Bikebiz Motorcycles has been involved in the racing industry for many years through motorcycles and we even had a crack at sprint car racing. It was around 2011 when Sean Condon began his illustrious career in the 600cc Super Sport racing and later moved to 1000cc Superbikes.
Sean decided to retire 7 years ago and although the Bikebiz team continued on its journey through the ASBK Championship with a handful of other racers, currently Tom Edwards (Tom-E-Gun) and Laura Brown. It was this weekend the 22nd of April 2022 that we saw Sean make his return, thus naming him “the old gun”, and let me tell you the “Old-gun” still has some “Dog” left in him.
7 years away from the sport, that’s 49 dog years and his bark is stronger than ever.
The heavens behaved themselves for Day 1 of the ASBK Championship at Wakefield Parkway. The Bikebiz race team was welcomed to a brisk 14 degrees at the circuit but smiles were all around due to it being dry. Our two race team members Tom Edwards and Laura Brown were unable to make this week’s event so we had the joy of getting our most senior racer out of his retirement and back on the YZF-R6.
Sean Condon started free practice 1 with an open mind and determination to shake off the cobwebs, “I’m still just trying to readjust to riding a 600, the last bike I rode was a superbike so today is mainly about adjusting back to the 600cc slowly but surely, and as the session went on, I was feeling much better” – Sean Condon.
Sean ended the session in 3rd place with a 1:00.610 closely behind #39 Scott Nicholson (1:00.395) and #308 John Lytras (1:00.122). The first step for Sean’s return to racing was to get back out on the bike and familiarise himself with the setup, “the first session was 50 percent getting the bike right and 50 percent getting myself right and once we set up the bike we could start flowing again” – Sean Condon
The Dust has left the leathers and the “old gun” is here to play:
The stopwatch never lies, and when you’re hitting a 59.713 around Wakefield and claiming P1 in the session you must be doing something right. The Bikebiz team made a few changes to the bike from FP1 which helped Sean feel better in FP2, “after making a few changes post FP1 the bike started feeling better but there is still some improvement to make” - Sean Condon.
Sean looked smoother, faster, and more confident on track which is a huge positive, “my head wants to go fast but after 7 years off the bike, the main struggle is getting my head around it again. I know I want to go faster but it’s just about putting all the pieces together and slowly chipping away at it” – Sean Condon.
Sean claimed P1 with a glorious 59.713 with #44 Thomas Bramich and #308 John Lytras behind him.
The third and final fight of the day solidifies the reality in our minds, the comeback is unquestionable.
After the team fixed a couple of issues from FP2 Sean was ready to go out and give it his all in FP3. “We completely changed the set-up of the bike which did fix a few issues but created some new ones, after a couple of laps I came back in and the team made some changes to the bike which helped make the bike feel fantastic” – Sean Condon.
Today was one for the books, we got to see a veteran of the sport back in action after years of retirement and on short notice. Sean had the fastest time of the day which is a great way to kick off round 3 of the ASBK Championship and tomorrow is set to be another cracker day, “I am confident for day 2 but I am still a fair bit off where I would like to be and there is still some progress to be made for tomorrow” – Sean Condon.
Grey skies and cool temperatures covered Goulburn on day 2 but the Bikebiz team’s spirits were high and the energy was positive. The bikes looked mean and our man Sean looked focused.
Although Sean has just come out of retirement his previous experience has not been forgotten, he’s easily slid back into the mindset of a racer and his determination, self-critique, and hard-working attitude shine through.
Day 2 of the ASBK championship consists of two qualifying rounds with the fastest racer of the day gaining pole position for the racing action on Sunday.
Sean went out in the session a little later than his competitors, he composed himself and focused his mind on the task at hand, to kick some butt. “I Went out there to try something different, I did one flying lap which was the fastest lap of the session and the bike felt a lot better than yesterday. We only had enough time for 2 flying laps and on the second lap, I got held up at the end in the last sector, which ended my session” – Sean Condon.
Despite this, Sean ended up fastest in the session scoring an awesome 59.300, “the bike is going well, we have made some improvements on it so I think we should be able to go a little faster in Q2” – Sean Condon.
Sean is excited for Q2, “there is still a lot more left in the tank so we will see how it goes as the day goes on” – Sean Condon.
The beginning of Q2 was looking a little hairy as the heavens sent a light sprinkle of rain, but as the boys hit the track the blue skies returned.
