endigo Youth Racing has won the Wonthaggi HPV Grand Prix for the 2nd year running. With BYR stand outs like Nigel Preston, Mat Brown, Daryl King and Dean Williams on the sidelines, the race was a huge test for the new generation of BYR riders and pit crew. Only 2 of the eight Wonthaggi 24hr riders had raced the vehicle at Murry Bridge the previous year.
The pre-race build up was huge, with BYR’s main rival, Trisled Racing, talking very confidently and openly of winning the race in particular. I’m happy to say that it did not go that way. Anyway, here’s how I saw the race.
Team shot (L-R): Michael "MegaPixel" Micallef, Michael "Pickle" Rice, Mat "little" Anson, Jarrod "Chooka" Henderson, Dave "Finny" Maud, Marcus "Moo" Sloane (Pitcrew), Callam "Cal" Ridge (Pitcrew), Rowan "Old Bluey" Nankervis, Adam "Gaven" King (Pitcrew), Tom "Rice" Rice (Pitcrew), Deven "Deven!!" Pearce, Kyle "Budda" Blakely, and Mark "Anson" Anson (Team Manager)
he Saturday started like a typical Wonthaggi race- wet! Really wet. It had been raining all night and the sky was looking mighty overcast. Not very optimistic weather for racing. I trudged through the mud and ate a sizeable amount of Weetbix. Time flew quickly and soon it was time for team photos, just before qualifying started of course.
Even though the track was wet, qualifying was a casual affair for all. We decided to go in race order, which meant I was 1st in. I trudged into the vehicle in a pair of denim shorts and a thermal top, did my 3 laps and hopped out. Everyone did there 3 laps and we packed up shop, allowing our dedicated pit crew to go over BY-06 one last time before race start. During lunch later in the day we found out that we had qualified 1st on the grid, with a time of 2’12.4820, done on lap 2 of the 19 laps completed by our team in the session.
Let the Race Begin!
Race start came quicker then usual. I started warming up on the grid yet felt strangely calm. Usually a bad sign in my experience. Something had to spark some excitement, and it came when the field left without me
! The pace car moved off while I was on the warm-up bike. I jumped off the warm-up bike and jumped in BY-06. Someone pushed me off whilst Mark Anson ran alongside the vehicle, securing the door like a pro. I had my seatbelts adjusted halfway around the football oval, gave the vehicle next to me a beep and thumbs up, and settled in for the rolling start across the line. I rounded the final turn and was greeted by an Australian flag and an empty track. Perfect. I cleared the vehicle beside me and set myself up for the 1st corner. Round the corner I went and onto the best stint I’ve had for a long time!
The 1st 6 laps were all sub 2’15’s, yet things came to a halt when I rolled the right hand tyre under the rim, resulting in a pinch flat. The track had dried considerably since qualifying, yet the apex of turn 6 still had standing water on it. Every entry through turn 6 resulted in massive understeer, which wasn’t helped by slimly leaf-litter sitting in the shade on the exit. At times BY-06’s front wheels would slip sideways for 10-15 meters!
And so I limped back to pit-lane on a flat tyre. The pit crew were prepared, tipping BY-06 on it’s side and replacing the wheel with no trouble. I was tipped back on all 3’s and floored it out of pit lane, now in 11th position and with a lot of catching up to do. I raced flat-out for 40 minutes, with the only thing slowing me down being the chain falling off the return roller. I hopped out of BY-06 after 1 hour 5minutes, back in the lead by the length of pit lane. 1st stint over.
Finny hopped in next and set similar lap times to myself, hovering around the 2’12 mark and occasionally dipping below 2’10. Finny is only 16 yet has great race-craft and massive strength. He’s an insane downhill mtb rider outside of HPV’s, and his natural downhill abilities shone through in the way he handled BY-06 around the twisty circuit. Finny stayed in for a full hour, hopping out with our team back in the lead and not a scratch on the vehicle.
