Monday, 19 March 2012

Season Opener - Brands Hatch

Been mad-busy the last few weeks - little time to post. Got some catching up to do. So, with the help of dates...

Sat 3rd March 2012

Headed out to Brands Hatch with Candy (1998 Aprilia RSV) for the road race season opener with the ThundersportGB club. Funny how things turn out...

Almost 8 years ago... on the 6th March 2004 at Brands Hatch, I popped my cherry and did my first ever race with the BMCRC (Bemsee) club. Dave and Bernadette Stewart who now run ThuundersportGB were then running Bemsee. And... I was riding the same goddamn bike!

6th March 2004 - Same bike... anyone recognise those leathers?

Then we were in the 'Supertwins' class... time has passed up both by and now we are 'Golden Era Superbikes' class.

This guy's day started badly... he lowsided on cold tyres before he even made it to qualifying... fortunately he had spares to repair and he got out to race.
I get to the circuit and it's gloomy and cold... same as it was 8 years ago. 15 minutes before practice and it starts drizzling lightly... I decide not to change wheels becasue a) I'm by myself and the job will take at least 10 minutes b) I think it'll stop drizzling and I'm too schnup to wreck a set of wets for one qualifying session. 2 minutes before we go out and it starts raining. Doh!

Normally don't mind the rain... but it sucks when you're on the wrong tyres

Turns out that I've lost a spacer from one of my wets and couldn't have changed the rear wheel anyway. Everyone else except another punter is on wets... I'm on super-slick Dunlop GP211s. Ho-hum...

I take it easy... just feeling my way around. I only need 3 laps to qualify. By lap 3 and it's pelting it down. I'm slithering all over the place... but just keeping her steady. My biggest concern is another rider flying around on wets harpooning me in to a corner. I do 2 more laps to make sure I qualify and then pull in.

Keeping her upright...and wobbling around

I qualify 18th out of 22... waaaay at the back. Sure enough it stops raining and starts drying for race one. It's still damp out there as we line up on the grid for the first time in 2012.
The guy ahead of me jumps the start by a mile... I'm thinking that they will red flag and restart. I relax. As the jump-starter is passing the start-row ahead of him, the lights go out and they're off. I'm caught napping... Doh! I'm last into Paddock Hill Bend... same as 8 years ago!

Druids action

It's slippery but the track starts to get a dry line after a few laps. I'm still on my dry-weather Dunlops and after the morning's qualifying just build my confidence lap after lap. I make up a few places before deciding to get the hammer down mid race. I make up more places but too little, too late. I finish 13th.

More Druids

It's glorious sunshine as race 2 soon rolls around. I get an okay start, the track is dry and I pile on the coals from the first turn. I gain a handful of places through Paddock Hill Bend and Druids. The rest of the race is one-way traffic. It's a busy race - catching and passing. Awesome to be racing against simmilarly matched machinery that doesn't leave you for dead down the straights.

Graham Hill Bend - in 2004. Who is # 11?

The same bend 8 years later on the same bike... at least we look faster! 

The race is over all too soon... I was really enjoying it when the chequered flag comes out and I take 5th. Eight years ago in my first two races I finished second last and last... good to see I've improved a bit after a few years racing.

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