The Rowe Racing camp has been quiet over the past few months as we patiently awaited the return of our race bikes from the Isle of Man. As things went wrong at most stages of the process, it was a great relief to have them finally arrive on Friday morning.
We anticipated the arrival to be much earlier, giving the team a chance to service and unpack before the Adelaide 3-Hour meeting. With practice due to start at Mallala the same moment the crates slid into the truck, it was obvious we were going to miss the first day.
So, Friday was spent unpacking the crates, transporting them to the workshop, unpacking them again creating a huge mess, then working on the bikes into the night. Having been stagnant on a ship crossing rough seas for months there was plenty to do.
PIC: The Rowe Racing workshop is once again bursting at the seams
Unfortunately, there was simply not enough time to prepare the damaged Manx Ducati, so the team did what they could on the Suzuki 600 and an executive decision was made to compete on the BJR Racing 696 Ducati for the Super Twin class.
With minimal sleep, Saturday morning rolled around and the team were back in their element at the track – it’d been a long wait for rider Royce who was itching to hit the tarmac. With the clock working against us, the team battled on to get the Suzuki prepared in time for practice and qualifying. A problem with a fuel line was followed by a problem with the quick-shifter, then the front brakes… the list goes on.
The first couple of races were compromised due to these problems. Royce managed to deal with the issues as he rode, scoring a fifth place in the first Hallett Concrete 600cc heat and a third in the second heat. A commendable effort considering it was his first weekend back on the bike after having over two months off. The scorching heat didn’t help, but as the day went on he gradually found his groove again.
PIC: Royce aboard the BJR Racing Products 696 Ducati in the Super Twin class
Aboard the BJR 696 Ducati, which was running like a dream compared to the Suzuki, Royce took out first place in both the Shingleback Wines Super Twin heats for the day.
Exhausted, but pleased, the team tinkered away for a while longer as the sunlight disappeared.
Arriving Sunday morning, the team knew they were in for a hectic day. The heat had worsened, reaching close to 40 degrees Celsius, meaning riders would have registered closer to the 50 mark when suited up on track. There were still small problems niggling at the Suzuki too, making the team sweat that little bit more before the major 3-Hour race.
PIC: In the zone on the start line of the 600cc race
The BJR Racing Products Ducati performed well, helping Royce continue Saturday’s hot streak taking an outright win in the Super Twin class. In the 50km race, a prelude to the 3-Hour event, he finished a respectable third outright and was the first Super Twin home. This was despite a drama at the start when the team had a minor technical problem in the pits, delaying Royce getting to the start line. He was forced to start from pit lane after the rest of the riders had passed and was given a one lap penalty for good measure. He managed to filter through the traffic and then lap the field, except for the first and second placed bikes (which were both 1000’s).
The 600 Suzuki continued to plague the team, deciding to give Royce some serious front brake issues, which the team tried to cure in the morning. He still managed to finish third in the Hallett Concrete 600cc race behind Levi Day and Ted Collins.
PIC: Royce got away well in the Le Mans style 3-Hour start
The 3-Hour kicked off at 1pm in stifling heat. Royce got away well in the Le Mans style start and was holding third outright after the first hour. Most other teams had two or three riders, with only one other solo competitor attempting the grueling task.
After a quick pit stop at the one-hour mark, the pit crew found Royce was running out of water in his ‘camel back’. As the session continued Royce ran completely out of water and dehydration set in. He began to make small mistakes and the lap times were suffering. At the 1hr34m mark on lap 73, Royce showed his maturity by doing the sensible thing and came into the pits to retire. Having ridden in the other classes beforehand and on Saturday, it was an almighty effort just to get that far.
PIC: The old Isle of Man band were back together for the 3-Hour… the umbrella girls are a little rough Down Under, though!
Royce had this to say: “After months of being away from circuit racing it was good to get back on the short track. I had some good, fun racing in the Super Twin and 600cc class. Starting from pit lane after a small mishap in the pits for 50km prelude race was a bit of a bummer, but getting up to finish in the position I did, I was pretty happy, especially being in the heat.
“After the races on Sunday it was time for the 3-Hour and we were confident we could do some good pit stops after having extensive practice in the Isle of Man. Half way through the 3-Hour I ran out of water and thought I could last to the second pit stop at the 2-hour mark. Each lap in the heat without water having already done an hour or so of racing started to take its toll on me. Each lap I was dropping a second off my pace – once I had dropped eight seconds I knew I had to call it a day and come in before I dropped the bike. The team understood thankfully and everyone could walk away from the weekend knowing we gave it a good crack. Strategies will be discussed in great detail for next year’s race.”
PIC: Royce pushing hard through the 3-Hour event
From here the team will prepare for the upcoming Café Racer meeting in December, with all bikes hopefully prepared and raring to go. Also keep an eye out through the Phoenix MCC as they will be selling tickets to a raffle in order to help riders like Royce achieve their racing goals next year. We will keep you posted!