So that’s my second full race season over. How did it go?
Well I think it is safe to say I have never learned so much about bike riding in one year before! Considering I exited the Novice class in 18th position in 2014, I didn’t hold out big hopes for many points this season in the Clubman’s class. In reality, points became a regular occurrence and I managed 9th overall for the season – a fair indication of my progress.
I have found myself able to cope with situations that would have fried my brain in the past. Big slides, borderline braking, close combat – all encountered and all now taken in my stride. My pace is now very different, I have improved my lap times at every track, at every round. Every track now has a new PB.
As for headlines, I’m very happy to say that I had no DNFs, no crashes and no injuries. That’s 30 solo races, 5 endurance races and 8 or 9 ACU/track days without a single off. I had one mechanical failure – bike not starting for 2 minutes at the last endurance – but that sorted itself.
The disappointing side of things has been one consistent problem throughout the year – poor starts. Half way through the season a clutch upgrade made a significant difference to the bike, but I struggled to sort my head out and only now do I realise just how important a good start really is. That’s going to be my number one focus for next year.
Over the winter the bike will have a full engine and suspension refresh and a couple of minor trinkets, but no major upgrades – it’s more than good enough for me now. I have a 4-day practice session in Cartagena in Spain in February so I won’t be starting the season cold as I did last year. All in all I think I am well prepared for next season and a proper attack at decent places.
One thing which always inspires me is people making the effort to come along and watch our races. This year we had Liam in Pirelli, myself in No Limits Cup and Danny in Metzler Newcomers and Danny and myself in Endurance so a great spread of racing. Many people came to watch – and others let me know they were watching the live timing – and to all of you, a big ‘Thank You!’. The icing on the cake came at the last round when Dennis and his entourage turned up in ‘DE ZOO RACING’ hoodies, I was very touched by that – thanks again!
The other aspect of racing that makes it a real pleasure is the social aspect and I doubt there is a friendlier paddock than the No Limits one. The camaraderie, the support and the craic have been great this year. Our little camp with Danny, Steph and Travis and Liam and Stacey has been great and sharing the endurance race with Danny has been a brilliant experience. There are too many others I have become friends with to list, but I have greatly enjoyed getting to know more of the paddock this year and the awards ceremony should be a good social event in January. As always Heidi has been incredibly supportive and makes racing as easy as she can for me, something I will always be grateful for.
And to our poor dogs who get abandoned every month – ‘sorry’…
Something that is critical for endurance racing is a good support team and we had a lot of help this year, in particular from Tony, Heidi and Liam. Big thanks to you all, we couldn’t have collected the silverware without you.
All in all, a brilliant season. More successful than I hoped, less painful than I hoped and more craic than I could have hoped. No Limits have been superb at keeping the organisation together – and most importantly at taking and acting on feedback. They have a great schedule for next year in place already, really looking forward to it.
Here’s to plenty more in 2016!!