So back down to Wales for the next round of the Desmo Due. This time south Wales and to Pembrey. We managed to shoehorn three bikes into the back of Dan’s new gleaming white van and head down. We arrived at Pembrey late at night but the weather was nice and managed to get everything set up for the bikes and sleeping.
Saturday morning I had the joy of replacing the rear master cylinder on the bike. Covered in brake fluid and roping in Duncan to assist me I had a rear brake again. Off to scruitineering where the bike failed for the shark fin being too short. A quick visit to Duncan Trollop racing and I had a new one which met the requirements. A stressful busy start to the weekend.
Out in practice session two to learn the track, my normal tactic had been to sneakily follow Duncan round as he often had never been to the tracks before. Using his experience now to learn the lines and turn in points. Duncan had been here before so I just went out myself and drove round. I knew the layout of the track roughly but I could not get into any kind of rhythm at all. I felt I was all over the place, not knowing lines or braking points. The whole thing felt horrible. I was not confident for the race. Then I got the timing sheets and saw I had posted a 1:14:06. The more experience riders were doing times in the 1:10’s so I was quite happy with this.
Race 1. We start in championship position so I was 11th on the grid. I got my usual rubbish start and was down in 13th for the first two laps. Managed to pass Jim Robinson coming out of the second part of Dibeni before the right at the Esses, I was now chasing down Lee Moxham. I got a good drive and using the faster speed of my A bike I was able to pass him on the start finish straight. I then balls’d up the Esses which let Alan Ball, Lee and Rodney King back past. Doh! Next lap going through the hairpin Mark Hamilton seemed to be having some issues and going slow. The group all got past him but Lee and Rodney started to gap me a little but I managed to pull them in next few laps up to the old hairpin. Going into the old hairpin Lee had just past Rodney but ran too hot through there and onto the grass. He tried to save it and get back on the road but the bike spat him off. Now it was just James and I. I tried to push but the chequered flag was out and the race over. Finished 12th with my fastest time 1:11:89. I knew I had more speed to come. I needed to do some investigation.
I decided to pick the brain of championship leader Andy Blomfield. Knowing the track a bit better and with his advice I felt I could go quicker. I knew I was getting Honda wrong, I knew I could go faster through the Woodlands kink.
Race 2. Starting 12th this time. Shocker I got an ok-ish start. Don’t think I lost any places going through the first corner. Lee Moxham did ride round the outside of me through the Esses so down to 13th, I passed Lee next lap going through the Dibeni double left hander, this seems to be my corner! I found out after I parked it a bit too much at the old hairpin and caused Lee to take evasive action and caused him to crash again. Sorry!!! Now I had some clean road and chasing after Rodney. Managed to catch him next lap and pass on the brakes going into the hairpin. Next up Dan James! I was starting to get a hang of the track a bit more now and finding a good rhythm. It’s a really flowing quick track so it’s important to string the corners together. I caught Dan going into the hairpin. Followed him round for a lap to see where I could make my move to pass. I went for the classic, on the brakes into the hairpin. I knew I could be quicker through Spitfires and Dibeni so hopefully be able to pull out a bit of a gap. This was to be my fastest lap of the race, a 1:10.79. Happy days! Unfortunately the two laps that followed it were utter shan. I could see Kev Ellis ahead and want to catch him so bad. He was in the group I was trying to catch at Anglesey when I crashed being a muppet. I had massive problems getting my foot off the peg to change up through the left handers which caused me to run wide. Kev slipped away but unknown to me Dan was waiting to pounce. I had a poor line through the Esses and had to back off a little. Dan came past on the inside going into the old hairpin. I tried to get him on the undercut down the back straight but the wee bastard cut right across in front of me and I had to roll off killing my momentum. Rage!!! It was a good move by him but I knew I had the speed if I could just put it together. Finished 11th this time.
I entered into the Newbies mini-twins race. I had fun getting my lines and running round the outside of some people through the double left Dibeni, my new favourite corner, but I failed to put together a solid lap and didn’t post a faster time.
Off to sleep and try it all again on Sunday. I was out for morning practice and really trying to focus on my lines and where I should turn in and how to string together a good lap. I knew I was turning in too early on Honda, not running deep enough into the old hairpin to square it off and what speed to run through the Esses at. I felt good and my times were better than I expected because I wasn’t pushing it at all. Come on race 3!!!
Race 3. Guess what, another ok start! No places lost going into the first corner. Mark Hamilton did come past after Spitfire to put me in 12th but I out braked him going into the hairpin, back up to 11th and Kev just in front. I got a great drive out of Dibeni and past him on the short straight to the Esses. 10th and Giles up ahead with a group of three other bikes. I managed to get on the back of Giles after two laps. Now how to find a way past?! Thankfully Giles did it for me. Out braking himself he knifed across the front of the group going into the hairpin causing an opportunity. I was blocked by Dan to get through but got past Giles. Up to 10th. I’m now on the rear wheel of David Young, with Dan ahead of him and Alan Ball a little further up the road. I knew I was faster than the two in front of me I just don’t have the race craft yet to find a way past. Damn it! Finished 9th, fastest lap was 1:09.45 which was 6th fastest that race. Got to get better at passing!
Race 4. A return to form and the shit starts are back. First Giles, then Mark, then Kev come past. Back to 12th. Got a good run through Honda and passed Kev over the start finish line, up to 11th. I took a nice wide line to square off the old hairpin to get good drive down the back straight and into the slipstream behind Mark. I went brave and pulled out to get along side him before the Woodlands kink. It worked! I was past! 10th. I could see Dan in front! Revenge will be mine!!! I put together a nice lap to gain some ground on him, the lap after I out braked myself into the old hairpin. The next lap I braked early to try and get good drive through the hairpin. This was not the best idea as I took the hairpin too fast. I tried to make the corner but it wasn’t to be. The front slide, caught, I thought “phew”, and then slide again for the final time. Revenge was not mine. Le poop. I was lapping in the 1:09’s but didn’t manage to beat my fastest lap from Race 3.
Overall a great weekend racing. I initially did not enjoy the track but by the end of the weekend I loved it and loved the racing. That was my final race of the year. It’s now a long wait till it all starts back up again in March. Anyone for offseason testing in Cartagena or Portimao?? Anyone??