Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Brands Double - part II

Sunday morning was just as cold again... but with a cutting wind. After the Brands Hatch church curfew we get out for warm-up.  I did about 5 laps. I build up gradually, but the inters didn't fare as well as I'd hoped and were starting to tear on the edges of the grooves. Oh well... just have to finish one of the 18 lappers on them.

Soon I'm out for race 1... lights out and we're away. I was struggling the get the big girl off the line... the clutch was biting so I resorted to a gentle pull off and then flatten the throttle. It was kind working - I wasn't losing places off the line.  I make up a place on lap 1 and slot in behind Rob Garland again. He's running a comfortable pace... he's quick and smooth. It's a longish race and we just need to finish... so I pace my self behind Rob. There are a few places I could get by without any problem - Paddock Hill Bend and into Druids. But I just hang back... I need the finish.

I shared a garage with Richard Cunningham who did the ManxGP in 2013... yes, it was that fekking cold!

Mid-race and number 14, Ian Pattinson on his Kawasaki ZX7RR slips up my inside into Paddock Hill. No panic. I shadow him. He passes Rob the next lap... as long as I stay in touch... that's no problem. My tyres aren't feeling great and are slipping a bit. No risks. Then Ian starts to gap Rob. So I make my move. Past Rob into Paddock Hill and I make up 30 yards to get onto the back of Ian.

Getting on the gas out of Graham Hill Bend

The Kawasaki is quick. He gaps me by 30 yards down the straight... I claw it back through Paddock Hill and Druids. He gaps me again down the short back straight... I get it back through the Surtees left-right. I'm pretty comfortable behind him despite my tyres sliding around a bit. I'm starting to think: "Hey, I can win this...". So three laps from the end I decide to make my move and promptly hit false neutral going into McLeans. Shit! That wasn't in the plan.

I freewheel towards the gravel and stomp down on the gear lever. Clunk! I nail the throttle through Clearways, Braaaaaaaaaaap! Ian has gapped me by 50 yards by the time we go over the start/finish line. I got work to do... 

Had great fun on track with Rob Garland all weekend

I catch the ZX7 halfway through the last lap. I can't make a move until the final stretch where I try and slipstream past him to the line. As we sweep through Clearways, I'm inches from his back tyre... I dart out to the right and start drafting past him. We cross the line together... but on the short Brands straight, it's too little too late. He pips me by 9 hundredths of a second - half a bike-length!

Through McLeans with Ian Pattinson on my six... that corner was my achilles heel

Small consolation is that I set the fastest lap of the race on that last lap... by nearly a second! It was thrilling at the end... and although I'm 2nd... I'm totally stoked that I now have 4 out of my 4 TT Qualifying races in the bag. Jiggidy-jiggidy. Oh yeah!

The inters on a dry track, despite the cold, were totally shagged after 18 laps. They would run through to the canvas if tried another 18 laps on them. Although I have nothing really to gain in doing the last race, I'm up for it. I put the worn-out Pirelli slicks back on the bike for the last 18 lapper. Although way past their prime, they will do the distance... better the devil you know...

This is Speed Therapy

Lights out and we're off for a bit of fun. Similar pattern to the first 3 races... an ok start just rolling her off the line... by the end of lap 1 I'm leading. I'm trying to race only as fast as I need to. Tyres are worn out, moving around and already I'm being challenged for the lead. I lose the lead on lap 3 to Ian... only to get it back again a lap or two later. I'm back into second a few laps later. I decide to save what's left of my demolished types for the last few laps and shadow Ian... and maybe pressurize him into a mistake. Round and round we go... I'm sussing out his and my strengths and weaknesses around Brands Hatch... and coming up with a plan.

A tayle of two tyres... both fooked!

I have to pack the van and drive home after... and then work the next mo
Just as I decide my strategy... I do the same as the race before and hit false neutral going into McLeans. WTF? Again... just a few laps remaining and I'm 50 yards off. I get to work once more. Round druids and I get a big slide going as I hit the apex... "Whooah, boy"... then another as I exit Druids. Down into the downhill, slightly off-camber left hander called Graham Hill... as I gas it up coming out I get another big slide on. Sheeeesh! Three slide in two turns... my tires are mashed.
rning... and be it for the TT. I decide discretion is the better part of valor and back it off a notch. No use throwing it at the scenery trying to get more out of the tyres. Ian knows I was coming and had his ears pinned back. The last lap fight was not to be and we cross the line only a second apart.

The spoils of victory

I'm super happy... on worn tyres, a snatchy clutch and quick shifter problems all weekend - I still managed to come away with trophies. I had some awesome races, was always in control, raced to the conditions and my equipment... all very sensible. More importantly, I finished my TT Qualifying races. Job done!

Time to get my ass home and source a bike for the TT Supersport races... only 9 weeks to go!

Always good to get home after a weekend racing :-)

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