Well due to being a bit slack on the updating front, I have been back from Cartagena for over a week now and as of Saturday morning even have the R6 back home. So, what can I say about the trip? In one word it would be brilliant! First off I was not going there to chase lap times. I was only able to get a place in the slowest group out there, which is fine and as it turned out to be one of the fastest “slow” groups I have ever seen. I wanted seat time, lots and lots of seat time and the 4 days would give me that, being in the slower group would give me time to slow everything down and work on all those things that you simply don’t have time to work on at a race weekend.
I got to Spain on Sunday morning (urgh o’clock wake up and flight) and met up with Danny and Russel to share the car hire. After a brief trip to the hotel (not a bad looking place, but NEVER eat there) we decided to go and find the track, knowing that a BSB test was on. We found the circuit easy enough and we spend a couple of hours watching the fast lads putting their new 2016 toys through their paces from the viewing area on top of the pits.
1st Day on Track
A bit of knocking the rust off my riding was the order of the day, after the scrum for garages, it was very busy with a large number of people from what we were told was another track day company that had gone bust swelling the numbers. We fortunately managed to stake a claim with Jo and some of the other team members of Iron Maiden Team, and then brought bikes in and set up. I got a good 3 dry sessions before a bit of a rain closed in and brought me in after a few laps in the 4th. The rain set in for the rest of the day and I was caught in 2 minds if to bother swapping the wheels, as it was the 1st day and there is no prizes for lobbing and sitting around for 4 days with no bike to ride. Eventually the total lack of people on track could not be ignored and I had to get out there. It was fantastic. The track was so grippy and looked dry from sitting on the bike I nearly came in to save wrecking my tyres. There was enough water on the track to have roster tails, but the track just looked dry, if I had seen another bike out there throwing water up in my face on my 2 sessions it would have helped calm my mind down about tyre destruction.
With the day being dry and warming up a bit. I spent the time learning lines and deciding not to attack the first corner as it goes over a brow into a right, and I could just see loosing the front there in a pointless crash. I put together what I had learnt from the first day and upped the pace a little each time, hitting markers I had put in my head and adjusting them as appropriate, being smoother and generally trying to ride better after the long lay off. At the end of the day it was time for a shiny new tyre.
Tyre concerns. I had a new tyre in on the last session of the 2nd day and put in a K1 Interact RR. It really seemed to go from being too cold, and having cold tare to hot tare. I’d come in with cold tare, I checked the pressures and they were all a little high perhaps so lowered them. Out again and it went the other way and end up with hot tare. I was doing this out of the blankets and I was thinking the K1 is a little soft and the temperatures were perhaps a little cold for the K1’s but by the end of the day I was on to a second rear tyre as the rear was shot.
4th and Final Day
More of the same. It was a bit blustery and it was making some corners a little “interesting”. I continued to eat up my rear tyre, worryingly. I also had time to experiment with the front end in seeking a little more turn in. I had raised the yokes up the forks when I had the problems with the steering damper as a way of trying to cure the bucking bronco it was being on my first ride. With the steering damper bearing swapped I left it flush as I didn’t have faith or time on track. The 4 days gave me chance to alter and see if I could get the Yamaha to turn in better. So with the help (and handy digital vernier for accuracy) from a fellow garage resident, I pushed the forks through 5mm. Not the full 10mm that I had taken out earlier but still enough to see how it changes the bikes handling. So did it work? In a word: Yes. The bike felt better and sharper at turn in and with that the confidence in the front. I did play with the idea of removing the further 5mm, but I was more than happy with the feeling at the front and I was starting to get more and more concerned with the rear tyre wear that I was having. With changing tyre pressures I couldn’t find a spot at which the tyre (now a K2) would sit happily and use itself in a way that didn’t look like hot or cold tare. I am not sure if the tyre got damaged early on and not being able to clean it up and chasing shadows after that on a track that is fairly aggressive on tyres. Either way I was starting to feel the whole 4 days and I was starting to make some mistakes, running wide, missing gears and the like so I wasn’t sure I’d notice the difference.