Racing a Serco Yoshimura Yamaha

Author: Aaryn Minerds

Author: Aaryn Minerds


Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think in this life time I would have a chance to race a fully prepped race bike in a national event and not only race one of the best bikes in Australia but to also join the Serco Yoshimura race team for a full weekend of racing and to top it off they were in the middle of a championship battle with their number one rider Kirk Gibbs.

I was always going to race the Vets 30-39 yr class at round nine of the Rockstar MX Nationals having already entered when the sup regs first came out. A couple a months before the event I got talking to Scott Bishop from Yamaha Australia and before I knew it he and Michael Marty team Manager for the Serco race team had come back to me with the chance to ride Ford Dale’s vacant race bike for the event and to top it off Ford would be my mechanic for the weekend.

Coming into the event I knew I was not going to win, I honestly was just hoping to be able to hang with the back of the field which in all honesty I thought I would be able to do. It had been awhile since I had ridden a small bore four stroke as I have been aboard a 450 for the past three years but I did not see this as a problem and as for riding a sand track, well I had just finished racing in the sand for four hours at Hattah, a short sand track should be easy to get used to right!

Friday was soon upon us and it was time to head to the track for sign on, pretty much at this time it had sunk into what I had gotten myself into, seeing the Serco Yoshimura truck being parked up with my race bike inside had me more than a little excited, this was not a dream I was turning up to a race meeting with a bike completely prepared for me to go racing, no filters , tyres, oil , chains and sprockets to check or replace the night before, no last minute rush because I had just realised my brake pads were down to metal, I just had to rock up and ride.

With Friday out of the way it was time to sleep and ready myself for Saturdays qualifying and racing, amazingly my week had been so busy and with a bit of work to do Friday night by the time it came to sleep I had no energy to over think what was about to happen, and actually got a good night’s sleep.

Saturday morning arrived and I was pretty relaxed I did not have to be ready to hit the track until 9.50am, the nerves were starting to kick in a little but overall I was feeling fine. Before I knew it, it was time to gear up and get ready to go ride for the first time, it was a little bit of a surreal feeling sitting in the back of a truck getting geared up ready to ride, having Luke Styke’s and Kirk Gibbs also in there getting ready to race and joking around and generally having a bit of fun actually helped me to relax. With my clean set of Answer riding gear on with full factory graphics adorning the race top I was looking pro and ready to ride.

I headed out the truck to be greeted by Ford Dale, he seemed nearly as keen as me to get to the line for practice, I don’t think he realised how slow I was! Michael was also on hand and headed down to the gate with me for practice, two mechanics, a fully prepped factory ride and decked out looking like a Pro I don’t know how my smile didn’t crack the front of my helmet it was that big.

Ford Dale talking me though the start with Michael Marty also throwing in some encouraging words.
Photo Credit : Rice Photography
Heading out on track for the first time aboard a bike you have never thrown a leg over is a bit of a scary feeling, even more so on a track you have never ridden, I had 20 minutes to get used the Serco Yamaha underneath me so I stuck my head down and stared riding laps. The first 10 minutes was practice the second 10 were for gate pick. I think I had put down six laps before I even contemplated pulling in for a quick break. My usual practice arm pump had kicked in but it was not going to stop me from riding, I was already feeling comfortable on the bike and was coming to grips with the bike though I knew I still had a lot of improvement inside of me, I was sitting down everywhere on the track which was a big indication I still had a bit of work to do to feel completely comfortable. With just a couple of minutes left in qualifying I headed out to try and put in a fast lap, well a fast lap for me, as much as I tried to push I could feel myself slowing up in corners and not getting on the gas when I should have been, I just didn’t have the confidence in myself to turn on the gas and lean the bike over when I should have been plus the arm pump had really kicked in at this stage.

I qualified second slowest in thirty fourth position and a long way off where I thought I would be, again I knew I was going to be near the bottom of the field but honestly thought I would be within a couple of seconds of the guys in front of me, not eight to ten seconds a lap behind them!

In no time at all it was time for moto one, I looked back outside the team truck and seen one of the most amazing sights ever, my bike was washed, had been checked over and looked like it had not even completed one lap of the track, compared to my usual race day where I am lucky to have clean number plates from race to race this was indeed factory treatment, Andrew and Adam were both working over my bike between races and Michael himself was also giving the bike a check over between moto’s. The other fun thing to see was seeing the #234 machine parked up by itself while Styke’s and Gibbsy were still out on the track, people were still stopping by and looking over the bike and taking photos, would have been interesting to see some of their reactions when they seen me on track.

Preparing to line up for moto one I let Ford pick my gate for me, usually if I have the choice I will line up to the extreme outside for moto one, I like to have a look over the field in the first race and am pretty conservative when it comes to diving in to the first turn in moto one. Having last pick of the gate I didn’t have much choice and Ford found me a nice gate down the inside it looked good and I was ready to race. Then it hit me, I have not even managed to do a practice start on this bike! How much throttle do I need, where was the clutch release point, how hard is this bike going to pull off the line, will I loop out!!! I am usually not to bad out of the gate and on a usual race day and will normally pull out one start where I will tip into the first turn up near the front, the other two or three normally see me at the back, it’s all or nothing I don’t like being mid pack into the first turn.

