Yes it is that time of year again- sun, sand and Summercross! Having built up a big reputation of excellent events that pack full of sweaty riders and sunburnt spectators, 2011 did not disappoint. The classes were full or very close to it and the crowd had plenty to cheer about. Ben Townley was there to dominate the MX1 class with Cody Cooper hot on his heels in three of the five races. The other big name you might have heard of, Josh Coppins, might not have been on peak form but was there to give Cody a hard time and steal second place in two of the motos.
This was my first official engagement as Team Bel Ray Honda Truck Driver, a title I took very seriously. With water tanks filled to their 2,000L capacity, I nursed the big girl to Awakaponga and helped set up the semi- factory rig. The fact is that I was there to race and with a perfectly prepared Botany Honda CRF250R I had no excuses- that I knew of at least.
Weaving through the traffic I clocked a time that was good enough for fifth on the gate but knew there was more to come. When the gate dropped for race one I used my local knowledge to hook up on the grass at the far right of the start straight and catapulted to a big holeshot. I then proceeded to lay some fast laps, not realizing what my heart rate was doing until I had started the third lap. By that time I realized this intensity was not sustainable even in motos as short as these so the plan was to find the speed with less effort. That kept me out front for a few more laps until I started struggling through the big roller section. I had been wheelying over the first roller and doubling from there, a tricky but fast line. By the time I had decided to go back to what everyone else was doing I had been passed by Cam Dillon and only just managed to hold off Kayne Lamont to take second spot. Five minutes later the gate dropped again, where I squeezed through in third place. Things were looking good until a square up move I attempted on Lamont left the door open for another rider to knock me clean over and I was forced to battle a twisted bike through to a seventh place finish.
A little consultation with suspension guru Jimmy saw us go back to the shock settings I had been running last week. We had backed the high speed compression off to help deal with a problem with the larger braking bumps that had bitten during the week but decided that was making it too hard for me to safely get through the rollers. Unfortunately we did not realize that I had set the bikes pre-sag wrong and while the bike was definitely better in the rollers, I ended up paying for my mistake in race three.
It started so well, passing Lamont after the rollers and then proceeding to get past Dillon for the lead. Unfortunately this was short lived as I hit one of those large braking bumps while under a lot of pressure and having a large crash. Definitely not feeling 100% I finished the race but decided that it was best I remain a spectator for the rest of the day. Meanwhile Rhys Carter took a pair of wins with Daryl King taking the final, helping my Belray teammate Cam Dillon to take a deserved overall win. The lesson was definitely learned for me that day!