Rockingham International Trackday 21/05/11
I was watching this for ages, and as soon as the weather looked good (just over a day before!) I booked my first trackday of the year and my first for almost a year! With No Limits trackdays and as Intermediates was all booked I was in the Novice group with a mate…
I quite liked the International track when I did it before, and to be honest liked it a lot more this time. Compared to circuits like Oulton it’s a bit soulless – but there’s no denying that in the dry it’s still a -ing great place!
This was also the first trackday I’ve done where I was using my road bike – a Kawasaki ZX9R Ninja C2 – rather than a fully tricked-out hire bike.
I figured I’d take it easy in the first session I’d just feel out my bike and then had options from there, as you may have seen in my last blog.
I HATE sighting laps! OK, I see their point, but FFS people don’t cruise around them – use them to get some heat in your tyres! I didn’t have the luxury of tyre warmers this time, but already know my Pirelli Angel ST tyres are good for kneedown from cold (I did a video to prove it!), so unsurprisingly I was still flying past almost everyone on the warm-up laps. That’s not because I’m great on cold tyres – it’s just because I know the limits and still leave a massive safety margin whilst getting a move on.
There were a fair few incidents, but considering most ‘hardcore’ trackday riders pick mid-week dates, this Saturday event didn’t seem to have any Nob-heads in the Novice group. Sure, some were slow, but generally the pace was pretty quick and there were a few very fast riders – including my mate and a few from TrackDayRiders.co.uk who I met. I couldn’t stay with them.
I got advice from the Tyre Guru to use pressures of 34psi front and 32psi rear. After noting that my front tyre was screeching like a teen at her first fisting mitten session under heavy braking, instinct told me to drop the pressure even more, but the same Tyre Guru advised against it, and I had to admit what I already suspected…. That my front brake discs are warped.
Major issue, but I just had to brake early and try and ride around it.
My worries of ground clearance were unfounded, because on track I hang off so much more than the road that my foot pegs were clear. The tyres were also much better than I thought, and although I could have pushed harder they never failed me. Sports-touring tyres? Well the videos will show me on full throttle, kneedown at 12,000rpm and 120mph all the way around the left-hander after the first chicane with not a single glitch! Very impressive for tyres I honestly thought would overheat and try to spit me off!
I was a bit proud that my mate and I were representing 90s sportsbikes and how cheap trackdays can be done, with him on a 1996 Fireblade, and both of us riding around the outside of much more modern machinery.
Then, in the 5th session my mate lowsided it into the last chicane thanks to one of the TDR riders (only joking lol) – amazingly little damage, but unfortunately he broke a footrest hanger sliding over the curves so his day was over…
I found my fitness was a major problem, and I was proper gassing when I was on the pace. And I was lapping around 1min 50 – which for a 12 year old ‘sports tourer’ on sports touring tyres and with warped front brake discs that I knew I couldn’t afford to crash – was very impressive! And also seem to have got one lap in closer to 1m40!
Great day – good to meet all those who I did, and I should have a ‘highlight’ video uploaded soon… The professional photos should be sent out soon.
EDIT: There are 3 good laps through traffic then a load of mistakes, crash victims and other stuff at the end. You can hear my front tyre screeching under hard braking if you listen closely – and also hear I was doing some serious trail-braking into some of the corners to compensate!