Located in the Lincolnshire Wolds, Cadwell Park is sited across a steep-sided valley, giving rise to dips and crests. The circuit features sharp changes in gradient, including one section called The Mountain where bikes can become airborne by up to several feet. Its mix of challenging corners has led to its nickname as the Mini-Nürburgring, and for me, my favorite place to be on a bike, racing, playing and even spectating .

 

I always look forward to Cadwell and this visit was no different, I booked a cheeky track day for the Friday with official testing on Saturday and racing Sunday and Monday I intended to immures myself in the technical splendid-ness  of my biking paradise.

 

Cadwell Park the bikers playground wanna come play  …………………..

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After a warm and sunny week I arrived at the circuit at around 6.30 on Thursday and pitched the awning, got the bike in just ahead of the rain at around 8.00pm which set in for the night. In the morning its gale force, heavy rain wind and cold, the forecast for the bank holiday weekend is dry and bright so I choose to skip the morning sessions and not risk a silly off in the weather conditions. The afternoon brightened up a bit, well it stopped raining, 3 sessions on a mixture of wets, dry and wet and dry tyres sees the day out without any real advantage to the weekend ahead.

 

Saturday was a brighter day, I had only booked the morning as I had planned to be up to speed on the Friday, however there seemed to be so many bikes, getting in a clean and fast lap was the impossible mission. I had to settle for a 1.46 as the best I could do on the day. The afternoon was spent prepping for the race weekend, scrutineering and some relaxing in the grandstand watching the Aprillia Superteens swap paint, young nutters they are.

 

Sunday morning was qualifying, the bike felt good and I dropped a second posting a 45.5, I’m a regular 43 lapper with a personal best ever of 41.9 so wasn’t that impressed placed 24th in a Byron Barnes sandwich, however it was soon to be unraveled that my best lap time of the weekend would have only moved me up four places on the grid, the field in Thundersport is fast and I was in for a right rumble.

 

Race 1

 

A poor start and I’m swamped by the riders behind me, with 39 entrants there are 15 guys wanting to scalp me. It took two laps to clear my way back to where I started and by this time the view in front is clear track. I press on however find myself in a rhythm and settle for a quite finish, last lap flag and as I break for Park Nick Barnes from nowhere slips up my inside, a good racing and drinking buddy I can’t allow that! Mansfield is a 90 degree left at the bottom of a steep decline, it’s tricky and catches many riders out and is a favored spot of mine to mess with the heads of others. Hard out of Chris I am already thinking ahead, as we flick through the Goose Neck Nick is good on the gas down the hill and although I close onto him there is no opportunity to pass, I fire it out towards the Chicane with a block pass in my mind but Nick ducks to the inside, I could have almost swept around him but it’s too risky. I start to think about the Hairpin when exiting the Chicane Nick bogs down, hard on the gas the bigger cam in the Venhill QA throttle fires the bike forwards lofting the front, I draw alongside this time I have the inside line and cut underneath into the left. I know I am mentally disadvantaged over the mountain however once cleared am as quick as the next into and through Hall. I hold my nerve as we crest the top, I spot another rider at Hall, he’s too far out to worry me and I think about Nick trying the pass into the Hairpin, do I go wide and risk drive out or take the racing line and risk the pass? As we flick through the tight aggressive right, left, right, left towards the hairpin the bike upfront is now in the way, must be lapping him, advantage Matthews I dive underneath at the Hairpin  nowing Nick is now blocked, out of Barn head down I take the line in 22nd.

 

Turns out the lapped rider was Acer Webb and wasn’t being lapped he’d run out of steam and I’d taken him for a position, Nick got stuck behind him for a 24th.

 

Best lap was a 43.7 so was down to race pace and the result a qualifying finish.

 

Race 2

 

It was a long wait as the Motodex Pre Nationals were called for the last race of the day just before 6.00pm. You would think that we learn by our mistakes so some frustration at another poor start as I get swamped at the start again. You watch the professionals on TV and after free practice and qualifying they all get to practice their starts, not us we are not allowed to stop on circuit after a session has been flagged so when the lights go out it feels like the luck of the draw. I get bogged behind some guy called Dean Young, I know this as it’s written across his backside and I spend a whole lap staring at it DEAN. Dean is fast as you like on the straight bits and in the way whenever there is a change of direction, I finally stick in a pass out of Charlies onto Park straight and similar to race 1 ahead of me is clear track. The guys ahead are lapping in the 42’s and behind me in the main 45’s I’m lapping 43’s and find myself a country mile behind the pack ahead and ahead of the pack behind. It was an uneventful race crossing the line in 19th.

 

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Race 3

 

The Mega Laps Merge pushes me back 2 places on the grid, it’s not the worst but means the starts are now a little more critical. If I could get away with the leading group I feel I could run their pace, I just need to start.

 

Another at best average start but this time I can see Nick in front, I get my head down from lap one and each lap I ebb forward slowly slowly closing the gap. At least this time I’m not spending the first two laps trying to clear traffic from a poor start, the pace is as fast as I can run but the closer I get, only a few feet each lap, is enough to keep me focused. Last lap flag is out and I’m as close as I can be and I wonder if I could repay the compliment with a pass into Park. Not close enough I am now almost in the same position as yesterday with my mind on Mansfield and wondering if I can pressure him into another error. On his wheel there is no way past at Mansfield and Nick keeps the gas on out of the Chicane, I know I am faster through Hall I have made time up there all race, the Hairpin it is.

 

We crest the hill in Hall bends and where I would normally pitch left after the tarmac change I blip the throttle and the bike lurches forward to the right, I’m in deep enough now to block pass and hard on the brakes, as I turn the bike I ride up onto the curbs slowing my initial exit and Nick drives up the inside into Barn. He has been grumbling all weekend about his exit from Barn so I press forward and get the gas on as soon as I dare, it’s a drag race to the line which Nick wins by 0.1 tenth.

 

I post another fastest lap for the weekend 43.5 and consider that race to have been a 9 lap race between Nick and I,  were there any other riders, well apparently so, 35 started but I only saw 1. I finished 21st and was fired up for the last race of the day.

 

Race 4

 

Lights out and I’m away, off the line was my best start of the weekend Nick is in front and I push hard through Coppice and Charlies to chase him down, by the second lap there are two bikes between us and a gap of 30 – 40 yards to close. Nick runs deep into Mansfield and takes a trip onto the grass, he regains the circuit behind the two other riders and in front of me, this is the carrot I need.

 

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Every lap I closed the gap by a little, I pushed on and gave it may all, Nick makes a pass to split the two ahead just before the last lap flag. With half a lap to go I finally catch the guy in front Sam Johnson, I think back to
yesterday and consider Mansfield as the place to pass, not close enough and Sam wasn’t going to hand it to me at the Chicane I decide on a last lap lunge at the Hairpin. Through Hall I’m positioned perfectly, as the last race I blip over the brow and fire the bike forward, up the inside and hard on the brakes I drive deep, making the initial pass and again have dived in too deep to make a good exit, Sam retakes the position into Barn and the drag race to the line splits us by 0.2 tenths, that finish line just isn’t far enough up.

 

A great finish to the weekend with a hard fought race from start to finish, posted my fastest lap of the weekend a 43.1 finishing 22nd.

 

So with Cadwell complete the next race is Oulton another favorite of mine, tight and twisty, undulating through beautiful countryside. But first more track time at Rockingham.

 

Again thanks to those who helped me get on Track TSL, RJS, and Fix auto you guys are great and to my wife for putting up with me disappearing for a few days every time to sun comes out .