Racing again this week, this time in Scotland. This is where I passed my SACU race license day and had my first ever race. I don’t really know the track that well but I was confident I would be able to do ok times here because it’s a fast circuit and I’ve been getting better at the fast corners.
Every race this weekend kept following the same pattern. Me with a bad start and crapping myself at Pates because of the huge curb in the inside of the corner. Kept thinking I would catch my tyres on it and it would spit me off the bike and I’d be into the field tattie picking.
I arrived at the circuit early Saturday morning. The forecast was for rain all weekend but the sun was splitting the sky. Dan and Duncan had been down on Friday to get the awning and everything set up in the pits. It was good to turn up and everything was ready. We had the riders briefing and they advised that the weather is going to turn; it was hard to believe as there was barely a cloud in the sky. First session was practice then we had qualifying for the weekend. I was racing on the same grid as Senior Post Classics, CB500’s and the other Desmo Due bikes. Brian was also out on his Classic Honda 350 trying to win the Scottish Classic 350 Championship, it’s the only championship he has yet to win.My qualifying time was 1:13.877 which put me 15th on the grid. That was to be my spot for the whole weekend. Not the best but not the worst either. After the qualifying the bad weather came in and started raining pretty hard. Then, with three races before we were due to go on the rain stopped and it was the gamble if the track would be dry for us going on. We all played it safe and opted for the wet tyres knowing we would chew them up if it stayed dry. Dan had problems with his rear and couldn’t get the wet on so ran with a dry rear and wet front. So we all went to the grid, with the senior post classics on the front then a mix of the Ducati’s and CB500’s depending on our time. There was some confusion if we were all going off at the same time. The lights came on, revs up. Lights out and half the grid didn’t move. I went, and weaved my way through the few stationary bikes. This was my first time on wet tyres and to make it worse the track was pretty much dry. It was a strange feeling. So strange that Brian came in. I stayed out and got an ok result finishing 12 out of 18.
Almost immediately after our race ended the heavens opened and but it looked unlikely we would get back out that day and we were right. The forecast for Sunday was to be dry so it worked in our favour. We got all the bikes under the awning and went for a Chinese for dinner. 3 races to come on Sunday.
Sunday was dry but very windy. After the confusion of the start on the first race they decided to let the Senior Post Classic bikes go 10 seconds before us as they were faster. This didn’t make much sense to me. If they were faster all that does it mean they are more likely to catch and lap us. Lined up on the grid for the 2nd race of the weekend I was a bit nervous of the wind. I got a poor start off the line, wheeling? and having to back off which saw me lose a lot of places. The Ducati’s have a bit more top speed than the CB500s and with the high wind blowing down to railways corner I was able to pass a few of them. It was an ok race but not my best. I was still struggling with the fear of the curb on the inside of pates which cost me a lot of time and I was braking too early for the Esses. I knew my main weakness was the starts. I can get the bike off the line but the number of bikes all around me slows me up and I lose out. I knew I had to work on this next time. I did have a good race with one of the CB500’s Jeff Gouch #97. Probably the most fun I have had passing and re-passing each other. I knew I had the faster bike so knew I needed to try put some distance between me and him next time. I finished 14 out of 20 (10 of 16 – CB500s/Ducati’s).
The sun was now beaming down on the track for the 3rd race of the weekend. The wind had also died down a lot so I was feeling a lot more comfortable. I consulted Duncan to try and get some advice on what to do at the start. I knew if I got away well through the first corner I could have a better race and result. I lined up determined to get a good start. I got the bike off the line well and picked a good gap in the traffic in front that allowed me to keep the throttle on. I was through the first corner and it much better position than the rest of the weekend. Now I just needed to put in some good times. I was still having issues with Pates, often running wide and onto the edge of the track which caused some massive tank slappers. I just kept the throttled pinned till I got back on the track and hoped I didn’t lose too much time. This race the battle with Jeff Gouch picked up again. But early on as we were braking going into Railways corner I was a bit late on the brakes thinking I wasn’t going to run on, but he was even later. I got the bike round railways and into a nice rhythm. Ahead on the road I could see Brian and Dan. Not too far out of touch if I could put in some quick times. Something must have woke up Brian though, as I thought I was pulling him in, he quickly moved onto the back of Dan and passed him. I wasn’t able to close the distance but finishing 5.396 seconds behind them felt like a great result. I finished 7th out of 17 of the CB500s/Ducati’s and 11th out of 21 if you count the 4 bikes that got a 10 seconds head start. The 7 out of 17 would be my first top half finish yet so was over the moon about that. I also set my fastest lap of the weekend at 1:12.592.The wind had picked up again for the final race of the day. After my good start the previous race I let my concentration go and again was poor through the first corner seeing a lot of bikes come past. I was able to claw some back and down to railways then spend the race trying to pass as many of the CB500s as possible. I didn’t feel I was riding well. I wasn’t very smooth and making some stupid mistakes. At one point on the left handed after railway I turned in too early which caused me to run wide and off the circuit, bouncing through bits of grass I could see the marshal start to radio people as they saw me going cross country. Again I just kept the throttle pinned and waited to get back on the track and thankfully I was back on without losing any places. It wasn’t my best race and I was slightly slower on my fastest lap than the race before, coupled with the poor start resulted in me finishing 8 out of 14 (not included the Senior Post Classics).
Overall it was an awesome weekend. If I can get the double signature for the 3rd race then I should get my clubman license fully signed at Pembrey. Just need to focus on those starts!