I am now all grown up! Popped my first race cherry! Happy Days!
So I decided to go for the race at East Fortune before Cadwell Park. I am glad I did. It all started very early on Saturday morning.
While the weather looked ominous it actually dried up quite nicely. I arrived at 7am to see Brian and Steve setting up the gazebo. So parked my brothers old BMW and jumped out to help. Unloaded the vans and I had to quickly start to get the bike put back together. My friend Sankey at Vinyl Concept was doing some more magic to make the bike look faster than me.
I think he did a pretty good job.
So first thing was to get the bike past scrutineering. I got my sticker. All good. Then it was the riders’ briefing. The do’s and don’ts of the how the day will go. Basically the advice was – don’t be a dick. Seemed easy enough to follow.
Then it was the first practice. As it was damp but drying and I was unsure of what the weather would do I kept the old Sportmax II on. These were scrubbed in and good for wet or dry. The first practice went well. Picking up the lines but I didn’t really focus too hard on my braking or turn in points. A mistake I’ll need to remember to avoid in the future.
Back in the pits it was time to change to the new Dunlop Alpha 13 race tyres for qualifying. Truth be told, I had no idea it was qualifying. I just thought it was another practice session. Another lesson learned.
With the new tyres on, with their lovely sheen of release agent I literally rode the bike like Bambi on ice for the first 3 laps It was not a fun experience. After the three laps I started to pick up the pace and get confidence in the tyres but I am still slow. My fastest time of the qualifying was 1.19.186 which put me nineteenth out of twenty three. Again, I had no idea this was qualifying. Next time I’ll know better!
So I was on Race Five. It was after the lunch break and I was lucky enough to catch a spot of the sun and try to relax before the race. Unfortunately for my friends they had no such luck. Steve was having some clutch issues with his Honda 500. I wish I could have been more help but I think staying out of the way was the best I could do.
So lunch over and the race is getting close. I was on fifth. Watching the first couple of races got the nerves going. I was positively cacking myself! Topped the bike up with fuel. Went to for a pee. Had a tracker bar. The nerves started to calm down.
Straight onto the grid. Brian had arranged for us to race on the same grid as the CB500s and Post Classics. We had one warm-up lap then the race was on. East Fortune had organised us to be a whole space behind the other bikes and released about 30 seconds after. So all the Desmo bikes racing together. The red light went on. Revs at 5000. Lights out, drop the clutch. The bike wheelies a little off the line. I was behind the other five bikes on the grid. I decided to take it easy for the first lap and not try to hang onto the back of the other Desmo bikes. Through the first corner and they already had some legs on me. I blew the second corner, Railways, by braking too early and I was basically out on my own. I managed to get into a good rhythm after crossing the line for my second lap putting in my third best lap of the race. Things slowed down a little from there but from lap six I started to pick up the pace and put together faster lap after faster lap. I also managed to get my first two scalps of the meeting passing two CB500s. I did pass another bike – Brian on one of the Desmos had pulled off just after Railways on lap six. Turns out he had to pull off due to “electrical problems”, these old Ducatis…….
So out of twenty three bikes I finished twentieth. But my fastest lap was faster than another two CB500s. If they didn’t have the thirty second head start I might have been able to catch them. I was determined for race two to put in a better performance and try and hang with the Desmo bikes a bit longer. I got my first race under my belt. Now time to push it a bit more.
Only one problem with that, those pesky Superbike riders. Several crashes in the Superbike race caused a few delays. We were on again in race twelve but East Fortune were only able to get through race 10 before having to call an end to the day’s racing. Disappointing but I had a thoroughly great time. My first race, my first pass. I think Cadwell will be very different as its longer with more corners. There will be more bikes for me to race with there. Hopefully I can get into some good racing then. Cadwell Park is this weekend. Wish me luck!