Pembrey Round 6 Sunday 15th May 2011

Sunday morning sees a windy but dry day dawn over Pembrey. I am glad to see this and hopes it stays like this for the day and the forecast’s reported showers stay away. Pembrey I am reliably informed does not follow “normal weather”. Anyhow to action. First job of the day is to get a practice pass to get a bit more of track time. I am put into group 1, shockingly the first of the day. I get the gennie on to get the tyres warmer doing there thing, and not forgetting the kettle. While their is not much to do and as the butterflies start to get going in my stomach, I decide to go scrubs hunting. My current tyres are getting a little chewed up and a different set would be beneficial. I am drawing a blank on the tyre search and I am even contemplating an expensive new set but I’d rather not. A fortunate meet up with Darrel (#76) leads me Gary Lucitt (#233), the winner of the qualifying round and one of the unfortunates to get caught up in the first corner crash in the final race the day before and suffering from a broken toe after being collected up by tumbling bike. Anyhow, helpfully he has a rear 180 Pirelli Supercorsa which I have a matching front for, so a deal is done and I reckon I can get them swapped after the first race so I am on good rubber for the 600s rather than try to do a quickly change them for the first race.

The practice goes well, everything is going as it should. I try to tag on the back of some of the faster lads and see what I can learn off them but also but not at the same time I don’t want to do something stupid. The track doesn’t seem to have got any worse or better over night, at my speeds at any rate.

The wait until the first race isn’t too long. There are the practices and the 500cc Newcomers race held over from yesterday before me in the Open Newcomers. I get the call to the grid and amble off, trying to leave it as late as possible to go to the grid to keep the warmth in the tyres, as I have been a little keen on getting the warmers off and to the holding area the day before. I get to the grid and look around. This doesn’t seem right? There isn’t that many people in front of me. I know of a couple of people that haven’t been able to take the start, most noticeably for me, Gary Lucitt as I have had a brief chat to him and found out that they wont let him go out in the race which is putting a dent in to his championship contention but the grid is smaller than I expected. Anyhow, we are sent on the warm up lap and I try a racing start, and I make a mess of it bogging down too much. I will give it a bit more revs for the real one.

Back to the grid after the warm up, flag man off the grid, lights on, revs rise…. lights go out, GO! I actually get a start! A proper, proper start! I am not hurtling to the back of the grid. I wished I’d been a bit further up the grid now rather than getting my entry in late to make sure of the near the back start. Going into the  Hatchets and I am already racing for position. I stick to the inside and hold off someone on the outside. This is new territory, coming out of the first corner not being last. I am right on the back of Craig’s Kawasaki going into Spitfires, on to Dibeni and then Paddock. I’m a bit giddy being this high up (all of 1 place) and I am keen to make a move. I decide I am going to try and get a run on through to the Esses, like I managed a few times yesterday. I get a good run and slide neatly underneath Craig’s bike and everything is going well. I have lost no time at all and I am right with the Triumph Daytona 675 that is now in front of me. I have no way past for the rest of the lap but I am now really buzzing.

We cross the stripe and he manages to pass the FJ of number 179, Paul Harlington, who I had a fun race with at Cadwell last time out. I can’t quiet follow suit and have to fall in behind the Yamaha. This is going to cost me my tow to the Triumph as we go through the 3 corners that I can’t make a pass at before I can try and make a repeat of the  move I managed at the Esses last time round. There is nothing I can do about getting in front before then in my own mind, so I make sure I can get a good exit, deliberately giving a little gap to get a good run on him. Once again this works a charm and I sail through. I haven’t lost as much ground as I feared and I am determined to hunt down the 675. By my reckoning I am closing. I am faster through Woodlands and I am closing all the way to Honda. I don’t think I’ll be on him for a move to Hatchets, still my preferred move but I maybe able to have a look if he makes a mistake. Out of Honda, revs rising, head down running to the edge of the track, up a gear, rev it out, go for another gear…. hey? up another gear? I am still in 5th, I look down and see my gear selector flapping about in the considerable breeze of near on 120 mph. DAMN IT! Words can’t explain the momentum shift from excited, adrenaline fuelled fun to the deflation realisation that the game is up. This has been my best ride from the very moment the lights went out and now some 4 miles later it’s all over. I raise my hand and cruise off at the first corner to be greeted by the marshals. “What is it about number 17’s today?” they say, “The 400s one came off here in the race before” Oh no that’s Dan, after all the problems he had at Cadwell getting the bike going, and his off, he’s gone and thrown it way again. A quick look at the selector shows the culprit is a bolt  that holds the selector mount in place has unscrewed itself. The bolt is still there so a 30 second job to fix, I am not sure if to be happy or really annoyed about that as I am moved to behind the fences to watch everyone stream round. At the end of the race I get the ride of shame back in the recovery van, and meet up with Jason Turne, #89 who has lobbed his 675 on the last lap.

