16-year-old Cameron Dunker threw a leg over a Superbike on Friday for the first time at a sweltering Sydney Motorsports Park.
The Superbike in question was a stock standard YZF-R1 road bike until the previous week.
Burning some midnight oil up at Kurri Kurri in the days leading up to the event were Heath Griffin, Jamie Stauffer and Cam’s dad Mark. Crew Chief Glen Richards then joined them on Wednesday evening to load a base map into the bike so he could start entering parameters and tuning the Yamaha Kit ECU on Thursday.
The K-Tech shock from Max Stauffer’s R1 race bike was fitted while the front end and brakes were simply unbolted from Cam’s Australian Supersport Championship winning YZF-R6 machine and slotted into the R1. A stiffer set of springs were installed but they simply didn’t have time to build a set of Superbike spec’ forks for the machine in time, and in reality the weekend was simply about getting Cam out on a Superbike for the first time.
A gremlin with the kit ECU had them scratching their heads and also cost them a little time before they traced it down to a fault with the ECU itself. A borrowed unit put them back on the right track.
Providing the power was the completely standard unopened YZF-R1 engine with zero kilometres on the clock that came in the bike when they picked it up.
The Friday track day at Sydney Motorsports Park was the first time Cam turned a wheel on the bike before he headed into qualifying for the third round of the ST. George Motorcycle Club’s Summer Night Series. Dunker managed six laps in qualifying with a best of 1m32.376.
Friday’s opening race saw Cam struggling to turn the bike, too much slide control preventing him from being able to effectively turn the bike on the throttle. Cam finished sixth behind Bryan Staring, his fastest lap a 1m33.413.For comparative purposes the fastest lap of the race was set by race winner Josh Brookes at 1m31.023.
The second bout saw Dunker finish fifth, his best lap improving to 1m31.996.Brookes again the winner with a fastest lap of 1m30.703.
The last race on Friday night saw Dunker finish sixth, his best lap a 1m31.839. Team-mate Max Stauffer winning that contest ahead of Brookes, West and Staring.The fastest lap of that bout though was set by fifth place finisher Lachlan Epis at 1m30.758.
Some midnight oil burned on Friday night as the team started to fettle the bike a little more while examining the data from the MoTeC logger.
Another ten-minute qualifying session was staged on Saturday and this time around Dunker recorded a 1m30.520. That’s good going after one single day on any Superbike, let alone this freshly put together package. The team were shell shocked and this was far exceeding their expectations. One day on a hastily prepped and relatively low-spec Superbike and Cam was doing 1m30.5s at the Creek.
They thought that was about the limit of that package, but Cam reported that he felt pretty comfortable and that he didn’t think he was really trying ‘that hard’.
Come race one on Saturday though he did find that limit, losing the front while trying to change his line mid-corner while challenging for the lead early on after scoring the holeshot. Lesson learned and he would now have to start from the back of the grid in race two.
Cam came from the back of the grid in that penultimate bout to finish fourth, ahead of Anthony West and Bryan Staring. Brookes the winner with a fastest lap of 1m30.478 on the Livson BMW. Cam’s best lap a 1m30.658.
Dunker was fourth again in the final bout of the weekend to complete his second ever day on a 1000 cc bike.
The plan for the weekend had been to simply let Cam log laps and get some experience on the Superbike ahead of what is expected to be a relatively low-budget single-bike learning year in ASBK.
On the back of his debut ride I think it is fair to say that those goalposts have changed.Not many riders go immediately quicker first time out on a Superbike, let alone to do it at the very technical Sydney Motorsports Park.
Next weekend they will venture to a freshly resurfaced Phillip Island for the Hartwell Motorcycle Club round. A cartridge kit is meant to arrive for the R1 forks this week, and the aim is to have Dunker on the same Bitubo suspension that team-mate Max Stauffer recently switched to, and will race on this season.
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