My goal this year was to improve my lap times at every track I visit. I don’t worry so much in the practice day because I find it hard to achieve race pace without the adrenaline of competition, but when I get to Sunday afternoon without beating my previous times then I start to get wound up. The bike is at least as good as it ever was (better) and my riding has come on considerably from last year. The weather was perfect (too hot if anything) yet the times were stuck at a very unimpressive 1.42. I was doing 1.42 every lap, but couldn’t get under it.
Finally, at the end of race 3 after a lengthy dice with another rider I worked out where I was going all wrong – into Charlie’s One was completely screwed up. As soon as I tried a different approach, I dropped almost a second. Inevitably the new pace I was going through Charlie’s One with completely changed my approach to Charlie’s Two, so with more time I could drop more by just smoothing that whole section out. But how frustrating that I didn’t improve my time until the very last race?
Results wise, well with 1.42s I’m not going to be in the points, only the last race donated anything to the points fund with a 9th place finish in a depleted field. All in all a very ‘meh’ weekend for my individual effort.
Unfortunately for Danny I was no better in my Endurance race. No dramas, silky smooth team operation thanks to Heidi and Danny’s Dad Tony, Danny was flying but unfortunately I was plodding. Our strategy and Danny’s times meant we got ourselves into first and held it for the vast majority of the race, with an 18 second advantage over ProLaps with 30 minutes to go. Now it is worth saying at this point that Danny and I enter the endurance for equally divided track time – we have stuck to a two-man team because we are keen to get the most time possible. So whilst we could always throw Danny onto the track if we start slipping places, it isn’t why we do it. So in the last half hour, when I was riding the final stretch, ProLaps sent out their secret weapon, an experienced and fast rider who had been sitting in the wings waiting to destroy our lead. He managed it in just a few laps so we finished second. Well chuffed, but I was personally even more impressed that we were 8th overall in what I would consider a very strong field, given the number of national riders there for practice before BSB the following week. Ultimately I can’t help but feel disappointed in myself for such poor lap times, so whilst second is great I just wish I could have put in a stronger performance.
Over the weekend the bike was faultless. I started a little apprehensive about the previous issues with gear selection, but once I convinced myself it was 100% reliable I was able to enjoy myself. No Limits had to put up with a broken up track and late medical teams as well as some big spills so the timekeeping was a challenge, but they did very well.
One thing I do have to moan about – given just how incredible Cadwell is as a track, it beggars belief how little investment in adequate facilities there has been. No garages, no power and most ridiculously no access to the inner paddock apart from between races. It makes logistics a nightmare and really lets the track down. The shambles that was packing up saw me lose an £85 Harris paddock stand. (If anyone has it, please let No Limits know?)
Actually I’ll take a second moan while I am at it – just why do some teams show absolutely no respect or consideration for others when sharing facilities? We were in a small garage with a family of national riders so I set up my gear to one side of the garage in a neat little pile. When I got back to the garage, they had moved my gear and set up a table the entire width of the garage. We were forced to set up the two bikes at the front of the garage, when the team arrived they scattered tyres, compressors, wheels, bikes and tools all over the garage and in front of the neighbouring garage and then complained that we had parked across the entrance. They might be a national team but they don’t pay any more than us – so why be so ignorant?
Anyway, a very enjoyable and successful weekend but the main feeling I took away was frustration at my lack of progress. I need to make amends at Anglesey…
But the last word has to go to my Endurance buddy Danny – he turned up on a BMW S1000rr which he had bought three days earlier and took all four wins in his class. The man is a machine, we are all very happy for him and look forward to increasing success now he has German engineering between his legs!
Last photo – caught skulking back onto track after a little diversion that nearly ended in another tyre-eating episode. Just glad the grass was dry…