I had been champing at the bit to get back to Oulton Park, as it would be my first return to a circuit on the 1000cc bike, so I was keen to get out and put what I had learnt since my last visit to good use.
We had heavy rain over Thursday night, but the track had just dried enough to be clear for Free Practice. I went out and quickly found some issues with the setup which, after coming into the pits, I managed to iron out. By the end of the session I was beginning to feel more comfortable with the setup, although I didn't get any really decent times on the board.
We made a couple of tweaks before Qualifying 1, and I went out keen to make the most of them. I got close to my previous fastest laps on the 2nd flying lap of the session, so it looked like there was some good progress to make. Unfortunately, I had carried a bit more speed out of the last corner and over the start finish line, and so slightly missed my braking point into the first corner. As I fought to scrub the speed off, I overran just on to the slightly less clean part of the tarmac, but it was enough to cause the front tyre to lock, and that was that. As I went down I could hear the engine of the bike racing; as soon as I stopped I reached over and hit the kill switch; before heading for safety behind the barriers.
After the session, through which I could only sit and watch the pit lane clock count down, we got the bike back and started to assess the damage. Apart from a dented tank and silencer, it didn't look too bad and was just the usual bent levers, footpegs, and broken bodywork. The throttle cables had dug into the grass, though, and that had been the cause of the revving engine; and our main point of concern.
We worked to get everything back together, though, and when we could, fired up the engine. All seemed well, and it looked like we had got away without major damage.
Even so, we decided that it would be worth utilising the Dynomometer that is always available at the BSB meetings; mainly to check that the fuel pump was still working ok, and hadn't been damaged by the hit to the tank.
So, after getting back through scrutineering Saturday morning, we lined up for the Dyno. Whilst queuing, and warming the bike up, we suddenly had smoke billowing from the bike! The recitifier/regulator had decided that was the best moment to pop, and was happiply melting itself! We managed to get it off the bike before it did any further damage, but we then had to source another one before we could do anything. Great! Just what I wanted, and another item to add to the bill!
We got another fitted, and the bike went into the Dyno. We stood anxiously, listening to it running up and thinking it all sounded good. However, it was not to be. The back door opened up and the Dyno technician sadly shook his head. He had done 2 runs, with decreasing power on each; and then bad noises had happened. He had turned it off, and that was that; the end of my weekend. The damage caused by revving on it's side had just manifested itself by at least breaking up a big end shell, and at worst taken more parts with it.
The rest of our Saturday was spent removing the engine from the bike, so that MSS Kawasaki could take it back and see what the damage is; literally and figuratively.
It stands as the only terminal failure so far this season, but that doesn't really make it feel any better! We are still awaiting the verdict on the engine, and that result and the cost of which will determine when I will be able to get back on track.
I very much hope that I will be able to race at Silverstone at the beginning of October, or at least afford to be able to make the last round at Brands Hatch. As such, I hereby rally the troops; if you know anyone who may be able to help out, please send them my way!
I'll post more updates as I know them, and will be back on track as soon as I can!