Budda jumped in after Finny yet his stint was kind of cut short to 45minutes. He was tracking well in a vehicle he had not much experience in, sitting on 2’15s constantly. That is until he tried to lap Trisled. Constant blocking from Trisled resulted in several slower then usual laps, and Budda only got past after tapping Trisled’s tail, passing Trisled with their rider mouthing off at Budda all the way. Both ourselves and Trisled Racing officially complained of the incident, with a warning given out to both teams.
Chris Crowe makes the 1st wheel change for the race
Whilst Budda was busy complaining to race control, Mat Anson hopped in the vehicle for his stint. By this stage we had been asked repeatedly by the officials to use our horn more, and so it finally started to sink in. After 45 minutes of successful horn beeping, Mat approached the slowest vehicle in the field with the horn blaring. No.6 moved across the wrong way, and Mat glanced off the slow-moving vehicle like a car would glance off a brick wall. The result was our 1st rollover of the race. Damage was mild, with a hole punched straight through into the wheel-well, tons of scratches etc. Mat pitted straight away and damage was taped up. Pickle hopped in then and there. He only lasted 30 minutes! God knows what he hit, but the end result was an extremely buckled rim that took 5 hours to true, and a pinch flat.
Deven hopped in for his 1st stint once the new wheel was put on. Devon is a powerful, enduring rider that contradicts his fragile looking build. So it was unusual to see him pumping out 2’30’s from the start. After 35minutes he was on his last legs, and decided to pit. The vehicle was checked and it was found that Devon had been riding on a slow leak his entire stint. No wonder he was going so slow!
With a bunch of unlucky stints behind us, it was time for catch-up. We weren’t gaining anything on the Trisled team (we had fallen to 2nd, 2 laps behind Trisled), so what we needed was a loooong stint to even it up a bit. Chooka was the man for the job, and a good job he did! The situation wasn’t helped initially, with the clouds finally sending a payload of hail and rain on the track. The result was fogging of the windscreen. Chooka moved slowly through the field, following the outlines of vehicles through corners. At one stage there was no vehicle to guide Chooka into the corner coming off the oval. He guessed the apex and ended up riding over the grass to the left of the apex……and the track! Eventually the track dried up, and so did the windscreen. In the last 30minutes of the stint, Chooka was pulling 2’16-18’s constantly, bringing back the deficit to Trisled to 1 lap. Chooka hopped out after 1 hour, 20 minutes of hard work. Great job mate!
Rowan was the last in our order to hop in for his 1st stint. He was scheduled to go for a similar amount of time as Chooka. 1 hour 30 minutes later he was still in, yet the officials were putting pressure on us to change our rear light, which was fading fast. We pulled Rowan in to fix the light. Whilst the light was being zip tied onto the tail, we opened the door to pull Rowan out. He refused;
“Nah, nah- just give me a new drink bottle and I’ll go for another 90 minutes” was his reply. We gave him 2 fresh bottles, and he did stay out for another 60 minutes on top of his 90 minutes. By the time Rowan had pitted, we were now 6 laps up on Trisled Racing.
My Second Stint
I jumped in after Rowan’s mega stint. I belted up, closed the door and was gone. I was planning to do 90minutes minimum, and had 2 drink bottles to back me up. I started great, riding 2’15-18’s for ages. It wasn’t long though that I rode past the pits to see our pit board read “Pit_ Lights”. I pitted straight away. The lights were fiddled with for several seconds and then I was back in the pit lane and out on the track. What seemed like 20 minutes later, the same pit board sign flashed up again! I pitted once again and this time the pit crew was inside BY-06’s nose, untaping and rewiring bits and pieces. The windscreen was put back on 2 minutes later and I was away…again. After that excursion into the pits, I felt kind of sluggish. Every lap seemed harder, and at one particular corner the vehicle felt a bit unstable. Eventually the time board read 2’30 and the next lap it read 2’51! I approached the same troublesome corner again, and finally snapped out of my ignorance to realize my left tyre was losing pressure very slowly. I pitted straight away. Crowey yanked the wheel off yet the bearing didn’t come with it. He hopped in the vehicle and tapped the bearing off with a screwdriver. The new wheel was put on and I was away.
