Well that’s Snetterton out of the way – it was eventful and challenging for our little band of riders, but I came away pleased just to be intact!
ACU Practice day on Friday wasn’t great. It was a cold, damp morning and when I went to fire up the S1000 it gave me a drop sensor error. I assumed I had knocked the sensor when fitting new bodywork but that wasn’t it. Eventually worked out that when the battery charge levels drop too low, the BM has a habit of throwing up random error codes. An hour on an Optimate and all was well.
I had received my new leathers from BKS three hours before driving to Snetterton, but frankly they were so tight I wasn’t prepared to wear them in the low grip conditions – I wanted full range of movement in those conditions. Given the number of bikes going down, I also feared they leathers would end up second hand before seeing a race! There were over 20 bikes bit the dust that day, down to over exuberance at the start of the season and very cold tarmac offering very little grip.
Amongst the bikes that went down were two from my garage – Liam and Jason. Liam’s was a lowside which did enough damage to keep Liam and his spanner John busy for an hour or two. Jason’s crash was more serious, with two bikes coming together and resulting in Jason’s bike flipping and collapsing the rear suspension. Once we all had a bit of time in the evening we all pulled together and got him up and running again next day.
I do have to acknowledge help from a stranger at this point, this is a prime example of just how people pull together in motorcycle racing. We had started chatting to a chap who was in our garage on the Friday, he lived 20 miles from the circuit. As Jason’s dog bones had failed, this guy drove to his mate’s house after the practice day and between them they stripped the dog bones off his mate’s bike. He then drove back to the circuit again on Friday night to deliver the parts and disappeared again, leaving only a return address for the parts when they were finished with. Bear in mind we met this guy that day and none of us have yet met the guy who donated the parts. As well as that a local engineer had also agreed to meet Jason at 7am to see if he could mend Jason’s units.
Saturday came and qualifying was on wet tyres, as much to try to find some grip in the cold as to deal with surface water. Qualified 12th of 22 which was reassuring – entering a new class meant I was half expecting to be in the back 3. An average start and red flag on lap 6 meant a 13th place for me, but I was happy enough. That was it for Saturday – we were scheduled to have three races on Sunday – I was delighted as it was baltic cold and really a pretty nasty day. The novice qualifications were more eventful – they had to rerun the Novice 1000 qualifying as they couldn’t keep the circuit live long enough for a flying lap – that should give you a feel for the amount of ‘attrition’ we were experiencing!
Sat night was good craic in the bar but I kept my sensible head on and had a good night’s sleep. Free practice was ok on Sunday and then it was race time at just before 10AM. I was 14th on the grid of 26, but my start was very average again – something that needs work. I finished 14th. Back to 16th on the grid in race 3 as my best lap time was a bit slower, finished 13th so starting to see a natural position for myself in the rankings. This is a problem, because whilst I can comfortably keep the slower riders behind me, the next couple of riders ahead of me are seconds a lap faster. At Snett, I’d need to be finding 2 seconds a lap to move up at all.
One issue is I always get tangled with riders who are around my pace and lose time trying to get past while the leading pack disappears. Then I end up with open track in front of me and no hope of catching them. That’s exactly what happened in race 4 – I ended up circulating on my own for the last few laps. However I managed an 8th due to various factors such as crashes, retirements and some bikes being in bits.
Finished the weekend 12th in the championship, couldn’t have hoped for better given my pace. I definitely need the chance to hang onto faster coat tails and that can only be achieved through getting a good start and getting myself up at the sharp end. Anyhow I ended the weekend in one piece and was enjoying the track by the end of it. As was pointed out to me at the weekend, “No championship was ever won at the first race, but many were lost”… Or “Long runs the fox” as a friend used to say.
On Sunday we had three more crashes in our garage – Jason for a second time (lowside on last corner), Andy who is a new racer had a lowside and Danny had a spectacular crash on turn one on the last lap of Novice 1000 which resulted in a fair bit of damage to his Suzuki. Both Danny and Jason had painful bruises to carry home, but nothing more serious than that it appears.
Next round is Oulton – I have mixed feelings. It’s a great track but we are only there for one day of racing and half a day of practice. All too brief I fear, but it’ll be manic!
PS – While I was writing this my new gloves from Held arrived at the door. Well chuffed!!