Team News: An update from Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor GP Bikes Triumph Race Report – Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

Perhaps you have already heard, if you were following our Team Triumph progress throughout this year, that our last event didn't go as we hoped.

Rob Thompson and I pulled the Triumph Daytona 675R apart after the preceding event at Atlantic Motorsport Park.  Our goal was to upgrade the engine internals with whatever we could procure for stronger horse power numbers, plus we dropped the head off with Gord Bush Performance so Gord could smooth the combustion chambers and see what magic he could add to the motor.

Chris Ellis at Triumph has been a great supporter of my dream to compete at high level in Liqui Moly Pro Sport Bike on the Mopar CSBK tour this year, and Chris got us the parts we needed when he could.  

Building the compact Triumph motor was my first engine 'build' in a quite a few years!  I have enjoyed Factory equipment and mechanics for many years, ever since building my Kawasaki 750cc Superbike engines back in the nineties.

I enjoyed it.

After everything was together and was ready to go to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Rob and I started the motor, and the mill produced a loud drone sound it hadn't made earlier. Hmmmm! 

I figured we had manifold gaskets that had been used too many times past their 'crush' phase.  So a call to my main guys at GP Bikes gave me peace of mind, as they have lots of Triumph parts in stock. We passed by GP Bikes on our way to the last two-round event of the Mopar CSBK Series at Canadian Tire Mosport Park (my name for it!) and grabbed the parts and pit items.

I have been prepping our Triumph in my home shop this year, right beside my classic ‘60’s Mustang. Curiously, the Mustang dropped a valve on over rev (I won't tell you how fast that is on a quiet stretch of the 427) around the same time I was pulling the Triumph motor down.  Rebuilding a nearly fifty-year-old cast iron American engine alongside a very high tech Triumph unit is a neat juxtaposition of parts, yet some things haven't really changed that much!

Our GP Bikes parts went in, at the track, on Wednesday night, August 17. Despite some initial glitches that Team Riedmann Kawasaki helped us with, we were ready to go with nearly five more horsepower in our first session of Thursday Track Day with Rider’s Choice.

Our first practices were on fairly used Dunlop DOT tires, as is normal procedure. I felt good, and times were OK. For the afternoon I installed a new rear medium Dunlop, leaving the 'less used' front on for now.  

We have a reasonable tire budget, courtesy of my good buds at Goderich Toyota, and I have a pretty good idea of when to save and when to not be stupid with choices like that. The new rear Dunlop was great! 

I got down to a lap time of 1:26 flat and still had some reserve speed, understanding that my love for the Dunlop Qualifier front would get even more corner speed later when needed.

I spoke with suspension guru Jon Cornwell sometime midday Thursday and he convinced us to try a rear suspension link option we hadn't attempted yet this year. The required parts were in my Spares Box and I felt it would be a long winter wondering "maybe we shoulda given it a try" if I failed to win on Saturday or Sunday.  

I installed the required parts, properly, myself, meanwhile noting that some adjustment to the front forks was also required to keep bike at proper attitude.

The first Official practice session went quite well on Friday morning, though I was a little less fast, which I attributed to three heat cycles in the rear tire, rather than the new link. I actually liked the feel, particularly through fast turns eight, nine and ten. We had fitted a new front DOT to use through the day. We were on a good course.

Next up was Pro Superbike Feature class practice, right before lunch. I had planned on putting a new rear tire during the lunch break for first qualifying session. So with tires both heated appropriately, and one good warm up lap, I put my head down for a couple of good quick laps before parking it.

The bike felt good.  It was geared well, running terrific, and well planted on the pavement.

Entering the top of turn two, my favourite corner, fast, I leaned over towards a wide entry, and crack! 

I was down. Sliding very fast on my left arm initially, I remember hitting something softish first, then something very hard with my whole right side. After that I recall seeing white bag or air fence I suppose, then being suddenly quiet and still.

I got up a bit and looked down to see a very distressed right leg. I gasped and realized I had been bounced back on the circuit somehow and that I needed to get off it. I rolled over and crawled, best I could, as far as I could. I realized I was also bleeding badly from within my Arai helmet.  Someone got me to lay down and started talking to me.

I was very scared. 

Amazing work from our corner workers and medical staff made the difference!  Thank, you so much to all involved in my rescue

A check at Lake Ridge Medical centre revealed shattered bones in my right tibia and fibula, several stitches in my chin where I had hit the bike, and bruising and pulled muscles everywhere.  My Arai helmet was damaged, but I never lost consciousness and it likely saved my life.

I am a very lucky man. It certainly could have been much worse at that speed. 

Lakeridge did an initial surgery to stabilize the foot, until specialists can put things back in order.

Currently I am home, working a bit, living and getting by. I will get be having follow up surgery at William Osler centre in Brampton this Friday, September 2. On the road to recovery, thankfully.

It has not been a season I hoped for. Sometimes we get trophies, and sometimes we get other hardware. Mine are easy to find each time I go through detectors at the airport!

I appreciate the chance to try again. I love racing motorcycles so very much, and Triumph and GP Bikes made that happen this year.  Special thanks to Mr. Metal, Goderich Toyota, Z1 Cycle, Gord Bush Performance, Motovan, and Hindle.

The Mustang has new beryllium valve seats thanks to Gord, and it's nearly back together. Sadly, I won't be using it at Mosport anytime soon!

Thanks for following my team this year. My future is likely not more of the same, but I will write again sometime.

Michael Taylor

From a press release

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