Queensland Pro Bike drag racer Andrew Badcock is bringing a home-grown engine package to New Year's Thunder at Willowbank Raceway on Saturday, January 4, hoping to disrupt a field of more traditionally powered motorcycles.
In a class of motorsport where every thousandth of a second counts, and every additional horsepower is valuable, few are brave enough to take their own path; Badcock has not been afraid to leave the safety of the pack in pursuing the 400 Thunder Pro Bike series.
The former national champion uses a motor from a modern Suzuki Hayabusa, in contrast to the more popular option of using the decades old Suzuki GS architecture.
“The GS-based engine is no doubt the way to go for running Pro Stock Bike, you can basically buy horsepower and boy do they move, but when I stepped back into Pro Bike I wanted to go a different way,” Badcock said.
“I own and run Procycle Dyno, a performance tuning shop, and we wanted to do something through the shop using an engine people could look at and relate too, so in comes the Hayabusa.”
Badcock said it had been no easy task to build a Hayabusa motor capable of Pro Bike horsepower. While there are benefits from the newer technology, there are also weaknesses.
“A Hayabusa engine in a stock 1300cc package is pretty reliable, we have put turbos on them and fed them nitrous and they can make big power consistently, but when the engine is bored and stroked to the limits and made to do what a Pro Bike does in the first four gears the engine is very fragile compared to the GS-based engines in our competitors' machines.
“We do everything in house, all our own engine development, and we find our own horsepower. Nick from Top End Performance develops our cylinder head, and even our cams are designed and made in Australia. We have made our combination reliable and learned what can and can't be done with the Hayabusa engine. Last season we stepped up at every show, running quicker times consistently around 7.4 seconds.”
The Pro Bike category has been the scene of great performance leaps recently, with three riders having now descended into the once elusive six second zone.
“Pro Bike in Australia really stepped up in performance last season, and I think we will see further records set this season; it forces other teams to step up,” Badcock said.
“I have a great team of guys behind me that make it all possible, and we are currently developing another Hayabusa combination to step our bike up a little more. Our aim was always to run this bike into the low 7.2 zone and I'm sure we will get it there.”
Badcock believes his consistency will make the team a threat at New Year's Thunder, which uses the popular all-run format where all racers compete three times during the night.
“I'm looking forward to running New Year's Thunder, the format is a buzz and a lot of fun,” he said. “We hope to keep our consistency, maybe step it up a little more, cut some good reaction times and keep those fast guys honest, because anything can happen on race day!
“There's a lot to love about this class. These bikes have a high RPM aspirated engine, they are flighty and twitchy to ride, and while a good experienced pilot will make it look easy this is far from the truth. When it all goes right there is no better feeling and it makes all the effort worth it.”
New Year's Thunder takes place at Willowbank Raceway on Saturday, January 4. As well as the 400 Thunder Pro Bike Championship, the event also features Top Fuel, Pro Stock and Pro Alcohol, plus sportsman brackets. Tickets are available online at willowbankraceway.com.au or at the gate.