Race wins for Labman at Croft season opener!

Gerry Johnson Just For Fun, RBRacing

Here we are again, season opener at the North East’s Premier race track, Croft Circuit near Darlington!

RBRacing/Labman decided to opt for a local track for their first event of the season, primarily to give Labman staff/friends/family a chance to watch the team, at a high quality motorcycle racing event, right on their doorstep.

The team arrived Friday evening following a successful test at Teesside Autodrome 2 weeks earlier.

Bike No 157 with a “new” (to the bike) engine and both bikes carrying uprated forks and other minor modifications to improve their overall performance.

A full weekend of racing was planned and Saturday morning Technical Inspection and signing on soon arrived. Both bikes checked out in good fettle and away Gerry and Richy went, looking forward to the imminent qualifying session.

Richy knows Croft well, but as usual, Gerry was new to riding the circuit so set off steadily in qualifying, building up the pace as lines, braking points and gear selection became clearer.

The team’s Honda CB500’s were running as a class within two other classes, in the same race, to make a decent grid of over 30 bikes. We were to run with another six 500 twins, pre-fuel injection 600’s (very fast) and Post Classic bikes (everything from full blown racing Yamaha TZ350’s to big older road going sports bikes like the Yam FZR 1000’s!) Interesting!

Richy qualified 8th  on the grid, but more importantly, the first and fastest CB500! Gerry finished well up in 19th position overall, but 5th on the CB500 grid.

The Teams’ first race was last of the day’s programme and didn’t happen till 5.00pm due to delays, so Gerry especially, was getting a little wound up and anxious to get his first Croft race, over and done with!

Good starts for both riders, with Richy off like a scalded cat, with a race long dice with one of Croft’s regulars on a fast CBR600, Adam Nix.  Gerry was alongside the club CB500 Champion from last year, Mike Minns, on the grid and was dead chuffed to hang onto him for most of the race! Finishing up in 4th place for Gerry and Richy taking a fine first win on the Labman bike!

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Home from Home for Race Weekend!

Due to incidents and other delays the second race of the day for the team would have to be postponed till the next day (Sunday). Busy day – three races although each running over 6 laps instead of the normal 8.

Saturday evening was spent quietly with pasta for dinner followed by a stroll around the paddock and a couple of beers. As the clocks went forward overnight it meant less sleep before a hectic days racing!

It was up to Richy now to see if another win was on the cards! He certainly had the speed and the suspension mods seem to have made a difference although he complained all weekend of “tank slappers” through the very fast and bumpy “Jim Clark Esses,” which demand a rapid change of direction from left to right at full lean flat out in 5th gear (6th if you’re brave enough!). Croft is notoriously bumpy but very, very fast and like most circuits requires the rider to carry as much speed as possible through all corners to get good speed on the straights and fast lap times.

Race 2 was away with Richy getting a decent start but with Gerry suffering a “sticky” clutch that wasn’t biting properly, inducing a bit of slip that led only to an “average” start. Gerry had a great time dicing most of the race with a couple of 400’s that were fast on the straights but sluggish around the twisty bits! This meant hectic overtaking by Gerry at whichever corner was next, only to be overtaken down the long straights! That’s what racing is all about.

Richy was a safe 1st place, Alan Brookbanks, a fellow top regular Thundersport 500 racer, coming in 12 secs down, with Gerry coming in a fine 3rd! Both Labman bikes on the podium and as this was a “trophy race,” the first silverware of the season!!

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Richy up with the 600’s after the off!

The race programme was now in full swing so the team set to, adjusting chains, topping up fuel, checking fluid levels and tightening up stuff that always works loose before they were again on the grid for their penultimate race of the day.

Richy with his usual fine start (changing up without using the clutch has its advantages but let’s hope the gearbox holds out!). Gerry was beaten to the first corner by his arch rival (that he had beaten all weekend up to now) Richard Sanders, and then baulked and slowed by those same pesky 400’s again which meant Richard pulled 100 metres or so in front of Gerry, with those two 400’s in between! Head down and focus!! Gerry started to reel Richard in and managed to pass all 3 bikes in the next couple of laps and started to pull a gap! This “new” engine definitely has more punch than last season’s and was running well.

Another win for Richy and a 4th for Gerry. Inspections of the bikes after the race saw an exhaust system hanging off on Gerry’s bike so some quick fettling was required before they were out again for the final race of the day (also a trophy race)

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Gerry on his way to his first podium!

This last race saw another win for Richy (more silverware) and another 4th for Gerry!

What a great weekend! Clean sweep of all races by Richy who was flying all weekend! Podium finish for Gerry and (apparently) lots of race commentary for the well turned out bikes with “Labman” mentioned regularly!

Thanks to all the “Labman” staff for coming along to watch the racing – the team hope you enjoyed yourselves!

Gerry and Richy are away on holiday shortly but have already put entries in for Thundersport rounds at Cadwell Park in May and Oulton Park in June!

Let’s hope the team can build on the success of Croft but not forgetting the philosophy of the team – HAVING FUN!!!

Gerry #157

Richy #156

Team RBRacing/Labman

Jan, Sarah, Ally and Jo