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Had a lad testing at the weekend, James Ford, quick lad in the Isle of Man, he's using one of my wife's Yamaha 600's in the Junior Superbike pre TT Classic race.

He's had a couple of fourth places in the Island in the past.

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Jenny's write up......

Spencer Racing Honda 466/4:-

Race starts: 30.

Race finishes: 30.

Well, after a long eleven months away from racing I was very much looking forward to last weekend's BHR meeting at Mallory Park. I've never raced at Mallory before but have lots of happy memories of spectating there with my Dad in the late '70's and early '80's.

I was entered in the D&M Engineering Japanese 500 Air Cooled class, and was accompanied by Phil Bootherstone who was racing his Triumph Daytona in the B.E.A.R.S.. We arrived on Friday afternoon and both bikes were thoroughly checked at Scrutineering and passed without comment. Due to a lack of wherewithal we would be spending the night at Phil's home in Burton-Upon-Trent while our new Paddock neighbours kindly ffered to keep an eye on the bikes. Apart from the expected deluge of rain during Friday night we weren't expecting any problems on the following morning.

Back at the circuit on Saturday, the first job was to mop up the raindrops which covered the bike. As a matter of course I went to check the tyre pressures and found that, oddly, I couldn't get a reading on the front tyre. It seemed that the little pin in the valve wasn't pushing inwards. I tried pushing the nozzle of the tyre pump on, and although I could get some air to go in there was even more coming out! I didn't have a spare valve, or even a tool to remove the old one, but as there was a long queue building up for noise testing there was at least some hope of getting it fixed in time. Happily Swervin Ervin Wallace came to the rescue with a valve tool, and after flapping up and down the Paddock for a few minutes I eventually found Ken Inwood who sold me a new valve for a very reasonable 50p.

So.. Tyre valve fitted, tyre pumped up, helmet on, fuel on, gloves on.. oh dear.. A quick glance revealed fuel gushing out of the carbs, over the back of the engine and into the catch tray. A sharp tap with a small spanner against the float bowls cured the issue, but of course there was a big pool of petrol in the catch tray which needed mopping up, and the first of only two Practice sessions had already started.

Still, I eventually got going and went through noise testing. I think the guy said 99db before putting the sticker on the bike. I then whizzed round to the Assembly Area and Practice Session Two was already underway. The Marshal kindly opened the gate for me and I promptly stalled the bike. After a couple of pathetic attempts to push start the bike the same Marshal took pity on me and kindly gave me a push and then it was off down the Start/Finish straight with a huge sense of relief that I'd made in to Practice and hence Racing.

I don't remember much about the Practice sessionand I only did about three laps, but still I latched on to a group of riders who were going at a reasonable pace and got a decent view of the correct way round. The Honda has a very tight steering lock, it takes about a fifteen point turn to get the bike turned around, and I'd been worried that it might be an issue at the Hairpin, but I seemd to be able to get the bike round cleanly. Not particularly quickly, but at least under control, which is probably more important at this stage in my glittering career.

With the BHR the grid positions are worked out before the meeting, by ballot I think, and are actually printed in the programme. As I am not a member of the VMCC I wasn't eligible to score any points and was placed at the back of the grid in Position 19 for Saturday's races and one row forward in Position 18 for Sunday's races. Phil is a VMCC Member and found himself in Position 2 for his first race. The B.E.A.R.S. race was run alongside the big bikes in the Three Bears race, which is kind of poetic. Phil put up a good performance, chasing a Triumph triple and keeping ahead of a Laverda Jota.

Next it was my turn, and I made a reasonably good start. As the Honda has a standard road bike gearbox, first gear is quite low and so the bike launches off the line quite smartly, for the first few yards at least. So, anyway, I got past a handful of bikes going into Gerard's, and another one or two on the run into Edwina's and up to the Hairpin. As the race settled down I found myself chasing a Yamaha RD425 which was very smartly turned out in TZ style bodywork. The Yamaha seemd to launch out of the corners quicker than the Honda and the rider was certainly claiming the best lines for himself. Still, I was able to cling on and on one lap I was close enough to dive up the inside going into Edwina's but to be honest I'm not yet confident enough to make any aggressive moves and by the time I'd realised there was a potential opportunity to overtake the moment had gone. By the end of the race the Yamaha crossed the line 0.09 seconds in front which is a bike length if that. The final result put me in 8th place out of 14 finishers which was very happifying. I enjoyed the race very much and my best lap time was 1:12.68 which gave me a base line to work from.

