Sunday 4th July 2004: Race 3 at Pembrey
The team pitched up at the circuit on Friday night and were all ready for Saturday's practice session. Along with our usual riders Simon and Chris, we had a guest rider in the form of Alan Stevens, who had previously ridden for one of our competitors, Black Cat Racing.
Nine o'clock came and Alan took the bike around the track for the first time. Simon went out next, we made a minor adjustment to the tick-over, then Alan and Simon took it out again. The bike was running fine, and although the gearing was not quite right this would be changed in the afternoon session.
Chris then took the bike out for another test run and on his fifth lap spun up the rear wheel, which almost hi-sided him, but the resultant wobble caused him to slide off opposite where the team had their pit garage. The bike was recovered and Jez and Max took control of the bike to assess the damage.
Apart from the usual footrests and levers the major problem was a broken rear sub frame. As the bike model is only three months old we knew that there wouldn't be any second hand available, or that anyone else would have one spare. Max contacted a few people who informed him that GSXR100 sub frames wouldn't fit, however Alan had managed to get hold of one and thought that it might.
The sub-frame did fit, well sort of. If Gresham hadn't been in Australia, he would have had a fit as Jez, Max and Andy got out the hacksaw and made it fit.
Meanwhile, Gresh Jnr and Andrew were busy with 3 rolls of gaffer tape putting the seat unit and fairing back together as the spares had somehow been left in the workshop, although this wasn't anyone's fault, it was just annoying.
Finally, five hours later the bike was ready to go out again, this time with an off-centre fairing and wearing magic marker numbers on the rebuilt fairing. To quote Phil, who was contacted on the phone during all of this: 'C'mon guys, use anything, you can make it work, use some ingenuity'. A job well done by Jez and the rest of the guys for pulling out all the stops to get it out again.
So after four laps Simon came back in, declared the bike fit and Chris went back out for the remaining half-hour session. The bike passed scrutineering with no problems despite the patch-up and was ready to go.
Chris went out in free practice followed by Alan and the Simon. Phil got the pit crew practising fuel stops and all seemed fine. Simon posted a 1.04 and we qualified fifth in class, missing out on fourth by just 1/100th of a second. The team was happy and we were all ready to race.
The flag dropped and Simon ran to the bike for the traditional Le Mans start. He got away smoothly and settled into a rhythm dicing with three other bikes in our class. The times were consistent when suddenly after half an hour he high-sided the bike going through a 130mph+ bend. Simon was airborne and then landed with the bike hitting him twice.
The pace car came out and Simon was lying in the middle of the track unable to get up. The marshals and medical crew were out to him in no time and Simon was rushed into hospital via an ambulance.
The bike was in no fit state to go on. The subframe had broken, again. Everything else could have been repaired or replaced, but we had already used the only available replacement sub frame, so that was the end of the day for the team.
Simon, meanwhile, was having his whole body X-rayed for injuries, and here is his update in his own words:
'As for me; broken right ankle, rib, left hand and two fingers. Pretty light damage really considering the speed and nature of the crash. Gresh Jnr very kindly drove me home Sunday night (got back just after midnight) and I went into Derby Royal on Monday morning. I've also got an appointment at the hand clinic and they may well operate immediately to get it straight. The hand is the most damaged bit, but it's the left one at least.'
We wish Simon a speedy recovery and hope to see him at the next round. We'll see you all at Snetterton on Sunday 15th August, as the bike will return to race another day.