Well here is the next installment from my season. Hope you enjoy the read.
laceName>CadwelllaceName> laceType>ParklaceType> Race report
Round 6 of my championship campaign was to be at the delightful but technical laceName>CadwelllaceName> laceType>ParklaceType> circuit in Lincolnshire.
We set up camp late on Thursday Night alongside my racing friends Dave and Wal in a nice cordoned off area of the paddock area. After a really bad week in the office, I was exhausted and only did the basics. The bike and everything else was unpacked early on Friday, in the light of day. First things first, off to get one of my older tyres put on the rear wheel, the current one was pretty mangled and wouldn’t have been that good. So an older Super Corsa was installed, deliberately back to front so that the right had more wear available. From memory there are many more right handers than left’s at laceName>CadwelllaceName> laceType>ParklaceType>.
A great morning, nice and sunny. Off for the first 15 minute practice session I went. I followed Dave round for a few laps, getting my bearings and trying to work out how to get over ‘The Mountain’ without my sphincter letting go on me. I passed Dave after a few laps, time to get on the pace a bit. So I upped my pace, braking later and later for corners. No issues with first practice, backing off at the right time over the mountain as well as leaning right forwards seems to do the trick.
Second practice was to be much of the same, practice lines and braking. There just seemed too much traffic out there to get a decent run in, but, I went through the motions. I was really frustrated that I had not got a decent practice when I came back in.
Practice three went much better. The head was down on the tank and I was getting onto what I thought was race pace. I was trying a few different lines and braking points out etc. Dave was running a lap timer and said we were in the 1min 49second bracket. Faster than Dave and Wal went last year so that had to be good news for the actual races.
Then it decided to precipitate. We went out to have a look at the track, if it was too wet we were going to come in, if not take it steady and practice lines was the order of the day. Wal came straight back in after the first lap but myself and Dave stayed out. Well it was not too bad, so I practiced lines and gained confidence in what I could get away with on Super Corsa’s in the wet. Eventually I seemed to be flying along and I was having a great time.
We stopped for lunch and then went out for the first of our three afternoon practice sessions. Nice and dry now, the pace I was running was good. I seemed to be going well compared to other people out there. I returned to camp fairly confident. I was sure that I could go harder and was looking forward to the next run.
Well the next run was ruined, down came the rain and I did not really have enough time to get racing wets on the bike so I sat the session out. Hoping that it would dry for the last one. Well it did dry up, but soon before we were to go out the heavens opened again. Enough is enough I said, took the bike off to scruitineering and got it all signed off.
Out came the wheels, off for new rubber. I checked the bike over and cleaned it up. With the new tyres installed to the rims, the wheels went back in the bike and that was it. Sat down for some well needed fodder and then went off to socialise a bit.
Saturday morning came, checked the bike over ready for our 12 minutes warm up. The warm up went well, I felt good, I still appeared to be holding my own. Confidence was high in the Chuffster camp that the racing should go well. Turns out I was sixth fastest with a 1.49.751. You don’t know your times unless you are running a lap timer, and I don’t.
I was 12th in the championship, we don’t have qualifying, the grid is determined by championship positions. Someone in the top ten had not turned up so I was gridded 11th. Confident now that I can get the bike off the line reasonably well I was looking forward to the start. Practice start on the parade lap went well. So we all lined up on the grid for our first race of the weekend. The heart is pounding, the mouth is bone dry, the tension is virtually unbearable. The man with the flag drops the flag and walks off the track, the engines rev, the lights come on, the tension is unbearable, the lights go off, we are away. Well what a blinding start, into the first corner, in fourth place. The first corner is Coppice and a left hander that goes rapidly uphill. At the top of the hill is Charlie’s one and two. This is a blind double apex right hander. I am still in fourth and swarming over the back of the leading three as we head off down park straight, not that it is exactly straight. Into Park corner itself, I was thinking of trying a move but the leading three were abreast across the track. Round Park we went, still on the rear wheel of third place rider. Into Chris Curve, and still with them, this was going well. As we approached the Gooseneck, a right left combo the third place rider seemed to go a bit wide on entry. Thought that I would squeeze past on the downhill run from the Gooseneck to Mansfield. Well I started to go for it but the front started to slide. Trying to save the day I picked the bike up and went for the grass. I envisaged trundling a way down the grass and coming back onto the track. I knew I would lose places but was confident that I could pick up the pace again. Not long on the grass I was suddenly airborne. I had left the bike and came down with a bump. I bounced and bounced and carried on bouncing, all the time waiting to feel pain. As I bounced I watched the bike doing the same, a couple of full rotations in the air. After what seemed a minute but was probably more like 15 seconds we ground to a halt. Just shy of the tyre wall fortunately. I picked myself up, I couldn’t feel anything wrong. The marshals picked the bike up, that somehow seemed to have a miraculous escape at first glance. The race continued, I was fuming, I should have been out there doing well. I was gutted.
