Formula 400

2024 Round 2 – March 2024 – Mac Park, Mount Gambier, South Australia – RACE REPORT

Like the set from Planet Helion Prime in Riddick , Armageddon came to MacNamara Park on Saturday with a Vengeance!
Friday was like ‘You’ve got mail’ by comparison but not without issues.

For Adam , continuing to chase overheating problems on his CBR400 and chewing up the lead on his rear tyre warmer in his chain , requiring electrical surgery.

Geoff and Mat set up in the usual 400 tent city though minus a few mates , i.e. Kettle (ex VFR god and 400 King of Mac Park) Embley, Josh, Nick, Dave’O and the Beecham duo of Brett and Riley, all of whom had the usual dodgy excuses but for Brett and Riley who had a newy : ‘Oh the brakes are gone on our dual cab so that’s out. We’d take the missus station wagon but the Mercedes technology won’t let the car out of limp mode (bit like Brett and Riley) and it can’t be backed out of the driveway’. Pity , because they would love the track, its a great one to ride.

|It was pretty low key at the pub later on as we all had to behave and set a good example in the company of Adam and his two girls. Not to mention Adam, in particular, who you could see was chomping at the bit to cut loose!

Sunrise I think there must have been two of them) on Saturday morning saw Qualy end up something like this ;
Ari- 1.22.5, Adam -1.22.56, Mat-1.22.9, Geoff- 1.23.0, Jim- 1.23.4, Chris-1.23.6, Garrick- 1.29.7 and Ross- 1.39.5 with Garrick and
Ross not having been to the track before and still finding their way around.

Racing was ‘HOT’ in the lightweights with Mat coming 2nd to the flying Tara Morrison on her EX4r00, Ari 4th, Geoff 5th (after an off track excursion), Garrick 6th and DNF’s for Chris Duffy on another borrowed and struggling VFR, Ross – I think giving in to dehydration and Jim for reasons he’ll explain to us later!

By now it was 41 deg C and the track temp was about 65 + deg C with a stifling hot wind from the North.
Race 1 ended thus, Adam, Geoff, Mat, Ari, Jim and Ross after Jim and Ari jumped the start.
Race 2 : Adam, Ari, Mat, Geoff, Jim, Chris, Garrick, Ross.

Garricks rise to stardom was again temporarily halted due to his mistaken belief he could conquer the stifling conditions with just a positive attitude and sucking on an ice cube. Even the Pseudoephedrine didn’t help and after a couple of track outings, retired to his chair in the pits in front of a cooling fan supplied by a sympathetic competitor. He had, however, recovered enough to join his fan club in town that night for the beer and barbeque festival happening the same weekend.

To the thrill and surprise, of some of his fans, Garrick lost the front at turn 1 in one of his races, testing out his air bag leathers to his satisfaction, being largely unhurt and doing an on the spot review of his airbag system. Garrick jumped up and then tried to name the corner as his, like they did at phillip island naming the old honda turn “jack off corner” after jack had an off there. But to his dismay turn one has already been claimed by many before him, namely cappa who made the same song and dance all those years ago. Sorry Garrick, going to have to flop off and claim a different turn there bud.

Thanks to a tip from one of the older, more experienced riders (52 is pretty old Jay) Mat and Geoff were seen scampering to the showers together at the 5 minute call, returning with both of them grinning from ear to ear soaking wet from head to toe. It didn’t look half suss , donning helmets and rushing out to the dummy grid , completing the out lap and gridding up , all the while leaving a trail of water all about , all to stay off the blistering heat for at least a few laps.
“Works a treat ” Geoff exclaims back under the spanish rotunda as steam billowed from his dripping leathers and fogging up his glasses and helmet visor while Mat emptied water out of his boots doing a shoey at the same time as he reckoned he needed the extra hydration. But overall he recons the extra weight cost him 2 seconds a lap!

Thanks to the attention of the Dantes Inferno committee for shortening the remaining races and forgoing the lunch break we were able to crack a coldy at about 3 pm by which time Adam had googled a swimming spot (little blue lake), a 15 minute drive from the track. 5 minutes later, half the 400 guns along with Adam and the girls were jumping off a 4 meter ledge into a wondrously cool, fresh water hole, 70 meters deep, along with half of Mt Gambier and their dogs. Never before has a swim been more welcome .

The planned dinner and quiz night in the clubrooms was shortened to just dinner as the general consensus was that everyone was a bit too knackered to party on beyond that. I think it was still 30 plus deg at around 9.30 pm!
Sunday, The Day After Tomorrow, arrived, thankfully along with a cool change. Now its only 39 deg and the maelstrom from the Northern deserts was now coming from the sun baked deserts in the West, now causing havoc to our pop up marques which had to be pegged and tied to every available anchor point to keep them from flying away.

