• Tag Archives R1
  • Shit happens!

     

    Now I’m guessing most of you reading this aren’t stupid?,  so when you see a headline like this and find the story relates to a trackday event,  you’ll probably quickly come to the conclusion that perhaps things didn’t go quite to plan? Well you’re right, but even though you know the outcome, the story may be interesting, so read on to find out.

    I’d been to Donington in July and posted the story of how I’d got within two seconds of my all time best there on my R1, without the benefit of being towed around by an instructor, my previous best having been on a datalogged Fireblade at the Ron Haslam school. The July trip had been my first visit there in 5 years so I’d been chuffed that my time had been pretty quick, but I knew I could go even quicker if I went back again. Jon was keen to give it another go, so August 4th  saw us back on track and raring to go.

    My time from July had been a 1.57.36 and in the first session of the day this time I was already turning in 1.58’s, and with a full day ahead things were looking promising.  Second session in and the Gopro was switched on and I was really up for it.   A couple of laps in and I got great drive out of Coppice and arrived at Foggy Esses a little faster than previously and realised I wasn’t going to make the turn, but  luckily there is plenty of run on there, so I waited for the following bikes to pass and rejoined the track.

    Galvanised into action I got my head down and went for it, catching several other riders and passing them as I was on a mission for a lower lap time. Thing is when you try and perhaps don’t just let the lap come to you, it’s easy to make a mistake. I wasn’t feeling I was forcing it but I was aware I was getting quicker. Craner Curves, Old Hairpin and Mcleans flashed by as I sped up towards Coppice. This time I was on a slightly wide line and had to turn in harder to get a line through, and that’s when it all went wrong. The rear suddenly started to overtake me, and as I tried to counter the sense of impending doom and ride through what was looking like a speedway drift, the tyre gave up and the next thing I know I’m surfing the tarmac on my backside watching the bike heading for the gravel, where both it and I tumbled over and over.

    Now when a bike hits the gravel you know if it went in anything other than straight it’s going to flip, and that’s what happened. The pictures take by the handily placed trackside photographer, show it landing upside down, at which stage any likelihood of getting away with a low cost repair had  clearly gone out of the window, and I was left kneeling on all fours  surveying my surroundings, taking in the yellow flags being waved and a marshal running towards me.

    Checking the GoPro and the Iphone with lap timer (which had been bolted to a holder on the rear seat cover were still in place), I  picked up the detached right hand headlight and brake reservoir, and various fragmented fairing pieces, while waiting for the recovery van to arrive. Taking the “ride of shame” back into the pits and to the garage where Jon was waiting, means you have to run the gauntlet of everyone looking at you and your bike and wondering whether they think you’re a twat for crashing, or thanking god it wasn’t them?

    With the bike clearly incapable of moving  and certainly not of being ridden again, the rest of my day was spent dismantling stuff, removing gravel, and watching Jon  getting quicker each session and clearly enjoying himself.  I started to do the mental arithmetic on likely repair costs, knowing that they would be large given that the subframe was broken.

    So what happened? Well I’ve reviewed the on board film a hundred times and had friends and racers look at it, and the only thing we all come up with is that either there was something on the track as another bike had crashed there in the precious session, or the tyre had simply given up the ghost. A Pirelli Superbike Pro is supposed to be able to run through 50 heat cycles, I reckon mine was closer to 60, and had the replacement I ordered been delivered in time perhaps none of this would have happened, but who knows? I take solace from knowing that it’s taken me 15 years on track, 51 days and probably 6000 miles to get to this stage, so if I count the likely repair costs over that period I’ve probably not done too badly, however next will come  the true cost of time and doubtless major expense to fix it, and I’ll detail that in a follow up blog.

     

    Oh, nearly forgot. Best time was 1.57.19

     

     

     

     

     


  • Donington Park revisited- finally!

    My first ever visit to a race circuit was back in 1999 after I had moved from the UK to Switzerland. I met some guys who “persuaded” me to take my brand new VFR800 to the French circuit of Ledenon. For those who don’t know Ledenon, it is renowned as being one, if not the, most technical circuits in France, and different from many others because it runs anti clockwise. The two days on track were a real baptism of fire as I decked the pegs out everywhere trying to keep up with my more experienced fellow riders. I felt I was riding flat out, but the film I had taken has a soundtrack from the camera bike, a TL1000R, which sounds like he barely got out of second gear, thereby debunking my speed theory!

    Fast forward 4 years to 2003, and I’d linked up with a friend and decided to go on the Ron Haslam school at Donington Park. First time at the school and you have to ride CBR600’s , but when I returned in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2009, I was able to ride the datalogged Blades. Being towed round by an instructor helps build confidence and learn the lines, but now in 2014 I was going on my own R1.

    Donington is less than an hour from where I live, so setting off at 6.10am saw me arriving at around 7.00am, giving plenty of time to find a space in a garage and set up.