BY-06 and its rider were now dancing to a new beat, with a glorious, painfree lap in the 2’15 range. But then it happened. Safety Car.
You can't blame Trisled Racing for getting angry. Poor bastards, they sure did get an arse whooping! Heres Budda copping a little bit of unwanted attention
Ambos and Safety Cars
The ambulance was needed when a spectator walked out in front of Team Dragon’s vehicle, Vento.
The man broke his leg in 2 places, and fell onto and through Vento’s windscreen, making impact with the rider’s helmet, shattering it into pieces. The safety car was called onto the track and all vehicles were backed up behind it.
I was near the front, chatting to a vehicle rolling beside me, when my tail started to cop some heavy impacts every couple of seconds. No trouble, but it did get annoying after nearly an entire lap! On the start finish line I pulled the brakes and the culprit pulled up alongside. It was the Ex Pat Racing vehicle
of course. After asking for an explanation, all I got was “just a bit of fun and games, mate”. Fair enough......
I was called into pits on the 2nd lap of safety car, resulting in a rider change that wouldn’t impact too heavily on the race. The field was only moving at walking pace. I jumped out of the vehicle feeling no different to when I started.
Finny hopped in and only managed 45minutes in the vehicle. Budda hopped in straight after and had a rough time. Once again the Ex Pats wanted to “play”, resulting in Budda rolling over twice in 10 minutes, and number 79 being rolled also. Team Manager, Mark Anson and myself complained to race control based on 3 acts of aggressive riding, my experience earlier included. The Ex Pats raced cleanly for the rest of the race. In the end, Budda stayed out for a full hour and a half, laying down some very fast times.
Mat Anson stayed out for a faultless 80minute stint. Pickle hopped in after, yet managed to smash rims and spokes once again. Apart from that, he was still out for 70 minutes, laying down consistent times.
After a disappointing 1st stint, Devon was out to kick some arse. He stayed out for an amazingly fast 2 hours, 30 minutes, lapping Trisled 9 times! He would’ve kept going had the chain guard not lodged itself in the chain. He rolled to a stop on the oval, no longer able to pedal. Being the calm person he was, Devon chucked his shoes in the vehicle and ran it from around the oval to the pitlane, cramping all the way. Devon had a much needed rest, and Chooka hopped in once the guard was fixed. Chooka performed a faultless 90minute stint. We were now 31 laps ahead!
I had woken up at this stage. Chook was out of the vehicle and Finny was back in. Finny had done a tiny stint during the night, so he had to make it up now. He stayed out for a full 90 minutes, laying down times that were just as fast as his 1st stint!
My last Stint
Rowan would’ve usually followed Chooka, yet he had done quite a stint the night before. It was decided he would rest so we could rattle off a strong finish if we needed it. Our youngest riders, Michael and Mat, would sprint it out before Rowan. There was a gap and I needed to fill it (as planned). My last stint was only 60minutes, and I had quite a buffer.
I hopped in and went down pit lane. I’d never felt so fit at this stage of a race, so I was gonna have a nice crack at it. I started with 2’16’s etc, yet that only lasted 3 laps. My windscreen fogged up and thus I had to slow down in some areas of the track. For the most part I could see fine. It was only when I rounded the corner coming onto the back straight that I had issues, the rising sun causing the windscreen to glare to the point where I had little visibility. I was losing 5-10 seconds per lap, depending on traffic down the back straight. Didn’t seem to matter though, as I was still going faster then Trisled. I lapped Trisled’s secret weapon around the oval. I beeped the horn and went past, but not without copping a mouthful from the rider. I came in after 55 minutes. I’d had enough of the fogging…..and I needed to pee real badly!
