August 2010

Hello again and after what seems like the busiest month of my life I’ve got plenty to tell you about

it all started back in early July when we went down to Scarborough for the Barry Sheene Classic, we set off early as we were only going down for the day and I treated my Dad, Trevor & Jeff to a high speed roller-coaster ride over the North Yorkshire moors, at one point Trev asked if I was using this as practice for the racing and all the time Spencer sat beside me cool as a cucumber like a proper co driver. We arrived at the circuit in plenty of time, got scrutineered then went for breakfast, it was soon time for practice and things went well as this was the first time I’d ridden the bike with the fairing on, it took a bit of getting used to as the bars were a bit lower than normal but I soon adapted.

The ER6 complete with ZX10 fairing.

Barry Sheene Classic

I qualified on the front row and made a good start in the first 400cc/Minitwin race only to be beaten to mere hairpin by Ryan Farquhar on his ER6 missile, I held onto second for a couple of laps then eventually gave way to Lee Vernon on his 250 but I couldn’t relax as there was a pack behind just dying to mug me, I rode a good strong race and just managed to hold onto 3rd with a bike that felt dog slow on the last couple of laps. When I came in we had a look at the bike and thought that the head gasket had gone as it was blowing air bubbles into the overflow bottle so I decided not to go out in the 600 & over races as I didn’t want to cause any serious damage. We let the bike cool down then checked the water level and everything seemed ok so I decided to try it again in the second race, I made another good start into third and rode well holding onto the position for nearly the whole race but lost out to Ivan Lintin on the last lap to finish fourth, the bike didn’t seem to slow as much this time but there was definitely something up and I’d have to get it sorted quick as we were back at Scarborough the following weekend.

David Bell in the Barry Sheene Classic 2010At the Esses during the Barry Sheene Meeting ( Lee Davies Photography)

I took the bike to sponsors Kawasaki Newcastle on the Monday and Jamma stripped the head off and sure enough the head gasket had gone, a couple of days later thanks to Jamma the bike was back together and ready to go again so off we went to the Cock ‘o’ the North, The Saturday was really warm and when you came off the track into the paddock it was like opening an oven door which made it very uncomfortable in leathers but it wasn’t too bad when riding. I qualified on row two but first up was the Superbike Heat race, I didn’t get a very good start but eventually got into a good rhythm and caught Dutchman Michael Hoffman who was visiting Olivers Mount for the first time, we had a real ding dong battle for a few laps, he would get away on the straights as he was on a CBR1000 and I would reel him in on the brakes and through the corners, we passed each other several times and I was having a hoot but eventually his horsepower advantage paid off and I finished 12th missing out on the main race by one place.

After a lengthy wait it was time for the Minitwin race, I made a decent start slotting into 5th at Mere then I made a move round the outside of Ivan Lintin at the top of the hill which put me on the inside for the esses to move into 4th, I stayed there for a couple of laps and couldn’t make a move on Pixie for 3rd then I ‘ballsed’ it right up going into farm bends and had to go straight on losing a place putting me back to 5th again, the following lap I made a couple more mistakes and was starting to get frustrated so I just calmed myself down, got my head down and within two laps I was right behind them again.  Dean Harrison was at the front of the group and he was making a few mistakes, I couldn’t get close enough to make a move but two laps from home Dean’s bike packed up coming out of Mountside hairpin and got right in the way of Pixie allowing me to slip through and finish 3rd. My last race of the day was the Superbike B Final, I started from Pole position and slotted into 3rd briefly moving into 2nd only to lose out up the back straight. I was having a right battle with a guy on an Aprilia and he was starting to get on my nerves a bit, he was really fast down the straights but slow in the corners and at one point I rode round the outside of him through the esses, I eventually got by going into Farm bends and made it stick which allowed me to push on and chase  down Darryl Campling who by now with all the shenannigans that were going on earlier had a four second lead. I was trying really hard and could see I was catching and with three laps left I was right on his tail and lining him up for a pass but as we came down the hill the red flags came out as a bike had blown up on the back straight and dropped oil so I had to settle for 2nd, I was happy enough with that although I think I could’ve won it had it not been stopped.

