Thursday, 21 July 2011

Flattrackin - GNC at Leicester

I was out on the clay this weekend past. Entered the Shorttrack and Thunderbike classes at Sunday's round of the Grand National Championship held at the brand new speedway track in Leicester.

Thunderbikes! Thanks Tim Coles for the pic...
Practice went well and the bike was feeling good. Those mods have worked and I can now get a steady slide going out of the turns instead of the sideways snapping I struggled with before. Just 4 degrees difference in swing-arm angle!

'747' Travis Newbold was out in Blighty after a podium at Pike's Peak Hillclimb... we went well on a borrowed bike in borrowed kit... he's going home with another trophy!

Went well in the first Shorttrack heat... I think I finished 5th from a middle row start ;-)

First Thunderbike heat... another middle row start and a 4th :-)

Next Shorttrack heat and more good points... well on track to make my fiest Shorttrack semi-final...
It sure was dusty out there for the first few heats...

The weather had held up till then. Despite the threat of rain it stayed dry and dusty... so they watered the track... of course the rain gods saw this so it started to rain lightly. The track was slippery.

Next Thunderbike heat and I'm up there again... think I was running 3rd... into turn 1... "Shhhhhhheeeeessssshhhhk" the slide in just carries on as I hit a wet patch and I'm half-under the bike, grinding along the dirt on my left elbow. Shit! I'm turned, facing the oncoming bikes... under the bike. I watch them dodge me under the waved yellow flag.

The flattrack paddock is a family and pet friendly place!

I'm still holding onto the right handle-bar... so strictly speaking doesn't qualify as a crash. Engine still running and in gear. I dig the left bar out of the clay, pull the clutch in and scramble to my feet... haul the bike up... jump on and get going again before the leader is into turn 4.

Dusty as a mofo!
I have no chance of catching the last guy... but if I can finish I will still get at least a point. Every point counts in these heats. I ride around steadily, feeling everything tentatively, trying to assess any damage. The bike felt really unstable going into the turns so I just get around for the remaining few laps to finish before the leader laps me. Only then do I think that perhaps I should have laid on the ground under the bike as if I'd just been shot... to force the heat to be restarted. You'd have thought I'd learned that from the speedway guys by now? Nah! Not really sporting, is it?

Alex was there with the boys... and brought along the spares box that I'd forgotten... my day would have been scuppered without her!
Back in the pits and the decompression lever is a bit mangled and the cable sticking. Rear tyre lost about half it's pressure and the gear lever is a little bent, but still intact... more bodywork damage... but otherwise everything ok! Pump up the tyre and ready to rock!

Travis Newbold, Guto Llwelan and Wayne Drake ready for the next heat
Next Shorttrack heat and I'm going well again... the semi-final beckons! Into turn 1... "Shhhhhhheeeeessssshhhhk" and I get that sinking feeling again as my elbow grinds the dirt. Shit! Shit!

Almost a carbon copy of the previous heat... I watch, they dodge, I scramble. This time my right hand came off the bars - it's now a crash. The lanyard pulled and the engine cut out. The gear lever is snapped off. Nice going... 2 race meetings, 4 crashes and 3 gear levers... at 40 quid a pop this is getting expensive!

I clutch the bike and get off the track before the pack comes around again. I blow the best chance I've had at a Shortrack semi-final. What a muppet!

First turn mayhem... getting a bit tight in there... contact!

Besides the gear lever... the bike is okay. The side of my left calf is hurting but other than that I'm just a bit pissed off at myself.

After finishing 10th in the last Thunderbike heat (there were 2 DNFs), I need a good result in the final heat to make the Thunderbike final. I'm drawn at the back of the grid... position 12 - far inside in the loose chummed up dirt. Grrrreat!

Ferdinando (who has the best Italian restaurant in britain - La Taverna di Fedinando) and Freddy made the trip down from Sheffield to see what this flattrackin malarkey is all about
 Tapes go up and the race is on... turn 1 and I'm 12th - dead last. From then on I take no prisoners and get another place or two on evey lap. After 6 laps I cross the finish line in 4th right on the heels of 3rd. Yeah! Now THAT's more like it!

Points tallied and as expected, I don't make the Shorttrack semi-final... but I make the Thunderbike final! Whooo-hoo!

Gettin the sliiiiiiiide on... pride before the fall. Thanks to Ale for the pics!

Thunderbike final: I start in the shit again - in 12th spot. Tapes up and race on! I try and do what I did in the last heat... but this is the final... only the 12 best are here. I make a few passes and by lap 6 there's a big gap to the next group which is a ding-dong 4 way battle. I stretch my legs and make to onto the back wheel of Wayne Drake at the back of the group.. but it's too late and the chequered flag is out. I finish 8th.

The usual suspects were there

From 2 crashes and last on the first lap of the final... I'll take it! :-)

The mods have worked and the bike is getting better all the time. Now... I just gotta stop falling off!

Yup, dirt can hurt!

1 comment:

  1. you wer'nt the only one not 2 make a semi!.
    plenty of crashers on that slick track.
    bikes lookin good now thou!!.