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Reader story- 2016 TTMC, PI Track Day Report | COLUMNS | GASSIT GARAGE

The VW Touareg Club meets at Phillip Island – some motor bikes were bought along... just in case

As always, it was a marathon effort even get to the track, with a two-day flight down the Hume required – including the usual stop over at the town of submarines (Holbrook). Some of the Touareg Club opted to stretch to Seymour this time for the overnight stop. This allowed for some vintage motorcycle viewing at Antique Motorcycles in Moorabbin before the final push to the Isle of Wight pub in Cowes. Every year we complain about the trip down, and wonder if Phillip Island is worth it – on the way back, it’s not even discussed!

The Island was kind to us this time, with extremely good weather on both days. I would say perfect, but there was a moment of drizzle on the second day, affecting two sessions. That’s OK, it wouldn’t be Phillip Island without some sort of precipitation and/or wind. As it turns out, we got eleven of twelve possible sessions in. We lost one session when somebody dumped their sump from Turn 1 through to Turn 4 – before the bike finally did the honourable thing… and gracefully exploded. At every riders briefing they remind people to check their sump plugs…

Over the two days there were many moments of interest, and here are some that will be recorded in the club archives:

  •   On our first day we arrived at out designated garages only to notice the Yamaha Factory truck parked a couple of garages up from us. Glen Allerton (runner up in 2016 Australian Superbikes) was testing with my group. As expected he was, err…. Fast. I was coming into Turn One with a group of four riders at what I thought was a good turn of speed (maybe 260Km/h), he rode through us all – looking like he was lane splitting on a scooter. Still he didn’t lap me… but he may not have completed the session either. That’s not what hurt the most though. They didn’t even check his wrist band before letting him on the track, Jezzus!
  •   There was one punter who did have the potential to trouble Allerton – at least down the straights. We had a Kawasaki H2R show up. Even Factory superbikes have to give way to 300HP. There are reputedly only five in Australia and one of those is in Cessnock, so seeing one ridden is a rare treat indeed. In one session I followed him out of Turn Twelve onto the main straight on the KTM Tractor – it was like drag race between a mobility scooter and a V10 Touareg…. You wouldn’t put your money on the scooter.
The mighty H2R - A rare beast indeed. Supercharged,300HP!

The mighty H2R – A rare beast indeed. Supercharged,300HP!

  •   Martin had his ancient 600 track bike there (I think its steam powered) and after a few sessions it was decided that maybe it wasn’t up to the job at Phillip Island. For those that don’t know, Martin has a gob smacking collection of MV Agustas, he doesn’t have many, but the ones he does have are superb. Knowing this, I’ve submitted a proposal to him suggesting the solution to faster times is an F3 800. Watch this space. You may of course be watching it for a very long time.
  • In contrast to his bike, Martin was wearing the very latest Dainese race suit. I’m thinking he secretly maintains very lofty ambitions. It comes with elbow sliders. Dainese clearly think very highly of their customers.
  •   One of our PI virgins was Dave on his Honda 1000RR. Dave has been building up to this for five years; or at least I’ve been teasing him about it for five years… Now that he’s done it, I think it’s safe to say, he’s as enthusiastic about it as a Victorian highway patrol officer writing a speeding ticket.It’s said, that Dave may have been informally known in some circles as… Dave Marquez. After getting himself into green group on his first trip to PI, I think we need to formalise this. I approached the TTMC controlling body, and after due consideration; I am happy to report his TTMC membership is now under that name. Well done Dave.
  •   I’d like to nominate Jamie for the “big ones” award. As mentioned earlier, we had some light rain during one of the green group sessions. For those who’ve not experienced it, rain on your visor, when riding on slicks is extremely scary. Our largest contingent of riders was in green group, and as the rain started, they left the track like politicians out of Canberra on a Friday arvo. All except Jamie, he just ploughed on. Yep, he’s a “get the job done” kind of guy.
  •   Neil (aka Ago), like Martin, continues to circulate on machinery that is getting close to its use by date. In this case an “ex race” R1. Despite the handicap, he continues to improve. One wonders how he’d go on a bike with good chassis bearings, and fresh suspension. As bikes age, these items operate sub optimally, consequently your ability to feel the tyre contact patch is reduced, and so is confidence. A manageable problem on the street, an extra burden on the track. I should mention, he’s still a happy chappy at track days.
  •  Andrew was, as always, the model of consistent speed… until he replaced his rear tyre. Let me explain. He has a GSXR750, which runs a 180 section tyre for street use. 180 section tyres are quite unusual in slicks, with most 600s running a 190 section these days. The Suzuki can do this, but clearance for tyre warmers is tight. As his rear tyre died on the morning of Day Two, he had to go with the only tyre available at the track. A 180 section Pirelli, which he doesn’t like (I’m not a fan either, but Steve loves them). As you can see from the picture below, this thing spun up on the edge… like a windmill in a typhoon. He deserves recognition for not high siding – well done Andrew.
This is what complete edge grip failure looks like (note lines on the edge, where tyre has spun up)

