2nd & 3rd September 2006
SuperClub Championship Rounds 8 & 9
It was a very busy time with work commitments for me around this SuperClub meeting and so I found myself flying home from Salzburg on Thursday evening before loading up the trailer Friday morning and heading off to Norfolk. We arrived to the wonderful noise of bikes hurtling around the track and quickly set up in our garage and signed on for the track evening.
The sun was dropping in the sky as we headed out for the first of 3 sessions and I was fairly happy with the bike set up and my pace around the track. In the 2nd session the sun was even lower and it was getting very tricky to see certain parts of the track and I nearly decided not to do the last session. But I went out to ’play’ with some of the other Hornets, forgetting to change to a clear visor as the sun had now dropped below the horizon. I really could have done with headlights and I was struggling to see and so, after a few laps, I decided not to risk it and pulled in. A pleasant evening was spent prepping the bikes, bending the credit card with new wet and dry tyres, and sipping a beer with friends.
Now, where did that sun go! Saturday morning was very overcast with rain forecast around midday. Our qualifying session was to be at 09.50 so, fingers crossed, we would be out in the dry. It was still a nervous time spent looking at the clouds but we finally went out on dry tyres. I was slightly later than most of the other Hornets to the track and found myself out on my own with only a few 400’s to pace myself against. But it all worked out well with a 7th place on the grid, 2nd fastest Hornet after Jonty Dixon with the usual suspects of Ivan Lintin, Keith Savine, Colin Plumb (back after his big crash at Cadwell) and Chaz Beale all right behind me on the grid.
Then, being a SuperClub meeting, it began to rain. The first race of the day went out on wets, but to be honest it wasn’t getting that wet on track. The rain was falling but the wind was gusting and not really letting the track get too wet. Pretty soon it looked like a dry track and so I was happy to get the dry bike ready for the race – except 20 minutes to go and it started to rain again. I jumped on the wet bike and went down to the assembly area with my good mate Erol Ahmet riding the dry bike down there just in case I changed my mind. A few minutes of sitting around and I swapped bikes again. As we lined up on the grid there didn’t seem to be that many on full wets. Quite a few had gone for the wet front/dry rear option that can work well in these conditions but Jonty up ahead was on 2 dry tyres so I knew I was in good company! In the warm up lap I could feel the tyres moving about especially on the entrance to the Bomb Hole and, after a reasonable start, the first couple of laps were cautious ones as I kept feeling the front tyre start to wash out at this corner. But cautiousness had let Ivan, Keith, Sean Hardwicke, Stu Machin and Shaun Westwood-Frame past me and it was time to push harder. I dropped my laptimes by 3 seconds a lap initially to re-pass Stu and Shaun and then came across the hapless Ivan who was performining miracles on a set of wet tyres. But he could never get the drive out of Sears that I was getting and I powered pass and set chase for Keith and Sean who were, by now, a fair distance ahead. I was reeling them in and set the fastest lap of the race catching them up by over a second a lap. Never has the phrase, ‘just one more lap’ been so appropriate. But the Clerk of the course decided not to add another lap on just for me and I finished 4th, 11 seconds behind Jonty and less than 1 second behind Keith and Sean.
The second race on Saturday was hardly worthy of comment compared to the previous action! Basically I had a decent start but not as good as Ivan who went off in hot pursuit of Jonty. Chaz wanted a piece of the action, passing me going into Sears but not quite catching up with the 2 ahead. No real danger for me in 4th, finally finishing 11 seconds behind Chaz and with a 1 second gap to a hard charging (but still hurting) Colin.
The rain fell hard overnight and didn’t bode well for the Sunday racing but soon the sun came out and the day looked perfect but for some pretty gusting winds.
The first race of Sunday gave me my best start of the weekend and probably Ivan’s worst! I battled hard for 2 laps to keep Jonty in my sight but he was slipping away as first Ivan and then Chaz caught up with me. Ivan passed me up the inside into Richies but looked to be running wide on the exit so I retaliated at Sears coming up the inside of him. But he was just so late on the brakes and had the better line that I tucked back in behind him. But my speed through Sears was ruined and I had a terrible drive out onto the Revitt straight. Chaz flew past and I never even got a sniff of his slipstream. I now had a quiet couple of laps trying to get back in touch with them but without getting a tow down the straights I was loosing ground. With 3 laps to go I checked behind me to see Keith right on my tail, time to get my head down! But a backmarker caught me out at the Esses and Keith was through at the Bomb Hole as I hesitated. I tucked in behind him through Russells chicane and slipstreamed him passed the last lap flag. I had the drive to go up the inside of him there and then but I thought that I would hold back and do the same thing in 1 laps time and beat him over the line. Stupid plan! I got a poor exit from Sears and he gapped me down Revitt straight. I caught most of it back in the next few corners but was still not quite on his tail as we exited Russells. I got in behind him and felt the still air behind me pull him towards me but the chequered flag was coming up quick. Just before we touched I pulled out and came up alongside him and we crossed the line with only 4/100ths second between us.
I was absolutely gutted, but another valuable lesson had been learnt. But, to be honest, it had been a great race (I just hate losing by such tiny amounts)
And so to the last Hornet race of the day and I was hoping for a nice steady, safe ride as I was returning to Austria the next morning to carry on with my work out there. Also I knew that I had regained 5th place in the Championship, having amassed quite a few more points over Colin and then I noticed that, after a stone had hit him in the chest in the previous race, he had packed up obviously hurting a little too much. So off we went for a steady Sunday afternoon ride! I had a fantastic start off the line totally ruined as I couldn’t make the change into 2nd gear stick. I was swamped by Chaz, Ivan and Sean with the first corner being an absolute bun fight! Jonty had made another clean break off the line and Ivan went off to chase him down. I got passed Sean and got back onto Chaz’s tail to slipstream him down the back straight. Hard on the brakes and up the inside into the Esses and Chaz knew I meant business. We were all over each other at just about every corner until I tried to get through at Sears and for the second time lost drive on the exit. Suddenly Sean appears at my side and steams past but makes a big mistake by waving to me – cheeky bugger! That was all I needed to turn the ride into a battle and I put my head down through Corum and went up the inside of Sean at Russells. Back to the job in hand with Chaz up ahead and to be honest I now cannot remember the number of times we swapped position – but it was damned good fun! But always in the knowledge that Sean was right there with us. This time around though the backmarkers were to play into my hands. On the very last lap as I made up ground on Chaz through Corum I could see him having trouble with a 400 that had been heading our little group all this time, who was hesitating as we all descended onto a back marker 400. I had chosen my route before I had even entered Russells, knowing that I needed the best of drives I took a really wide line, sat the bike up early and twisted the right hand grip until I stretched the throttle cables! I shot up alongside Chaz and quickly passed the backmarker. I couldn’t quite get with the 400 but he was in another race so it didn’t really matter. The 4/100ths of a second was this time in my favour and I was 3rd. Sure enough Sean and Keith were right behind us and there was only 1.2 seconds between all 4 of us. Probably my best race so far! And very addictive, I really want to do that again. Up ahead Ivan had got the better of Jonty to make it 2 each to each of them over the weekend with Jonty just getting a few more points than Ivan and consolidating his championship lead.
Thanks really go out to Erol Ahmet and Matt Ryan, New Era racers that weren’t racing that weekend but came along to lend a hand. Also LSD from Londonbikers.com who made it out on track Friday evening and returned to watch the racing, hope we entertained you!
Next for the Black & White Race Team will be Cadwell Park SuperClub rounds 10 & 11 as we will not be able to get back from Austria for the next Club round at Mallory – so bye, bye championship lead!