A dwindling number of riders fronted for the lightweights won by Tara Morrison followed by Toby James on his R3 with best placed 400 Mat in 3rd, Garrick in 5th and Jim retiring several laps in. Adam, Geoff, and Ross opting to pass and Chris not being able to continue the racing due to an expired RVF400 engine.

The final Formula 400 race on Sunday was hotly contested by everyone right to the end with 1.59 seconds covering the first 5 places. Ari and Jim swapped fastest laps with Geoff snapping at their heels and Mathew Ritter ( NSF 250) and Mat Elith ( still trailing a torrent of water ) right on his tail . Garrick and Ross battled it out for the next two spots.

Ari was lucky to be able to complete all his races for the weekend after a high side out of the final turn, sending him skyward, landing head first onto his screen which most likely arrested his impact with the ground somewhat and avoiding injury worse than just a bit of bruising. Some fettling in the pits saw his bike ready again for his next race.

Adam missed the last race of his meeting after thinking his bike was no longer overheating, removing the radiator cap for a look see how much water he had to add. Unfortunately it still had pressure and erupted like Mount Vesuvius resulting in a burn on his hand that resembled the face of freddy krueger . grabbing his hand with his bottom lip quivering he was over heard calling for mummy. Karen and Roly Skate came running to the rescue to chipped in and bandage him up, supply an ice pack and help him pack up all his gear ready for the drive home Sunday night. We’ve since heard his hand has healed up well and the sneaky dodgy head gasket replaced ready for round 3. Funny thing is now he has a scar on his hand that looks like a radiator cap. Go check it out next time you see him!

Jim was noted for his presence in the front group in his first full race meeting in the Formula 400 category and looks like a force to be reckoned with for the remainder of the series.

Ross had a struggle coming to grips with the track , not helped by the extreme conditions but completing most of his races and giving Garrick a bit of curry to boot .

Thanks heaps to the Mac Park Motorcycle cub for hosting the event and all Hartwell committee and volunteers , Marshals , safety crew and ambos for enduring the heat over the weekend to make the event possible in the tough conditions .

Rnd points for Formula 400 Expert , Won by Jim Agombar 59
Second Geoff Sanders 58
Third Mat Elith 56
Adam Stockdale 50
Chris Duffy 16

Novice Won by Ari Horgen 75
Second Ross Leslie 56
Third Garrick Atkin 40

2024 Round 1 – February 2024 – Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit – RACE REPORT


Welcome to Phillip Island for the Hartwell Club Championship opening round and what weather it has been!

Perhaps the track has been moved to another hemisphere for the sun was shining, 25 or so degrees both days and a cooling breeze wafting through the pits. Even Friday practice was blissful as riders became accustomed to the new track surface.

Various reports of tyre issues though some noted worn tyres were cleaning up after a number of laps.

Some of the big guns were not competing which gave opportunity to a few others to take the spoils. Embley, Kettle, Willingham, Van Wetering and O’Connell all absent for various ridiculous reasons.

A few Novice riders rocked up for their Phillip Island Race debut on a 400. Chris Newman VFR400, Ross Leslie VFR400 and Garrick Atkin RVF400.

Poor old Chris had CBR400 engine problems early on and his 400 weekend finished with a splutter, so he saved his best for the bucket racing. His CB125E could be seen wincing in the corner of his pit!

Garrick Atkins meteoric rise to stardom was put into reverse as he realised how FAST the PI track is!
He was also stumped as to the (almost) absent need to be constantly working on his bike, wandering about the pits with a bewildered look on his face. He did ,however, having triumphantly repaired his long ailing rear brake, have a new concern about his front brake – maybe just an excuse for going soo slow! To keep him occupied between races he fortunately had 3 of his kids in attendance, requiring many trips to the kiosk for icy poles and other sugar hits.

Ross Leslie was introduced to the 400 crew after getting himself organised to finally have a race on his VFR after many a track day on various bikes over the years and slotted himself into the second oldest 400 rider position next to Geoff Sanders who fronted up for his 9th year in the category. Ross had plenty of battles with Garrick over the weekend, swapping places numerous times, getting their monies worth at the Island track.

Jason Embley did, in fact, turn up but only to bleat and moan about how he’d rather be on the track racing but doctors had warned him if he did so, they would give him a lobotomy. Therefore he got busy helping out in the pits, sorting various bike issues and rider complaints.