David Bell Olivers Mount 2010 Cock of the NorthCranked right over through the Esses, Cock o the North. ( Chris Machin

Sunday was quite a relaxed affair, I went out for practice then had a three & a half hour wait for my race so we had a walk up onto the top field for a change. It’s years since I’ve been up there probably not since I used to go with my dad to watch, we saw the first couple of laps of the Superbike race then had to go down to get sorted. The second leg of the Minitwins was my only race of the day and I made a good start into 3rd, Ryan cleared off at the front but I was right behind Dean Harrison and pushing hard, his bike was quick so I was having to brake really late to make any ground up, on lap three I got a really good run through the esses and managed to stay with him up the straight and made a move up the inside on the exit of memorial. I didn’t quite make it and Dean turned in, it was a case of either hit him or put my head into the hedge so I decided on the latter except it went in a bit further than I was expecting along with my shoulder, luckily there wasn’t anything hard in there. One of the photographers has a cracking sequence of shots of the incident and when I get hold of them I’ll put them on here for everybody to see, you’ll giggle when you see them.

Anyway I made a mistake at the next corner and went down one too many gears locking the back wheel up which made me run wide allowing Pixie and Ivan through, I was getting annoyed with myself and started making more mistakes as I was trying too hard to catch up so I just backed off and settled for 5th only to be promoted to 4th when Ivan slipped off at the esses with two laps to go. I wasn’t happy at all with how I’d ridden but we finished and I was already thinking about the Southern 100 so we packed up and headed home to drop Susan and the kids off.

The Southern 100

My mate Steve was coming up from Leicester to help out in the Isle of Man as Susan and Spencer weren’t coming over till Wednesday, we got packed up and headed for the ferry meeting the Minns boys on the way down so we could travel over together as Michael was racing too. After sailing over on the red eye we docked at Douglas then headed down to Castletown to get set up before going to the café for a spot on full English and boy did I need it. We had a few hours to kill before signing on so I went out on Steve’s bike to have a look at the track as I’d never seen it before and did a couple of laps to familiarise myself then had a couple of hours sleep, at 2pm we went to sign on then had a rider briefing and it was soon time for scrutineering. The bike went through no problem and we left it in the parc ferme. We were out first for our Newcomers laps behind the travelling marshal, the first one was steady away then we came over the start/ finish and he just did one and left us, so our second lap was a little quicker but I loved it, it’s been three and a half years since I rode on a proper road circuit and immediately I felt at home, there’s just something about riding on a closed roads course that you can’t get anywhere else and I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

Me and Mike waiting to go out for practice complete with Chod bibs. ( photo Peter Minns)

Luckily the weather was decent and we had a good run in the first session although I did have one moment when I braked too late and took to the escape road at Ballabeg Hairpin, We both came in with beaming smiles and couldn’t wait to get back out. The second session was much better and without any more slip ups I knocked four seconds off my previous lap time to Qualify 5th and fastest newcomer so I was over the moon with that especially as the forecast was poor for Tuesday. We retired to the pub after practice and had a few well earned pints to top off a cracking day. The weather on Tuesday was OK but rain was expected later, we spent the day cleaning and checking the bikes over and soon enough it was time for scrutineering again, no sooner had we got the bikes through and on the stands when it started to rain and never stopped so I decided not to go out as it wasn’t really worth it, I wasn’t going to learn anything in the wet and the times from the previous night would stand so we went over and watched the first race later on.

Wednesday was Race day and I was really looking forward to it, Susan and Spencer arrived and I was pleased to see them although they hadn’t brought any good weather with them, it was a bit iffy and it kept raining but it was windy and warm so the track was drying really quickly, We got scrutineered then it was just the agonising wait as we were out first, we got ready and about 45 minutes before we were due to go it started to rain so the track was now wet, it didn’t rain for long and it was drying quick. We now had the headache of which tyres to put on but I went with full wets just to be on the safe side, after a short delay and a quick interview on Manx radio from Chris Kinley we went on the sighting lap, there were large parts of the track drying very quickly but all of the tricky bits and under the trees were still wet so I’d made the right decision. The race had been reduced to 6 laps and I made a good start slotting into 5th just taking my time and not wanting to make any mistakes, I grew in confidence as the laps went by as those conditions aren’t my favourite and without any scares went on to finish 5th and best circuit newcomer, when I came in I was quite pleased it was over as it’s mentally draining in those conditions, you can’t afford to make any mistakes but I was pleased with the result and the tyres held up pretty well too. Dave bell at the Soutnern 100

Braking into Cross Four Ways during Thursday afternoons race.

