2nd in the championship - pretty good stuff. Although we could have come first if our luck had been a bit better, but that is racing for you and I am sure Haga is feeling the same after falling off at the last race and letting Spies get some points.
However all in all, given the fact that we still had our bibs on til the last race of the season I think we are well chuffed with ourselves. Roll on next year.
Below are a few short summaries of the races in this year. To jump to a section, click it below.
|Team||Position||Mallory Round 1 Points||Snetterton Round 2 Points||Anglesey Round 3 Points||Cadwell Round 4 Points||Pembrey Round 5 Points||Snetterton Round 6 Points||Silverstone Round 7 Points||Total Points|
|Graphic UK Racing||1st||16||25||20||10||11||10||10||102|
|In the Dog House||13th||0||4||9||5||7||6||0||31|
|Pirate Racing||16th =||6||1||4||4||5||0||0||20|
|TM72 Junior||16th =||0||0||0||0||0||0||20||20|
|121 Ride||19th =||0||0||0||8||0||0||11||19|
|Sherwood Suzuki||19th =||0||0||0||0||13||0||6||19|
|Go Dive Racing||21st||0||3||6||0||2||5||0||16|
|Vigil- Clockwork Orange||25th||7||0||0||0||0||0||0||7|
|Yorkshire Racing||27th =||0||5||0||0||0||0||0||5|
|S&P Racing||27th =||0||0||0||0||0||0||5||5|
|Pit Stop Junior||29th||0||0||0||0||4||0||0||4|
|Silver Fox Racing||31st||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||2|
Well first race of the season! What a result we won! By one lap as well. But read on to find out what happened. There was a track day on the Saturday and we had every type of weather possible. Wind, hail, rain, sunshine. The track went from damp to dry to soaking wet to damp to dry. I was not riding well and I had one of those days where I think this will be my last race I am not enjoying this at all. I know Richard feels like sometimes and you feel like throwing in your licence. I don't mind the wet even on SuperCorsas but it is not fun. It rained when Richard and I were out there and soaked the hairpin. I kept going until the end of the session and I went back to our pitch and there was Richard making chicken clucking noises as Richard had pulled in a few laps before when a rain drop had his his visor. (he was making fun of himself). Paul was with us and he came in on his session when it started raining, but apparently his fuel light had come on. Must be the only rain operated fuel light in the world!!! (I'll let you figure that one out). The race day was completely different, frosty start but sunny. We went out in practice and I know I felt more relaxed and put in some reasonable times. The traffic was so bad I came in after 10 laps of qualifying as I was just wasting rubber. Richard went out put in a 59 and came in again after about 10 laps due to traffic. It was enough to put us 3rd on the grid. The race started in the afternoon so we had 5 hours to wait. Due to running the National/Senior at the same time as our race they staggered the grid, so we were 6th on the grid. Richard got a great start and was first into Gerrards. By the end of the first stint we were running either 1st with Maria Costello hot on our heels. Then I was out, everything was flowing and I made some good times, but there was always traffic. I was a little aggressive at times and twice I had to waggle a foot to apologise for being a bit close to another rider. Sorry whoever they were. I then got called in after 10 minutes. I thought it was a penalty for overtaking too close, but actually they said I had not put my foot down in the pit lane exit box. To be frank I can't remember, but it cost us more than a lap, no point in appealing. So put the hammer down and tried to make up for it. I know I felt bad about it, particularly I was thinking if we lost the race because of that indiscretion. Richard was out and was consistent 59s and 60s with a dip into the 58s. I then was out and just as I was about to exit they red flagged the race. 5 riders had crashed together into the hairpin. One was reported to be a broken pelvis but not really sure of the real injuries, just hope people recover fast. I saw two of the bikes afterwards when we were in parc ferme at the end of the race. One had its whole front end ripped off, just sheared the front forks off. The other one had a smashed headstock and one of its front discs was bent at 90 degrees! A complete right angle. The race was stopped for 45 minutes and we then formed up in race order behind the safety car, followed him for 3 laps and then the race re-started. Lots of traffic again, mainly doing 60s and 61s with the occasional dip into 59s. Then I was in and Richard was out for the last 15 minutes. Chequered flag and we were finished. We had no idea of what position we had finished in Andy gave us a view that we were either 1st, 2nd or 3rd! (thanks Andy for a clear unambiguous message! ;-) ). Finally we found out we had won. That was a great feeling, and I was so relieved that my penalty had not cost us the race. We stayed for the presentation at 7:00pm and then left feeling pretty tired for the long drive home. Richard and I thank all the folk that helped us on the day as we just could not have achieved this result without all their hard work. Cheers guys!
