2011 Darrell Knight
It was the lastround of the QRASA MX season and for some reason new racers were popping out of the woodwork for a bit of MX action at ACUSA Park. The track was a bit rough, more like the old days, but the weather was perfect and the guys had done a pretty good job on the hoses to keep the dust down.
QRASA were in for a treat with Round 4 of their MX series being held at a new track for Quads. The Naracoorte MX track was primarily built as a Sidecar MX track and set up extra wide to create overtaking opportunity. The layout and design also suited Quads perfectly. Only a few weeks ago, everything but the jump tops were underwater. But it all subsided to leave the Quads with ideal racing conditions.
Bullet was last to the gate, and they were running a very casual ‘pick your spot when you get there' gate selection process. Of all the least impressive spots left over, Bullet chose a good outside gate, which unfortunately started him right in front of a puddle.
"Big thanks to QuadSquad for servicing my rear shock and getting it back to me between race weekends. And to Austraco... this set of ITP Holeshot SX rear tyres have won at 3 Championship race days, and are still continuing to hook up great and win races." Bullet.
The 2011 Vic MX Titles were held at Horsham MX track. We were lucky with the weather as the district had only just dried out from a heap of rain. The local MX club have an excellent well equipped facility there and this occasion was the first time they had prepared the big jump track for Quads. The track was deep ripped and lumpy for the practice laps, but that all soon settled down by the first race. Most notable of the 1.7km course was 3 of the big jumps. A massive tabletop, big step up and similarly huge step down.
The Vanika promo girls held the 5 second board up for the Combined Vets class who were keenly revving their quads at the start gates. Bullet felt good about the dirt start gate, but had plenty of known solid competition to deal with for the holeshot. Like the other DS450X MX of Can-Am X Team mate Rob VanVliet right alongside him. The gate dropped and Bullets reaction time was off the mark. 11 quads hammered for the first corner, and compared to Bullet they seemed to back off early. The first few corners saw Bullet weaving though the crowd and popping up with the front runners. His Black and Yellow Can-Am flew into the lead over the big step up to lead the 3 lap race right up to the chequered flag.
There were a few extra factors adding a little bit more excitement to the SA ATV MX Titles for 2011. This year the X Team increased by two lads from Tassie that were coming over to SA for their first MX race. Bullet's preparation was half a day of making sure all 3 bikes were fit for task... then rock up and race the next 2 days. Flying home from a two week field day road trip is definitely not the best training and race preparation you can do, but Bullets DS450X MX is just about completely standard (besides the Flexx handlebars), which helps translate to good racing reliability. At 41 years of age, it might be fair to say that pilot reliability was a much greater unknown, and Bullet was keen to see how he would fair out on the track. On the 27th of September, the ACUSA Park track was looking great in the bright morning sun. The track preparation was brilliant and everyone was in for a good days racing.
Bullet drew 3rd gate selection in a bunch of 10 racers of the combined Vets and Clubman classes. The gates dropped and Bullet pointed in to the holeshot corner 4th but conservatively backed off to about 7th for the first corner confusion. Being the first race of 5, he thought it was more important to stay safe, assess the rest of the field and work through the pack to gain the highest place possible. There were a few big horsepower bikes out there that fared well in the holeshot challenge, but within a lap and a half, Bullet had passed the other Vets class competitors and was up to the to the tail of fellow X Team mate Clint Sheridan who was leading the group and the clubman class. Overtaking was not essential for a Vets class win, but it would mean putting some distance between himself and the strong Vets class competition from Alistair Watson, as well as cleaner goggles. Bullet and Clint shared some tyre rubber as the lead changed just after doubling through the whoops, and Bullet pulled away for a clear win.
The second race was similar for Bullet, until a red flag popped up. The race was stopped due to a big pile up in the whoops and ambulance attendance. 2 Clubman riders were out of the restart, but at least there were no serious injuries. Fairing slightly better in the restart, Bullet had to work fairly hard to get around Can-Am mounted Sheridan, but did so again for the outright win.
Bullet won race 3 on a flat left rear, fixed the sidewall puncture that night and started the next day with a similar win in race 4. Bullet was determined to tackle the next race a bit differently. He had not yet pulled a super impressive race start for the event.
"I decided that this one was going to be mine, and I focussed everything I had into a solid launch and went for broke at the holeshot. My stock Can-Am stayed flat but almost pulled out from underneath me all the way to the first corner, and the lead was mine. I remember thinking to myself, cool clean goggles for the rest of the race. These ITP Holehot SX tyres hook up like the best of them if you give it everything." Bullet said.
Consistent big jumps and smooth race lines added up to a field dominating 5 race clean sweep and maximum 125 points to secure an SA State Titles Vets class first place podium for Bullet.
"Thanks to QRASA and their volunteers for a top notch first state title event. And a big thanks to my fantastic sponsors; BRP Australia (especially the PAC team), QuadSquad, Austraco, Sidchrome, CRC and 47industries"
Round 2 of the QRASA Enduro Series was held at Peake, which is a great little sand dune play ground less than a couple of hours out of Adelaide. It just so happens that sand is one of Bullets favourite things.
Pulling in to camp on the Sunday morning, our X Team duo arrived to a big crowd of racers all keen to hit the short sand dune Endurance course for 3 hours. The competition was tough in the Ironman class and racing Bullets standard Can-Am DS450 to the podium was not going to be an easy task. Bullet drew last to start in the Ironman class, and they would be released at 30 second intervals. With the leader some 5 minutes ahead, last is not necessarily a bad thing as you get to hunt down your opponents over the 3 hours, and you get a good idea of where you sit in the field.
The rain started as the race began. Bullet felt great and the DS was humming around the course. Within the first lap Bullet had made a few positions mainly as other racers came to grief overshooting corners and getting stuck (which was very easy to do). Being an 8km sand course with 30 odd racers on it, there were new obstacles every lap and the parts you thought you might hit harder on the next lap could be quite different the next time round. The steep technical dunes were catching people out too, but Bullet's experience in sand served him well and he kept it clean all day and kept hunting down the front runners. The rain continued until about half way through the race and there were a few clay / limestone sections that got extremely muddy and slippery. Conditions that are not normally associated with Peake. Wet cold gloves slapping through the bushes is always tough on the hands on the longer races. After maybe 10 laps and a few fuel stops, overtaking riders for a second time as they had been lapped made it difficult to gauge where Bullet sat in the field. A reasonably dependable indicator is that Bullet had not been overtaken by anyone, as he continued to overtake a few racers every lap.
"It felt surprisingly effortless to get the best out of the Can-Am to the point where I wondered if I was pushing hard enough. I think my set up and tyre selection helped a lot, with the big 22 inch ITP GNCC tyres up front and a set of 22 inch Fury's on the rear, running 4 psi or less. Every now and then I would catch up to a big name racer and overtake them, and that's how I knew my pace was good" Bullet said.
The third hour clicked over, the race was over, and Bullet knew there was probably only one other Ironman that he had not overtaken. But did he close the gap enough to take the win...
1st Darrell ‘Bullet' Knight, Can-Am DS450X MX
2nd Bjorn Ludvigsen, Suzuki LTR
3rd Nathan Watson, Yamaha YFZ
Thanks to my sponsors: BRP Australia, QuadSquad, Austraco, Sidchrome, CRC and 47industries.