Thursday however started off pretty crap but got better and by the time racing was due to start the roads were totally dry, I made another good start and slotted into 5th again only this time I hung onto the two bikes in front for a couple of laps, they eventually pulled away and I had quite a lonely race but thoroughly enjoyed it and learned more about the circuit trying different lines and trying to perfect a couple of corners I’d struggled on in practice, I must have been doing something right as I knocked a further 4 seconds off my previous best lap time in the race en route to another 5th place finish and best circuit newcomer with Michael finishing 6th . Well it was all over and I’d had a tremendous time, it’s by far the best organized race meeting I’ve been to and you couldn’t ask for a friendlier more helpful bunch of people.

All that was left to do was pack up and go to the presentation night in the town centre, it was a good night and it was nice to catch up with a few people I haven’t seen for a while, later it started to rain really heavy and we decided to head back to the paddock as Spencer was really tired, luckily we bumped into our old friend Jacquie Dawson and she kindly offered to take us back so it saved us getting a soaking, thanks Jacquie.

David Bell and Mickey MinnsPost race smiles after Thursdays race.

We got up on Friday and headed for the boat home after what had been a cracking week and everybody had enjoyed it, especially Steve who I’d like to thank for his help throughout the week.

Croft 2010

One week later and we were down at Croft for the third round of the NEMCRC Championship, qualifying went well with a front row start so things were looking good, I made a perfect start to the first race and got my head down opening up a 5 second lead then on lap 5 I had a slide coming out of the hairpin then another going onto the back straight and suddenly the bike felt like it was all over the place like riding on marbles, I took a glance at the rear wheel and the tyre looked flat so I made it back round to the pitlane and pulled in to check it out but on inspection it looked fine, I checked the pressure and it was fine so I went back out to try it again but only got one lap before the chequered flag came out. I returned to the garage and had a better look but couldn’t see anything wrong which I was a bit concerned about but tried to put it to the back of my mind and concentrate on race 2.  I made another perfect start and led into turn one then Pixie came past into the Esses but I got a better run through and re-passed him on the exit using my favourite line on the concrete which is actually off the track, I led for another lap then he got by into the complex, I followed him for a bit then outbraked him into Tower only for him to pass me back into the esses again, a lap later I pulled the same move round the outside again on the concrete but he got me back into the complex and this time made it stick, the bike didn’t feel as bad as race 1 but was vibrating like mad going up the back straight and I wasn’t completely happy with it, I hung on to 2nd and kept Pixie on his toe’s only to be passed by a flying 125 on the last lap but I’d enjoyed the race, the close dicing with Pixie was real good and I bet it was good to watch from a spectating point of view.

David Bell at CroftUsing all the track & more exiting the Esses.   ( Photo Geof Symons)

We had another look at the rear wheel and checked the balance of it only to find it was way out so we spun the tyre and re-balanced it ready for Sunday hoping it would be ok.

Sunday was another good day and Susan came down after her ‘Ladies day’ at the races and brought me some good luck. I made another good start in race 1 and led for the first four laps only for it to be red flagged, the restart was pretty much the same and as we came onto the start/ finish straight on lap four I looked over my shoulder and saw Mike right behind so I flashed him the V’s then as I turned back round I missed a gear and he got past ( DONKEY) then luckily for me half a lap later it was red flagged again so the result went back one lap and made me the winner, like I said Susan must have brought me some luck.

Croft 2010The usual suspects! L to R- Pixie, Me, Mike and Peter in his last race with a Novice Jacket.

Mike, Peter and  I  went out in the Ken Redfern trophy race just for a laugh but I used it to try and get a bit confidence back and it did work although it took over half the race before I started feeling comfortable again. It put me in a good frame of mind for the last race and it was a cracker, I made it four holeshots from four races and led for lap one then Mike passed me down the start/finish straight on lap two but I managed to get him back on the concrete again, this time I held onto the lead until three laps from the end when two 125’s got past then another tried but I managed to pass him back immediately, he tried again at Hawthorn and made it but I out dragged him to Tower then he tried again going into sunny and ran wide allowing me to nip back underneath and that was how it stayed to the flag, another exciting race and a good finish to the weekend.

Leading on lap one from Mike & Pixie with Peter lurking in the background.

Only two weeks to go now until the Manx GP kicks off and I’m really looking forward to it, I can’t wait to get back on the TT course and hopefully I’ll have a good fortnight, fingers crossed.

Just a little thank you before I go to Bill and Jackie Peacock for the money to use at the Manx, I very much appreciate it and it will be a great help.

Wish me luck.

Cheers David.