Suzuki Snapshots

Kris (Krash) Larivee

Mosport Report, The Return of Krash pt. 1
Posted by Krash on August 30, 2002,

I arrived at Mosport Raceway in beautiful Canada last Thursday evening only to find many others had beat me there. Tents, trailers, and trucks were bivouacked on the grounds in anticipation of the weekend's combat. Warriors had journeyed many miles to joust on the undulating 2.5 mile asphalt ribbon that is Mosport, with it's elevation changes, off-camber blind corners, interminably long back straight and uphill hairpin. It's not a place for the faint of heart, most of the corners can be taken at an excess of 90 mph, if your cojones are big enough. The back straight is a bike killer, unforgiving to gearing or jetting mistakes. By the end of the weekend, many bikes and riders will take the "ride of shame" back to the pits in the pick-up vehicle.

After practice on Friday afternoon is the Honda Endurance Race, a 2 hour affair open to all vintage legal bikes. Last year Stephen Szikora, Eugene Stewart and I rode to a second place in the Period Two Heavyweight class on Stephen's near stock T500. I will be spectating this year, preferring to concentrate on the two classes I will contest aboard the Sundial GP T500, Period 2 Heavyweight and Period 3 Middleweight (a bump-up class for the Titan). Scott McVicker jumps out to an early lead on the much modified CB750 DOHC, with a large displacement Guzzi hot on his heels, as well as a big bore BMW. They swap the lead a few times before McVicker pulls in to the pits with a smoking engine, not to return. This would not be the last bike to succumb to the rigors of the race, testing the fiber of both rider and machine. The race comes to an early end when a KZ1000 oils the track all over turns 2 and three, sending two other riders crashing off the track. A poorly secured oil line is found to be the culprit. How many more people will have to be hurt before people begin checking their bikes more thoroughly? The scoring and timing volunteers have their hands full trying to sort out the results. I'm still not sure who won.

Saturday's racing goes well, the most serious incident a broken ankle when two riders collide in the hairpin. My T500 goes well in the P3 race, finishing eighth out of 33 bikes, including several in-line four cylinder Kawis. The key is to get the jump on the start and get ahead of the traffic and stick with the lead pack. I got a terrible start and had to fight through the slower riders. I know what to do for my P2 race later in the day. I get an excellent start, running fourth going into turn 1. That all changes when we hit the back straight, as the larger displacement bikes come flying by. The Titan sounds somewhat flat and doesn't seem to be pulling very well. I convince myself it's just that the other bikes are faster, but by the third lap I know something is wrong. Suspecting a knackered engine I take it easy and finish 14th, cursing in my helmet. Back to the pits for a diagnosis.

Mosport Report Pt 2
Posted by Kris Larrivee on August 31, 2002

A quick check over the bike reveals nothing out of sorts. I borrow a compression tester but nothing out of the ordinary there either. Tired, I decide to sleep on it, a decision I would later regret.
Sunday morning after another long drawn out rider's meeting (yes, I know what the green flag means!) I started the bike and noticed smoke coming out from underneath the engine. I know the machine is oil tight, so the only explanation could be a cracked expansion chamber, not uncommon in the two stroke world. Lying on the stones beside the machine confirms my suspicion and answers my lack of power from the previous day. A few choice phrases that would have a Royal Marine blushing ensue (not for the last time!) and quickly the offending chamber is removed. I borrow a wire welder and enlist a fellow racer to tack the pipe back up. My practice group is on the track. The P3 race is the first one on the program for the day. Looks like I'll have to run it cold. I am still safety wiring bolts when first call for our race comes. Leathers are hastily pulled over my body, helmet strapped, gloves fastened. As I head to pre-grid, I am swearing inside my Bieffe, didn't have time to check fuel or tire pressure. I arrive only to find there has been a 10 minute delay. I screamed #### at the top of my lungs, I think the pre-grid volunteer thought I was yelling at them, and headed back to the pits for a splash of fuel and a zip of air in the tires.

I'm starting on the fourth row, the butterflies fluttering in my gut. The flagman twitches and I attack, only to bog the engine and have to slip the blasted clutch all over again. I'm ninth heading into turn one, but catching the lead traffic. It's Sunday and all stops have been pulled out. Win it or bin it is my attitude of the day. The season is almost over, only one race to go, plenty of time to rebuild the bike and heal the body. So let it all hang out mother####er! That's exactly what I do, running up into the sixth spot and feeling pretty damn good. Until the third lap when I hit the back straight and the bike is feeling flat all over again. I know the stupid chamber has cracked again and my hopes of a podium finish are dashed, with the machine barely pulling 100 mph on the straights. I fall back into the 11th spot out of 33 machines and that's where I finish, still cursing inside my helmet.

