Monday, August 30, 2010

Scenes from the Futa Festival

This weekend's Motohad Futa Festival had five VUN's on display and for the first time in the Bologna region the DUU prototype. Below are some scenes from the CR&S stand at the Futa Moto Festival...


The VUN PPP (Pronto Per la Pista)

The VUN Polizia

The VUN Blue Flame

Friday, August 27, 2010

VUN & DUU at Futa Moto Festival

Today I rode up the Futa from Bologna to Loiano to prepare my bike for the CR&S stand at the Futa Motorcycle Festival in Loiano this weekend. Cavina Racing are running a stand and will have five CR&S VUNs plus the DUU prototype on display.

It was hot as I rode out of Bologna along Via Muri wearing just a casual T-shirt and Jeans. At the last traffic lights, as you exit Bologna, two bikes pulled alongside. A Suzuki streetfighter (I don't know what), and a new looking Aprilia RSV. The Aprilia rider, in his new Dainese race suit gave an "aww how cute" glance at my VUN then pulled a big wheelie as the lights turned green. I knew he was headed for the Futa...

I pulled in behind them keeping close as we took the long, straight bypass to Pianorro at the beginning of the Futa. The Aprilia rider was impatient to get to the twisting Futa pass as he slowed to pull wheelie after wheelie along the way. My adrenaline began to rise as I anticipated what I was going to do when we got there...

At last we reached the long steep ramp that plants you just past the base of the Futa. The Aprilia rider was stretching his leathers and swerving left to right to warm his tires, then pulled one last wheelie. I knew it would not help him...

The Suzuki took off first, with the Aprilia soon passing him. I followed closely to watch the riders in front and guage how hey might react when I come past. I took the Suzuki on a medium right-hander, round the outside pulling away up the hill and tucked in tight behind the Aprilia. After pulling alongside a few times I finally "showed him the hammer" (as Oliver likes to say). Three corners later and I never saw them again in my mirrors. This is my definition of fun!

If you are in the area (Emilia-Romagna) and want to see a collection of beautiful, hand crafted sporty singles that can hand out this kind of punnishment to an Aprilia superbike, then come along to the Futa Motorcycle Festival (aka Motohad) in Loiano this weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Green Hell

If Hockenheim was a bit mad, with 250+ bikes together on the track, then the Nurbürgring was mental as anything. We rode the old track which winds its way through 21 km of Germany's Eifel mountains. There are over 300m of altitude changes. Few corners have a run off so only the crash barriers stop you from going into the trees.

Track outings function in the same way as a ski run. You purchase a ticket for the number of laps you want, after each lap you must stop and pass your ticket through the gate before you can start the next lap. I purchased 4-laps for a total of 84km.

A track day at Nurbürgring is a kind of battleground, with super quick Porsches mixing it together with hot fours, track cars, superbikes, VUNs, and everything in-between. We were happy to have Oliver take us out in his V8 Dodge truck to learn the track before donning armor and joining the battle.

The pace we chose was somewhere between a fast sports ride on a mountain road and the pace you might do on a track day at a more sane track like Hockenheim. Once again Oliver, who has a lot of experience at the Nurbürgring (both good and bad), led us round and set the pace, going a little faster each lap. This felt comfortable and relatively safe, except for those moments when a Porsche Carrera vs Mercedes SLK struggle comes at you from behind. The wise (and polite) thing to do is to move over, but this also requires you to drop concentration for a moment so you need to be careful.

Oliver Thiel

Yours truly

 Franco Cavina

There were several car wrecks throughout the day where drivers had dropped their concentration, or exceeded their skill, but I did not see any bikes go down, which is a good thing.

Watching a Porsche Carrera in capable hands passing you and going hard down a dip and through the S-bend is amazing. Those things change direction damn fast and are glued to the track!

Nurbürgring was a blast! Many thanks to Oliver Thiel, of Thiel Motorsport, for organizing the day and for having the patience to show us the ropes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hockenheim vs VUN

Last week Christina Baio, Franco Cavina & I took our VUNs over the alps to Germany for some track time. We were kindly hosted in Heilbronn by Oliver Thiel of Thiel Motorsport, VUN dealer for this part of Germany. Oliver has plenty of racing experience at these tracks and joined us to make it four VUNs. First up was Hockenheim...

Martin (who was with us on his Morini 1200), Cristina, Franco and Oliver 
pose with the VUNs just before our first session at Hockenheim.

