Race Day Saturday 30 June Oulton Park (a bit long)
Having spent the night in a hotel on Friday night I arrived at the circuit all fresh and ready to go. The other guys I race with spent the night there in the camper so I left my bike with them. A big thanks for that as it meant my wife and boy didn’t have to sleep in the back of my van.
My sponsor turned up to support too, Barry from Speedyfasteners.com arrived around 1030 to watch me race. He had a good look around the machines in the paddock and is going to start putting kits together for race bikes. I will post up more stuff on here once my bike is fully sorted with all his fasteners. If you are thinking of buying any of his products then let me know and I’ll get you a discount code for his website.
The bike was all sorted from the test day so the only variable was the weather. It had rained overnight so the circuit was going to be damp for practice. I figured I had done a full day on the Friday so I only needed to go out and do my obligatory 3 laps to check my transponder. I did that on slicks.
By the time qualifying came around the circuit had dried so that saved me an unnecessary wheel change. The call came for my qualifier, 3rd on the grid due to my position in the championship, so I made my way to the holding area. Whilst waiting to be waved out onto the circuit there was a light shower. This meant that the back end of the circuit under the trees was wet. All the experienced riders came back to the grid after the warm up lap shaking their heads. I was all ready to race but what do I know? The officials delayed the start, gave us an extra warm up lap and reduced the race by one lap.
After a short wait we were off, I got a reasonable start and latched onto the back of the first group of faster guys. I felt like I was keeping up with Dave Manley on the triumph for most of the first lap and even felt I could pass a few occasions but I was just too slow in a few places and he eventually broke the tow. I don’t know if this had an effect on me but I felt like I was going backwards. From that point on I got passed by 4 riders and went from 6th to qualify 10th.
I was a little disappointed if I am honest but I think that was down to setting my expectations too high and not being as fast as I remember being around Oulton. Lesson number two, expect to be last and anything else is a bonus.
The rest of the day revolved around what the good old English summer was going to do. The day turned into a wheel changing exercise and I gave up worrying about it after a while.
My championship race was called and the 600 B race was tagged onto the back so a fairly busy grid was looming. This meant that all our little gang were out together. Luke Smith on his R6 decided to do the B final too so he could come out and race me, even though we were in different classes. We had been posting the same times over the two days so he knew it would be close.
10th on the grid and the lights went out……..I had a shocker. I felt like the bike was about to stall so I pulled the clutch in and went again. Most of the Sound of Thunder riders were away and Luke went flying past me into turn one. Race on!
Luke and myself got cracking and I could see where he was quicker than me so I started thinking about passing him straight away. This was going to be a race within a race.
We both caught up to Dave Beynon on the 1098 and Shane Smith on a Triumph. They were hard work to pass but Luke squeezed past both of them in one go and opened a gap. I knew I needed to follow otherwise he was going to get away. Dave Beynon’s 1098 had more grunt than my bike out of the corners so I knew it was going to have to be on the brakes if I was going to get around him.
That Duc was spitting flames in my face going up clay hill so I planned on passing him down the start finish straight. A little later on the brakes plus a bit of squirming around and I did it. Just Shane’s Triumph between Luke and myself. I got in behind Shane at Shell Oils, the right hand banked hairpin, then on the exit I used the grunt of the 8 to squirt past up towards the chicane.
I got a wriggle on to catch Luke and worked out I could do the same to him as I had done to Dave on the Ducati. I felt like I had been behind Luke for a long time. As we dropped down into the dip before the start finish straight I got on the gas and held the inside line, which turned into the outside, all the way down to Old Hall bend. Job done. Luke said I gapped him straight away down through Cascades but he went for it at Shell Oils and got me back due to my poor line. I stayed all over him for the rest of that lap but he knew it. I had a look on the brakes down the hill, on the outside, to Hizzy’s but he was all out of shape. I remember thinking he might be going straight on here and I didn’t want to be outside him so I left it. I hadn’t realised we were on the last lap so I planned on the same move into turn one. I was gutted to see the chequered flag. We finished with .25 of a second between us.
Oh! And I managed to finish 7th in the Sound of Thunder, which in turn took me to 4th in the championship.
That said the Championship race went out of the window as soon as I had someone I knew, who rides at about the same pace as me, to compete against. That little race within a race made my weekend and Luke and myself were buzzing afterwards.
We are going to enter the Open race at Cadwell so we can have a little battle there. All of a sudden there is another dimension to it. We were pulling each other around and having him to chase made me work harder, which is what I think I need. I feel like I have hit a wall and don’t quite know what I need to do to go quicker. I know the bike will do it so it must be in my head. I’m sure it will come but it is frustrating me.
In summary, a bit of a funny meeting for me. I felt slightly disappointed with myself for not performing better but on the flip side I got a 7th place in my 8th Championship race since starting racing and I am running 4th in the Championship. All part of the learning thing I suppose so I’m going to look forward not back and race on……….
Apologies for the slightly fluffy philosophical stuff but there ya go!