@pricetta and I made the trip up to Donington Park over the bank holiday weekend for our second trackday of the year. We decided to do things a bit better this time and hired a van and hotel so we could be comfortable going up the night before, and carrying everything we need with us (chairs were probably the most appreciated items).
The organiser was No Limits. Claire booked into Lower as it’s her second trackday, I went into the one below Advanced, think it was Intermediate 1, or 2, I forget, their naming scheme is confusing. I’m still getting back into trackdays after seven years off, but feel ready to go back up to Advanced now.
After some bother with briefing videos being watched/not being watched, we got our wrist bands, had our 5 min briefing and got out on track for our sighting laps. Whoah! Forgot how flowing this circuit is! (Was here last in 2005 I believe), felt completely out of sorts, didn’t know where I should be on track, what gear I should use, when to brake. Some anxiety kicks in, wondering if I’m safe, have done the right thing. What about Claire?
Both of us felt the same. After some soul-searching and tears, where were both in a completely different mindset by the end of our second session. Smiles and scuffed sliders were abound. It’s amazing what a single session can do, when things start to suddenly click and muscle memory starts to come back and you recalibrate your mind for the corner speed required at this circuit. From there it got better and better.
The event seemed a little over-popular. With four groups there should have been a clear uniformity in speed of riders out in each session, but there were some people out in the Lower group who clearly should have been in the Intermediate groups, or higher. This created quite a delta in speed between riders, which was a little intimidating for some of the new riders. I suspect the day was so popular that people ended up booking themselves into whatever group had room. I assume this is an abnormality. I certainly don’t remember this ever being an issue.
Donington Park GP is such an amazing circuit. It’s got it all, it’s fast, it has hairpins, it has crests, blind corners, long hills, wide open corners, positive camber, negative camber corners, bumps and dips, run-off at important points. You name it, it’s got it. It’s a track that requires some real commitment to get the most out of it, and one you can build up on slowly.
Think I’ve found the limit of the OEM-fitment Pirelli Diablo Rosso Corsa II tyres. On a number of right-handers the rear was sliding and triggering the traction-control non-stop. Amazing tyre with it’s triple compound rear and double compound front, but I think it might be time to move up to the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP.
As mentioned, the bike was moving around all over the place on corner exit, but even with this going on, the bike felt amazing and supremely confidence inspiring. it never felt out of control, like I’ve had before when the rear is moving or the front wags (it hasn’t yet on the V2). I’m actually kind of shocked how good the V2 handles. I knew it would be good from the test-rides on the road, but did not expect it to be anywhere near as good on track as my old Aprilia RSV4 APRC Factory with all it’s bling bling Ohlins suspension. Hopefully with a firmer tyre with more edge grip it’ll feel even more planted.
All in all, we had an absolutely amazing time, but by the end of the day were knackered. We didn’t do the last session, so got changed, packed up and headed home. Had to stop off at some services on the way home for a brief nap and some food, and then sloped on home.
Can’t wait for the next trackday! We also looked into California Superbike School. Glad to see that’s resumed. I’m super eager to attend; I really need to improve on my corner entry. I’m far too conservative at times. Hoping CSS would help with that, and more. Think it would be a great accelerator for Claire as well.
Anyone want to come along on the next one?
Feedback for No Limits would be:
- Improve the online checking-in/briefing experience. You should be able to have multiple people go through it at once, i.e. how you check-in and sort out your flights for multiple people at once. We got there to be told Claire hadn’t watched the briefing, when she had, with me, for example.
- Timetable? We didn’t get/see anything. When does registration open? What order do groups go out, and when? When is lunch? Providing this information clearly, up-front by email/website would reduce stress considerably.
- Announcements, can’t hear them. Same at all circuits, but surely we can fix this in 2022? Petition the circuit owners for louder PA systems, use in-app notifications?
- Following on from that, what about an app? This could smooth so much over, i.e. booking, checking-in, briefings, FAQs, timetables, session notifications, event chat, i.e. talk to other attendees (anyone got a tyre gauge??) etc.