At the end of the race, the marshall at the post where I had crashed came over with the missing parts off my rearset as well as my crashbung, apparently I hit a large rabbit hole in the grass! When the racers had left the track the bike and I were collected. I had now had time to look at it and couldn’t see that I needed anything more than a foot peg and to tidy up and reattach some of the fairing. My mechanic met ne at the scruitineering bay, the bike was offloaded and inspected. You are then given a sheet telling you what needs to be done before you would be able to get back on track again. So we went away and got on with things. The bike had seriously escaped very lightly considering the speed of the accident and the distance travelled. I had a couple of small bruises, how I got away with it I do not understand even now. You always want to slide when you crash as opposed to bounce, but I bounced good and proper. These MJK leathers I wear are the mutts, I can seriously vouch for them. A few people came to see me to ask if I was ok, apparently I got good marks for the crash, you don’t often see people bounce like that I was told.
Big thanks to the commentator who announced that one of the leaders was down, followed eventually by my name and also the fact that I was up and fine. As most of the people watching could not see that part of the track I can just imagine what a relief it was to the other half to know that I was ok.
So the bike was ready for the second race. I now had to start from last, that was 27th in my class. The plan was to get a great start and slice through the traffic as far as possible from the off. So once again, we lined up, full of tension. Another great start from the Chuffster, straight through the row in front. Overtaking is not that easy at Cadwell and I had to pick my moments quite carefully. At the end of the first lap I was 23rd and getting into the grove, the racers were spreading out now and there was room for passing, so I did. I got put onto the grass down park straight but survived and managed to pass another couple on the brakes. By the end of lap 2 I was up to 17th. Still a long way to go. Running now with some of the quicker people, it gets harder to pass, I managed to get up to 15th. Then 14th. There was a big gap to the next rider so I stayed 14th for 2 laps while I hauled them in, then I got passed, up to 14th, followed by thirteenth and then 12th. I thought that I was flying now. At the end of lap 6th I was tenth and right behind my friends Wal and Dave. Dave bodged up the chicane and I was suddenly right on the back of Wal. I followed him all the way over the mountain, through Hall bends. Right on his wheel at the hairpin I was going for the overtake into barn, I put the front wheel next to his rear one but thought better of such a risky overtake. When we drove out of Barn I sailed past down the start finish straight and onto the last lap. Off in hot pursuit of Dave I went. Round Coppice and through Charlie’s we went. I was closing all the time. I managed to outbreak Dave into Park Corner. Now it was a case of keep the momentum but not do anything silly. Keep a good line I was saying to myself, so that’s what I did. Through the Gooseneck and down to Mansfield, no sign of Dave’s front wheel but I knew he must be there somewhere. Into the Chicane, nice and smooth, still no attempt from Dave. A yellow flag at the bottom of the mountain and I was catching another rider. No overtaking on a yellow, blast. Well poor old Brandon was mesmerised by the bike parked up against the tyre wall and went off the track across the grass. I backed off just in case, probably a good thing that I did as he managed to get across the grass and back onto the track, right on my line for the mountain. So leaning right off the bike and trying to turn on the mountain I scraped past. Into Hall Bends for the last time, heart pounding away. Down to the Hairpin, was Dave there? Would he go for a risky overtake? No sign. Smoothly I went round, down to Barn corner, got to get this right, if you are too slow here it will completely do the run down to the finish line. I nailed it a peach. Down to the finish line and the chequered flag. I was absolutely elated with that race, I had no idea where I had finished but I knew that I had given it my all. I savoured the run back to the pits, to me it felt like I had one. Taking in the people watching and the marshals clapping there appreciation is a great feeling. Even if its not just aimed at you, it certainly feels like it.
So my friend Dave came in just behind me, he managed to beat Brandon by 0.021 of a second, Wal came in just after Brandon by 0.12 of a second, that’s what you call close.
Back to base camp, more clapping as I went through the paddock area. I was now beginning to wonder what I had done. I knew I was not in the top four, in fact I thought I was somewhere between 10th and 15th. I got told I was ninth, then I got told I was 8th. This was unbelievable. When I got the result sheet, I was even more shocked to find that I was 7th. My last lap of the race was my fastest, a 1.45.315. During the afternoon while I went out watching some of the other classes race I kept bumping into people I knew, I got loads of congratulations for the performance I put in, boy is that a great tonic. The racing for the weekend was awesome, some really great battles in many of the classes.
That evening a Wal was on his usual BBQ cooking duties, something he does with great aplomb. So we all sat down for our social and had something to eat and something to drink. For one of us, way too much red wine!
