Pembrey Test

After passing the CTC on the Saturday morning the Sunday was my chance to get on track and knock off the rust that had no doubt set in over the winter. As I had never been to Pembrey before it was also a good way of learning my way around the circuit, see how badly off the pace I am and try out some new toys at the same time. Oh and also make the long distance travel more worthwhile too.

The weather wasn’t looking promising as I scraped the ice off the windscreen of the car on the way towards the circuit from the Travel Lodge I stayed at on the Saturday night. Not a good start, and the forecasts weren’t looking promising. The rain had held off quiet well on the Saturday as I watch after the CTC course had finished. The wind had dropped a fair bit, but it still was quiet gusty. Still I am not here to chase times, I’m here to learn the track and get back in the swing of it all.

The weather has played a bit of havoc on my battery. So I nabbed Doog’s booster to kick the bike into life. My first session is called and I wonder out to the holding bay, all decked out in my oh so fetching ACU orange bib (£7 must add that to the costs). We are to stay behind some designated, more experienced riders for a few laps to get a general feel for the track, just like a track day. The circuit is cold and damp, in fact after Brookland there was a river running across the track (eeeek!). After the few laps we are waved through and off we go. I am tense, out of practice and cautious. Still first session, first time out on a bike this year and all that. Then it goes a bit wrong. Someone comes passed me and waves at me. Oooh what’s that about then? I look down and see what the problem is. My crash bung is coming out. Damn it. Off the track and to have a nice chat with the Marshals at that end of the circuit. I am cursing myself as I think back to my checks and I can’t believe that I haven’t tightened the bolt up enough. After the session ends I am told I can start up and slowly wonder back to the pits if I can start up…. guess what? It won’t. So first time out at a race track I get the van ride of shame, much to Doog’s hilarity and comment of “I at least waited until my first race to brake down”. I’m annoyed at myself for not checking the bolts, and looking back I can remember going around only “loosely tightening the bolts as I’ll do x later” and I can’t remember going round to torque them up, as I was thinking I would have to take them out again to take the fairing off, though for what reason now eludes me. Still, lesson learnt and no damage, except to my ego, done.

Back in the paddock and the bolts are done up good and tight and a dab of Locktite for good measure. I decide that monkeying around with the battery every session might be a pain and also if the battery fails I’ll get another ride back in the van and I am not keen on that. New battery from the race support people (who’s name alludes me right now) and £50 jumps out of wallet. Could getting expensive this racing lark ;-)

The next session I am still tight and not at one with the circuit yet. I have got myself a QStarz GPS tracking recorder, the BT-1000ex if you want to know the exact model. It’s a bit of a toy but it does have it’s uses, well later when I load the data into my laptop, it confirms that I am all over the place. I am trying to force it to be quick straight away. It’s still cold as well, yet the promised rain seems to be missing us. There even seems to be a drying line through the river appearing.

I do another 2 sessions before lunch and it’s all coming back. No dramas with the bike, such is the benefits of having a standard bike. At lunch I get to chatting to Marion of NG. I am trying to soak up as much info as possible. I get told, not sternly but as friendly advice, that turning up to a race on your own is frowned on. This is a bit I hadn’t really thought about. I am skipping the first round at Brands Hatch due to the long drive, never having ridden the track. So that will mean my first race will be at Cadwell Park, where I would be on my own. I have a track day booked there to see if I get on with the place, as I hear it’s a bit of a Marmite circuit. Still there is a way off to sort out someone to come with me.

The rain still holds off after lunch. I am getting back into it a bit and I am playing with lines and getting more familiar with the track. I am quite inconsistent still but that is still to come. There is nothing really to add to these sessions in terms of things to report. I just need more time and to tag on to someone to drag me along a bit. Still this is testing. I am not twiddling around with anything suspension wise or anything. The forks aren’t bottoming out after my refresh of the oil and new springs. The bike has no vices and the only thing wrong with it is the nut holding the bars, as is normal :-)

I get the CBR noise level checked as when I got it it was over 105dB at one track day and if I need to do something about it I’d rather do it while not waiting to go out on track when time is very much at a premium. It comes back at 103dB.

Anyhow I have wittered long enough on about the test. Next up is a track day at Cadwell. I have a few things to do to the bike before that. First off a new rear tyre, the track really finished off the one I have at the moment. I’ll have a general look around the bike, check the oil and water levels. Fit some new brake pads too. Then I have to fit the numbers the bike. Then I just have to find some talent. All easy jobs except the talent bit.