Third place, so another trophy! But there is more to this race than meets the eye. Snetterton is a fast track and it has the longest (I think) straight in the UK. I was indicating 165 mph at the end of the straight on my GSXR750 and Richard was getting to 185mph on his GSXR1000. Probably a real 165mph if you take account of gearing. Friday was the track day for practice. We were very lucky and it was not raining (unlike the rest of the country) but the track was damp for the first two sessions and we were running on slicks/supercorsas. ie not wet tyres. Richard did only one lap of the first session before coming in. When I came in he started making clucking noises, indicating he was a wet track chicken! Needless to say I didn't make anything of it, NOT!
The day got better with the track drying out and the sun coming out. We don't normally go hell for leather on a track day as we don't want to dump the bike just before race day. We were doing 1min 19s/2. Not brilliant but just getting in the groove. Later that day Tom from MIB (Men In Black racing) turned up and he has been trying to sell his Ray Stringer built ZX10R. He offered me a ride on it. So I went out and for the first three laps hated it. It was very 'front endy' and I was just intimidated by the power. But once the tyres were warm I started dialling in and after about 15 minutes was equalling by best time even though I was being very cautious with the throttle. So am now thinking about trading up!
Race day came and it was sunny all day. I put my second hand pair of slicks on my bike whilst Richard was running a new set of Metzelers. Practice and qualifying went by and we weren't that quick just a dip into the 1 min 18s and we qualified 7th on grid. Andy, Emma and Paul were down in the pits and Nick was doing the lonely marshalling work down at Russells. Cheers guys for giving us the the support.
The race started with the Le Mans run across the track. As usual Richard made a great start and after the first lap was second on the road. Graphic UK who came third at Mallory were storming in 1min 14s and even hit 1 min 13s, whilst Richard was in 1 min 18s. 30 mins were up very quickly and I was out. Richard was not happy with his laps so went off to sort himself out. I hit some traffic for a number of laps and then managed to get into the 1min 17s. GT Racing and Rawlings as well as Graphic UK were our chief contenders. We had expected Costello Redmond racing to be closer than they were although they cam good at the end. Richard's introspection had worked and he put in a set of 1 min 17s. We then swapped over and in my second session I managed to get down to 1 min 16.6, so I was well chuffed about that. That is about 2.5s faster than I did last year!. Richard beat me in the end by two tenths of a second.
Rawlings unfortunately had gear box problems and had to pull their bike out but they were classified as a finish as they had completed 75% of the laps of the final tally. Lee, Mat, better luck at Anglesey! There was a big off at Russell's chicane and the safety car came out and I was lucky that I had to pit and Richard came out in the 5th session following the safety car. That saved us some time. We were now some 13 seconds off the leader Graphic UK so running 2nd, with GT racing a lap or so behind. Once the SC had gone Grapic Uk was pulling 2 seconds a lap on Richard and by the time I went out there was a 40 second gap with a lap and a half for GT Racing to catch up. I went out knowing this was winnable as I knew I was faster than the second Graphic UK rider. I was making 2 seconds a lap and I got a sign from the pits that I had a chance to catch up and pass. On reflection this was a mistake. Being on a 750 the only was to beat the 1000s was on the brakes, so most overtakes were either into the chicane, at the end of Revett straight into the Esses where I would dive around the outside of the left hander and cut through to take them on the right hander towards the bomb hole and the other place was into Sears. Basically I fell off! I went too hot into the left hander overtaking a back marker, I decided to go over the grass (rather than risk losing the front end) hopped and skipped over the grass thinking I would stay on, then hit the tarmac just past the right hander and promptly fell off. I picked the bike up and although a bit bent it started. I got on and raced off. I was still in second, so thought I would just cruise around to get the place. I then went round Sears and just fell off, no idea what happened as I was not going fast at all. On reflection, I had bent my back brake lever on the first crash so I think I may have touched the back brake in the turn and it locked the back wheel. I picked the bike up and raced off again. I managed to finish the race but had a lost a place so down from 2nd to 3rd and a loss of 4 possible points. I was happy that I had not hurt myself too much, banged up shoulder and a badly swollen and bruised thumb, but I was lucky. The bike suffered a smashed up end can, bent crash bung and some minor damage to the fairing and footrest and brake lever. The leathers will need some repair and my helmet is scrap as it is scratched.
