lap after lap the lean angle increased through the fast left at Dibeni, knee and boot scraping the tarmac wearing through the hard protection and into costly leather. The blagged tyres were spent, I think they were trying to say something, the rear slides out an instant before the front slides at the point Ady had gone down in race 1, I gather it up only to lose the rear again hard out of the right hander, they weren’t saying anything they were shouting STOP PLEASE!!!

Words and Pictures by Nick

pembreylogo2 carousel BARC Pembrey (from the Other Seat)

With 4 races in 1 weekend this is a longer the usual report, so grab a cup of tea, settle down and enjoy the read.

BARC Pembrey

A former RAF airfield which had been used as a chicken farm, was acquired by Llanelli Borough Council. Following a representation by the WRDA the decision was taken to construct a racing circuit at the venue. The first race meeting was held on the 21st May 1989, and the winner of the first race at the circuit was Nigel Petch in an MGB. In 1990 the BARC signed a 50 year lease to operate the circuit on behalf of Carmarthenshire County Council and in September 2010 Apex Racing Posted a 5th in the Power Cup, a 4th in the Junior Endurance and a 3rd in the Moto Grande, and not a chicken in sight.

For me at least, this was the longest hardest weekend so far this year, having never ridden the track I had committed to the test day, the endurance race and three 17 lap sprint races.

Testing Testing

The test day was run by BARC with a different format to the prior days being all 600s in one group and all 1,000s in the other, 30 minutes about, 6 sessions, time to learn the track and go play. I had walked the circuit the night before and decided to keep off the curbs as they looked pretty aggressive, Pembrey is a simple track with just 8 corners however the flat out straights and hard stop hairpin, massive lean angles left and right made this track as tricky as any to master. During the morning a recall Skip outbreaking me into the hairpin, rear wheel locked and rear tyre smoking, one lap and he’s locked the rear again (never could understand why anyone would use the rear, it hardly can be called stable), I cut back inside and don’t recall seeing him for the rest of the day.

The forecast is dry and wet, a dilemma we have faced many times this year however this time I am forced to use a control tyre for the sprint races and with a budget to use one pair the option of a dry and wet control tyre is just too expensive. I meet up with Chris and Nic (runners in the Power Cup) to understand what they are planning to run and find out they are no clearer, however I do blag Chris’s used dry tyres, he says they are fit for the bin but I’m sure I can squeeze a race out of them on Saturday which leaves me options for Sunday, Cheers Chris.

Map1 BARC Pembrey (from the Other Seat)

Only 8 Corners, Fast Kinks, Dead Stop Hairpin, Massive Lean Angles Left an Right, Pembrey is no walk in the park.

Race Day (Saturday)

Normally it feels like you get no time on track before a race just a lot of kicking around, entre more than one series and that all changes, I was allocated 80 mins in the morning of free practice and qualifying, crumbs an endurance race if only 90 mins, and to add before lunch I was up for my first 17 lap sprint. I set out on free practice and on my return get pulled by the noise police for a little testing, limits of 105dba were applied for the weekend, I’ve never registered higher than 104.5dab so am pretty cool up to the point they say 109dba, gulp that potentially race stopping, another go with a limp wrist reads bang on 105dba, phew I’m in but only just.

I’m first up for qualifying in the Power Cup and post a 1.06 17th out of 22, Adam goes out to qualify for the Endurance and sticks in a 1.04 (I think), I know I can’t better his time so elect to cruise round for the minimum 3 laps and come in to save both fuel and what’s left of some already pretty tired tyres.

Race 1 (Power Cup)

The Power Cup is the cream of the HMRC sprint race series sponsored by Michelin with prize money and rewards, the fast boy run in this cup and I’m probably way out of my depth but hey this is how to progress and we all have to start somewhere.

