Whether or not you agree with ‘Streetclass’ machines being modified in this way is a cause for debate. After all it’s an entry-level racing class, designed primarily for road-going scooters to be raced on a limited budget with very few modifications. Taking things to this level is more akin to ‘ScooterGP’ but if parts are available why not have the best you can afford?
Either way, as a test ground for high-end racing exotica it’s great to see boundaries being pushed. These technological advances will be powering some of us to scooter rallies in the very near future so it’s best to see them proven on the race track first.
The artist formerly known as Kirk St Moritz was recently bumped off whilst on a family holiday in Italy. Our tame novice Streetclass rider is back from the dead though and things have started to get serious for Craig Robinson (as he will be known in the future).
Not only has Craig started racing and built a racer from scratch this season but he’s decided to ditch his race engine after just two meetings and is having a big horsepower motor built ready for Croft on the 21st August. Here’s how Craig’s mind went into overdrive whilst relaxing at Lake Como.
It’s been a while and as this little escapade into scooter racing started with beer and relaxing sunshine holidays, it seems fitting to continue writing about it while relaxing on yet another holiday. Bloody wife making me go on holiday, I’m sick of it.
Sitting out the thunder and lightning in the hotel room in the beautiful surroundings of Lake Como in the mother land of the Lambretta affords me this time to reflect on the progress of the Streetclass racer thus far…
After the disaster of the wonky converted Spanish casing the first thing I checked on the TV200 casing was for wayward nipples, erm I mean barrel studs. All was fine and once fitted the studs were both parallel to each other and perpendicular to the gasket face. Next on the agenda were bearings, a full set of new SKF bearings were fitted, a new oil seal plate containing a superb design idea of incorporating a Viton O ring which negates the use of the halite seal plate gasket.
Next the crank was pulled into place and the mag-housing fitted. The layshaft and rear hub fitted and the gearbox was shimmed up to the correct tolerance. Standard SS225 top end assembled as per instructions, simples! The use of three-bond gasket sealant was new to me, just a warning – use it sparingly. This shit gets all over the shop! Engine built, fitted, wired and cabled up. Bodywork fitted and everything tightened down. I think I’m ready! Entry in for East fortune and Darley moor BSSO dates and the anticipation began to grow.
The weekend of my first race meeting arrived and a slow drive up to the track in my van. I set up my tiny gazebo to house my gear, after which the next two days became a bit of a blur. I started in four races, completed two races and didn’t finish two due to technical issues. It was a baptism of fire. Who knew that these talented people could make an Italian designed shopping trolley go around a track with such speed and agility, really pushing the boundaries of physics.
To the casual observer at the trackside, myself included it looks relatively easy, maybe even a little tame. But when you’re out on the track the adrenaline kicks in. And when the lights go out on the starting grid you realise how shite you are at racing almost immediately!
Down jetting my carb and fitting a different exhaust brought some much needed faster action. I fuckin’ loved it. I put into practice some of what I had previously seen on the track. Trying to copy racing lines and honing my technique. Chatting with others about the specifics of each corner, gear changes, riding position, tyre choices etc. etc. brought improvements in lap times.
Everyone was brilliant with me and really welcomed me in. I was just getting into my groove and the weekend was over all too quickly. Absolutely loved it, all of it!
After seeing and making comparisons between other racing scooters and mine (performance wise and trick parts) I decided that my scooter needed some upgrades. My novice level of knowledge and experience had restricted my scooters performance due to jetting issues, a loose plug cap and unfortunately a ‘Friday afternoon exhaust’ which kept cracking. It was a very steep learning curve. But this is what I love… I consider myself to be lucky to continue learning and experiencing new things in my late 40s. Particularly about the subject of Lambrettas.
It’s all very well being spoon fed mind numbing bollox at school but if you don’t enjoy the subject you’ll never really learn. Watching other racers riding positions and the way they shift their body weight around had given me a lot of things to work on… With a little more track time I knew I could do better and my track performance could be vastly improved upon.
Watching Micky and Lorenzo ( Casa Performance race team) completely rebuild one of their race engines in 30 minutes filled me with amazement. The split crank case design of the Casa Case made the fitting and removal of a twisted crank so simple. Gearbox rebuild too. The team worked together in such a seamless way, with very little communication they knew what had to be done and executed their roles with precision and speed… All whilst under the pressure of time. Awe-inspiring.
I decided at that point I had to have the Casa Case for my Streetclass racer. The barrel on my bike was a standard SS225. The casing (being a standard TV200) had the limitation of standard transfers. I needed a bigger gasket face to increase the transfer size and improve performance. But why stop there?
I felt that I needed more straight-line speed. On the straights I was being passed by the more powerful specials and I didn’t like it. The decision was made between myself and Dean Orton to also give the barrel to Lorenzo to work his magic. The Casa teams engines are producing in excess of 40hp and I wanted in.
The Casa cases were a few weeks away from being available at the time, so I turned my attention to improving the chassis and weight of my scooter. A set of better-quality original Italian GP forks were built, the scooter stripped. Strengthening added to the frame in the form of a bracket welded to support the engine mounting tube, a new headset and a full repaint of all the metal parts in a deep coat of the blackest black.
The next decision was made to ditch all of the metal bodywork in favour of the huge weight-saving advantage of full carbon fibre parts. To which, a funky paint scheme was to be added.
I’ve been reminded on many occasions that the scooter doesn’t need to look good, as it’s highly likely that I’ll be throwing it down the track at some point. But for me things not only need to function well but look good too. Don’t forget… When you look like a jacket potato you need to make every effort to look good. And if I can look good with my helmet fitted on the track I’m halfway there. Hopefully at the Petrol & Pistons BSSO meeting at Croft on August 21st I’ll be able to take my racing to another level…