because he seems to be making really good progress, with no possible chance for me to use the power of the thou to go by. I can wait until the main straight, but that's a hollow victory. The 750 really looks smooth, but I feel like I'm on the edge of oblivion.

Although he could pull a gap on me in the first couple of laps, having him as a target helps to reel him back in. Yes there is an advantage with warmers, and it means you waste no time on track, but not enough for me to worry about them just yet. Besides, the first couple of laps going steady helps to get my head into the right place after a long time away.

Some hot pics!
The following photos are courtesy of Will from Billeigh Photography. If you're lucky enough to have your pic taken by Will, you've just happened upon some f*#king awesome pics. His ability on a bike is fast catching up his ability behind the lens, and normally we're all fighting it out against him on his FZ8.
Check out his Facebook page, because if you do QR and Lakeside, you might well be on it.

This is a great shot of Bryan coming round the eastern loop — an awkward off-camber corner that keeps you on your toes.

This is me looking tentative, because I bloody am. Going round there feels like a sneeze will have you off into the armco.

(Adult warning — the expletives fly from here on down!)

The old switcheroo.
As we neared the final session, I uttered those three beautiful words. He knew what I meant. It was time for a comparison between the old thou with cold tyres, and the modern 750 on warmers. And what did he do?

Quickly turned off the generator and put the tyre warmers away! Twat! 
But it didn't matter, they were warm enough and I was ready. 

Reduced to a field of seven, this was the last session of the day. All the boys that had been going out first, and also had a spell in yellow group, rudely pushed past us to be at the front of the pits. Fair enough, I'll see if I can tag along.
And we were off. 
Out of the pits, around the kink and towards the first corner, the carousel, and I thanked the Brembo gods for giving me this feeling of immenseness. Fuck me does this thing stop easy! A mere tug on the lever is all that's needed, compared to my K6 which relies on a firm grip and a couple of prayers to Tokico — and I think they're deaf.

Into that uphill, right-hander and I felt like I was going for a gentle stroll. No more hanging onto the seat cover for dear life with my sphincter, it was "why the fuck are you lot in my way? Get out of my fucking way!"

It continued for a couple of laps, and I stayed behind to take in the competition. After all, they were pretty quick, and I can't afford to buy this bike if I launch it. 

But enough was enough, I thought this is taking the piss. I started to go for overtakes I wouldn't dream of on my thou, just because the 750 made it feel so mellow. 

Out of the bus stop, in second gear, was full throttle as soon as I could, no movement, no wheelies, just full-on drive into hungry — funny name for a corner — but what a difference. Into the eastern loop and there was a confidence I hadn't felt all day. You could play with this bike and put it anywhere you wanted, instead of gritting teeth and holding on for dear life. I put in overtakes down into the final corner that I wouldn't have contemplated before, just because it felt easy.

The drive out of the final turn onto the straight was incredible. I didn't need to take the racing line (not that I know much about the racing line, but I've watched everyone else), this bike is faster than them just popping up the inside! It's not a revelation, it's a bastard miracle.

I'm not sure if there was something on the track coming out of that bend, but during one exit the front end went all over the place. But the L2 just ate it up and flew on down the straight to nail something else. I got past everything, although one of the Ducatis did jam it back past me going into the bus stop later on. By then though, I wasn't bothered and a big point had been proved.

I've been riding old faithful for seven years. I love that thing but it's so much harder to ride fast. First session of the day on the 750 and everything seemed easy. That is progress. 

I don't think owning both the 1000 and a 750 is a viable option for me, so a part-ex maybe due. I'll hate to see it go, but... bloody tyre warmers!