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Aug 16 Today was a day of kiwi ingenuity and experimentation in our quest for speed.

Traction and the slippery surface was still the issue, so we decided to add weight to the bike, and doing what a kiwi does well we feretted around the pit area at Bonneville and managed to borrow two 20 kilo blocks of lead, and with the help on an ex-pat kiwi who borrowed a gas plant for us, we were able to melt down down the lead in to two baked bean cans, (which was our lunch!). Taking the two cans of lead we mounted them in to the FRP manufactured NOS bottle tail fairing, and strapped them in place.

I took off for the next run and developed a really wild weaving of the rear of the bike, which I thought I could power out of however the weaving became more aggressive, and at about 120mph I elected to abort the run, as the bike was becoming uncontrollable. I turned off track number one before the mile marker, and waited for Violet, Neil and Andy to come and pick me up with the motor home and trailer.

The lead weight proved to create to high and to aft centre of gravity and thus the instability we experienced on the ZX14 on the salt. We tried another run without the weight and with the NOS nozzle modified, and the bike handled well on the salt other than the high speed wheel spin and we passed at around 179.99mph. After more head scratching we decided to add weight at the axle, and called in to a local auto shop and brought 50 wheel weights, which Neil melted down on the gas cooker in a baked bean can and then poured the lead in to the centre of a spare axle I had.

This worked well and was refitted to the bike after we refuelled it with 100MUL, which was one of the approved race fuels at Bonneville. We did a run and the bike handled well but a little surging was encountered, which we suspected may have been a NOS flow issue, so we elected to try the next run with out NOS. We ran the bike with out NOS for the next run and it performed well, however we still encountered the dreaded high speed wheel spin with speed in the 170's. This run was carried out down the right hand side of the number one long track.

We elected to lower the tyre pressure and run again almost immediately after our return to the start line queue.

Because of the problems with wheel spin I elected to run down the right hand side of the strip where the salt condition appeared to be good, especially close to the line.


We lined the ZX14 up for the next run, and Neil went through the final check on the bike, and attached the tether ignition kill, and with the thumbs up from the starter, locked my visor in place. I started off reasonably hard down the strip getting a little wheel spin, but quickly shifting through the gears, using the air shifter. We were aiming for an entry speed of around 170mph.

The speed looked good through the traps and I was running about two metres off the line on the right hand side of the strip. Speed was looking good at around 170mph, and as I tucked in behind the fairing I saw the speed slowly increasing while fitting the wheel spin. I went passed the 4 mile marker at around 175mph and speed was still picking up slowly, when the back when suddenly slipped to the left, pointing me directly at the 5 mile photo cell, which is on a timber an PVC pipe construction.

I had no time to correct and I hit the timing marker at over 175mph, sending plastic and wood in all directions, and despite the high speed impact I was still able to control the bike, and keep it upright, however I could not break and with the high speed I soon hit the five and a half mille marker as well. I managed still to stay upright, as the bike slowly rolled to a stop. I had to take a few minutes to myself to recompose myself after my high speed crash and exit from the track.

I was now some six miles from the start position and took off my helmet and started to walk back to where the trail of debris was, as I needed to ensure there was no danger to other competitors, with damaged parts lying on the track. The Kawasaki ZX14 Black Thunder had sustained considerable frontal damage after the impact and the whole lower belly pan part of the fairing had gone along with parts of the lower side fairing. My new windscreen was smashed completely, with debris on my lap from parts of the fairing and wood and PVC from the timing Markers.

A few minutes later a track official came down in his vehicle to investigate, and e advised me they closed the track, and then went up to look for debris at the 5 mile point. I was picking up debris of faring parts, timing markers, wood and PVC pipe, to try and clean the area up. Shortly after my recovery vehicle (motor home and trailer) arrived to collect me and the bike to return to the pits.

The damage to the bike was sufficient (as we had no parts available) to end my racing at Bonneville and completely diminish our chances of taking out the record this year. It has been a hard lesson on picking up techniques and trial and error with various configurations of the bike for Bonneville, however the mishap has not dampened my enthusiasm in the search for speed, and with a few dollars spent on "Black Thunder" back in NZ, it will be all up and running again.

The thoughts of Bonneville 2008, are in my mind and I know the appetite has been whet for the rest of the team, so we will see how our funding goes for development of the bike, and trip planning for next year.

We might be down but we are not out!!

Click HERE for 14 August report.

Click HERE for 12 August report.

Click HERE for 11 August report.

Click HERE for 10 August report.

Click HERE for 06 August report.