Sean was out on the track straight away in this session, all racers on the grid looked a little slower than Q1, “I had zero grip out there and so did the rest of the field, the rear of the bike was lighting up and it threw me out of the seat a few times which isn’t ideal but it was more the track and the circumstances that slowed me down. The track was 5 degrees hotter than this morning which made it more slippery, it was odd”. The whole field was a tenth of a second apart from each other and a second slower than Q1, “it was disappointing because I wanted to go faster” – Sean Condon.
There was speculation with some members of the press that the event prior being the “Battery World Aussie Racing Cars Super Series” which had nearly 40 cars on the grid may have disrupted the conditions of the track which effected grip levels.
Sean’s overall time for Q2 was 59.824 which had him in the second position for Q2 but his overall time for the day (Q1: 59.300) gains him pole position for tomorrow’s races.
Q. You're in p1 for tomorrow, how does that make you feel?
A. “Confident, and nervous. I would have been happy as a ‘pig in shit’ if I was in the top 5 but to be in pole position is a good feeling as I know I can go faster and it makes me a little more nervous and excited for tomorrow, I haven’t done a race start in seven years so that will be interesting” – Sean Condon.
Day 2 was another cracker of a day for Sean and the whole Bikebiz team. Sunday is the day we have prepared for and we get to see what the “old gun” has in store for us.
They call Wakefield the “Spectators Track” and when Day 3 (Race Day) rolled around you could see why.
Between turn 1 (the kink) and turn 2 (the right-hander leading up the hill) you can see the whole circuit, it’s a magic place to watch from. Over the back of the circuit from turn 5 through to turn 10 the hill is covered with racing fans ready for what the day has to dish out. Sunday started very similar to the last 2 days cold, a little wet, and foggy. But the presence of the fog held the promise of sunshine later in the day, and sure enough, by lunchtime, we had a beautiful day with blue skies and warm sunshine.
Standing out on the Grid before the race is an experience like no other. All teams frantically run around to prepare generators and tyre warmers hurling them over the pit wall while the marshals and officials yell directions and instructions to each other and the teams. Photographers sporadically move around trying to get the best shot and the racers one by one slowly roll their motorcycles into their respective positions, it almost feels as if they are about to go to war, and in a way, they are, it is a fantastic atmosphere. Then along with all the other busybodies on the starting grid, I am ordered back behind the pit wall.
Off we go racing:
Once the teams, media, and officials leave the track, it’s go time. Sean did not have the best of starts as he, quote: “didn’t realise there wasn’t a green light for the start”, (7 years of retirement!).
As they entered turn 2 Sean is back in 6th place, the cost of fluffing the start. Sean didn’t know it but he was going to get a chance for redemption, the race was red-flagged when young #59 Tom Drane tipped himself off the bike and crashed in turn 2 (I had heard maybe a cold tyre?).
This saw Race 1 take a re-start and the real race was about to begin. Sean now understood that the signal to go was when the red light went out, but again not the best of starts as he wheelied the bike landing in 4th position. Out of turn 2, he settled into the race trying to work his way past #39 Scott Nicholson, who eventually slid off the track putting Sean into 3rd place.
#308 John Lytras and #85 Ty lynch lead race 1 but they have the “old gun” on their tail. The three racers stayed together with a glorious gap between them and 4th position throughout the whole race. The game plan for the Bikebiz team was to use the Dunlop tyres and stick with the leading pack until Sean was ready to pounce, when the final lap was upon us this was evident. As the final corner arrived Sean Condon made his move on #85 Ty Lynch and kept him out of his slipstream down the main straight to take P2 for Race 1.
The Sun was shining, the first race jitters were over, and it was time to clean up in Race 2.
Out of the gate, Sean was in 4th place behind #39 Nicholson, #85 Lynch, and #308 Lytras. He held this position throughout the whole race barely leaving #39 Nicholson’s tail, until lap 14 when he decided to pounce outbreaking #39 Nicholson into the tight left corner known as the “fishhook”, taking P3 for the end of the day.
Sean’s glorious return to motorcycle racing ended on an amazing P3 for race 2 and a final position of P2 for the entire weekend.
Sean had a fantastic couple of days riding the Bikebiz YZF-R6.
It was a privilege to see a man racing his heart out after a lengthy retirement and proves the age-old saying “once a racer, always a racer”.