Slave to speed

Posted: 09 Apr 2013

Anyone into motorcycling will know BMW’s race-replica S 1000 RR is the present leader of the sportsbike pack. With a claimed 193bhp peak power output from its in-line four-cylinder motor, this 202kg missile is capable of hitting its industry standard 186mph top speed in a matter of seconds. But did you know it is capable of an even higher speed figure?

In the case of Valerie Thompson of Team Valerie Thompson Racing and her BMW S 1000 RR, 212mph is, hopefully, the tip of the iceberg. The plucky 38-year-old from Arizona, USA set this stunning terminal speed figure in the course of Land Speed Racing – a sport that is growing in popularity because of its affordability and safe way to find out who among friends has the fastest bike.

Valerie’s latest and personal best top speed to date was captured at an airstrip in Beeville, Texas during the prestigious and heavily attended Texas Mile speed event; a twice a year meet where all manner of bikes and cars rock up to see how fast they go over a mile distance. The event is carefully organised with official speed and time recording equipment and marshalled with maximum safety in mind.

The 212mph top speed figure also set a new top speed record at the Texas Mile event’s modified 1,000cc class and netted Valerie entry into the exclusive Texas Mile 200 MPH Club. Not bad for a bike that is not far removed from standard – it’s still running on the tyres it rolled out of the showroom with and, with indicators and registration plate bolted back in place, could be ridden to and from the event.

Valerie’s S 1000 RR Sport is the same bike she achieved 209.5mph late last year at Bonneville Salt Flats. The bike then was completely standard apart from different final drive gearing and the use of higher octane rated racing fuel, which allowed her to run in the Standard 1000cc In-line Four-cylinder class. But to achieve greater speed figures she’s had to move into the Modified class, which allows slight tuning in order for new competitors to move seamlessly from the ‘Stock’ group (meaning any standard street bike) onto the next step of the competition ladder with minimal cost.

For 2013, Valerie and her RR are running in the Modified 1000cc In-line Four-cylinder class. While the chassis and engine internals remain untouched, she’s replaced the standard ECU with a BMW Motorrad HP (High Performance) Race Parts ECU to increase the rev range, free the lower two gears of any electronic restrictions and match the ignition and fuelling to the HP-Akrapovic performance exhaust. These additions have also helped boost the RR’s peak performance output to a rear wheel measured 195HP. One other modification to the bike has made a big difference to helping Valerie achieve a quick and clean get away from the starting line – a lowering kit! At 5ft 4in in height, Valerie found it difficult to balance the bike on tip toe and keep it upright for instant acceleration.

Acceleration, the point where hands become clamps, shoulders get pulled and the bum slides backwards on the seat is something Valerie is used to. Before getting into street bike Land Speed racing she competed in America’s savagely competitive NHRA Pro stock drag racing series where launching a 340HP V-twin behemoth from a standing start is indeed serious business.

Next on the agenda for this ‘slave to speed’ is a serious season of competition events across the USA where she hopes to go even faster and better her own 212mph record. There’s also an outside chance she could become the fastest lady in the world! Valerie is an official reserve rider/pilot for the North American Eagle, an American team attempting to break the World Land Speed Record of 763mph in a land-based converted F-104A-10 Starfighter jet. Sounds mad on paper but is actually madder in real life because the General Electric LM 1500 Turbojet powering North American Eagle has been tweaked to produce 52,000HP (52,721.22 HP/metric) of power/thrust!