We are now joint leaders on points with Graphic UK, with Costello Redmond and GT Racing joint second place. I just hope my loss of 4 points doesn't tip the balance at the end of the season, otherwise I will be gutted!. Roll on Anglesey!
Richard fell off in practice, I destroyed my engine in qualifying. Didn't race. Dropped to 3rd place in Championship. Nuff said!
After the disaster that was Anglesey we arrived ad Cadwell with some trepidation. Richard had invested in some NRC covers to protect his engine and I had changed my bike from my GSXR750 to an 05 ZX10R. I got this ZX10R with WP suspension, Brembo master cylinder, Power Commander, Micron, set of WoW, spare fairings, spare resets and pads. So not bad. I gave the guy good feedback and then sent him an email telling him I was just about to test the bike at Snetterton and going down the fastest straight in the country at 160+mph and would the engine take it. I said i would prefer to be angry than dead! He said that it would be ok and yep it worked fine. It went very well. I took it to Mallory as well the following week and was circulating in the 59s so I was getting used to it.
Richard, Paul and I arrived at the track day on the Friday and had some good practice. Paul was flying on his CBR600 and was not so easy to pass on the bends, he's coming on really well. Richard and I were doing 1min 45s or so, not mega fast but comfortable. Race day came and given the fact that we wanted to get back to enjoying ourselves rather than trying to hard to win we decided to chill a bit, although I was somewhat nervous racing the new (to me) bike. I did about 4 laps in the practice session and decided to wait to qualifying to have a real go. Richard went out and came back with a 1min 45s and then I went out just as the safety car was out, so I think we did 4 laps in 12 minutes, not good and we qualified 14th on the grid, so not the best that we had hoped for.
Richard was starting as usual. Flag dropped, Richard jumped on the bike and it wouldn't start. i think we lost another 10 places on the grid. Busy first session with ok times but seemed to be running at about 10th place overall by the end of the first 30 minutes. I set off and hated it, the weather was too hot and I felt not so well. Luckily (well for me) the safety car appeared and I was able to cruise around for about 4 laps and just get my act together. When the SC went off I then circulated for the rest of the session with three others that were roughly the same speed hitting 45s most of the time. Richard was out again and started some decent laps which moved us up to 8th on track or so. My second session was better, getting into 44s, same as Richard, but I was overheating. I saw the 10 min left marker on our pit board. I couldn't believe it, I thought I had finished. I got back in 10 mins later and felt bad with the heat. I had to pour water all over my head. I later found out that Lee from Rawlings had had to give up due to the heat, that was a real shame as they had bad luck at Snetterton as well. Richard was doing well and got into the 42s consistently. Then it was my last turn.
Racing at Cadwell is brilliant, from the fast sweepers from Charlies through to the chicane and the nadgery bit round the mountain. The best bit for me was driving out of Charlies 2 and hammering up Park Straight, the bike bucking and weaving beneath me as the power is on up the hill, then you hit the plateau and it is always surprising how Park Corner seems to just be there, hard on the brakes, the back end weaving and bucking about and as usual I go in far too slow and lose time, I accelerate out short shift into third to hit Chris curve and accelerate through. Going up the mountain is intimidating. Basically I hate the front wheel off the ground, I turn into a granny with my knitting, I have to lean forward and stand up on the rearsets to keep the front end down and I still lose time.
Getting back to the race, I had no idea of our position and didnt want to know as the last time at Snetterton I had fallen off trying to catch the leader. I was doing 45s and 44s until i was passed by Tom of Piston Broke who waved at me as he went by. So I put the hammer down and kept with him using him as my guide. I was instantly doing 42s and apparently our pit crew were having babies that I may fall off again. Anyway before i knew it there was the chequered flag. We had come 3rd overall and 2nd in our class, another pot to dust! Great. I couldn't beleve it. I was glad I had not known our position. Graphic UK our main rivals had had some bad luck with a broken gear lever and dropping the bike, but I guess that is racing, we've all had a bit of bad luck now. GT Racing and Costello didnt do so well unfortunately so we are now back to 2nd in the table. Roll on Pembrey!
6th place. Well there is a story behind this so here goes! We arrived on Thursday night at the B&B and was ready for the ACU test day on Friday. Weather was really good in teh morning and we had three good half sessions without any red flags. We were comfortable doing 1 min 6s which is ok and we didn't want to push it and fall off. Richard wasn't comfortable with the track and I think I went round the start/finish straight about 80 times and each time it was the wrong line.
