Off Road

Off-Road Racing With Our Suzuki RM-Z 250

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Posted:

After spending a month getting to know our 2014 Suzuki RM-Z 250 it was time to head to the race track and do what the little yellow beast was designed to do, line up behind the gate and go racing, Well maybe not a gate!

There is no doubt that the Suzuki RM-Z is a tried and tested motocross weapon and we can't wait to get behind the start gates and hit a up motocross race, which is about to happen but not quite yet.

The first two races on our race calendar after taking hold of our new bike just happened to be rounds seven and eight of the 2014 Australian Off-Road Championships being held in Coonawarra in South Australia followed by the 2014 Hattah Desert Race.

So with these two races in mind we set about getting our RM-Z 250 ready for the its first race.

How did we prepare the our bike for the reasonably tight and twisty pine forrest and quarry riding that we were likely to find at the AORC round in S.A?

The short answer, we added a set of Raptor Titanium Footpegs thanks to the guys over at Mainmoto.com.au, Racetech handguards thanks to the guys at John Titman Racing and a Acerbis bash plate thanks to the guys over at MX1 Australia. A fresh air filter was put in the airbox that was well oiled with Penrite filter oil and also gave our small bore four stroke some fresh Penrite MC Full Synthetic oil to ensure she ran faultlessly over the two days of riding action.
The R-Tech hand-guards came in more than handy when heading into the pine forests at Coonawarra in SA. Credit: Kait Pascoe
Apart from the hand guards, bash plate and Raptor pegs, the bike was still in complete stock form apart from a quick sag check and ride height adjustment from Grant at Bike Tune.

It was the second year in a row that we had attended the Coonawarra round of the AORC championship so we had a fair idea of what to expect.

Saturday treated us to two tests, the first test being the Quarry test that started along side the pits in a old quarry before heading into the adjacent pine Forrest for some sandy single track action.

The second test was held in and endless Sandy scrub-land that would prove to be one of the most punishing tracks ever ridden especially by day two!

In stock trim the Suzuki RM-Z 250 handled both tests perfectly, more so the Quarry / Pine forest test, where the fast turning nimbleness of the bike really came into play, giving a great deal of confidence to just stand on the pegs and ride.

By days end we had racked up over two and a half hours of competitive racing action (for the fast guys like Daniel Milner is was closer to an hour and a half of action!) along with another hour or so of trail riding between the two tests. It was safe to say both our RM-Z and myself had done enough for one day.



Day two once again consisted of two tests, with the sandy scrub test once again coming into place along with a grass track test, though the grass track test combined about 1 minute and 30 seconds of prime sandy grass track and another (For Myself) just over ten minues of sandy pine forest riding that can be seen in the above video.

Luckily for all involved the sandy scrub test was reduced to just two laps to kick of the morning, with the rest of the day spent on the much more enjoyable Grass Track test.

Once again our RM-Z handled the day's riding in its stride and really was a pleasure to ride in the tight forest sections and an absolute blast when things opened up in the grassy field.

After two days of riding the two last minute additions to our bike proved to be a god send. Raptor footpegs that ironically were a set of the MX Pegs after running the Enduro pegs in 2013 once again proved why I was so eager to make them the first addition to our RM-Z 250, these pegs really do offer more grip than you could ask giving you the knowledge that your feet are never going to slip off the pegs while riding.

Looking down at what were new hand-guards at the start of the weekend as the two day event came to an end it was apparent that R-Tech hand guards had more than done there job. They had taken a decent hammering and were scuffed up noticeable from taking on the branches of the pine trees for two days straight, while my hands were all in once piece, unlike last year!

The bash plate had also done its job, ensuring that both the frame rails and more importantly all engine, transmission and other vulnerable parts of the bike were saved from any damage.

Our Suzuki RM-Z 250 has passed its first racing test for the year, but there was more Off-Road racing action to come!

I must also give a huge thanks to the guys at Kessner Motorcycles for all their help over the weekend, from setting up a place for myself to pit over the weekend and helping with anything I needed. A huge shout out to Harry Norton for organising it all.

With the AORC round done and dusted it was time to prepare for our now annual trip to Mildura for the Hattah desert race.
With a host of parts rocking up just before the 2014 Hattah desert race, our Suzuki RM-Z 250 took on a huge transformation in the days leading into the race.
2014 would be the 5th straight year we have headed to Hattah for what is considered one of the toughest if not the toughest single day dirt bike race in the country.

2014 would be the second time we had raced this event aboard a RM-Z 250, though it was the first time we would attempt the full four hour race on a small bore 250F after racing the Clubman class back in 2012.

While our preparation for the AORC round was kept to a minimum things were a little more hectic in the lead up to Hattah with a host of parts arriving for our bike just before the event.

Thanks to the guys at John Titman Racing, we were set to hit the sand with a set of MotoOZ Tmotoz Terrapactor tyres! Yep the MotoOZ mid soft tyre has a tread pattern that looks as terrifying as the name of the tyre and the deep sand of Hattah would be the perfect place to put the tyre's to the test.

The good news was we were sliding these new tyres onto a new set of rims with the purchase of set of Blue SM Pro Platinum rimmed, Black Spoked, Red Talon Hubbed wheels from JTR and just to top things off and bring everything into line we also added a Moto Master 270mm oversize front disc brake rotor and Moto Master rear brack disc as well.