    The event was organised with Focused Events and was a 98db day which was £40 cheaper than the same event the next day where there was no noise restriction. The briefing asked riders to be sensible, less crashes and red flags meaning more riding time, and telling everyone that riding like a nob or with noisy pipes would you excluded, 20 minutes later, it was time for the first group to get on track.

    I always ride inters, or group 2. This wasn’t a chrono day where you end up being put in groups based on your lap times, but the general level of riding was pretty good and I didn’t see any bad riding or experience any dodgy overtakes, and I don’t think our group had a red flag, although I did see a couple of riders throughout the day run off on the entry to the start finish straight, and I had my customary run-ons as I tried to find my braking marker into the Esses.

    The first session went ok as I started to relearn the track, and when I used the laptimer on the second session I wasn’t too disappointed to find I was circulating in 2.00 dead. Although this was 5 seconds off my best of 1.55 back in 2009, this was without the benefit of a tow from an instructor, so not too shabby, especially as I had been told that 1.55 was club racer type speeds.

     

    Third session in and I grabbed an instructor and had a few laps with him, and immediately times dropped to 1.58 which I was happier with, although he told me if I didn’t dive for the apex so quickly and made a shallower entry, I’d be on the edge of the tyre for less time and able to get on the gas harder and earlier.

    In the afternoon I started to enjoy myself and dropped the time to 1.57.36 which I was really happy with, as often it’s hard to get close, or even beat times you manage with an instructor.

    I think I might even have been a little quicker, but I am using an app on my Iphone for timing, and if the battery gets low it puts up a message saying battery low which interrupts the  timer, so for  now I have to make do with knowing I had a “virtual” best of  1.56.17 , just a second off  my best ever time, but I’m going back again on 4th August where hopefully I’ll be able to beat it!

     


  • A trackday in March!!!!!!!!!

    There is always someone who has to be the catalyst for a ride out, someone who makes a suggestion of where to go or something to do, a place to ride or an event to attend, this time it was a certain Mr Course. Time spent off the bike during the cold winter months had given him too much time on his hands which he filled by fettling his CBR1000RR, making changes to the suspension and steering. The problem comes when you need to know whether these major suspension changes have improved the handling or not, and as he couldn’t test it on the road as it’s not road registered, a track day would seem to be the ideal place to check it out. A logical thought of course, but with a 3 day track event in Spain coming up in April, and not wanting to find his bike had turned into an ill handling pig, pressure was on for an early shakedown test, and so it came to be that we registered for a day at Dijon in March.

    I would venture to suggest that many people would not out of choice “normally” venture out on track so early in the year, certainly not in this part of Europe, where we’d be more likely to encounter rain or snow than sun, but the powers of persuasion and a bunch of guys itching to get on their bikes and ride them, meant that little encouragement was needed.

    The date was booked, and then began the endless weather forecast checks. A week of glorious sun prior to the day bode well initially, but then changed for the worse for our date. Emails flew round the group with the latest forecasts and predictions, but come the day we just had to go and take what the weather dished up, so here is the tale of our day in pics.

    Today’s venue, the circuit of Dijon Prenois

     

    A great track with a VERY long main straight, where if you were brave enough you could max it out!

    In the pit box trying to stay warm!

    Getting ready for the first sessions

    After a long track briefing Anthony (BMW S1000RR) was first out in the racing group with instructions to come back and tell us all how slippery it was and where the dodgy parts of the track were!

    Next up was Marc F (BMW S1000RR) and his super tricked out Ohlins equipped missile

    Tyre warmers off

    And Andy (CBR1000RR)

    Another set of tyre warmers comes off

    Preparation is everything, last minute checks

    A thumbs up all is ok

    And onto the pitlane for the off

    Finally Mark C and I and our R1’s

    The track was damp and the first session for everyone was taken carefully as we learnt the track and were wary of the damp patches on the corners, but here we all are in action, except Anthony who unfortunately doesn’t have any pics.

    Marc F

    Mark C

    Me

    And our style coach Andy

    Some of us had problems with visor misting and Mark and I were out in the last session of the morning when the rain started. I’d had a couple of laps where I couldn’t see so pulled in, but Mark had kept circulating, but when he returned to the box his bike turned out not to be in such pristine condition as it had left in!

    Checking some paint and bodywork mods

    Lunch saw a continuation of the rain with little sign it would clear. Below an empty pit lane

    A soaking wet and empty track

    A few brave riders with wet tyres ventured out

    Wishing it wasn’t raining!

    With no real sign of the rain clearing we took the decision to call it a day and return home in the daylight.

    In the end we had had only half a days riding, but at least we’d been out. The circuit was great, very fast, and geographically pretty close, so is likely to get a few more visits, and Andy’s shakedown of his add-ons and changes was successful. Despite the lack of sunshine and some modified bodywork,  I think we had a pretty good time, we just need to book some better weather for next time!