The OffenderBack in the pits I am greeted by Doog and Helen, who both think I’ve been down the road. When I explain what’s happened and it’s agreed I don’t need to be re-scrutineered it’s back to the paddock. Doog is helpfully taking the piss after I tell him what’s happened “Don’t you check the bolts when you wash your bike?” he enquires. Yes I do, but this bolt is behind the selector arm and is not one that I would have naturally check. In fact to get it in place I have to remove the selector, something that meant the bolt at least was stopped in it’s bid for freedom. So it’s a  bit of tightening along with a GOOD dollop of Locktite on that bolt and any other that even looked as if it could possible or even couldn’t possibly undo and I’m good to go again. Craig has come by with the results sheets for the race. Nooooo! Points! I could have scored points. I would have finished in 13th or 12th. Damn it. That makes it even more annoying. If I’d just finished I’d have got 16th and I was running 13th at the time.  I am so unlikely to worry the scorers this year that this is a real disappointment. I also take the time between races to swap the tyres back onto my more familiar 180 Pirellis (and check bolts….. twice if not more times).

The next race is the 600s, and there is no chance of getting in the points in this one. Can you tell I am annoyed? I put this to the back of my mind and look forward the cut and thrust of the race. I line up on the inside of the grid, row 5 in 20th place. I need to get a good start this time. I want to see if I can get away and see if I can get towed along for a better lap time. That’s the plan, but it doesn’t go that way. I get a bad start and do my traditional quick dash to the back. As I come out of Hatchets I am right behind Doog on his SV and it’s deficit in power, so I work on the idea of having a go at him like I did in the race yesterday, into the Esses. I get a good drive and I get to the inside and I’m through nice and clean. This is becoming a bit of a carbon copy of the races the day before. I can see Craig #297 on his ZX6R ahead.

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I close Craig down through the lap. I get onto his tail through Honda on to the start/finish straight. If you have read my previous day’s report I think you know what I am thinking at this point. I go to the inside and try to out brake him into the first corner. Unfortunately I can’t get enough of a run and the Kawasaki is just a bit too far away to make the move stick. I slot in behind him to prepare for a go into the Esses, my other passing place. I get a reasonable run through the the left handers, not brilliant or noticeably any better than the #297 and I get along  side. Not enough however to go through. A fourth gear corner is not the place to push the issue and so I settle back for the lap, intent on having a second attempt into Hatchets. I follow closely, in turn, through the Old Hairpin, Woodlands and Honda concentrating hard on the last corner to make for good speed down the straight so as to make a move on the Hairpin at the end of the straight. I go to the right and get ready to get on the brakes. Suddenly the ZX gets on the brakes, early, a mistake from Craig and one that I shall gratefully receive and I go through. This is more like it, the thought of bolts undoing themselves is now a distant memory.