Phil's second race came to an early halt due to a broken ignition wire. Rather a frustrating thing, but at least it was a simple problem with a simple solution. By then it was properly raining so I don't think Phil felt terribly hard done by. A couple of races later it was my go and by then the rain had stopped but the track was still damp with no dry patches as far as I could tell. I've never raced on a damp track before and was a little apprehensive. On the opening lap I figured it best to judge things by how fast everyone else was prepared to go and take it from there. By mid race I was up behind the Yamaha I had been chasing in the first race. I decided to try to overtake around the outside at Gerard's, partly because the opportunity presented itself, and partly because it seemd like the safest place to have a go. The overtake seemed to take forever but it worked and I managed to make it stick. At the end I finished 7th out of 10 with a Best Lap of 1:16.75 which, interestingly, was quicker than a couple of riders who finished further up the field.

If I haven't mentioned it before, the tyres on the Honda are Heidenaus and they were reassuringly good on the damp track with no problems at all. Also the new leathers were comfy enough to not be distracting, and having proper armour, rather than the soft leather on the old set, was a definite confidence booster.

On to Sunday and the promise of better weather. As it turned out it was somewhat cold and windy all day but at least it was dry. It was also the special day of the weekend as Spen and Sue were there, along with a couple of friends including ex-racer John Siddons. John had not one, but two, bad bike accidents last year, resulting in serious head injuries. It was really good to see him up and about again.

Phil's first race of the day went well and he made an heroic out-braking manoeuvre going into Edwina's on the first lap, getting past about five riders. In my race things were a little different to Saturday as we were joined on the grid by ten other riders who were competing in the Bonhams Auctioneers Over 50's Championship. I was on Position 18 on the grid and the Over 50's riders were behind on a variety of bikes both big and small.

I made a decent start and going into Gerard's I decided to go for the outside line, getting past a couple of bikes. By mid corner I was surprised and amazed to see a big blue bike come flying through the narrow gap between me and the guy on the inside! Coming round to Edwina's things were becoming very busy and I found myself on the right hand side of the track, which is just as well really... I'm not entirely sure whether I knocked it down a gear too far, or simply messed up the braking, but either way, going into the corner the rear wheel slewed round to the right. On full lock and heading for a high side I had no option other than to keep steering right and head off onto the grass. The ride across the grass wasn't as bumpy as I was expecting as the ground was soft and wet. Still, I managed to keep it upright and at least the spinning back wheel saved me from stalling the bike! Eventually I dropped onto the tarmac at the end of the old Stebbe Straight and set off to re-join the race. I don't know how many places I lost, I certainly didn't gain any, although it was a momentary consideration as I didn't want to be in any more trouble than I was already in!

Back on track and in the race I began closing in on the rider in front, and eventually was close enough to see the large number 33 on the riders back which meant that it was none other than Mike Powell on his BSA Bantam. That bike is astonishingly quick, and of course Mike is a top rider. The Honda was faster on the straight, but not by as much as you might think, but as Mike was in a Championship and I was a non-point scoring guest, also the rest of the field was quite spread out, it made sense to not get in his way and simply enjoy a masterclass from someone who knows what he is doing. We would have reached the finish line close together if I hadn't hit one of those hemispherical rumble bumps coming out of the Bus Stop on the last lap. Not recommended as it gives you quite a jolt. Final position 14th out of 23. Best Lap 1:12.08 which was an improvement on Saturday and would have been a respectable time if I'd been riding a Bantam!

For the final race it was just the D&M Engineering Japanese 500 class lined up with 14 riders on the grid. I made a reasonable start and was trying to stay in touch with a group of three riders who were ahead of me. Gradually they pulled away so I ended up circulating on my own, just trying to improve my riding. Final position was 8th out of 13 finishers with a Best Lap of 1:10.48 which I was very pleased with.

So, all in all a jolly good weekend. Mallory Park is now ticked off my list, I enjoyed all my races and improved my lap times, did a comedy grass tracking routine, and the only things that broke were an ignition wire and a 50p tyre valve. Happy days indeed.

Thanks must go to Phil & Sally for support in the Paddock and overnight accommodation. To Swervin Ervin for help with push starts and enthusiastic encouragement. To Pete Weston (who had several well deserved 3rd place finishes on his immaculate Seeley Commando) for transporting the Honda away from the circuit to save us from doing two trips with Phil's single bike trailer. Finally, last but by no means least, to Spen and Sue for making it all possible.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Croft this weekend, CRMC C'ships. I'm in garage 19 with my team if anybody's going and wants a cuppa. If you're going on Sunday be aware racing doesn't start until 12 noon, some religious building in the vicinity takes precedence....

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Cool day at Croft today, but some superb racing. Eight bikes of mine out on track and all back safe.

A 3rd place, a 4th, a couple of 5ths and 6ths and a few a bit further down the results, but all in all a good day.

Weather is looking like I can take remove a layer of clothing tomorrow.

'New' rider, James Ford, is using Croft as a test session for the IOM in a couple of weeks and is looking good on the 600 Yamaha.

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