Given my nerves at Anglesey ahead of the race start I am very relaxed, I pull onto the circuit for the sighting lap and as I look ahead I see 4 or 5 bikes and riders all with Michelin Vests on, somehow I feel a part of something a little more special and I like it. On the starting grid I find position 17 on the far outside left, this is not good as it’s a fast run down to an almost stop into a right hard hairpin. Revs up the lights go out and whilst I believe I get an ok first start the bike behind me comes past front wheel aloft, barreling into turn 1 I’m stuck out wide, I can’t turn in as there are at least 18 bikes in front of me trying to turn right, its madness and I’m a patient endurance guy. Turn 3 is the fast left Dibeni the lean angles are immense knees and boots scrap down ahead there is a big off, its Ady a good friend of Apex, his bike barrels and dust is kicked up high, as I go through I see Ady on his feet, he’s ok and I’m racing. Into the next right I pass on the inside, no brakes just turn in, around the back and up through Honda and another faller I chase down the start finish straight, that’s 1 lap one pass and two fallers it’s still mad, full throttle 4th, 5th and into 6th before its hard on the brakes and down through the gears into 2nd, the front digs in and you can feel the front tyre struggling to grip as the rear lifts off the tarmac, on the inside I’m through on another before the Red Flag.

Back out for a restart and a 13 lap race and its more of the same, I drop the clutch and fire down the outside only to be blocked at the hairpin again, this needs sorting out. I soon settle into a rhythm and fall in line behind Dave on the red CBR 1,000 #4 and Graham on the Black #96 new Fireblade, together we circulate like a 6 wheeled convoy passing another 2 bikes in unison. It was the last lap when Greg Allsop the race leader passes me at the Esses and Stands up Graham at Brooklands allowing me to close right onto his back wheel I’m tight into Honda and plan a pass into the hairpin when we take the chequered flag.

Race one over and the grin on my face says it all, if this is sprint racing I like it, I have no idea where I finished and as the results are released from race control I find I have finished my first race in 5th cool.

Race 2 (Endurance 3 hr)

We have lunchbreak to move camp from the paddock to pit lane and thankfully Rich, Brian, Jane and Skip are on it.

Woby is going to start, he’s on Skips bike however given my disaster at Anglesey it’s going to take more than two Power Cup starts to convince him to let me take the  lead again and given the first corner antics in the Power Cup he’s welcome.

The bikes line up, this is now familiar to us but Skips bike feels top heavy it’s unstable in my hands and feels awkward, the practice we had in pit lane identified a slight delay in the starting sequence, not good for a race. The flag drops and I focus, DON’T DROP IT, Woby’s on but he’s taking an age to start it, what’s wrong the other bikes are off, then with a roar the trumpet bursts into life, I get an instant hot midriff from the under seat exhaust and he’s off and I’d put money on the fact he’s not a happy bunny.  Woby comes in after 35 mins in P4, good job fella and I’m out.

I haven’t time to get heat into the tyres when the rain starts, it’s not rain rain it’s head rain, that is wet on the visor but not on the track but it still slows you a little, I drop into the 1.09s for a few laps until Gordie of GT Racing passes me, I know I’m faster and take that as an indication of grip and get back on it dropping into the 1.06s, I find Bill of BLDS (the eventual race winners) and tuck in for a tow, the session goes well up until the in boards, I blast down the straight and bikes are filtering out of pit lane, I pass 3 guys in one outbreaking maneuver but as I run up to the turn point for the hairpin I am blocked by Emma of Pirate Racing V2, break break break it’s too late I can’t scrub off the speed, BREAK, it’s too late I’m going to hit her and in a nano second were both through, breath, get round and I’m in, were still P4 and now 3 seconds off LA Stone in P3.

The 30 min break goes in erm 30 mins I guess, and I’m out LA Stone are still in front and were both circulating in the 1.06s. I get my head down and try to find a rhythm, at one point I found DeeJ and try to tuck in and get a tow, at Brooklands there’s a highside, DeeJ doesn’t slow and he’s off round the outside, there is shrapnel all over the track, I take the inside line, I chase him around another lap to find the bike and rider still in the track, more of the same and unknown to me we are making ground on LA Stone now, the race officials deem the situation too dangerous and out comes the safety car. Circulating at a controlled pace the pack bunches up, I spot Crouchy of LA Stone ahead, down into the hairpin he takes a good look over his shoulder to see where I am, I can’t resist and give him a big old wave, “Hi fella here’s Apex”. As we pass pit lane in two of the three bikes between us pull in so at the hairpin I pull along side LA, On Ya, the pit board says in and as I approach pit lane in I see Crouchy’s hand go up, were both in.