Hockenheim is a fast track. The parabolika is over 800m long and the rest of the track is a mix of fast, slow and medium speed curves. Our track day was organized into 1/4 hour slots alternating between bikes and cars. The first session was crowded, I was just trying to learn my way around while avoiding hitting anyone. Other than us four VUNs, it seemed everyone was on 1000cc plus superbikes which was intimidating at first. Christina, Oliver and Franco are experienced and successful racers, I felt timid and outgunned by comparison.

For me, the second run felt much better, but this time it was really crowded with around 250 bikes, mostly superbikes, on the track. The parabolika is not much fun in this situation: On the VUN you can take the medium speed left-hander leading onto the parabolika at full throttle which gives you a head start, but before you can reach top speed, those 180hp superbikes come blasting past 60km/h faster (or more) than you. If you are good, then the ones you don't catch at the hairpin at the end of the straight you will get on the next high speed right-hander, where the VUN is flat out, while most of the superbikes are panic braking. It is amazing how fast a bike comes towards you in this situation.

 Cristina's bike after her slide... not too bad considering.

With around 250 bikes on the track, crashes are inevitable. I saw plenty go down but the ambulance was never called out, which is a good thing. Unfortunately Cristina low-sided her VUN on turn 7 about 80m in front of me. It seems that she hit a 2m long slight dip in the track at the apex that is notorious among experienced riders at Hockenheim. She and her bike slid a long way with Cristina tumbling a few times, but neither sustained any serious injury.

Later, the session was closed due to a Ducati that had blown its motor spreading oil over a large section of the track (possibly a contributing factor to Cristina's fall). The oil was bad enough to close the track for the rest of the day. Big pity because after gaining some confidence, it was a lot of fun dicing with superbikes on a racetrack.

We returned that evening to Heilbronn, Cristina licking her wounds while we prepared for the Nurbürgring on the following day... (to be continued)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

RocknRoad Track Training

Last week I posted some photos from our track day at the Tolmezzo track in Udine (IT). The track day was organized by Barry Rivellini of RocknRoad Racing. Barry is a professional riding instructor and test rider for some major Italian brands as well as a successful racer in his own right.

When the VUNs hit the track Barry was there and kindly provided some free informal instruction to those of us with limited track experience. The following videos capture some of these moments.

Barry explained body positioning and foot placement then had us practice slow tight turns until we were dragging our knee all the way round.

Later we tried our new skills on the track while Barry followed along with his camera.

Thanks Barry, Fabian & I had a safe and enjoyable track day and we both learned a lot!
For more information about RocknRoad's training courses and track days visit their web site.

Video editing by Tany Cas

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Scenes from the Factory Floor

Last month, following the VUNIC meeting, I dropped by the CR&S factory in Milan where they are busy filling orders for new VUNs and preparing the DUU for production. They were not too busy, though, to share a coffee or two and let me take a few photos:

Various VUN's, including old prototypes and customer bikes,
line up in front of a rack of new VUN engines.

VUN swingarms just after being TIG-welded.

The DUU is compact for a 2-litre V-twin. Just how compact? 
Compare it to the size of this scooter!

Boxes of brand new S&S V-twin engines had just arrived, ready for DUU production.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

VUNIC at the Nurburgring

CR&S dealer and VUNIC member, Oliver Thiel offered his wide track experience to support VUNIC and organize a VUN track test at the Nurburgring on August 19th & 20th (that's less than 3-weeks away).

If some VUNIC members would like to try their VUN on the world famous Nurburgring's "Green Hell" track with 20,832Km of crazy bends and up-and-down, then contact Oliver. He will be there to support VUNICs during this challenging experience.

The Nürburgring, Nordschleife is open on August, 19 from 17:45 to 19:30 and on August, 20 from 14:15 to 19:30. Oliver can assist with tickets for these two days. A package including hotel at Ringwerk (with museum, cart racing, lunch, etc) is also possible.

For more information contact Oliver Thiel:

Thiel Motorsport
Von-Klug-Str. 11
D-74078 Heilbronn

Tel: 07066/4993
Fax: 07066/4993


Franco Cavina & I are planning to attend with our VUNs and a van. If you are based in Italy and you would like to co-ordinate with the logistics of getting there, carrying gear, bookings etc then get in touch. E-mail me or leave a message.