22/04/06 – First Race Of The Season
Due to FIM restrictions you are not allowed to test at a circuit up to six days prior to the day you are due to race there. This meant we only were only able to use two of the four days that Racedays.net were running for testing so there was rather a long wait until the following Thursday when it was time to do it for real. Passes collected, transponders signed for and bikes scrutineered there was nothing left but to walk the circuit and wait a bit more.
Free practice and the two qualifying sessions came and went fairly quickly and, aside from Matt’s little off when he lost the front in turn three, there was no major excitement or trauma. Having been careful to monitor the minor things such as free play in the clutch, the slack in the throttle cables, etc. and made sure everything was adjusted correctly, come the race we found out the hard way that having people adjust things trying to be helpful was frequently a bad plan.
With the best of intentions someone had adjusted the free play out of the clutch lever for Chris without realising that when they got hot that free play was used up anyway. The clutch was already slipping by the time he made it round on to the grid and despite some last minute adjustments it was more a question of when, rather than if, the clutch would fail.
To his credit Chris made a fantastic start and made up at least two rows before the first corner. Unfortunately the whole crowd could hear his clutch as he went off the line and he hardly made it to the second turn before he lost most of the places he had made up. After all the effort and travelling it was heartbreaking to watch Chris come round at barely ten miles per hour to retire with a very poorly clutch.
Photos copyright @ MIST Suzuki Racing 2006