In pit lane I give it a big fist full and we arrive at the stop box together, the marshal is unsure which of us was first so holds us both to record the numbers and waves us in together, we are further down pit lane and I scan for the race officials with the speed trap, no one in sight, so another big fist full, transponder switched and Woby is out 14 seconds ahead of LA Stone, were 3rd good stop guys.

The next 30 mins passes and whilst Woby does is best putting in cracking 1.04s LA Stones other rider was a stand in (following a crash in Anglesey) with a Supersport Spec Ducati 749, were 34 seconds behind as I exit pit lane for the last time with around 25 mins to run, I chase hard and gain around 0.5 seconds per lap but the gap is too big and we finish a respectable 4th (Again).

Pramac Racing 3 262x350 BARC Pembrey (from the Other Seat)

This was the prize for 3rd, no wonder the boys at LA Stone were still smiling long after the race was over.

Once again we proved we can run at the front and take a fight to the leaders, Woby was on Skips bike I was on blagged used tyres and I understand a change of pads mid race, no excuses though, we both love Cadwell and once again I’m thinking a wet race may suit us.

Brian, Jane, Rich and Skip all worked super hard and felt the pressure of our charge for 3rd as much as we did, every fumble with the transponder felt like an age, the pit timing required a monumental effort to get the right information out with just over 1 min per lap, sterling job and a great team effort which gives us an outside chance at a top 5 spot in the championship at Cadwell.

Normally this is where I sign off however with Sunday comes another two races, read on.

Race Day (Sunday)

I wake to a grey but dry day, more confusing as its forecast rain and looks like rain but it’s dry. The tyres I blagged are seriously suffering after qualifying, a 17 lap sprint race and a 3 hrs endurance race and could do with changing but if I change them and it rains, I chose to run them.

There is a 10 min practice session at 09.00hrs and I consider the track time I’ve had already and the condition of the tyres and elect to stay in and go out for the race.

Race 3 (Power Cup)

Lining up for race 3 I know I need a better start, if only I could be on the inside, hmmm, I take the decision that from the off I need to work my way over to the right hand side of the track, revs up, lights out and off, it feels good, I see a route across the track and take it, big mistake number 1, when the field was moving forwards, I was moving sideways, I get to the first corner second from last, I try to settle into a groove and can see Dave on the #4 bike ahead, the gap seems too big to close but he doesn’t get away, from there on in it was a lonely old race trying to chase down Dave and considering my big mistake number 2, all the other guys seemed up to speed from the off, the 10 min session in the morning may seem pointless but it refocuses the brain for the day and I lost time in the first few laps due to the need to re engage my head.

On the last lap I am passes by Monie the 600 race winner and try to get a tow, not a good thing in sprint races, being passed, and manage a 1.05 matching my best lap from Saturday.

Race 4 (Power Cup)

Back on the start line I change tactics back to blast down the outside and see what comes out of it. The tyres are now way past their best but for a single race I opt to see how they go as no point now in spending the money for the final race. The start is better and I find myself in a battle straight away, there is no room for warming up and dialing in, in sprint races the lights go off and your racing from the first corner to the last, that may sound obvious however in endurance racing you can build up speed and find rhythm, in sprint racing your either racing or your last. I pass a couple of bikes trying to catch Grahan on the Fireblade again, this time Nic is in front of him who a beat in race 1 so want another scalp, I push harder and lap after lap the lean angle increased through the fast left at Dibeni, knee and boot scraping the tarmac wearing through the hard protection and into costly leather. The blagged tyres were spent, I think they were trying to say something, the rear slides out an instant before the front slides at the point Ady had gone down in race 1, I gather it up only to lose the rear again hard out of the right hander, they weren’t saying anything they were shouting STOP PLEASE!!!

My inner self was willing me to press on and close down the guys in front and my head was telling me to ease off, crashing in a non championship race would be madness, I have to back it off and settle for a finish.

After my first three races I have secured 14th in the Power Cup Championship with a 5th place, 7th and 8th it was a great experience and one I will most definitely be doing again.

So my thanks go out to the team for the support all weekend, to Chris for the free tyres, to the Sponsors for getting us there and providing base camp.

Next round is the finale at Cadwell Park, which will include both Endurance and another crack at Sprint Racing, see you there….