The Rowe Racing Team had a busy couple of weeks before Easter, rebuilding both bikes, with Locky and Howard Sabey helping Brian through some late nights.
The Ducati was the last to be completed, with Brian tightening the last bolt mid-afternoon on Thursday. Within a few hours, the team was loaded up and driving through the night to Mount Gambier, with a couple of close calls as kangaroos jumped out onto the road to wish us well on our travels.
PIC: The new naked showing off its bits! (Credit: LSM Photography)
There had been no time to test the bikes, so it was a relief to find both running perfectly on Easter Friday’s open practice session.
Royce had entered four classes – Supersport State Championship and BEARS Formula 2 National Championship rounds on the Triumph, and Super Twin State and BEARS Formula 3 Championship rounds on the Ducati.
This turned out to be quite challenging, as the races for each class were run consecutively. Royce was forced to jump from one bike to the other as the team prepared the alternate bike while he was on track, all in 31°C heat.
PIC: Things were heating up on the Triumph (Credit: LSM Photography)
The team stood up to the test, with Royce winning both classes on the Ducati as well as F2 on the Triumph. He placed second behind Dallas Skeer (Suzuki) and in front of rising star Ben Liebig (Triumph) in the Supersport.
PIC: Royce posted a new lap record for his class on the Duke (Credit: LSM Photography)
The fact that rider and bikes were performing well was illustrated in the lap times. Royce held the lap record for BEARS F2 on the old Triumph and lowered that on the new bike by 0.8 of a second. He also held the F3 record on the old Ducati and lowered that with the new Duke by 1.1 seconds.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s racing was not quite as productive, as rain settled in just as racing was about to commence.
We didn’t have wet tyres, and although SA Superbike Champion, William Strugnell offered to lend us a set, we decided that our main objective wasn’t to gather championship points but to develop both bikes at high speed, which we couldn’t achieve in the rain. With that in mind, there was not much to gain, while the risks would have been high, especially that of Royce getting his hair wet and it subsequently going curly.
PIC: The Triumph seems to have lowered times even further since being painted red (Credit: LSM Photography)
We did manage a couple more races in the afternoon when the rain cleared, picking up where we left off, until the gear lever on the Ducati broke. This prompted an earlier drive home in daylight before the kangaroos took up residence on the road again.
Further testing will be conducted over the coming weeks, predominantly on the Ducati as we refine it further, before the bikes are shipped out to the Isle of Man.