Encouraged by the slight but still success at the Club Race a few weeks back I decided to enter the Swedish National Championship race at Sviestad 29-30th of May. I have only done Club races the last few years as I didn´t feel I had any pace for the 250 class at national level but as this is the last year the class has championship status I thought I´d give it a go.
Even though I would have needed more seat time I had to skip the friday free practice and get the bike and gear ready so I could get down during the afternoon - car was loaded with bananas as mr TwoStrokeINstitue had subscribed to cure my cramping arms.
I had the possibility to share my friend Anders Kihlanders tent and caravan so I had everything well sorted as everything was set up when I arrived friday eveneing. It was raining durign the evening and the forecast was rain for Saturday and better for Sunday.
We unloaded and I got settled in the tent before hitting the sack to the sound of raindrops hitting the caravan roof.
We woke up to overcast but not rainy clouds. First practice for the 250 class was at 10:20 and as I had changed a piston prior to the race I needed to start her up and see if everything was fine. At 08:30 she started and sang nice for a while. Everything sounded and looked great so I sorted that last bits out and was ready for the first QP.
Anders had his Aprilia RSV250 ready as well, the bike is Sebastian Portos ex. GP-machine from 1998. Ridiciously fast - I managed a 208 km/h top speed and Anders had 228 km/h during the week end. It it ridiciously fast.
Going out with the fast boys and I felt the butterflies. I didn´t ride well at all. No flow and the tires, I bought them used and has raced them three seasons, was really sliding all over the place. it felt terrible and on top of that I had the same problem with my arms as before. After 8-10 laps I get numb/cramp and it is very difficult to ride the bike. I had to pit before the 20 min session was over. I was very disappointed when I saw that my best time was a 1.06.6. Over two seconds slower than my PB...terrible.
As something had to be done I decided to get new tires. If I can feel them sliding at that pace they are done and I had no confidence in them. I had the opprtunity to by a set of tires from Rocket Robin - the rear tire a proper GP tire he bought at Donington last year.
The bike waiting for some GP-heritage stuff.
Out for the second QP and it felt much better instantly. BIG difference in tire performance and I could push much more than before. The bike ran just fine even though the second cylinder had a tad too many detonations. It was really great to be out on the track with just 250s! 18 of us and one guy on an RGV. I managed to get in to the 1.04 again with a 1.04.7 so it felt better. I was to start as 16th out of 19 starting.
The time waiting for the race was spent talking to all friends and watching some fo the other classes.
the man of teh week end was Fredrik Watz who entered in the Superstock 600 and 1000 classes. During the week ends four races he contested he managed four wins, foru poles and two track records! A pretty good job done. Fredrik is a proper racer and great guy who has race in250 GPs, won European 250 GP races and racedin AMA Supersport races. Top bloke and fast as hell at Sviestad, he has his workshop some 700 m fron the track.
The butterflies and anxiety to go racing is always the same and mixed my fear of my arms getting the better of me made the wait quite terrible.
Going out for sighting and warm up laps I tried to loosen up, relax and just have fun. It was pretty close with a bunch of guys running 1.04s so I had some hopes of gaining some positions.
Unfortunately I have really bad habit of starting terrible and I stuck to that habit. Instantly I lost contact with the guys I had an idea of gettign in touch with. I was 17th in to the first corner. I had to pass some of the slower guys on the straight and I could see Anders Larsson getting back to me. It is always much easier to catch someone else than riding on your own so I reeled Anders in. One thing that I have managed to do much better lately is to pass as soon as I get an opportunity and I outbraked Anders going in to Esset, the first corner of the track. the coming laps I managed to build up a gap over him but my arms started to get stiff.
At lap nine I got the blue flags coming in to Esset and on the way out I let Joakim Stensmo and who Ithough was Björn Gunnarsson by. These two guys are team mates to Anders Larsson and Björn has nr 71 while Anders has nr 7 so what really happened was that I let Anders past when Joakim Stensmo lapped me!
I started to push in order to catch Anders again but with my severly cramping arms I started making mistakes and felt a bit dangerous. When the air intake for the left cylinder came loos at the front and started slapping my left hand I decided to pit as I didn´t want to make a mess of me or the bike. Afterwards I had some regrets as I probably would have ended up 12th or 13th. Anyway both me and the bike was well.
