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