Off to bed at midnight. Time for some decent kip. Well once I was actually allowed to go to sleep, that’s once the red wine newt had calmed down, I drifted off. For some reason I woke at about 04:00. I could not get back off to sleep, the brain was engaged, going over the track and the 2 races to come. I finally gave up trying to sleep and rose from my pit at 05:30. Off to check the bike over. The caravan door opened and the red wine newt emerged. Hanging onto the door she announces that she does not feel too good. And am I to blame, that’s a big negative. The young lady had been lead astray by red Wine Racing, or so I am led to believe. Well she was soon back in bed, slumbering nicely. So I got on with preparing the bike. Off for a nice hot shower and then I walked round the track. We had had some overnight rain and I wanted to check the track out. It seems a hell of long way round when you walk it and extremely hilly. We had some of that really annoying light rain on and off. Not enough to make it suitable for wet tyres, but, enough to make you seriously think about running Super Corsas.
So for warm up, I decided to just bimble round for my three laps and see what the track was like. I either wanted proper rain or for it to dry up for the racing. The light drizzle came and went over the next hour.
When we went out for our first race of Sunday, it was dry. The temperature was noce and cool but the wind had seriously risen. So we went off on the parade lap, I was now starting seventh on the grid. The same routine, the lights went off and I nailed it. I got into sixth place and decided to take it easy on the first lap and not get too carried away. All six of us were together, down park straight and into park corner for the first time. The top five all jostling for position and me, just watching and waiting. Round Chris Curve and down to the Gooseneck, take it easy going on in my head, so that’s what I did. Suzie was in fourth and she lost it at the gooseneck, the front washed out but she went straight down. She slid across the track and onto the grass, a very similar accident to mine apart from the fact that she went down on the track and managed to slide as opposed to bounce. Well this put me up to fifth place. My brain was not in tune this time, the wind was blowing me all over the place and I just didn’t feel any confidence at all. I soon got overtaken, for some reason this didn’t stir me into life either. I got overtaken yet again, a slight stirring in aggression, but not much. This time the person that overtook crashed in front of me when he overcooked it in Hall Bends. Then another one went past, this time I woke up and put the hammer down a bit. I came in seventh again, as far as I was concerned that was fine. I was upright and in the top ten, there was still another race to go. Best lap was 1.46.780.
So another seventh, I couldn’t really complain but I was appalled with myself for not really racing. I needed to sort my brain out before the next race. I had a couple of visitors from Londonbikers.com now. Come to see me strut my stuff on the track. No extra pressure then.
Race two on Sunday, again starting from seventh on the grid. With the parade lap complete, we all lined up yet again. And we are off, into the first corner in sixth. Determined to go harder but still to be smooth was the aim. This time I was up for the fight. I lost ground on 5th but was into a rhythm. After a few laps I got a rude awakening to say the least, as I entered Mansfield hard on the brakes there was a bump from behind. Just a minor one, but enough all the same. I carried on, slightly unnerved now. On the next lap, I had number 22 try and overtake into the chicane, I timed it just right, got there just in front and wasn’t going to give. On the next lap he went past at the hairpin, but, I was carrying too much speed and he had to run onto the kerb. I went straight back underneath him before barn corner. He was not getting past without a massive fight. I kept my head down and went for it. Not sure where he was but I kept tight smooth lines and kept hammering along. The last lap couldn’t come soon enough, could I hold on. Well I managed it, I came home sixth, maybe by a whisker but that’s all that matters. My fastest lap was the last one of the race in a 1.44.939, testimony to the fact that I went hard all the way to the end. Again it was like winning to me, I had a nice slow run back to the paddock area waving at the crowds and marshals on the way. It had been a great race as far as I was concerned. I missed all the action behind me, apparently Dave and Wal had a great scrap between themselves, Wal finally taking the victory between the two by .433 of a second. Gutted I missed seeing it.
Big thanks to Red Wine Racing for being there and fixing my bike once again.
Big thanks to Justine for all the support and everything else she manages to do.
Big thanks to Dave and Wal plus respective other halves for the company, kind words and congratulations.
Huge thanks to everyone that gave their words of encouragement, they really do help me along.
Thanks to Andrew and Llewelyn from LB for turning up to support and cheer me on. A long way to go just to see me do 7 laps but I hope the trip was worth it.
I am already looking forward to Brands Hatch Indy in 3 weeks time, BRING IT ON.
My highlight of the weekend was not actually my racing at all, it was seeing a fellow racer come back from an horrific accident at the start of the season. It was his first race weekend having just got off crutches. Running in the Superbike 400 class he made a stirling effort and I really do wish to congratulate him on being back out there. Huge round of applause to JAMES CASWELL COX, an example to many. Looking forward to you getting better and better through the rest of the season.