If you could jump in the De’Lorean and travel back 12 months you would have found this racer in a pretty glum place, it was a cold, damp, dark, unhappy and painful place called Brands Bloody Hatch !

 

So, fast forward back to the, erm, future and what did a series in sprint racing, professional 1-2-1 coaching and the start of the 2012 season look like?

 

I set off for Brands with a positive outlook on racing, I had told myself I would qualify in the top 10 and finish in the top 7 and that through the season or maybe the weekend, through determination and I guess a little good fortune I would stand on the podium.

 

First session out with the lap timer delivered a 0.58 second lap, this is good, the best time I set in 2011 at this circuit was a disappointing 1.00.1 minuet lap, as the day went on the lap times slowly dipped with a best time of the day a 0.55.8, I know that race day will give another second because they always do so I was content with testing and ready for the challenge.

 

Saturday

 

Up early timed practise is scheduled for 09.00hrs, the track is a little damp from the early morning chill as I roll out into pit lane. We were only given about 12 minutes of qualifying so I set about chasing the times of Friday, qualifying felt like it was over before it began and a best lap of 0.58.0 placed me back in the 19th grid slot. This was not the start I had been planning on, so in need of a plan “B” I decided to gas hard off the lights and ride around the pack into Paddock Hill.

 

As we formed up on the grid I was mid pack, I visualised my planned route to the outside line and as we set off on the warm up lap I got the opportunity to test my theory, as I nailed the throttle I glided up the outside and make positive the plan, we round the short 1.2 mile technical circuit and roll back down Brabham Straight to form the grid, it was still a touch chilly and I opt to click the visor open a notch to allow a small air flow in and ensure no fogging as I wait for the start procedure. A habit I had picked up after the start at Snetterton last year when I couldn’t see the bike next to me from the lights to the turn in at Richies. Immediately the visor pops clear from the helmet on the right hand side, hand up and the grid marshal is on me, he sees the problem but won’t fix it, I guess he cannot be responsible for my safety, I fumble but don’t have the feel with the gloves on, by the time they are off I’m being told to remove the bike from the grid.

 

Start 11 350x232 Round 1, Brands Hatch Indy, March 10/11

1 popped visor equals ?

 

Start 2 350x232 Round 1, Brands Hatch Indy, March 10/11
1 removed rider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh !!! Brands Bloody Hatch ………………….

 

With over five hours to simmer and boil like a Lamb Shank in a slow cooker, I needed some focus before I became tenderised and fell to pieces. Enter Team GX, my old sparing buddy Warren Verwey and his Endurance partner Gavin Howell, in need of a time keeper and pit wall man, a friend in need became the distraction I needed.

 

Note: Congratulations to Warren and Gavin for their maiden win in the championship, I am confident they will have many more, however watch out boys, the Apex Racing duo hasn’t ruled out a wild card entry for 2012 yet !!!

 

It’s around 17.00hrs when we are called for the second race, the sun is low and the evening is setting in however I opt for the dark visor as its been checked and double checked so many times it would just be wrong to take it off now.

 

Lights out and were racing, I stick to the plan head to the left and find traffic, within 300yrds it’s a dog fight and I’m reminded exactly why we all turn up and race, head down and press on. I’ve passed and been passed and have no idea where I am, the laps start to come to me and I put in a PB of 54.9. Over the line in 17th and out of the points was to be expected starting so far back on the grid, it’s not what I had hoped for but in the 600 class tenths split the field.

 

The banter overnight dinner is ripe, joined by Adam (Woby), Skip, Andy (Lund) and Nick (Barnes) we head out for a beer before an early night, Sunday we re-qualify and I want to get up the pecking order.

 

Sunday

 

I’m up at 06.30 showered and in the garage eating my weetabix before anyone else is up, it’s dry and bright and I’m up for it.

 

Qualifying couldn’t come around quick enough, a full 20 mins and I’m out for 19 laps, straight into the 55’s is a good starting point, yesterdays pole was a 53.8, the lap times dip into the 54’s as I apply the guidance offered from Mike “Get Faster” Dickinson late last night, then boom a 53.6 flashes up on the Starlane, I choose not to turn it in yet, however may as well, as lap after lap I’m held up as the final minutes tick away.

 

I return to the garage high in spirit, a 53.6 has to get me onto the first two rows right, wrong 17th !

 

How can this be, a lap time that would have me on pole on Saturday gets me 17th on Sunday, racing 600’s is as always close, but boy this is going to be a tough race weekend.

 

Lights out for the second time of calling and I zip up the outside into the mellay of the first corner, engine notes scream a symphony of speed as I pass and get passed, lap one is a 0.55 second blast which turns out to be my slowest lap of the race, Terry Lewis, yesterdays pole sitter missed qualifying and is chasing from the back, after making up around 20 places in a hand full of laps his luck runs out into Paddock Hill, waved yellows as the dust flies, on the rear wheel of Robertson we head down the Brabham straight to complete another lap, waved yellows and Robertson eases off, I conform and ease up behind him only to watch Chamption ride around us both under waved yellows. I raise a hand in protest before gunning it down towards Hailwoods Hill, enraged at the illegal move I go for an out braking manoeuvre on Robertson into Druids and miss the mark running wide. I cut back to find White (an old sparring partner from last year) stuffing his bike under me, stood up Messan slides through with him as I am punished hard for my error.

 

I chase for the next three laps to the flag and finish a disappointing 20th 0.00.3 seconds behind 19th.

 

In 3 years I have never raised a complaint or appeal, however the move by Chamption was just wrong, I know that it’s pointless, the three wise monkeys, see no overtake, still see no overtake and can’t speak English about any overtake, were the ample marshals at Brands and were too busy foraging for grubs and nuts to see what was happening out on track, so let’s just leave that one there !

 

The last race of the weekend is called, Roberts and Messan get an early start, Barnes (a good mate and long term sparring partner) makes a pass, that’s not on and quickly I pass back, I’m in front of White and Chamption and that’s where I intend on staying.  In the last race I watched the front runners hook turn Clarke Curve and adopt this technique myself, apart from a mahoosive rear wheel slide laying a thick strip of rubber down whilst waiting to see if the bike decides if she is going to spit me off or allow me to complete the race, the hook turns work a treat and I set another PB with a 53.4. Barnes is trying to menace and I push hard through Graham Hill Bend I seek more corner speed and end up off the track, off the curbs and on the astro turf, check throttle steady and gas.

 

Graham Hill 1 350x261 Round 1, Brands Hatch Indy, March 10/11

Approach to Graham Hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chequered flag closes the weekend racing with a 16th.

 

The results were not what I expected nor wanted, however the racing this year is fast, a second on the grid would have positioned me on the second row. Despite the marshals disallowing my first race, despite the marshals missing the overtake because petting the guide dog was necessary at the point the yellows came out, despite the zero points haul, I improved my lap time of 2011 by 06.7 seconds (12.5%) I raced hard and enjoyed every minute on track (almost, let’s not get back onto the flag situation), reacquainted myself with old friends and made new ones, so all in all a good weekend.

 

Oh and it didn’t end there !

 

At the close of play and after a day and a half of discussion, French Fashion Magazine Elle elected to use the bike as a prop for a fashion shoot. Yup the envy of the paddock, a stunning Japanese Model with a pretty French girl draped across her. Until the article is released in the magazine no photos can be shared with you, however I will share a select few in good time, even the pictures of her semi naked in the back of the van, for clarity the French Model was semi naked, you’re not perving over my Japanese girl, lol.

 

Model 350x102 Round 1, Brands Hatch Indy, March 10/11

Sneak Preview

 

Next stop Snetterton, is it time yet ???