Mat Anson powers through turn one early on Sunday morning
Mat Anson jumped in BY-06 after me. He performed a faultless 50 minute stint, lapping consistently and fast. Pickle soon jumped in for his last stint. He had a very rough, yet enjoyable 45 minutes. Entertaining too I must say. Pickle was going nuts! He was constantly lapping under 2’13’s, absolutely smashing Trisled! And he’s only 15 lol. Eventually it all came to a halt, trying to pass Weeroona X’s Silver Bullet. Moving around the outside of turn 5, BY-06 was shut out as the bullet moved wide for the corner. Pickle slammed the brakes on and swerved into the tail of Silver Bullet. It was the only way to avoid slamming into a water filled plastic barrier. The officials saw it as a deliberate ram, which was ludicrous considering that the Silver Bullet wasn’t a contender and that we wanted to make it across the finish line, rather then destroy BY-06. The officials decided to slap us with a 1 minute penalty at our next pit stop.
Pickle had around 3 laps to go in his stint when somebody ran from the other side of the track to tell us he’d been rolled over by Reloaded, also a Weeroona vehicle. Pickle eventually came around and the vehicle seemed to be working fine and Pickle wasn’t in noticeable pain when he scorched past. 2 laps later he was in. We kept the door shut whilst Pickle back-spinned for a minute to keep cramping at bay. He had blood running down his leg from the rollover, but was obviously not something to worry about. One minute came around and the door was opened and pickle was allowed out. The rollover had also broke a door hinge, so time was spent to bend it back into shape and remount the section of door to the fairing.
Meanwhile Rowan had strapped in and was ready to roll. He was going to go for 45minutes, which was enough to send us past the checkered flag. Rowan put in the fastest stint of the entire race, with most laps being around the 2’05 mark. On the 2nd last lap of the race, Rowan did what no other rider had done since the race’s inception. He became the 1st to perform a sub 2 minute lap of the Wonthaggi circuit in race conditions. Well done Row-dogg!
The checkered flag was waved on BY-06 and soon enough the parade lap was over. Rowan hopped out and we carried our vehicle triumphantly above our heads. After a disappointing result-less campaign to Murray Bridge last year, the full realisation of the new aero package and refined frame validated the design as quick, stable and formidable. We had done it- and not just for ourselves! This victory was for every member that had ever played a part in the design and construction of BY-06. This victory was a reward for the 10’s of thousands of km put in during training, by riders of BY-06, past and present. This was truly Bendigo Youth Racing’s Victory!
The official Results were....
How I'd rate the weekend
- 1st in race. Class and overall winner
- New distance record: 581 laps of the 1.4km course completed (813km) (previous record= 563)
- New Lap record: 1'59.2250 (previous record= 2'01)
- Bendigo Youth Racing's nearest competitor, Trisled Racing, was 39 laps behind in 2nd position
- BYR's youngest team. Average age of 16 years, 8 months
Officials continue to be a pain in the neck, but I'd go through the abuse and intimidation a millions times so I could keep riding around the best circuit in Australia. Toilets were sparse and bins were full before half the race was over. Oh well
It was such a young team yet everyone had trained extremely hard for this one race, and all team members generally rode very clean! We were determined to not do what we did at Murry Bridge in 2006
The fittest I've ever been. Felt great the entire race. Recovered well after every stint. Lactic Acid was non-existant in 1st 2 stints. But of course, we can always improve.
Wasn't as fierce as Murry Bridge. We broke Trisled's spirit quite early.
Vehicle quality: 8/10.
Seems to be quality over quanity at Victorian races. Most vehicles were great! There was only 2 vehicles on the grid that I thought should never had been out there
Links you may find interesting
Results (Courtesy of Racetime Computing)
RACV Energy Breakthrough Photo Gallery (3 pages)
Wonthaggi HPV 24hr GP Homepage
2006 Wonthaggi Race report
2006 Murry Bridge Race Report
Trisled's website. Makers of fine quality trikes and bikes to suit anyone. Can custom-build HPV's too!
Bendigo Youth Racing's website
BY-06 powers through one of the many hairpins of the Wonthaggi course, with Silver Bullet following