Round Four, Brands Hatch Indy
A shortened version of the full track, decent club-level lap times are high 40s, low 50 seconds and it is relentless – no rest on this little track which polarises opinion. Me? I’m a big fan – there isn’t much track but none of it could be described as boring – huge elevation change at Paddock, hairpin at Druids, off-camber left at Graham Hill and a huge long sweeper at Clearways, it packs a lot in. I went well here last year and was hopeful for decent results this year.
Novice 1000 Endurance:
The endurance race is back to the normal three hours and Danny Shaw and myself decided to field a two man team under the team name ‘Team Travis’ – Travis being Danny’s son and a regular trackside supporter from the age of 12. Weeks – not years, not months, at 12 weeks Travis came with his Dad to his first race at Anglesay…
Anyhows, without too much planning we kind of just got stuck in. Danny led with a great start and started banging in fast, steady lap times on a very crowded track. The safety car disrupted things and meant our 1.4 sec gap to second place became a full lap, pretty much scuppering any chance of making up the time. The rest of the race went like clockwork, Danny riding faultlessly and at a pace I couldn’t match. Having said that, I made no significant mistakes and we held our nerve to take a third. It was hard work – Brands is physical and there are no breaks – we were both sore at the end. Ed and Heidi were a huge help with pitboard and garage duties, big thanks for their contribution which ensured things went seamlessly.
This was my second Endurance trophy, both third places. Team Travis will be back at Silverstone in a bid to improve! 13th of 43 teams was a great result though and once again I absolutely loved the masses of track time.
No Limits Cup 1000:
My solo races were a less successful affair, due to one aspect of the race – the start…
I have really, really struggled this year to get the BMW off the line and things really reached a head at the weekend. I literally could not find anything between a disengaged clutch and a fully engaged clutch and believe me, when a 200bhp engine revving at 10k RPM engages suddenly – it isn’t pretty. In all four races, I qualified between 13th and 16th yet entered turn one dead last in every race – I was lucky there wasn’t a huge accident with someone running into me.
Despite the disastrous starts, my riding was as good as it has ever been. My overtaking felt effortless and I was able to tap into proper aggression due to the frustration of having to work through the entire field from the back. Three twelfth places and one sixteenth from a grid of over 30 proves to me I was going really well but wasted all my effort just getting back to the position I started in each time. After the fourth junk start I was starting to really doubt myself and was convinced I was doing something really badly wrong. I came home on a real high after the trophy and riding so well, but with a real concern over how I would address the start issue.
Huge relief when I did a search on the web and discovered that it is well documented just how impossible it is to get a good launch from an S1000rr. Seems the clutch design just doesn’t allow slip. RESULT – it’s not just me. Two solutions – forget aggressive starts and pull away with low revs, then gun it – or replace the clutch with one that works. New clutch on order, fingers crossed that I can get off the line clean this time.
Cracking weekend – it was genuinely very encouraging to have a couple of people whose opinions I respect take the time to tell me how impressed with my progress they were. It feels like things are really coming together and if I can get this start monkey off my back, we should see more progress with some luck. No Limits did a cracking job of working around the weather – it was really mixed on Sunday, but bizarrely every one of my races was bone dry. There were quite a few offs, but the weekend was run very well and it was good to see full grids all round – hopefully those who have suffered from Hottrax going bust have found a new, friendly home with the NLR crew. More riders, more competition, more money coming in to further develop the series.
Bring on Silverstone International – Danny and I are chomping at the bit after a taste of trophy and I can’t wait to try the new STM clutch to see if it makes the improvement I need to have a hope of competing for top 10.
Thanks to all for the continued support and interest in the series, especially Ed and Tall Paul for dropping by and helping out and as always to Heidi for making things so much easier.