Back in the pits I begin a frantic search for someone with torches that can braze the chamber. Bless the Norton sidecar racers for their torches and high quality rod and my fellow racer Wayne Raynard for his brazing talents. Within the hour the pipe is fixed and remounted on the T500. Time for lunch and planning strategy for the P2 heavyweight race.

Due to a mistake in the VRRA rules the T500 falls into the heavyweight class, putting it at a serious horsepower disadvantage to the CR750 Hondas, 850 Nortons, H2s and other bikes it was never meant to run against. I know I will have to beat these riders in the corners and draft them on the back straight. Even with the Titan running well, they still have some top speed on me. The men to beat in this class are the Hurst brothers, Peter and Chris. One is running a Rickman framed Triumph Triple, the other a seriously tricked out Yamaha XS650. With a half a century of racing experience between the two brothers and such powerful and sorted bikes, they usually walk away from the rest of the pack. The rest of the grid is made up of 750 Hondas, a couple Nortons, an H1 and an H2 and other bikes I can't remember. I've spent the night and few spare moments today working out a new line in corner 9. Most riders take an inside line here, staying off of a concrete patch about mid-corner. I watched a 125 rider do it on the outside of the patch during a race yesterday. He passed two bikes and was set up for turn 10 perfectly. I tried it in practice and it works, although the pavement is bumpy and the back end gets a bit loose at race speeds, but it can be done, I think.

We take off from pre-grid and head out for the warm up lap. I am following the Hurst brothers into turn two when the Trident pulls off line and heads for the side of the track. I see what appears to be a dead snake in front of me, only it's a drive chain! The 650 Yammie slows down and we take a relaxed trip to the start/finish line. The flagman begins his procedure and we all assume the start will proceed normally. I put the bike into gear, determined to get a good start. The red flag goes down and I am awaiting the green, but the flagman throws it to the ground and unfurls the red. Someone motions for us to kill the machines and I hear the dreaded words. "Oil on the track, it's going to be a while." Apparently on it's way to resting on the racetrack, the Triumph's drive chain took a detour through the engine casing. Beautiful. We prop our bikes along the pit wall and stand around sweating. Some of the racers are friendly and talkative, others are still wearing their "game faces". Thankfully Stuart Pilkington (VRRA executive and excellent racer) shows up in one of the track vans with a report and some cold water. Much to our amusement we can smell the heated up brakes of the van. Stuart says he had the thing over 100mph on the back straight. I can only laugh. Forty minutes later we put our helmets back on. It's time to race! I am hoping that wait will have some of these guys off their guard. We get one warm up lap and the race is shortened from eight laps to six. The green flag flies and I am off, about mid-pack into the first turn. I get to fourth spot at one point, but it is short lived as we hit the back straight. I find a Honda to draft and he carries me right to Turn 8, where I promptly pass him on the outside. Pleased with that performance I look for more victims only to find the father and son team riding their CR750s. I have yet to beat this pair in competition and I mean to do it this time. I pass one of them on the outside of Turn 9, utilizing my strategy from earlier, and stuff the other on the inside of 10. One of the CRs comes by me on the front straight, but I am right on his ass. I pass him again on the outside of Turn 2, holding the throttle to the stops and feeling both tires drifting, almost sliding. I make it. Both of the CRs get me on the back straight, but I am in their draft and it's like an instant replay of the last lap, as I pass one on the outside of 9 and the other on the inside of 10. I am screaming inside my helmet, eyeballs bulging and having the time of my life. The bike is sliding and chattering through some corners, but I hang on. The three of us battle it out for a couple more laps, but one CR falls off the pace and I don't see him again. I get caught up in a lapper and the other Honda gets by me. I am lapping this particular guy for the 2nd time this race, and it's only six laps, and I'm not even one of the fastest riders! Someone needs to take some track schools or rethink this racing thing before he becomes a speed bump! With this shortened race I am unable to catch the other Honda, but I am right on his ass when the checkers fall. I finish sixth, my best so far in the P2 heavy class. Imagine what I could do in a more competitive class! The bike has performed beautifully, even under these demanding conditions. I wish I could do this every weekend. Time to pack up and drive home, dreaming about the last race of the season, making plans for next year. Racing is the greatest thing.


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