Norton 850 Commando by Federal Moto
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Successful weekend. Sunshine both days, no crashes and some good solid points in the bag. Race reports and more images to follow.
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Excitement for the weekend builds and productivity takes a hit when my new gloves turn up. First practice Saturday to try them out at Donington Park.
1984 Honda NS500
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New panels today for the fast bike which means the wet bike gets the hand me downs. There’s a reason for it though. I got a new sponsor so the Union Flags have gone off the side of the wet bike to make way for the GRC logo.
Check out their website if you are in the market for a communications solution www.grcltd.net
I’m waiting on some bigger decals but the small ones will do for the next meeting.
I’ve also put some superbikebodywork stickers on the bellypan as they always look after me and their service and products are quality. Not sure how long the stickers will last on the bellypan but they are on there for now.
I’ll take a few shots of the bikes at the circuit on Saturday.
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Out with my youngest brother today. Nice steady ride, figured I’d try and pass on some of my riding knowlegde and hard lessons learned so he doesn’t end up in too many hedges. Noticeable improvement in his riding just in the space of one day.
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Castle Combe Sound of Thunder 2014 (Sunday)
Quick run out in Practice session one to make sure all was good with the bike then a few hours to wait until my qualifier. No issues and the weather was looking good for more quick lap times and podiums.
Third on the grid again for qualifying and this time Darren was sorted so I knew I had to work hard to stick with him. The main race the previous day had seen him start from the back of the grid and finish fifth so I knew he was going well.
I had a plan to try and find at least .5sec a lap. Turn one and I was there first but Darren made light work of me and I hung onto the back of him as best I could, I could see him leaving big dark lines around Hammerdown so I knew he was on it.
My plan to find that extra half second a lap quickly fell apart. I tried to brake a little later at all three chicanes to stay with Darren. At the first chicane on lap two I was in the wrong position on the track so the back wheel came up under braking. I had to let off to get turned in and I really thought I was going over the grass. I made the first apex but carrying too much speed I had to commit to the paint on the inside of the second apex. Thankfully it was grippy and I got through. James Harrison tried to take advantage but I just kept it pinned and held him off before the next right.
I then got a little out of shape into Tower by trying to brake later but managed to pull it back. My final warning to rein it in came at the last chicane. I braked so late I thought I was going to hit the barrier at the middle apex, I got through but was again off the black top and over the big kerb before the last turn. Scary.
James had seen all of this so made his move on the next lap. My confidence has been knocked a little so I sort of settled in behind him. I never got into a position to challenge for second and my consistent 1:16 lap times were the evidence that I really wasn’t pushing as hard as the previous day, even though I felt like I was.
Third and I was happy just to have stayed on. It was only a qualifier after all and front row was good for me.
The main race in the afternoon was an absolute nightmare for me. I got away well and I was up there at turn one. I then got properly mugged at the chicane, Paul Willis came under me at the second apex, how I avoided his back wheel I will never know. I remember saying out loud in my helmet “Willis you old Bastard”. He’s a very hard, experienced racer so he will have done it deliberately to unsettle me I’m sure.
Half way into the first lap I was in sixth place and could see the front-runners disappearing quickly. I got my head down and got by Willis into fifth. At the second chicane on lap three I just caught a glimpse of a pair of Ducati tail pipes sticking out of the crops on the infield. At first I thought it was Chris Richardson on his WSBK as I didn’t know Dave Irons was in front of me. With the thought of being in third in the back of my mind I tried to get a look at the front-runners as they were going onto the start finish straight. Trying to brake for a chicane and look that far ahead was a challenge but I just caught the colours of Chris’s leathers so I knew it wasn’t him, I was in fourth.
I held fourth for four laps but realised that trying to make up the ground I had lost would probably end in a crash so I chose to keep a steady pace for a couple of laps. Willis had other ideas and came past along with Nick Williamson out of the last chicane. I swear they were working together on the old Aprilias, when Nick went past he immediately moved in front of me as if to hold me up. I just kept the big 8 pinned and went straight back under him. It didn’t last long and he put in a fairly hard pass at Quarry. I figured that just by finishing sixth instead of fourth I would lose just three points. Rather finish than score nothing, enough to take me up to second in the championship. A bit of thinking rather than red mist was probably the best option.
Roll on Donington so I can do it all again.
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Castle Combe Sound of Thunder 2014 (Saturday)
I wasn’t particularly looking forward to the Combe meeting, mainly because I had brake issues last year and hadn’t been back since. My bikes will never pass the noise tests in place for track days. It’s also bumpy as hell and very tricky to get right.
First practice was an eye opener. The circuit was as bumpy as I remember and I’m sure Quarry bend has a few more potholes this year. I didn’t go particularly well, I lost a knee slider and the first time I went to stick my knee on the deck I nearly got dragged off the bike. I swapped the left one over on the move and finished the session but decided to go out for one more practice.
I softened the suspension right off, made sure my knee sliders were well stuck on and had a good ten minutes getting back into it. Ready for my qualifier. I was third on the grid for the qualifier with only Dave Irons and Darren Rumley ahead of me. After the warm up lap it took Darren a while to roll up to pole and I could see him shaking his head. He’s had a few bike issues recently and I almost felt sorry for him as he wheeled his bike off the grid due to a battery problem. Almost!
I planned on Darren being my target for the race. If I could run with him then I’d be happy. That went out of the window so I just went for it. I led for three laps until Paul Willis went by. I knew he was there as he had looked to pass at Tower on lap three but I managed to hold him off. James Harrison also passed me on his Triumph, he was riding well and I figured I’d let him pull me back up to Paul. I ran with him until we caught the blue RC8 of Willis but as usually happens James got past and I got held up. I sensed that Paul was having an issue as my bike seemed to be out gunning his on the straights and as I passed him over Avon Rise I could hear it having a little cough. That was the last I saw of him.
I managed to close James down on the last lap with a view to passing him into the last chicane or on the last corner. He was all out of shape into the chicane and thought I’d done it but he did well to hold onto it and beat me by just .376 of a second.
The main championship race in the afternoon was another one of my most memorable races. I seem to be having at least one cracking race at every meeting this year and this one was it. I put a fresh rear Dunlop in the bike as everyone else had put new tyres on and with Darren Rumley starting from the back I felt I had a good chance of a win.
Second on the grid I got a really good start but James came past on the Triumph fairly soon into the first lap. I knew it was going to be a good race as straight away I was onto him and looking to pass. On the third lap I finally got by as he caught a backmarker into the last chicane. We were at each other the whole race but I got dropped a little with two laps to go. I was even on the grass out of Tower trying to catch him. It didn’t slow me but I lost out in the end to James. I didn’t know it at the time but Chris Richardson was behind me on his Ex WSB Ducati. Me going on the grass gave me a little breathing space as he backed off. I finished second just over 8 tenths behind James. A good ride by him and I was genuinely pleased for him as it was his first Sound of Thunder win and we’d had a good old scrap.
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