Friday, 29 June 2012

Oulton Park - Some Silverware

I wrote up a whole long story about what happened at Oulton Park 10 days ago becasue I had some time. Trying to add photos in this blog editor, I managed to lose it... all. So here's the short version... short? Yeah right!

The Wee Monster handles brilliantly... who needs adjustable forks?

Two Friday nights ago, I get back from Oxford flattracking, unpack the flattrack bike and gear, pack my road race bikes and gear, three hours sleep and then I leave for the 2.5 hour trip to Oulton Park. Only to find it all starts 1/2 an hour earlier than normal. It's going to be tight...

Despite all the bling, the Aprilia feels like a big boat compared with the Wee Monster

Arrive, unload Wee Monster (class: Ducati Desmo Due or 'DD') and the Aprilia RSV (class: Classic Superbikes), Monster thru scrootineering, Aprilia thru scrootineering (short queues because most riders were at the track on Friday testing and had thier bikes scrootineered then), gear thru scrootineering, sign on, noise test monster, straight out to qualifying, wet track, come in a lap earlier to noise get Aprilia noise tested, straight out to qualifying, raining, everone else on wets, me on road tyres, slither around, back to paddock early.

Aprilia wearing a brand new set of Dunlops that have been preserved for the last 5 years in my dining-room.

Rain doesn't look like it'll clear... so I go about fitting my wets on the Aprilia. Rain stops and it all starts drying quickly in the howling wind. I gamble that it'll rain again so leave the wets on. It doesn't rain and I run out of time to change the wheels myself. I roll out onto the back of the grid on a set of wets... everyone else on dry tyres... I'm praying for rain.

Nobody was listening and within 2 laps the tyres are overheating. Aweful feeling of pushing the front everywhere... horrendous on the brakes. After another 2 laps of trying I decide to not take any more chances, save my tyres, finish the race and save my energy for the DD race straight after this one. I settle to a steady rhythm and get passed by one, two, three riders. I'm glad the race ends.

In the rain, on road tyres... trying to go fast!

I come into the paddock and junp straight onto Wee Monster. She shouts 'COLD' from the dash... but I don;t have time to listen to her complaints and head out onto the grid. I qualified 2nd and when the lights go out I remembered that I had forgotten something after my last races on the Monster. The clutch is knackered... we judder all the way to the first turn and am in about 10th by the time we get there.

It's minging out there!

I cut my way through the pack and by the 3rd lap with a few fights along the way, I take the lead! Andy Chalis fights me and we swap the lead a few times before I make a mistake and run wide. He gaps me... I push hard to make up the gap. As soon as I have in in my sights, I make another mistake and he gaps me again... I go through this whole process again.

Some lunch and a cosy, dry space in the van to catch-up on some sleep between races... knackered look in the eyes...

I'm getting really tired and my riding is starting to get ragged. As a result I have to push harder to get back at him... so I make more mistakes. The last two laps I fade... happy to take a comfortable 2nd without too many risks. 2nd! Whooo-hooo!

I decide not to go out in the second Classic Superbike race and conserve my energy for the DD race. By the time we start the race it's raining.

Ready to rock 'n Roll on the Wee Monster

Again, I can't get off the line cleanly and the clutch making all sorts of terrible grinding noises. I'm even further down the pack into turn 1 than in the first race. A lot of work to do. I fight through the pack and within a few laps I have a clear track ahead and Andy Chalis in the far distance. He had 12 seconds on me.
Lovein' the Monster!

I push on... each lap he gets closer as I reel him in. I take seconds out of his lead every lap... last lap and I push hard... sliding the Wee Monster out of almost every turn. I catch him on the last corner. I stretch out but I only just reach him with my fingertips. We cross the line together... but too little, too late and I'm pipped by a few yards. Next corner and he would have been mine!

Every corner counts in these short races and I should have been a little more agressve getting through the pack. Oh well... still pretty happy with another 2nd!

I set the fatstest lap of the second race by 1.5 seconds!

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