Next on the radar is another Kwaker. It’s the 113 again. It takes me a  lap to get near to him, slowly closing the gap to him corner by corner. By the end of the lap I can get a bit of a run into the first corner, this is getting a bit repetative to write, but out on track it is amazingly good fun. I don’t get him into the corner, and once again prepare my move for the Esses, an area where I seem to be a little better than those that I am racing against. A good drive as I head out of Paddock and I once again get a clean move in to the right hander. I have lost a bit of the pace I wanted to have out of the corner so I am fairly defensive going into the Old Hairpin and try to get on the power nice and early to make good my escape. Up the track there is a sea of nothing. No more bikes at all. I can’t even see the next one, so I get my head down and try and make sure I make no mistakes, no testing of new lines, just bring it home and make sure it’s all good. After a while of lapping on my own I hear a bike behind me and know I am about to be lapped. A bike comes past, then another and another in quick succession. Again I try to tag on to them to see what they are doing different to make 8 seconds a lap difference but it all seems to be bravery, skill and knowledge and one by one they leave me f laundering in their wake. 8 seconds in 1 and a bit minute lap!!!?!?!?! Still it’s good to see the finish as I cross the line. I look over my shoulder and see a couple of others who where about to lap me, one the No 76 of Daz, I hope I haven’t got in the way of a race and we head back to the paddock. Doog is already there, having pulled in early with clutch issues on his SV.

There is only one more race to go for me, but it’s the last of the day. A long wait ensues. There is a long delay in the proceedings due to an accident at Hatchets so I sit in the club house for a while and have bit of food and watch a bit of the MotoGP. I hope everyone is all right but try to pay no attention to the goings on. Doog is out in a race before and is obviously struggling with his clutch still even after some adjustment, it might be finished. He manages to finish the race in a creditable position 16th given his mechanical woes.

Everyone is packing up by the time it’s the 600s. I have myself de cluttered and packed away all that is not needed. The paddock gets more and more empty as races go by and is a fairly desolate place in comparison to early as we roll out for the race. Doog and Helen have stayed around, which is just as well as I have been using their generator for my tyre warmers. The grid itself is missing a few people from earlier as the isolation of Pembrey means some have skipped the last race in favour of an early start back.

As the lights go out, I set off from my grid position of 20th again and as has become suspected go to the back of the pack. I really must learn how to start. After some first corner shenanigans I am once again faced with the back of Craig’s orange ZX6R. I follow the script of earlier, getting back up to him over the lap and try to get him on a brake into Hatchets. This time he is more than a match for me and holds me off. Plan 2 then, The Esses. No, I am not close enough coming out of Paddock to throw the move into the right and with that there is another lap of follow my leader through to Honda and the Start Finish line. I try again to get the run down the straight, yet I can’t get close enough to get by, and a miss counting down of gears, or ham-fistedness   means I come out of Hatchets in 3rd rather than 2nd and bog down, damn it. I use the rest of the lap to catch up once again and I am back on his tail by the Old Hairpin, which is quicker than expected. I get a fantastic run out of Woodlands and Honda and I am almost have the pass done before the braking point for Hatchets this time. I am not sure if Craig had a bad gear change or something but I am away and passed. The only problem is there is no one else in sight. Looking at the lap times after the race everyone has been pulling at least 4 seconds on the 2 of us. I have a bit of a lonely race from this point. I try to stay focused, hitting my markers and reeling off lap after lap. Looking later I am pleased to see a constant spread of  4 laps ranging from  1:10.89 to 1:10.68 which for me is incredibly consistent. The laps take for ever to count down and I am quiet aware that I am tiring. Every lap I want the last lap flag to be shown, a new experience as I normally want to keep going and going and going. I lose track of what lap it is as I focus on keeping it smooth and together. I decide to use the fact of when I am lapped to figure when the race is about to end. This seems to take for ever, but eventually comes on Lap 8. I keep smooth and together not trying too hard to stay with the fast guys this time as one by one they come past. I don’t keep track of how many, 4 maybe 5 come past and I am relieved to see the chequered flag that marks the end of a great weekend of racing.

All done it’s back to the pits to load up and say my good byes until next times to those left in the pit lane. The drive back is a long one, and a wet one, but fortunately the track stayed dry the whole weekend. I finally roll home at about quarter to 1 in the morning and get most of the kit away before 2, smiling like a loon the entire time.

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