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Team Report Koedam Racing
Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Team Report Koedam Racing
Issue #3 2005: Nitro Nationals

FIM / UEM Championship round #2: Alastaro Finland July 1-3

Our first race of the year (see our “Main Event” coverage) was not exactly as we hoped for.

We were plagued by sealing problems of the piston rings which we blamed on a mistake made in the cylinder finishing process.

After the event we decided to refinish the cylinder bores and temporarily step back to an “old” spare set of pistons. The plan was to squeeze in an extra test session at our country’s first race of the year : “The Drachten Nationals”.

Unfortunately it was raining quite a lot during that event and all we could do was to fire the engine a couple of times without being able of running it on the track.

All seemed to be O.K. and we were forced to wait for the next event, which was past weekend’s second European championship round in Alastaro / Finland.

This time however we came as much prepared as possible with plenty of piston rings and a new set of spare JE pistons that were delivered right in time as promised.
The pistons once again were of good quality and more then enough within the requested specs.

Like last year the long journey of the bike and equipment to Finland was arranged by our sponsor Zodiac.

The weather outlook for the weekend promised plenty of sunshine and the entry list for our class looked very strong. All ingredients were present for a good race weekend.

It looked like we were ready to release the “1000 hevosvoimaa” (Finnish for 1000HP).

Photo: Ivan Sansom

Early Friday afternoon we made our first qualifying attempt.

With a soft tune up we managed a 6.85 sec @ 344km/h. All looked well until we picked up the bike on the return lane. Lots of oil in the catch tank that had escaped from the engine!

The following investigation showed also a deformed oil pan, clearly indicating that there was something not good.

We had to take the engine apart. What we discovered was a set of scuffed pistons and a number of broken piston rings. This could be caused by detonation.
We skipped Friday’s second qualifying session to prepare the bike for Saturday.

In went a new set of pistons, a new set (different type) rings, we repaired the oil pan (thanks Gunnar!) and made some changes to the tune-up.
When we fired the bike on Saturday everything seemed to be a OK again.

However during the burn-out of our the following qualifying run, it threw some oil on the track and we were shut down by the start marshal.
Back in the pits again we found out a small leak at the oil pan which we had overlooked.

What was even worse was that the oil pan was even more deformed (due to excessive crankcase pressures) then the day before and this time already in the burnout!
To our disbelieve a leak down test strangely enough showed no real big deals!

Not at all happy with this we started to take the engine apart again.

We discovered that the new set of pistons were again severely scuffed and though not broken, the rings were badly damaged as well.

At that time we didn’t had a clear answer to the cause of our problem. The only thing we knew was that if we continued like this, there would be a reasonable change that the bike would be throwing oil on the track and possibly in front of our own rear tire. A situation you definitely don’t want on a 1000 HP 230mph+ dragbike! Because safety comes first, both for our self and for our fellow riders, we made the difficult decision to stop here.

We really hope the Finnish spectators will understand our decision.

Because our competion also had different kind of (either technical or traction) troubles, our pour and only 6,85 sec qualifying run remained the # 1 spot.

As mentioned we didn’t take part on Sunday’s eliminations and therefore didn’t catch any elimination round points. Despite it all we climbed from the #5 to the #2 spot in the championship points standing.

In order to find the reason for our problems we talked with a number of people including some top fuel car teams.

At this moment it looks like we have a detonation problem. On a static leak down test everything looks OK, but during detonation the piston rings are “floating” and don’t actually seal. This causes the blow-by, giant crankcase pressures and washing away off the oil film from the cylinders.

It looks like that we have found out the hard way that our over the winter cylinder head modifications made it so much more effective. This will call for some drastic tune-up changes.

We try to do our best to get the bike ready before the MPM internationals at Drachten in a week and half from now for some necessary testing before we go to Swedish & Norwegian rounds of the European Championship.

See you at the races!

Marius van der Zijden / Koedam Racing Holland

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