The Rowe Racing team has landed safely in Christchurch, New Zealand, for the Sound of Thunder meeting held over the 27-28 February weekend. Being run at Ruapuna Park, the team spent much of yesterday at the track preparing the bikes for Friday practice.
After much anticipation, riders finally got a chance to hit the track today through what is called an ‘open gate’ practice, meaning all 200 entries are allowed out simultaneously. Although useful when making small mechanical tweaks then returning to the track instantly, it did make getting a clear lap near impossible.
PIC: Royce clocking in another practice lap across the line
The main objective of the practice day was to learn the track, being that this is Royce’s first time, as well as perfecting the gearing. Mental notes were taken and Royce definitely feels more confident around the tricky circuit, but the latter leaves a little to be desired with varying head-winds throwing diagnostics out.
PIC: Heading out of pit lane after a slight tweak to the bike
Royce had this to say about the new experience, “Now in the land of the kiwis, the Ruapuna track has been bit of a tricky one to learn, but the team and I are figuring it out. It’s a lot of fun being on the nimble Ducati and I’m slowly getting faster around the 17 corners, all ranging from tight hairpins to carousel-like bends. I’m really looking forward to the racing tomorrow and Sunday and hopefully can do the Aussies proud.”
PIC: Learning the technical track has been difficult
Royce and teammate Howard ‘Rimmer’ Sabey still enjoyed some great dicing throughout the day, with both ending on identical lap times. With Howard’s larger BJR Ducati 1000 powering away down the straight, Royce was able to tag behind for a slip-stream on the lighter BJR Ducati 696, then gain the tagging lead inside the tight and technical corners.
PIC: The team has already attracted some attention from the local media
Unfortunately, halfway through the day after finally beginning to feel comfortable, the BJR Ducati 1000 broke an exhaust valve (US supplied, not a BJR component) on the rear cylinder, putting the bike out of action for the weekend. This has obviously been a big disappointment for Howard and the team after travelling so far. Royce had been accepted for three classes on the BJR Ducati 696, but has decided to share his bike for the weekend, giving up one of the classes to allow team-mate Howard an opportunity to ride. This not only lets Howard get some riding in over the weekend, but allows Royce a break between an overly busy schedule of races.
PIC: The boys and bike cooling off
The team has attracted a lot of attention already, with the printed programme featuring a two-page spread on our Isle of Man experience. Also wanting a piece of the Aussie contingent was local TV station Christchurch TV who was at the track to conduct an interview with Royce, appearing on their nightly news tonight. Check our Facebook page for a look at how it went down.
Check back tomorrow night for a full rundown on the team’s results after the first day of racing!