Silverstone National Circuit – Junior 3 hour Endurance Race Report

Apex Racing ~ Woby’s Report

Firstly to those who were there on the race day.  I’m okay, nothing more than a few aches a pain and the bike doesn’t look so bad in the cold light of day.  For those that weren’t there… read on.

The National circuit at Silverstone has changed slightly from previous years, you now have a long sweeping right hander onto the start finish straight and can be hitting speeds in excess of 160mph as you enter your braking point for turn one.   Should be interesting.

Friday Testday

Weather was fantastic for the testday and I had a healthy portion of confidence that we’d run well.  For the race we were going to have more than our fair share of guests and I was feeling quite a bit of pressure to make sure we were running at the front of the pack.  I’d been practicing on the xbox, watching youtube footage and reading up on turn in & braking points, I just hoped it was all worth the extra effort.  By the time I completed my first lap it was like meeting an old friend, the pre-visualisation certainly did its job and it would be fair to say everything clicked into place in an instant.  In fact everyone else seemed to be going backwards in comparison as I overtook bike after bike, lap after lap while I very casually built up my pace making mental notes of turn in points and braking markers.

By lunchtime I was down in the 1.04′s& 5′s , time to review some on-bike footage and pass on as much knowledge as possible to support Nick to help him along.  We did a similar thing last year and it worked like a charm.

Again it all seemed to be clicking into place, consistent 1.03′s and Nick was down in the 1.06′s.  This was all looking good for race day, a podium could be on the cards.

Race Day

A damp practice session in the morning was followed by a wet qualifying session, not ideal conditions, but its the same for all of us.  Fair to say it was a very busy qualifying session, I doubt whether all 66 bikes made it on circuit but it was difficult to get a clear lap due to the traffic and inevitably there were a few yellow flags.   Quick trip to race control and I’m disappointed to learn the lap time is a 1.14 but then realise we’ve qualified 11th out of 33 teams. 6th in class.  The top 6, 600cc bikes are divided by less than a second and a half!  this is going to be a very interesting race.

Race Start

Time to focus, I’ve been chatting away talking bikes, laps, weather, fitness, strategy for the past couple of hours, now I need to clear my head and focus.  Forgetmy friends are there, forget the sponsors are there,forget potential sponsors are there, forget my work mates are there, forget my wife, kids & inlaws. focus on the start, just remember to leave the key turned on in the ignition and pray the bike fires up on the first press of the starter.

After the sighting laps I feel oddly calm.  Theres standing water on the track everywhere, visibility when just following the 10 bikes in front from a respecful distance is shocking.  I park it and hand the bike over to Nick.

Flag drops (I didn’t see anyone scratching their nose! ~ you know who you are) run, jump, start and… wobble into turn one.  Bloody hell its wet.  I think I might have been passed by a couple but I’m sure I got a couple back.  I remember Wags (Ducks Cross Racing) telling me to watch the left hander at the end of the back straight…

I very slowly pick up the pace.  6 or 7 laps later I realise I haven’t looked for the pitboard, in fact I don’t remember seeing it at all on any of the practice sessions.  flying up the straight I see it… and I’ve got no idea what it said.  Bloody hell we go past pit wall at a scary rate of knots.  Eventually I see through the haze of spray, 1.14 then a 1.13.. another 1.13.. another 1.13..  come on do me a favour I’ve got to be getting quicker.  Ady Allsop comes round and laps me, pointing at his tail unit, the universal bike race signal for ‘follow me’.  1.12, 1.12, 1.11.. awesome.  I love you Ady.

Into the pits, rider changeover and Nick is off on his travels.  Judging from the beaming grins from everyone in the garage were doing well.  5th or 4th in class it won’t be clear until each team completes their first or in some cases 2nd pit stop.  Getting all feedback from everyone whos been closely watching the monitors, doing their own time keeping and listening in on the circuit announcements is just brilliant.  Thanks to everyone.  The team operates like a well oiled machine, bike is prepped and ready to go out in no time.

2nd Session, More of the same but quicker straight out the blocks.  Ady comes past again and I hook onto the back of him.  1.10′s. Great, if only you could see the grin behind the visor when that comes up on the pitboard.

Yellow flags come out, shortly followed by the safety car flag.  I’m tucked behind the Ducati 749 of Couchy from LA Stone racing and were both getting increasing frustrated  with the bike in front of us going slow and not closing up on the pace car quickly enough.  Eventually we do and I can see what looks like a BLDS Livery bike not 8 bikes in front.  Weren’t they running in 2nd… that means… hmmmm

Safety car pulls in (not that I saw it because I’m right at the tail), pick up the pace, no green flags out that I can see so I wait until Maggots before passing someone just to be sure, down the back straight pass another, turn left then ease it right onto the straight, 4th, 5th, right kink, 6th and my world goes sideways, backwards and then heels over head.. shut my eyes, pull my arms to my chest and wait for the world to stop spinning.  Bollocks

Picking myself up, do a quick inventory, everything works and I shout at the marshall to get the transponder off the bike but once I’ve got it he wants me to wait for the ambulance.  My visor got ripped off in the crash and I must have face planted once or twice as all the marshall can see is a bloody face.  He’s more interested in my health than I appear to be, racers hey, what can you do!  Matt Whatton comes running over just as the ambulance turns up to collect the transponder.  Thanks Matt.

A quick check over with the paramedics, and then with the nurse.  Suspected broken nose and hand, Shoulder back and neck took a bit of knock but all okay.  I’m good to go, but even if I could get my leathers through scrutineering the bike aint going anywhere.

The Tank looks fooked, several bolts need drilling out that have sheared off and although we have the spares for the brake master cylinders, clipon and footpegs we won’t get it fixed in time.  Gutted.

However not all is lost,  if we can complete more than 75% race distance we can still get a result (good old Skip with his back up strategies).  Nick cross’s the finish line 9th in class well done mate and well done team

Aftermath

I’m absolutely devastated that I’ve blown a potential podium finish for the team, but as they always say, “thats racing” we all accept it and its what makes the difference between being a competitor and participant.  I’m still sorry thou.

The support we had this weekend was phenomenal and I want to thank every single one of Ian Holfords and Andy Howards guests, Charlie, Mark & Mr Pearce (sorry I didn’t catch your dads first name) for Cooking, Des & Matt Whatton for transporting up all the furniture (and the transponder), The Woby’s, Walters, Matthews & Levy Family members who all made an appearance, Richard, Skip, Brian, Jane & Nick.

I hope you all enjoyed the day despite the weather and I hope my spectacular crash didn’t put anyone off coming and seeing us again.  You are all more than welcome, we’re a friendly bunch if a little bit motorbike obsessive.

Final Word to the team ~  “Touch me I’m famous”

Woby fastest Lap (WET) 1:10.4

Nick fastest Lap (WET) 1:12.5

Fastest Lap of race (WET) 1:07.1 (Ady Allsop)

Fastest Lap in Class (WET) 1:08.9