- Fix the group naming scheme… Lower/Middle 2/Middle 1/Advanced… Advanced should be Upper going by the other names, or use Novice/Intermediate 1/Intermediate 2/Advanced.
- Use neck straps instead of wrist straps? It’s always such a complete and utter ball-ache and stress trying to show the wrist-strap to the marshals that’s buried under your gloves and leathers. This system doesn’t work. I get that you don’t want to make it easy to take them off on the day, but there must be a better way that makes it clear what group you’re in when you have all your gear on.
Things we took (in case anyone else is thinking of doing this for the first time):
- Leathers/Boots/Gloves/Back Protectors/Airbag vest, etc.
- Bike Ramp & straps
- Spare clothes for the trip home
- Fold-up chairs
- Fuel canisters (2x 10L, need to buy a fuel dispenser though, pouring these was troublesome)
- Tools (spanners, sockets, screwdrivers, snips, scissors, etc.)
- Masking tape for taping up the mirrors
- Duct tape and cable-ties (for potential repairs)
- Pressure gauge and pump
- Water bottles
- Food (fruit, energy bars, etc.)
- Visor cleaner & microfibre cloths
- GoPro & spare batteries
Obviously if you have a track-bike, you’ll want to take a load more, i.e. spare parts (clipons/levers/rearsets), tyre warmers, paddock stands, electrical extensions, pit mat, pit crew (mum/dad/mate) etc.
The V2 held her own in this group. Fending off all but a racer on a Moto2 bike (really) and another litre race bike. Onboard footage to come shortly…
I have no idea where this was taken from. Inside the Melbourne Hairpin?
Goddards, coming on to the straight. I’m taking this in first after looking at the onboard video, which seems wayyy too low, but felt right. My corner entry speed sucks I think.
Down the pit lane straight. Wheeeeeeee…
Absolutely no idea where this is. Answers on the back of a post-card to the usual address please.
Loaded up, ready to go. Yes that very narrow loading ramp was anxiety-inducing
Points for knobber parking? Desperately needed a wee.
Us two, perched on the ends. Turns out the other folks in our garage were super friendly and helpful.
New trackday friend, Shaun’s beautiful Gixxer Thou. PHWOAR!
Someone showing me their Panigale V2 baffle. Guy was very happy with it. Cost about £70 iirc, though making a £2-3k exhaust sound just a tad bit better than the standard exhaust seemed of questionable economic value.
A stunning Panigale V2. I assume this is a BSB TriOptions Cup race bike. Once upon a time I would have happily and easily spent all my disposable income on replicating this
Talking of stunning… We both LOVED this Sprinter. Living quarters in the middle and a full garage in the back. The perfect trackday touring wagon. We played a game of “would it fit on our driveway?” afterwards.
Looks like you could just about get two sportsbikes in there, maybe, possibly. No doubt with a lot of swearing and huffs.
Brief view of the living space. Didn’t want to intrude too much, but there’s a double bed above the garage at the back.
Claire, next to my bike.
And Claire, next to her bike (which always gets all the attention from walkers-by!)
Claire getting ready for a one-on-one instruction session
Lower group getting lined up to go out.
Claire making “wheeeeee” noises in her helmet down the straight, leading the session, no doubt. No? Okay, just me imagining it then.
Claire getting her debrief with the instructor.
I had a little cold-tearing on the rear tyre just on the outer band of compound. I think it was just cold-tarmac, rather than a suspension issue, as @B had given it a quick (I mean quick, not a full setup) tweak before at Brands Hatch, and it felt fine then. Seemed fine after this, settled down once track temps came up through the morning.
The track-day was rammed, people had to setup where-ever they could, and then others came to watch their friends.
My Ducati Panigale V2. Rides like a dream, love it
Another stunning Suzuki GSX-R 1000.
A pretty incredible DIY Moto2 bike by the look of it. Triumph 675 one assumes with a full track kit on it. Bet it’s a dream to ride around here.
This rather wonderful Cafe used to be the Media Center, back when LB covered British MotoGP rounds as accredited press.
Claire getting to grips with the Melbourne Hairpin