The thirty second board went up, I clicked into second gear, the board turned sideways the gate dropped, my jump was average , all my fault , I gassed it down the straight near last , I could see everyone pushing wide and thought I could duck down the inside, as I made that decision a few riders got together , I seen the bike to my outside go down and the rider get dragged by another bike right into my line, I jumped on the brakes and tried to pull it up and miss him but it was too late. My front wheel hit him right in the backside and down I went the poor guy had just been hit by two bikes and then had my 90 odd kilo body land on top of him, not a good start to the day.

A shot from one of the three GoPro Camera's a ran over the weekend, I Managed a good jump in the final moto though it did not last long as again i backed off when i should have held it on.
I jumped straight back up and looked across there were four of us down including Lusty Industries Johnny Mclean, he got going as I stood up, it took me awhile to get going again and my race was pretty much over. I put my head down a used the race to get myself more comfortable on the bike, it also gave me a chance to appreciate the bike with no pressure on me.

I am not going to go into a full detailed test type report on the bike, racing the bike although was a great way of seeing how the bike performed was not the time or place to sit and think about how things are happening and what is and is not working, though I can honestly say there was nothing on this bike that did not perform perfectly. The bike was everything I was expecting from it all weekend, I did not make one adjustment on the bike all weekend absolutely nothing, even basics like moving the bars, the levers the shifter the rear brake pedal, adjusting the clickers on the suspension, the bike felt super comfortable from the moment I stepped on it to the moment I finished riding, the amount of power the engine produced was simply amazing , especially for a 250F , the bike pulled as hard if not harder out of corners than my stock 3 year old 450 and I probably was not on the gas as hard as possible on the bike. It did not even matter if I was a gear to high the bike with a minimal amount of clutch would get up and go. The Serco Yoshimura Yamaha’s built in house by Michael Marty and his team are simply amazing. It would have been great to spend another day on the bike testing it in a non race situation unfortunately we did not do that this year, though it may have to be on the cards for the future.

Back to the first moto and after being nearly a lap down after the first turn crash I was actually quite happy to finish the race just one lap down, the track was already starting to get rough, honestly the track by the end of the first moto was probably the roughest track I have raced on and that was only after a half a day’s worth of riding and the Pro Classes only putting a total of 30 minutes on the track things were going to get a lot rougher.

Moto two came around and my mechanic wanted me to try something different off the start, Ford’s plan, and wait for the thirty second board to turn sideways count to five and dump the clutch! What’s the worst that could happen he said, you either hit the gate or pull a holeshot! I could not bring myself to do it, the thought of hitting the gate and crashing that bike before the gate had dropped after crashing in the first turn in moto one was enough for me to wait for the gate to actually drop. I got out the gate a fair bit better this race and started to get on it when the two bikes next to me clipped and one of the bikes came across into my line, I backed off a fraction and that was it.

I had a good first lap battle with the back of the field, making a couple of passes and actually racing for the first lap and a half before making a mistake mid second lap that put be back in last place, I did manage to make it back past my South Aussie buddy Scott Walker but that was it, just before I finished my third lap Cameron Taylor blew past me to put me a lap down and by the next lap most of the top ten had worked back past me, it was a little disappointing but also to be expected, half the guys in the top ten either still raced in the nationals or had only stopped in the last twelve months with the rest all previous top national riders, actually I think myself and maybe two or three others were the only riders in the race to have not been at least an A grade rider at a state level.

Photo Credit : Rice Photography
I checked out my lap times after race two, they were getting slower but that was to be expected on the track that was getting rougher and rougher by the second, everyone’s lap times were getting slower however I was still the same amount of time behind the next group in front of me needing to make up eight to ten seconds a lap, I compared myself to a few of the rider just in front of myself position wise and also Johnny Mclean just to see how far off I was from someone who has just started riding again, I was a good nine seconds of the pace of the back couple of riders and a whopping thirteen and a half seconds of Johnny I had some work to do.

The team was kept busy in the afternoon with Styke’s and Gibbs hitting the track for official qualifying for the Pro Lites class, I honestly expected to have the team leave me to my own devices for the afternoon with the attention turning to the Pro riders especially with Gibbs going for the title. The guys in the team however worked flat out and had my bike clean and looking like new again ready for moto three, the whole team work super hard on race day to make sure everything is perfect for all of their riders and I was being treated no differently even after putting arguably Australia’s fastest Lites bikes at the back of the pack.

I was feeling amazingly fresh heading into the final race of the day, arm pump was a non issue as always I had the pump in practice and that was it for the day. It was the last moto for the day the track had just taken a hammering with all three Pro Classes having twenty minutes each to qualify and then the ATV’s and the over forty’s class also having their final moto. The track was going to be a mess and with no sighting lap it was going to be an interesting first lap.

