A bit late coming, but hey, its there now!
Well anyone who knows me will know that i have a bit of a hangup with the Norfolk circuit. My very first ever trackday was here and last all of 3 laps, and its a circuit that i just could never get my head around. Having inspected the gravel at EVERY possible corner barring one at some point in time, i was aware that a single visit to the deck would drop me straight out of the top 10 in the championship.
I’d been to the dyno a coupe of weeks previous, convinced that there was something wrong with the bike. Gary at SDC ran the bike up, overlayed the graphs then told me to start riding the thing properly. Sure enough, the bike was identical in power to how it was in January.
A lot of my rivals were attending a trackday on the friday, but instead, i decided to enter the SV/Hornet/sb400 races on the saturday as a shakedown. I’ve done enough laps there to know my way round so i just needed to do a few laps on the Ducati.
It was quite a surprise to see no SV’s in the Sv entries, instead there were 18 Desmodue bikes obviously with a similar idea to me! Although Dom hadn’t entered, the usual suspects - Hawk, Rattler, Ian Leah, Stumpy, Rich Cashmore, JPM etc etc were all out to play. Qualifying went well, with Hawk managing to put himself on row 2 of the mixed grid, and the rest of the Ducati’s were from row 5 backwards. I was on row 6 with a 1’27.3, but pleased with my qually time. Imagine my surprise in both SV races when i was following Hawk through the first couple of corners! It didnt take him long to show his class and dissapear off into the distance, leaving me to dice with Rich and Stumpy. I finished 4th (of the SV class) in both the races, having pipped Stumpy across the line by exactly 1/100th of a second in each race, and posting a 1’26.15 fastest lap.
Overall, i was really pleased with the saturday races, it’s possible that i’d put my Snetterton demons to bed at last!
Come sunday, i was ready. The plan was to get straight back onto the pace in qualifying and try to match my quickest lap of saturday. i ran a 1’26.24, and i picked up 10th spot on the grid, my best qualifying to date. Well pleased. I’ve always said that if i can start on the front 2 rows then i can lead a race, even if only briefly. Well i was on row 3 so i was aiming to at least get myself tangled with the front runners.
Race 1, and we took to the grid. It was a bit odd being this close to the lights, and with very little traffic to avoid in front. On the front row were Hawk, FB (guest rider from MRO series), Rattler and Dom. Dom actually wasn’t there and Rich Cashmore hadnt taken up his 5th spot either. Perhaps they were asleep? Lights on, lights off and i launched the 60bhp beast, passing the row in front and passing FB and Rattler on the way to turn 1. Excellent! i was in 2nd place by this time, but FB and Lord Rattler showed their first corner strength and got by me again. Dom went by a few laps later. Turns out he and Rich had started from the back as they got out late. Great ride! Eventually, i was left to battle it out with Stumpy for a few laps for a repeat of the SV races, this time i managed to put a strong defensive line in after passing him and kept 6th place (it was actually 7th, but FB was non points scoring guest) and my best finish within DD so far! I wandered off to get the results sheet, looking to have pipped into the 1’25 bracket, and the sheet showed a 1’25.4.
Race 1 boring facts:
I qualified P10, with stumpy alongside me on the grid P11. I’d pipped him by 1/100th of a second twice on saturday. DD race 1, we had IDENTICAL laptimes for the first 2 laps, both posting a 1’33.44 and 1’27.04. My last 2 laps were both exactly the same and were my fastest laps of 1’25.47
Race 2 was a similar affair, good start into 2nd (first lap was 2 seconds quicker than my first lap in race 1) and started to struggle with grip, the bike was sliding a lot more and i wasn’t comfortable with it. on lap 2 i saw Rich having problems on the straight and he had to pull out of the race. As he was my nearest competitor, i was able to sigh with relief as it meant i didnt need to push so hard and risk binning the bike. So i did just that. Eased off the gas a touch and went 1 second a lap slower than race 1. My tyre’s were definitely shot, having been fitted back at Castle Combe. I lost a lot of places having had to roll off the gas, but that didnt really matter too much, it was more important that i get a reasonable finish than a crash! I finished 9th across the line, 8th once the non-point scoring guest rider was removed from the results, with a 1’26.2 fastest lap being posted in lap 2.
Summary: 4th, 4th, 6th, 8th. Thats the best set of results i’ve had in this series, performed at a circuit that i historically dislike.
That pushes me up into 6th in the championship, having leapfrogged Rich Cashmore, however i had forgotton about Ian Leah, who is now up into 7th and just 3 points behind me. Only one round left up at Cadwell.