This is what complete edge grip failure looks like (note lines on the edge, where tyre has spun up)

  •  I’m afraid we did have one candidate for the “naughty corner”. The Club President has been told by reliable sources that Greg, in the heat of the moment, rode through a red flag at the end of the session. I’m guessing this would have generated a black flag, with a bonus lecture from the Course Controller. Happy days. What’s worse for him, it gave Ago, Spinksy and Paddy endless verbal ammunition to use against him. (Those three not being known for holding back if you have an “oops” moment). The Disciplinary Committee has decided no further action is required as he’s already been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.
Greg in a moment of reflection, whilst Spinksy & Warren try & resist the urge to mention Red Flags.

Greg in a moment of reflection, whilst Spinksy & Warren try & resist the urge to mention Red Flags.

  The Organising Committee would also like to recognise Paddy. He did a great job booking the event, and took some terrific in pit garage photos. Many of the ones you see hear are his.

  • He’s also placed himself in the running for the hotly contested “Silly Old Bugger” Award (I worry about winning this one myself). On Day 2 he found his tyre warmers unplugged. Now his fellow travellers are prone to the odd prank, and he quickly formed the view that it was a prank, and wasn’t impressed. He quite rightly pointed out this was a very serious matter involving rider safety. At this point you’d have to agree with him a 100%. The Committee received reports he berated his fellow garage mates about safety with much enthusiasm. Until Warren pointed out that he’d seen Paddy put on his tyre warmers… and walk away without turning them on. Oh dear, there but for the grace of god….
  •   Warren was again Mr Consistent. Apart from his bankable super enthusiasm, he again; managed to add rubber to his tyres, rather than loose it like the rest of us. I’ve never come across anybody else who can do this. He’s a god. We think it comes from riding off line, to allow faster riders to pass (Warren is the absolute personification of good manners by the way). This runs him through the cast off rubber balls you get out there, and his hot tyres just pick them up. We think he’s had the same tyres on his bike for the last five years….
  •   There were two other first timers; Phil and his MV Brutale and John on his Ducati Panigale. I think it’s fair to say, both now appreciate what Steve Fennell has been banging on about, and why Phillip Island is regarded as perhaps the best circuit in the world. Phil’s bike was plenty fast enough, however not ideal, as it’s a naked bike. I’m pretty sure Phil would have been happy to just cross the PI Track Day off his bucket list. Unfortunately for his super fund, I think he enjoyed it rather more than he was expecting. Now he has a problem. The same one we all have; you have to return…
Phil & Phil. We’ve come a long way since riding Phil’s sisters Honda CL90 in 1968 Phil & Phil. We’ve come a long way since riding Phil’s sisters Honda CL90 in 1968

John, after coming to terms with the fact he has the “poverty pack” Touareg – had a great time. Both on the track, where the Panigale just got faster every session; and with meeting a whole new group of slightly annoying old men with whom he shares a common interest.

Good help is hard to find… Rocket assisting John. Grumpy old men in the background.

Before concluding the report, there is one more matter to cover. The awarding of the President’s perpetual “Brown Undies” trophy. Members are reminded that this award is given each year to the rider who has the biggest “oops” but somehow manages to survive and tell the tale over beers later in the day. As in past years, the judges will be awarding points for the area of the stain, and its thickness. Additional points are awarded if a pungent odour is noticed on return the pit garage. As always, the judges had a difficult job, but equipped with a ruler and a teaspoon, completed the task… We have four nominees as follows.