Even the great Kettle turned up, expecting to launch into his best Murray Walker impersonation commentating on all the racing over the weekend, only to be told his appearance fee was a bit meaty and the PI track management couldn’t afford it. Or was it the Hartwell Committee members that were racing didn’t want to be slandered all weekend! Nevertheless ,he joined Jay in and around the pits telling everyone where they were going wrong.

It was a particularly big weekend too with some of the ASBK riders participating to fine tune their kits for the upcoming ASBK season. Man, they are good to watch.

Jim Agombar presented with his VFR 400 as opposed to his usual TZ250 smoker and put in a good showing.

Chris Duffy smashed out some great lap times on Yossys VFR (a real tart that bike!), keeping up with Nicko and the flying Ari, until it lunched itself in F400 race 2. How many times do you have to rebuild that engine Glenn Kettle?

Other regulars Nick Leith, Ari Horgen, Mat Elith, Geoff Sanders, Lachlan Hill, Brett and Riley Beecham, Adam Stockdale, Adam Nicolson all got through the weekend (mostly) unscathed but poor old father Xmas, Russell Baker had further CBR overheating / oil mixing with water (like a cappuccino) problems, possible big end bearings too, ultimately putting him back into a rather familiar position of sitting in his pit corner watching everyone else go about their business.

Mat had a scare as his left side foot peg decided to go swimming at Woolamai midway through turn 12, resulting in his foot kicking the newly laid asphalt at quite some speed (“to test the grip level” he said).
A walk around the track on Sunday evening found said footpeg so then it was off to investigate the tensile strength and quality of various bolts. I’m sure there’ll be an equation for that. Matt “The Calculator” will find one. As with any 30+ year old bike, O’rings of various sizes throughout a bike go hard and Mat finally nailed an oil leak down to the starter motor O’ring which involves removing tank, carbies and air box to access and replace same, saving us all from an oily mist over our visors and screen for the remainder of the weekend.

Adam Stockdale chased gremlins with his bike, fashioning air ducts from cardboard and race tape to better cool his CBR and hopefully improve performance. Seems he may be going the full MotoGP ignition and blue anodised fairing bolts to keep up with Nicko, who raced to the front in most races on the green flash ZXR to only be beaten once by the flying Ari on his ZXR.
Adam, it seems, has become the only ‘Expert’ rider to win ‘Non Expert’ for the weekend! We heard say he wasn’t really happy about that because he really wanted to win ‘Novice’!

Nicko got his elbows out and muscled his way to the front in nearly all his races with Ari snapping at his heels most times. Ari was on fire all weekend, not only on his 400 but also on his 60, doing PB’s on both bikes. Must be those private coaching sessions with the Marquez brothers paying off!

Geoff #53 (not his age) after dishing out spare parts and drugs to nearly all the riders in the 400 pits, got on with Qualifying and lining up for the first 400 race, setting a PB and passing Riley and Jim before going to change down for turn1 and not locating a gear lever. Making good in the next race he took a further 1.1 seconds off his best coming 4th to Ari, Nick and Jim for his best result of the weekend. Setting out to improve on that, his chain went on holiday over the top of Lukey on the out lap of the last 400 race of the weekend, allowing him a head start on packing the bikes into the van and checking the beers were cold enough for later.

Not to be outdone in the gear failure race, Garrick did a good job of setting fire to his tyre warmers in the pits, leaving them plugged in whilst out on track. He and Geoff were seen stomping on them to extinguish the flames from the thoroughly torched velcro.

Riley was concerned about his front end, prompting consultation with all the ‘experts’ in the pits, coming up with about 36 possibilities of what the problem may be before going out and slamming home a couple more PB’s to finish off the weekend. Brett was heard saying Rileys allowance was going to be cut drastically since Riley beat him in all of their races.

PB’s were many, possibly due to the track surface which was nice and grippy. Nicko with 1.50 (possible PB , not confirmed because he has sold his garage fridge?), the Flying Ari 1.51, Geoffy 1.54 and a couple of others I’m sure.

The nightlife over the weekend was tame by comparison to other outings though it was said Adam Stocky found reason to stay up late at their accommodation having found a bottle of unknown origins in a cupboard??

The “Kettle” award goes to Adam Stockdale for winning ‘Non Expert ‘.

All in all a great weekend and everyone stayed on board . Looking forward to the next round at Mac Park in a few weeks.
Round 1 Points:

400 Expert400 Non-Expert400 NoviceP7
Nick Leith – 70Adam Stockdale – 70Ari Horgen – 75 Nick Leith – 70
Mat Elith – 56Riley Beecham – 65Adrian Beck – 60Ari Horgen – 65
Chris Duffy – 25Brett Beecham – 54Garrick Atkin – 53 Mat Elith – 53
Hartwell Lightweights : Ari Horgen running in 4th place
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