Simon Neill - Watergate Bay Sprint 18/19 Sept 2021


Well an eventful last 3 weeks….

I entered the Watergate Bay Sprint in Cornwall some time ago and it finally came around on 18/19 September.. I had been watching the weather and pretty much dead cert to be wet!!

I had happened to have booked a week in Cornwall so just towed the Indy there for the week! Walked the course on Saturday and it looked fast and flowing. There were a number of cones and straw bales strategically located to move you off line in an attempt to lower speed I guess but nonetheless it looked a nice layout.

Off I went to the startline and just wanted a sighter in as it was still damp on road (not actually raining). And off the line, loads of wheelspin and quickly up into 4th I think with caution to the first of two rightish bends, the second a little tighter. I was over cautious on this one and then dropped to third for the kinked run upto the 90 degree left and got back into 4th before this and then brake down into 2nd, round corner and then over finish in 3rd… Over in about 30 secs!!

It stayed dry running upto 2nd run and already knew where I could easily go quicker. Stayed in 4th through first right and then I think I quickly dropped to third and then nailed throttle through to 5th before the dreaded 90 left… Over the line in 30 secs ish which wasn’t bad and 3rd in class I think.

Again I re-lived it all and thought that actually hold 4th around both first right handers and get into 5th early before the 90 left… and so to the 3rd run…

Off the line, not bad and nailed throttle to pick up and hold 4th through both first right handers and slid out the 2nd, on the throttle and into 5th… on the right hand side of the road before the 90 left there were some cones and straw, and the same on the left which kind of keeps you in the wrong place for the corner entry (racing line), I was pretty much flat out in 5th, braked hard, clipped straw on left (and cone), locked up massively and unfortunately straight on into ½ ton straw bale on the 90 left! Crunch… All I could think of is that my mum was watching her first sprint with me driving and she’d never forgive me… Thumbs up to marshalls and they pushed me back…. Steering not working and the car had a severe slant at front…. Back into paddock to look at damage..

OSF Wishbone deformed on the curved bit and bent downwards. OSF wishbone bracket bent beyond hitting it back into place… Steering arm had been wrenched out of threaded rack end. Crack to front wheel arch… I did not drive on Sunday!

Over the week on holiday in cornwall I ordered up a new steering rack from MK, along with a wishbone and a couple of brackets as I had an entry for Goodwood on 2nd October. Got home from holiday to find all delivered apart from wishbone (which was chased by MK and delivered later in week).

A friend offered to cut and weld a new bracket for the wishbone and saw it as a challenge to cut and fabricate a wishbone to get me on track for goodwood. New Wishbone made and little bit of making a sort of jig to get the position of the bracket right and then all welded and bolted back in. I fitted the new escort quick rack with the adaptor plate from MK and found the steering column lower member was a perfect fit with no cutting needed…

Quickly sorted out a crude toe alignment tool (two bits of wood, gaffer tape and tape measure and set to give ‘some’ toe out. Drove ½ mile last Wednesday and it rand straight ahead ok. Got home and then could not restart engine on Thursday. No error codes on dash other than the word CHECK. This meant no power to ECU. Only reason for this is the tip over sensor or other interlock. After cutting open all wiring conduits and tape I found two resistors to be knackered that were bypassing the tip over sensor. Amazon assisted I ordered loads of 150 Ohm resistors and sought advice from the BEC Group (thanks Adam H)… On Friday (last Friday) she finally started at 6pm…. On the trailer and off to a wet Goodwood.

First Run at Goodwood was scary, as I had far too much toe out, sharp into corners far too sharp.. No confidence in her… Back into paddock and assisted by fellow class members, worked out that there was more toe on one side than the other, which explained the weird feeling on left hand st Mary’s. Dialled a bit of that out and went out for the only dry run not knowing what to expect…

Felt much better on turn in and more confidence back… the time 102.25 which is actually a fraction quicker than I ran on my last run at goodwood in the bone dry so well pleased with her and I look to next year to get under the 100 secs which I can see exactly where my time can improve… Rain got the better of the next run and bailed on the 3rd timed as I was not going to go any quicker!

Over the winter I need to get the geometry sorted properly as I think I may well be far off with my crude settings. Need to do a bolt check but that’s it to be honest as I know that most of the improvement will come from me and my driving as opposed to bolting stuff on or replacing this and that… An example here is that I Still coast into the right hander at end of Lavant straight rather than nailing throttle and hard on brakes, there is easily a second or two on that corner but I just need to get my reference point! The brakes work superbly and it is just me modulating speed through simply relaxing right foot where I should be on it until 50m board and bang, scrub speed and turn it… Ahh that’s next year.. What a year in the GSXR Indy, very capable, 2 class wins and never came last.

The crash at Watergate, well I was committed and trying, that is the proof. Big thanks to MK and speed at which they get stuff to your door J What a product the INDY R is and What a company MK are!

Back to blog