  1. Steve (Panigale 1200). Steve was nominated after running off at Turn one. The story goes like this. Steve is coming out of Turn 12 and has Andrew get the jump on him on the inside (that happens). All good, but Steve quite rightly decides the honour of Ducati has to be defended, and makes a move to run him down before the end of the straight. Still all good. However, target fixation comes into play; while watching Andrew, he doesn’t realise how much speed he’s picked up. You know how his goes… Fortunately, his considerable experience kept the bike on the paved run-off apron. I know this, because it’s not a pulverised mess in a box trailer on its way to the auctions. No unusual smell was noticed in the garage upon his return.
  2. Myself (KTM RC8). My story is a bit technical, but stay with it; as there is a lesson to be learned. My rear brake had issues before the event, and was hurriedly reassembled to get the bike ready. In the rush, the rear brake lever was adjusted so that it was engaging about 10mm higher than previously. OK, no biggy – but I didn’t realise this, as I don’t use the rear brake on the track. Where it got me, was coming down the hill into MG corner (very tight right) and again later on the entry into Siberia. As I shifted my weight forward on corner entry both times, my boot rotated on the peg and activated the rear brake – instant rear wheel lockup. I got away with it somehow, but new undies were required. I think I was a bit whiffy when I returned to the garage.
  3. Jamie (Suzuki GSXR750). Jamie apparently did a lock to lock on the exit of Siberia after applying rather more throttle than the rear tyre could take. A high side was avoided, but Jamie immediately returned to the pits for a cup of tea, and a good lie down. People were seen leaving the area waving their hands in front of their noses after he returned.
  4. Rodney (Suzuki GSXR750). There’s a bit of a story here too. Rod was going along quite nicely until he noticed he was gaining on Andrew (Yes, Andrew again). Andrew was no doubt pondering how the USA might look under Donald Trump – or some such thing. Now passing Andrew is not an opportunity that comes along very often, so Rocket found the prospect “simply irresistible”. Coming out of Turn 11 he caught Andrew, and seeing his chance, he gave the Suzuki a lot of throttle. Rather like Jamie, it didn’t go as well as he would have liked. Massive tank slapper in fact. The pic below shows resulting damage to his foot peg. He did very, very well not to bin it. Meanwhile Andrew was oblivious to all this as he pondered the future of the Trans Pacific Trade Agreement under Trump going into Turn 12. When Rod returned to the garage (which he did immediately) steam was coming from his leathers, and a squelching sound was heard from his boots; dogs and small children were running away screaming from the pain in their nostrils…
Rodney’s peg, Note the ground end - now that’s a tank slapper.

Rodney’s peg, Note the ground end – now that’s a tank slapper.

Consequently, The President is pleased to announce Rodney will be receiving trophy at the Annual TTMC Opera House Ball

There is one final postscript to be mentioned. On our return journey was were overtaken on the Hume by a group of outlaw bikies wearing t-shirts and colours (The Black Uhlans) and riding in side by side formation. Steve thought they were a church group, but it turns out they are a known criminal gang. Anyway, watching these blokes try and hold their formation around the very modest corners on the Hume was hilarious. One would wobble off line, then all the others would wobble around in response (understandable I guess, as they clearly had no idea, and were mounted on Harley Fergusons). Bottom line, they didn’t really get the cool look they were going for, quite the opposite in fact. I’m also pretty sure they stay away from roads with actual corners.

The story however, goes on. Our timing on the road was such that, they arrived at the Gundagai servo five minutes before we did, and proceeded to occupy nearly every pump. Steve thought (and bragged) that as a diesel user he was in the clear, but even that one was occupied. He had to wait, Phil & I on the other hand, got the only available petrol pump. Another strike against the German 4WD brigade.

The story still goes on. As the Uhlans completed their fuelling they congregated about the servo forecourt showing a very odd mix of common sense and stupidity. Hard men as they no doubt are; they still care enough about their skin to use sunscreen (which they were all rubbing in with much vigour). Not one of them figured out that a leather jacket may have been a better solution to skin protection…

This concludes the 2016 Phillip Island Report. I’d like to thank everybody for making the effort to get there, and note that the group comradery was just as enjoyable as the riding (well almost). Congratulations to everybody for an incident free couple of days. This is no small achievement with 17 bikes and demonstrates a really great attitude track riding. Well done all.

Regarding a return visit. I’m pretty sure it will be on again in December next year and for those who can’t wait, Steve and I are considering about a return visit around 13 & 14/3/17. It’s a bit close to superbikes but there aren’t a lot of options before the weather gets too cold.

Life’s Good, Phil

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