After lunch our session started well and then it started to rain. I came in and due to work phone calls I didn't go out in the wet, even though I wanted to as I had never been out on a thou before in the wet and I had Dunlops on rather than my preferred Metzelers.
The saturday dawned and it was really grotty (good 70s word that!) and wet at 7:00am but the forecast had promised that it would dry up during the morning and be dry for the afternoon's race. This proved to be entirely accurate. Practice was totally wet and I went out for the first ever time on this bike in the wet. Needless to say I was a complete pussy and only doing 1 min 16s which is pathetic. qualifying arrived and Richard and I went out. I had the transponder and the system was that if I was faster than Richard and I went out. I had the transponder and teh systemwas that if I was faster than Richard then we wouldn't swop it over. With a drying track I managed to get into 1 min 8s and decided that was good enough, and with my fuel light being on for the last 5 laps I decided to come in and not push it. We qualified 11th which was ok.
By the time of the race the track was well dry and the weather was well sunny. It was amazing and it is certainly lucky that every race has been dry when the track days the day before have been a bit of a mixture. Race started, Richard was off, the bike didn't catch first time and we lost 5 places which was a pain. Nevertheless, Richard put in some consistent times and came in after 32 minutes. I went out and did a good half hour in the 1 min 6s and 5s. The only issue was that I forgot my ear plugs and the noise was tremendous. Even now 6 days after the race my ears are still singing.
Richard went out again and circulated at the same pace. My secondsessionj came up, I did 2 laps and then the safety car came out as someone had high sided coming onto the start/finish straight. One of our pit crew had seen it and he said it looked pretty bad. We circulated for 20 minutes behind the SC before it went in and I then only managed 2 more laps before my time was up. Unfortunately I was only 4th behind the SC when it cam eout and it was pretty galling to see bikes in front of me that had only been 100 yars ahead now gain a lap. I am sure other teams lost out as we did. Richard went out for his third stint and had covered about 20 minutes when suddenly Mark on the lap/pit board ran over and told us that Richard had a problem and was coming in for an unscheduled pit stop. I was only half in my leathers and struggled to get everything sorted. Richard came in and I was still not on the bike, so we lost some time in that changeover. The reason Richard had had to come in was that he had had a puncture. He had come out of the back hair pin and accelerated towards the right hand kink and as he went in the bike leapt to one side and he nearly threw it down the road. You know how fast that kink can be taken! He didn't know what it was at the time, but it became obvious as he tried to complete another lap. He said he hadn't had such a scary experience for years. Certainly a sphincter tightening moment! i was out had two good laps before the SC came out again!! Someone had thrown their bike off the road at the first of the two left hand apexes. This cost us another 5 laps of slow progress and again i was near the front of the queue (5th) so lost more time. Then we were off again. Tim from Bilericay (the eventual winners) nipped past and I clung onto the back of him and kept with him for about 5 laps until I lost him in traffic. Luckily the tow had got me down to 1 min 4s and I actually completed a race with me bing the fastest lap over Richard. I think that is a first!. But, as Richard had had to come in 10 minutes before the end of his session due to his puncture I had to go in for an extra pitstpop and changeover and that with his slow laps with his puncture meant we went from a likely 3rd to 6th just behind Graphic UK. BUGGER! Actually Dean from Graphic said to me inm parc ferme that if we had not had bad luck then we would have had no luck at all. Never mind, the gap is now 11 points between us and Graphic UK who are the leaders and there are 50 points left in the championship so not lost yet, but it will be a bit of an uphill struggle and there are several other teams such GT racing, Costello etc that could easily overtake us if luck goes their way. This should be an exciting end to the championship. Cheers for Paul and John coming down all the way to Wales and again to Mark as a pit board and lap timer virgin!
Richard and Paul both did the track day on Friday. I couldn't due to work commitments. Weather was good and apparently Paul overtook Richard (then he fell off the chair as he woke up!) seriously though Richard said that Paul had been stinking on his 600 and was really fast through the corners. Paul is now looking to upspec to a recent Fireblade, although he says that the problem is that if he does buy one then e will have no excused if he is not as fast as myself and Richard! Go on Paul, we'd love to have you on a thou, we are sure that you would be competitive.
Paul and Richard stay over in Richards mobile camper wagon and had a good meal at the Snet caff and a few beers before hitting the hay.