Anders managed to bag a fifth but it could have been better as he was held up lapping people on the last lap while in the battle for third with Rocket Robin and Björn Gunnarsson.
Joakim Stensmo won ahead of Olav Åhlberg of Finland and Björn Gunnarsson third.
Anders on his Aprilia
Joakim Stensmo winning the race. Photo Johan Lorant
Olav Åhlbergs cool and aggressive style. Photo Johan Lorant.
The paddock woke up bathing in sun. Great!
The schedule for the day was the same as yesterday so we had plenty of time to get ready. My arms felt a bit better after a good nights sleep and I had some ideas on how to ride more relaxed and hopefully lower my times as well. When I try to puch to get better lap times it is very tempting to enter the corners too early and this means you spend to much time just coasting while waiting to be able to get back on the gas so my plan was to really work on gettign the wider entry line to the corners where possible. Also to get off the brakes earlier in order to increase my entry speed.
Raising my view and concntrating on looking further ahead was also part of the plan. When we got out on the track I really worked hard at getting the entries right and I could feel it work as it had the positive side effect that I could get on the gas earlier. It felt much better and my arms was better but the problem was still there.
I managed to lower my PB to a 1.04.193 and was 12th on the grid so it felt really good.
Anders gear change mechanism broke so he couldnt change gear while leaned over so he had some work cut out for him and he would miss QP2. My bike was in good shape so I just filled the gas tank up and tried to get some rest.
Before Qp2 I decided to do 10-12 laps no matter how slow or fast I had raced so that I wouldn´t exhaust my arms. I was one of the first bikes on the track and it felt even better this time. I managed to drop my times almost instantly and rode better than I ever have done vefore. Especially the entrance to Torparn was much better and I could carry more speed in that corner. it is a very tricky decreasing radius corner where you have to brake, gear down and hit a late apex while leaned over. Tricky but great when you get it right!
After twelve laps I entered the pits and was very happy when I had managed to do an 1.03.534 meaning I had lowered my PB with almost a second and finally manged to break the 1.04 barrier - one of my goals going in to the week end!
The only donw side was that the detonations on the left cylinder had reappeared so I had to check the piston. it is a fairly easy job and when the cylinder head was off I could see I had to change the piston. In order to reduce the detonations I lowered the compression by putting a thicker base gasket in. Started her up to see if everything was OK and as it was I prepared the bike for the race.
Anders was done with his gear box and started the Aprilia up.
As you can see in the picture there are good deal of people in the paddock that like two strokes.
Race time. Going in to the race I had two goals.
1. Get the flag.
2. Get some points.
This time I actually did a better start than last time and wasn´t dead last going donw towards Torparn, the corner leading on to the longer back straight.
Oscar Winberg was right in front of me and in front of him was Anders Larsson. I felt much stronger than Oscar on the brakes and in the corners so I was pretty confident I could pass him and catch Anders. Me and Oscar was side by side going down the straight and I had the inside line. As I didn´t want to risk anything I decided to not challenge him on the brakes so I opted to slot in behind him going in to the new sections downhill right hander.
As I tipped the bike in I felt as if oscar was parked up in the middle of the corner. As I felt I would hit his rear wheel I paniced and tried to scrub off speed by braking. Bad idea.
Me and the bike hti the asphalt faster than I could say IDIOT
! As I tumbled in the gravel I had already started cursing my own stupid f**king ass!
It was along time since I was so upset and angry with myself.
I was riding better than I ever had done, the bike ran great and I had very good opportuinty to take some poinst and have a great fight with Oscar.
Instead I had to watch the race from the side of the track....
Anders managed to get third as Rocket Robin and Björn Gunnarsson got tangled together going in to the same section as I crashed.
Olav Åhlberg won in front of Joakim Stensmo.
My bike post race. Fortunately no serious damage done to the bike and I aim to go to the track in two weeks again as it felt great to be out ther. I was riding better than I ever have done bofore and my arms just got better with more seat time so my goal is to ride more this summer as we have more club races and even more championships races I can enter....
Full results Saturday: MYLAPS
Full results Sunday: MYLAPS