The gate dropped and again I got an average jump before turning into the first turn near last, this time I stayed out of trouble and things were looking good during the first lap with the pack just in front of me and I was holding onto them. Then I made a small mistake again putting me back last behind Scotty, two corners later I would get him back and decided to put my head down and ride as hard as I could, I was feeling at home on the bike and was standing up a lot more and it was helping allot. I rode most the race by myself having a couple of early fallers passing me mid race. I knew things were going well when Taylor came past to lap me nearly a quarter of a lap later than he had in previous races, I was still off the pace but on a track that was rougher than anything I had ever ridden before (except Beaudesert!) I was feeling good. The race ended again with myself in 31st position but a lot closer in times. My fastest lap time was actually over a second quicker than my best lap in moto two where the track was a lot smoother. My best lap time was actually quicker than two other riders and then just five seconds off the next rider and I had managed to get within seven seconds of Johnny best lap. I had finished out the day riding how I knew I could though still felt I had more inside of me but overall some good improvement over the day.

Photo Credit : Rice Photography
As soon as I got back to the Hotel I jumped into the swimming pool which was heated nicely for about 30 minutes before then hitting the spa for another 30 minutes, from there it was inside for some dinner, a little work and some sleep.

I woke up Sunday morning expecting to be sore, to my surprise I was feeling amazingly fresh, normally after a day of riding I struggle in the morning, I’m not sure if it was the swim, the new compression tights I was trying or the excitement of racing the Serco Yoshimura Yamaha or a combination of all three but I was excited to go racing and was really looking to go out and ride the best I could in my final moto on the factory bike, the dream was about to end and I wanted to have a really good crack in the final moto.

I made my way to the track and into the team truck to get ready. Again Gibbsy and Styke’s were there chatting and generally relaxed about the day, I sat down with Gibbs for a chat about his chances and how he was feeling going into the championship race day which you will be able to read all about soon. He was surprisingly calm and knew what he had to do, it was still a long shot for him he knew the only thing he could do was get the best results he could and let the rest play itself out, and he had qualified fastest and was ready to go.

I spoke to Michael and let him know I would be fine to do the final race on my own but he was having nothing of it, again along with Ford pushing my bike to the line and giving me advice before heading out to the track with Ford to pit board for me and be on hand if something went wrong.

We got a sight lap in before our race, the track had been freshly ripped and prepped for Sunday’s racing and with only a couple of classes on the track before we got out there I was expecting a reasonably smooth track, how wrong I was! The track had been ripped twice as deep as the day before and the natural bumps that were made on Saturday formed up instantly and were twice as deep, there were twice as many braking bumps into every corner and new straight lined ruts and braking bumps of the faces of some of the smaller jumps and the amount of lines in each corner was crazy, I had never in my life seen a track like this, Coolum is a unique track.

I was determined though to have a good moto and things started well, again there was a big crash in turn one, this time I was well clear and was again able to hang with the back of the field. I was struggling a little trying to get myself to ride like I knew I could, I was making silly mistakes and not getting on the gas when I should have. A few more riders had gone down in the first couple of laps and when I came past the pit board at the end of lap three Ford had the board hanging over the wall reading 26th place! I tried to hold it but the fallen riders were coming fast I seen them go by me one after one and by the fourth lap after getting lapped by Taylor my body finally gave in. I circulated around for the final lap and a half losing a couple more spots as I let faster riders lap me and finished the race out in 29th position I had finally cracked the top 30!

My racing was done; it was time to hand back the Serco Yoshimura Yamaha race bike for the final time and head up stairs to cover the day’s racing on the live Feed. As I sat in the teams truck for the final time gearing down I realised how lucky I had been to be able to ride with the team for the weekend. It truly was an amazing experience that I will never forget. The bike was simply amazing in every way, if I had the money I would buy it in its exact form right now, I would love to spend some time really getting to ride that bike and feeling 100% on it and seeing what it really was capable of.

The team was fantastic, the effort every since person on the team put in for me was simply unbelievable , Michael Marty who runs the team made sure everything was ready to go at all times and nothing was too much to ask, Ford Dale gave me a heap of advice and was giving away his lines to me for the track, One day I might have the skill to put into practice what he wanted me to do, Adam and Rabs who were Styke’s and Gibbs race day mechanics respectively were always checking up seeing if I needed anything and seeing how things were going and Andrew Stoppa was always flat out washing bikes checking over bolts, prepping bikes and generally making sure everything was perfect around the team before each bike left for the start line.

The Serco Yoshimura Yamaha team worked so well together, going in I thought there would be a fair amount of tension around the team especially with a title on the line, however everyone on the team knew what had to be done and were relaxed about it, taking time to have fun with some internal competitions that Michael won after the team manager pulled rank! Actually thought the boys from the Northern states would be able to throw a rugby ball into a bin with more ease! I can’t thank the team enough for not only the Weekend but also the time and information they parted with in the week leading up to the event, they truly are a professional team in every sense of the word.

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