Racers Edge Performance and Craig McMartin Racing had a difficult weekend at the second round of the 2016 Swann Series held at Mallala Motorsport Park over the weekend 27-29 May with storm conditions and other issues thwarting any attempt to get a setup that would allow Beau Beaton and the Panigale R to show their real potential.
Making the long trip to South Australia for the first time in a few years the Racers Edge Performance Team were desperate for dry track conditions to get the Craig McMartin prepared Panigale R setup for the unique circuit just north of Adelaide.
Fridays showers, and almost cyclonic wind conditions at times, robbed the team of much needed track time to adapt to the – new for 2016 – Dunlop control tyre used in the Superbike class. One solitary session, where Beau was able to get seven laps in was all the team were able to achieve prior to qualifying which was delayed till Saturday morning due to the diabolical conditions.
Saturdays qualifying session to determine the grip for the first AFX-SBK race was help on a wet but drying track and Beau completed the session on wet tyres to secure a position on the grid, this was not the time to be taking risks with a full weekend of, hopefully dry, racing ahead.
Race one saw Beau get a good start and move forward six positions on the first lap, going within a whisker of his qualifying lap from a standing start whilst negotiating traffic. Setting his fastest lap of the weekend, by almost five seconds, on lap two Beau was involved in a tight tussle with local rider Liam Wilkinson and up and comer Brad Swallow. Beau moved into fifth on lap five but was then relegated to his eventual finishing position the next lap, tenth place and finally some data for the team to work with.
Team Manager Greg Maher and technical guru Mark “Doc” Downie set to work to adapt the bike from the feedback provided by Beau after the first dry session all weekend.
Unfortunately, an intermittent electrical gremlin crept in early in race two as Beau had just improved his best lap time of the weekend, forcing the bike to be retired.
The same issue also forced Beau to retire after only four laps in race three. Two DNF’s meant that Beau would need a great start in race one as he would grid up for Sunday’s premier Swann Insurance Championship on the fourth row of the grid.
With the failure of small, non-Ducati part, on the Panigale R Beau was forced to bring the spare Racers Edge Performance Craig McMartin Racing 1299 Panigale S into action for the first time this year. Morning warm-up showed the gearing used on the Panigale R would not work on the torquier engine so the team worked had to adapt the setup and change gearing ready for race one.
Once again Beau launched off the line well and improved six positions in the first lap, setting his best lap of the race, and weekend so far, on lap two. Beau was in the thick of a dogfight for position once again and was forced wide at turn three on the penultimate lap losing time and position. Ninth place and best lap of the weekend showed the team were moving in the right direction despite the change of bike.
Races two and three once again started out with Beau in the pack and dicing but the cut and thrust of the midfield saw Beau loose out in both track position and time. Forced into lonely rides on both occasions Beau continued to push on with consistent laps after both race incidents to secure tenth in each race.
Beau now sits in seventh place in the championship only and handful of points out of the top six.
Fridays conditions also hampered to ability to setup the thundering Irving Vincent 1600cc four valve that for the first time wore the number one plate courtesy of victory in the 2015 Championship.
Beau needed only three laps to secure pole position for Saturdays AFX Championship race one in the short session held on a drying track early on Saturday morning.
Beau took impressive victories in races one and two despite the constant harassment early in both races from Aprilia RSV4R mounted Michael McMillian, by 2.6 and 3.9 seconds respectively. The superb handling and braking ability of the KH Equipment Irving Vincent clearly evident.
Race three saw Beau once again blast off the line and set an unmatchable pace early, opening up an impressive 4.2 second lead by the completion of lap three on the all Australian built machine. Beau noticed the bike starting to have fuel starvation issues so he smartly short-shifted for the remainder of the race using the torque of the 1600ccV-Twin to secure second place, and another round victory.
Ken and Barry Horner immediately were onto the bike and diagnosed a faulty fuel connector as the culprit of the fuelling issue.
Race one on Sunday was a much closer affair with both Beaton and McMillian improving their lap times and dipping into the 1:10’s, the only riders to do so in the race. Beau was able to lead over the line on every occasion but McMillian was a constant threat, never more than half a second behind over the closing stages of the race. Victory and fastest lap of the weekend for Beau and the Vincent a good sign for another strong day.
McMillian stated well in race two and was able to hold Beau out through the tight and technical turn one and two area on the opening lap. The Vincent was tucked right in bind the screaming V-Four for the five laps, never more than .2 behind at the completion of a lap. Beau forced the Vincent past on lap five and opened a small gap that McMillian reeled back in on the last tour to finish only .3 of a second behind, thrilling the large crowd.
Not allowing McMillian to lead race three Beau was quick off the line and lead the opening five laps, with McMillian right behind, another enthralling race was beginning to unfold. However, on lap six Beau got into turn three at the end of the pit straight too hot, running wide and allowing McMillian through to take the win, disappointingly, as Beau had just set the fastest lap of the race on lap four.
Two wins and a second was enough to take the Swann Series round win and claw back some of McMillians lead courtesy of the two DNF’s at round 1.
Up and down weekend for us really at round two” said a disappointed Beau Beaton. “We just had some bad weather and bad luck all affect us at the same time. I am a bit disappointed in myself but I realised in Sundays race two is was not my weekend on the Panigale, in fact I was luck not to get taken out a few times and safe points was by far the better option as we were just a fraction off the pace. I feel sorry for the team because they all work so hard, Greg, Doc and Julie worked tirelessly all weekend. I felt sorry for Craig too as he puts so much effort into prepping the bikes and to have an issue that was way out of his control on the Panigale R cause two DNF’s was disappointing. On the up side we had a strong weekend on the KH Equipment Irving Vincent though, Ken and Barry have worked so hard this year and the engine and chassis were brilliant to allow me to battle with bikes that have so much more power. In fact, the whole team didn’t miss a beat over the weekend and everyone kept a smile on their face even though we had some disappointment. As always I must say a big thanks to Greg and Julie from Racers Edge, Craig McMartin for building the bikes and Steve Mudford fine tuning the setup while Mark “Doc” Downie and Greg worked tirelessly on them both all weekend. Ken and Barry have made massive steps forward with the Irving Vincent and its clearly evident here this weekend and it was good to get some results for them after the last round as a reward”.
“Not our best weekend ever” commented Team Manager Greg Maher “In saying that we had no testing at this circuit, and Beau had not been on the bike since round one, so we were always going to start behind the eight ball. Fridays conditions did not help at all and a I think all things considered we worked hard to overcome the obstacles. The electrical gremlin was an issue that we have never had before and now that we all know what the problem was it should not be an issue again. It was also Beau’s first time on the Panigale here and that bike is about as different to the 1198S as Mallala is to Sydney Motorsport Park. I am proud of the way the team kept their heads down and spirits up. I was once told by a very smart person that you have to really enjoy the good weekends when you have them because ultimately the bad will outweigh the good. That was a bad one, we’ll come out strong at Queensland Raceway, hopefully after a test and show the real potential of our bike and rider”.