Look Mum I Did A Race And Everything!!!

I did it. I finally managed to get out to a race this year. I made it out for the final round of NGRRC at Anglesey. This was the first time out on the Aprilia in race conditions after the damp test at Donington earlier in the month. 
Now if you are expecting an exciting read of how I stormed to podiums on my RSV debut, then you haven’t been paying attention to my abilities. 

The weekend started with a test day on Friday. Light overnight rain made the first session “optional” as the rapidly drying track would be in between wets and dry tyres so like most I decided to sit it out, not wanting to ruin my wets or risk an early tip off on dry tyres. In fact this gave me the chance to swap the dry tyres from the Michelin 2CTs to something a bit more racy, I went for what I knew with some Metzler RaceTechs, and get them up to temperature. A couple of points on this change: I found that the chain is 1 link too short for the 180/60 I put on so I couldn’t get the warmers on easily (and it turns out it would be just catching the swing arm in the centre when out on track a bit…. thankfully the new chain fitted before I got the bike, stretched a bit to mean I had clearance after a bit of cursing). I also found that the rear wheel has a slight dink in it. Always nice when people are honest in their adverts isn’t it? So that’s 2 more things to sort over the winter.
The test went OK. I wasn’t chasing times, it was more about time on the bike. I was trying to stay out of the way, sitting back at the start to let everyone get a few laps in before they have to work their way passed me. A big V Twin is a bit different in feeling to the CBR, GSXR and R6 I have been riding for the entirety of my racing career up to now. The Aprilia has the feel of sitting in it, like the Gixxer, rather than on it, like the R6. I have to say I felt more at home sat on it than I did with the R6’s “nervous” nature. And then there is the torque. Whatever revs it just pulls. This is great for me as I was always letting the 600s drop out of their powerbands and I had to constantly tell myself to keep the thing spinning. The Ape just picks up and goes… mmm lovely. This torque does come at a price. Shutting the throttle and coasting (another of my bad habits) is a definite no no on the Twin. The second you off the gas the saucepan sized pistons drag the bike back really heavily. It’s like throwing an anchor out the back. Anglesey has a couple of places where my lazy throttle to brake really show up (into Church and down to the Corkscrew the 2 biggies). So that is something else for me to work on.

So to the race days:
Qualifying for the 2 classes went as expect and I honestly can’t remember much about them. I was trying to up the pace a bit. I was only working up to being faster, moving braking points slowly and the like so it was no surprize to qualify at the back. I was a bit disheartened I hadn’t made more a stride in terms of times from the test day. I put this down to not tagging on the back to someone to drag me round (I am always better following someone than on my own).

The first race for me was the Sound of Thunder. This was mixed in with Open 600s (one of my old classes). I hadn’t done a race start before and a lot of thoughts were rattling around my head: “What revs do I use?”,  “Will it try and loop itself?” and the biggest of all “Don’t stall!” The warm up lap start was good. The torque was helping and most of the worries were lessened, though a practice start isn’t exactly the adrenaline overdosing of a real race start.
I got away well and even overtook people off the line (a relative rare occurrence) and I settled behind a few 600s. I was quicker in some places than them but I wasn’t comfortable enough on the brakes to pass and in other areas they just inched out enough of a gap to make me chase them down. A couple of mistakes by me let them get further away but and I could close but not get passed. Around the end of the race one of the Team Hero bikes started coming back to the group of us, I presume he had an issue and I took a bit of time to get passed more than the 2 600s I was staying with and this was enough to break the tow to them and I could claw it back so I finished there. 24th overall and 8th in class. Not bad but a bit detached from the times I need to be doing to be “in the fight” in class. I need to find 7 seconds a lap, which is doable with being on the bike more.  I would in fact have been 9th if it wasn’t for Aaron loosing the front at the hairpin. 
The next race and last one of the day was the Formula Prostocks FP2 class, where my “main effort” is put in (Sound of Thunder has more modern bike). Again it was a mixed grid of FP1, FP2, Pre Injection 600s and Super Twins, a right mix of bikes. The race got off to an alright start again but on the second lap I was met by a yellow flag and RSV sat in the middle of track on the way out of Peel, after a rider (name retracted for “reasons”)  had apparently launched himself to the moon. The yellow became a red and I was pulled into the pits while everyone else was  held before the incident.
After a clean up  we started a shortened race. Another good for me start and then it was a bit of a lonely race. I was in front of a Super Twin but nowhere near the pace of anyone else so I was shocked to see I had taken nearly 2 seconds off my best time, as I said previously I am normally better following someone and being dragged along. It wasn’t only one lap being that much faster the other laps were all faster than my laps in the previous race, so that’s progress. The race ended with me back in 22nd overall and 5th in class.

More to come

Photos from Anglesey
Photos by Hairy Beast Pix
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