Race day dawned and I had to get up at 4:30 to make it to the track for scrutinering etc. Then we got ready for our 9:15 practice. But as everyone knows there was the incident in the first practice session where a guy was killed. It really makes you think, my wife said to me 'Is it worth it?' A good question which I couldn't or wouldn't answer. Being a father to four kids, albeit three of them left home you actually don't want to think about it. The race program was delayed for 3 hours and a curtailed program of a short practice/qualifying sessions followed by roughly 2.5 hour races. I was absolutely crap in the practice, to be honest the incident had got to me a bit and I guess i was a bit frit. I hit a 19 and that was it. Luckily Richard was somewhat better but we qualified 11th with the staggered starting that was 21st on the grid.
Richard was out in the first session and got a good start (it helps not hitting the engine kill switch, which he did both at Pembrey and Cadwell) and made up about 5 places on the first corner. Richard's times were not the best and we were running about 9th or so in class. Then the Safety Car came out and again as in Pembrey we lost out as did several others. I was watching the monitor and we had been about 40 seconds behind the Junior endurance leader (about 10 in front) and then suddenly we went 1 min 50 seconds behind as we got caught the SC, bugger!) I then went out and as usual what we tend to find is that the faster boys go out in the odd sessions 1,3 and 5 and the slower partners tend to go out in sessions 3, 4 and 6. So I overtook plenty and we moved up the leader board. I had a good dice with Lee of Rawlings, he was fast out of the corners but I tended to catch him on the brakes. Then I was back in and Richard started getting into the 16s as i had been and we were about 6th or so in class. Luckily (if that is the right word) Graphic UK lost a couple of laps and we were making progress (we found out that Dean had lost his armband and he wasn't allowed out on track), but GT Racing (who I had passed in my stint) had their faster rider on with Richard and he got past us. I then went out in my scond and last stint and kept up 16s and 17s which moved us back in contention, as again I was circulating with what are normally the slower team members. Richard went out for his last session and rode really well and actually we beat NR Racing for a place overall which was good going as they are pretty nippy. The result (I think) ended with TANC Racing winning and the very fast BLDS couriers coming second. GT Racing were 4th and we were 5th with Graphic 6th. and Rawlings also dropped to 8th, unluckily Matt had gone off and dropped his bike but managed to remount. I had wondered why I was circulating with him, as he is normally faster than me. So we enter the final race 10 points adrift from Graphic UK with GT Racing 6 points behind us. So it is all to play for at Silverstone in September, but it may be a bit of a big ask to get those 10 points back from Graphic.
Last race of the year, holding second place in the championship, still half a chance of winning it and poor old (sorry very old!!) Andy gets belted on the hand by a knee slider on his 3rd flying lap, first session, badly breaking 2 fingers?..oh bugger. Now if it was me I would have just laughed off the pain and steered with my feet!! We get Andy packed in his car and send him home and all eyes fall on team manager Paul? he has never raced and rides on a very slow 600 in a 1000cc class. Initially his eyes light up and says yes, only for his bowels to loosen when he realises what he has said.
Race day dawns. I do qualifying, ending up 9th with a high 1.09, full of the usual traffic excuses?luckily nobody else thought of using that one!!
I start, Paul crapping himself holding the bike and what a start, from 18th on the grid reach Copse in about 7th or 8th. We had decided to short shift Paul at 20 mins and me doing 30mins, as our Formula 1 computer race simulation system (we just guessed!!), said despite the extra stop needed we would be quicker over a race distance. This indeed worked well for us. The only problem being you cannot believe how short 20 mins seems when you have just finished your 3rd 30min stint and I still had one more to go.
Paul rode bloody fantastically, getting down to a very impressive 1.12sec lap. Bearing in mind he had never ridden a bike on a track until the beginning of this year, he did a brilliant job. From a personal point of view I got down to 1min 8sec, 2 secs quicker than last year, so I was fully made up as well.
So after a bloody awful start to the meeting we ended up 7th in class in a big field and hung on to 2nd in the championship. Many congratulations to winners Graphix UK?s Baz and Dean, two top blokes who rode well all year. I must also thank Andy (Yoda) for his riding tips?..top man.
Finally thanks to everyone who has made this such a brilliant years racing. See you all at the dinner dance in January.
Final notes from Andy - I was so fed up not racing and sitting for hours waiting for an op on my finger. Now got a plate in it and have some painful physio to look forward to. Glad that Paul did well and I now have to keep my place next year.