We also bolted on a 47 red Talon sprocket on the new rear wheel to replace the 49 tooth original sprocket, just to give us a little more top speed at Hattah, though in hindsight, we maybe should have gone a little taller.

Adding to the braking components of the bike we also bolted on a Hammerhead Design brake pedal and also a matching shift lever, with both parts offering an increased size and feel to the stock components.

To add a little more colour to the bike ran with a set of blue Samco Sport radiator hoses that would tie in nicely with our overall Yellow/Blue and Red Colour scheme we had lined up!
The little Suzuki RM-Z 250 loved the sand of Hattah - Credit: Kendal Jennings.
The other big addition that arrived just before we loaded up and headed to Hattah was our new graphics kit, once again designed and printed by the great people over at Ringmaster Images.

The guys over at Ringmaster can't be beat when it comes to long lasting graphics and after some back and forth emails we finalised a sweet looking Yellow and Blue graphics set with Red Number backgrounds! No I was not leading any championships at the time, but in my home state of South Australia, we run red backgrounds in the Vets class! Yes I am getting old.

With our graphics on (Minus the number plates due to running a different number for Hattah) I gathered up a few mates and made the trip to Mildura.

For the second straight year we were treated to near perfect weather for the big race, with cool conditions greeting us for Prologue on Saturday.

Having absolutely no time to actually go testing with our RM-Z 250 in the lead up to Hattah, the first time I had a chance to test how the suspension would react at speed would be during the site lap of the prologue course, then get a real feel for it during the timed lap! Not idea but I was confident that the SSF Showa set up on the RM-Z would be fine as for the rear, just like the 2012 model we had, the thing was stable and confidence inspiring from the moment I first threw a leg over the bike so I had no worries at all there.

The Prologue lap went considerably well (You can check it out below), it was the same track that had been used the previous two years and I was able to set a time exactly one second slower than the previous year and some 15 seconds than two years ago. Considering I was held up a little and it was the first time I had ridden the bike in those type of conditions I was happy with the lap time and also happy to qualify inside the top 300 hundred riders out of the 400 that entered, which was my aim, though was a little bummed when I realised that nearly 60 riders who entered had not rocked up.



With Prolouge out of the way it was back to the Motel to shower, rest up, hit the local pub for dinner then sleep, well try to anyway!

Sunday morning was made easy once again thanks to the guys at Kessner Motorcycles who for the second event running helped us out with everything we needed including our Suzuki pit tent and a hand to dig our pit hole! A must for Hattah.

There is no better sight in dirt bike racing than the start of the Hattah Desert race. Watching 350 riders line up in four rows of 100 riders and taking off one by one has the hairs on the back of your neck tingling and that is why sitting on the line waiting for your turn to race off onto the 40Km long sand loop!

The first lap of Hattah is normally super hectic. It normally consists of a 15-20km MX style sprint race where you are banging bars and dodging the riders who's sand riding skills have quickly bought them undone, followed by another 20km or so of finding your place in the field. In most years it has been a time where I normally pass quite a few riders and have a handful of fast guys who have not qualified to well for some reason or another fly past me.

This year however was a little different! The first 5-10Km were a little hectic but not to bad, with only a handful of riders crashing and myself only passing a handful of other riders while being past maybe once or twice at the most myself. By the 15km mark I had settle into a bit of clear air with pretty much no one around me!

The opening two laps of the years race were pretty straight forward for myself and gave me a good chance to get to know our Suzuki a little better. As expected the bike handled perfectly in the tight stuff, was stable at high speed (As fast as I would go!) though as mentioned earlier I should have gone with a little taller gearing. This was the first year at Hattah that I had a bike where I actually ran out of throttle before my sense of self preservation kicked in!
There is nothing better than crossing the line at the end of 4.5 hours of Hattah, despite the pain and being completely spent, it normally takes less than an hour to start planning for next years race -
By lap three the front runners were coming by me, which was expected. With the race being shortened from 8 laps to 7 in 2014, my aim was to get in five of the seven laps and only be lapped by the likes of Toby Price twice!

Coming in at the end of lap three I was still feeling great, I was still full of energy and looking forward to heading back out for another lap or two. That was in stark contrast to 2013 where by the end of lap three I was spent and endured the most painful 2 hours of riding to finish of that years event.

By lap four the track is starting to get really beat up, tough and a little dry. The sections of track that were more of a nice loam early in the day are loose dusty sand, though the majority of the track actually stayed quite moist all day.

At the end of lap four I was staring to feel the affects of riding for three and a half hours straight, but there was not time for rest with the fifth and final lap laying ahead.

The final lap proved once again to be tough, my little RM-Z 250 had hauled by butt around at a decent pace and was not going to let me down and guided me around the final lap in just over one hour and a total time of 4 hours and 27 minutes, some 13 minutes faster than my effort the previous year.

I finished the event in 169th outright and 27th in the Vets class and managed to lap faster in every lap over my lap times in 2013, so all in all I was happy with the result and am already looking forward to improving on that result again in 2015!

Yes as crazy and as hard as the Hattah desert race is, it is an event that has you coming back year after year no matter what pain it leaves you in!

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