The weather had improved quiet a bit from the Saturday, and while still breezy it was no where near as bad as the day before. I got to the track early doors and set about getting ready and watching some people struggling a little with the hang overs that a late night in the bar had caused.
I decided to grab a practice slot just to get my head in the game and make sure I was riding better than I was yesterday. I seem to struggle with this circuit and I haven’t managed to find a good pace around it yet so more saddle time is called for. I go out and I am not to bad, not quick, but that is not the point of the practice for me. I just want to get “up to speed”, check out the conditions and get my thoughts back on to what I should be doing in terms of body position, braking points, turn in points and the like. All to soon the flag comes out and it’s back to the pits for a cuppa and some discussions with Doog about this and that I am doing wrong and to see if he has any pointers.
The first race of the day is the Newcomers Open. I am 19th on the grid for this, and I have targeted a points finish. So that means I have to gain 4 places. I am not as confident as I was coming into the round as I just haven’t clicked with the track and I feel like I am not riding as well as I have over the last 2 rounds. I don’t know if it’s the off or the large gap to the next slowest in the Open that has got inside my head, but I am just not as confident. I line up and notice that despite being 19th there are a lot of holes on the grid. It appears a large number of riders haven’t been allowed to take their grid slots, no idea why but that is a bonus for me. Unfortantely one of the riders who is held back is Paul on his FJ (#179) who I was looking forward to racing against against as we haven’t had a chance since Cadwell with my selector issue at Pembrey and all the other rounds only having 1 day and no Newcomer races. I go through my now normal practice start away and warm the brakes up, I like these pads but if you don’t warm them up a bit then they are utterly useless, and wonder around to the grid.
The lights go out and I get a reasonable start, getting past by a couple of people but by no means all that is behind me. In to the first corner and I am a bit tentative and get a bit boxed in as those ahead jostle for position. I get held up and another bike nips past. I am still not in space and my line into the hairpin is horribly tight. As I aim for my braking point. I loose a few more places due to braking too much worrying about my line in. I get on the throttle as hard as I can coming out of the hairpin and manage to get a place back into the right hander as David Tille (#95) on his GSXR1000, in front brakes a bit harder than I do. I then set off after a small group of riders, Paul Harlington (#179) tantalisingly close on his FJ, #35 Simon Smith on his R1. I try to follow Simon as he goes Paul, but I can’t follow through, I am just a bit to soft on the brakes into Rockets.
For a couple of laps the 3 of us are quiet close, Simon gets past Paul and drags us upto the Daytona 675 of Number 175 Neil Swinton, as he comes back towards us.
Paul eventually get’s past Neil and I follow him past on the run into Rockets. I sit behind Paul for the rest of the race. In some places I am quicker but lose out to Paul in other areas. I can have a look, but without him making a mistake I can’t make a move. I seem to be slower than I expected to be on the track, maybe the tip off is playing on my mind or maybe I am just being rubbish. On the last lap I try a couple of times to get past going everywhere I can, but without doing a dumb move it’s just not going to happen so I end up just following over the line. Oh well… there will be next time 😉
Back to the pits and there is a good lot of banter as you’d expect and various family and friends turn up (including Awrel Thomas who is considerably better at peddling a 600 around Ty Croes). I watch Doog go out for his race with my Dad who has turned up again, for someone that doesn’t like bike racing he seems to turn up a lot.
Next Up is the Open Qualifying.
Mmmmm the less said about this the better… I am a country mile of the pace. I am 6 seconds off the next slowest rider. I just don’t know what is wrong. I can’t seem to click with the circuit and even with the test half day I just don’t know why I am so far off the pace. Is it that some of the people that I am normally “in touch with” just haven’t come to Anglesey, maybe I have the wrong gearing but more likely I am riding rubbish and need to man up a bit. Anyhow… 18th and last, by 6 seconds and I feel quiet deflated by that. Maybe I’ll find my feet in the 600s. I am annoyed that I can’t put my finger on anything I am doing wrong and try to clear my head while I wait to go back out. Claire has arrive which helps to get my mind off my troubles on the track.
The 600 qualifying race starts with my traditional rubbish start. I go backwards quickly and find myself dicing at the back. I move past a couple of people early on. I set off after the same 175 Daytona 675 of Neil. Soon on I realise that there is something not right with the CBR. It seems that I have developed a flat spot. Anything under 10k RPM it’s flat and doesn’t pull at all. Then at 10k it kicks in like a 2 stroke powerband. Now I can hear you all saying “well just keep it over 10k then” and I try my hardest. Neil catches and passes a bike ahead and I to get past number 22 David Mitchell on his GSXR600 into Church a lap later. The flat spot is annoying and I think about pulling in. It’s not getting any worse so I decide to stay out and hope it’s some glitch that will fix itself. On the 4th lap the red flags are shown, I have no idea why but this could be a good thing for me. The race is declared as a result so there will be no restart.
I set to work, and ask for ideas of Doog. I think it could be fuel or electrical in nature, Doog thinks it’s spark, either plug or coil. I get a spark plug out, eventually and replace them (ekkk £68) but this has taken a long time, much longer than I expected. I am up against it to get the bike back together for the Open race. I try to rush but take care too make sure it all goes back right and everything is tight as it should be. I finish in time to hear the leads finish lap 1. Damn it. Oh well, I wasn’t going to be racing anyone anyhow. I take the time to look over things again. Everything seems to be running fine, but it’s a bit difficult to check for the flat spot. Doog suggest I go to race control to see if I can do the sighting lap on the Sounds Of Thunder race to check the bike over, good idea, I go and they agree… I have to rush back to get and I get my helmet on, no ear plugs and head out at the back. As the SOT bike sets off with no ear plugs it sounds awesome. I wait and let all the bikes head a good way off before getting a cheeky practice start in. I get it hooked up alright and off I go. I listen for any rattles or anything out of ordinary. Nothing seems wrong and Doog seems to have guessed the problem. I peel into the pits and get ready properly for the 600s race and another check over to make sure nothing has come loose.
The 600 race is the last race of the day. On the warm up lap everything is fine. Right, it’s time to put this to poor performance behind me… The lights go out and we are off. Not a bad start, by my standards, but not great either. I am at the back or near the back, but in touch. Then on the second lap the flat spot develops again. This time it’s worse, and the bike is missing badly. I can’t continue and pull in. I am very annoyed but there is nothing I can do about it. The CBR has run faultless since I got it and it had been down the road, but it doesn’t improve my mood and the thought that I am going to have to figure out what is wrong with the bike before the next round. My most disappointing race weekend I have had so far.