Matt Bond, 25/07/06
We finally managed to book ourselves some much needed testing time on the Brands Hatch GP circuit, and I for one, was going to make the most of it and get the bike and myself ready for the upcoming round.
The first session saw us take a few laps behind a travelling marshal before they “released the hounds” so to speak. Instantly I could feel the bike moving and sliding a lot, due to the tyres still being on from the Brno round a few days prior to this test. Never the less I got stuck in and just put into practice a few of boss man Mike’s ideas and began making a catalogue of reference points in my head. I began to adjust these as the session wore on and just as I was getting into a decent rhythm of running the points further and further one of the track day heroes decided to throw his wonderful Ducati 998 down the tarmac and cause a premature end to the session.
Session two went a lot more smoothly as we began to build up the pace, and with the adjusted gearing now on the bike, it seemed a lot more ride able. I began to build up the pace and after catching and passing fellow Euro Stock 600 rider Mads Odin Hodt; I was feeling quite confident and fairly quick too. Once again the session was bought to a premature end thanks to another bike heading into the kitty litter, but I wasn’t too fussed as id began to work my references really well and they’d begun to string together nicely.
For session three we decided a new set of tyres was in order, after a fair few big front and rear end slides towards the end of the second session. They felt so much better after riding on what was effectively completely shot rubber at the start of the day. With the new Pirelli’s working well I got my head down and began to push into every turn that little bit harder and accelerate that little bit sooner and more aggressively. It was going well until I caught a whole gaggle of track day riders and rather than risk it I just picked them off one or two at a time, giving them all plenty of room. Well, didn’t want to get tangled up or scare them did I, would I do a thing like that, with my reputation? Once again the session was ended early as yet another bike lost adhesion, and yet again we trundled back to the pits passing a very unhappy rider on the edge of the circuit.
Back on track after lunch for session number four and I got in a number of decent, fast and clear laps, despite Mads trying to tail me, I was still able to get myself free, without showing him too much ion the way of lines, braking points, etc. Thanks to advice from Mike, I was well aware of what would happen if he did get on my tail. The rest of the session seemed to fly by, right until, you guessed it, another rider decided to face plant into the wonderful Kent scenery. Maybe I was missing something, were they giving away prizes for the days best dismount?
After the fourth crash in as many sessions we (and by we I mean the entire group!) got a severe talking to from the clerk of the course, who threatened to put a travelling marshal out on track with us. It seemed to work as no-one jumped ship for the rest of the day. Now why couldn’t they have said all that before lunch? Anyways the session was really uneven; I’d get a few laps clear and then get completely stuffed as I tried to get through a group of five or six riders and then I’d get a few more clear laps and then hit more traffic. I didn’t really get to string anything together and the session was kind of wasted, although I was able to test a few overtaking places thanks to catching the groups in roughly the right places.
Session number five was the fastest and smoothest session of the entire day. Everything clicked into place perfectly and when it came to traffic I was through without incident every time. I was really able to push my reference points, and began to ride the bike hard. I felt at ease as well and was really relaxed and just found myself able to get from point to point, with the bike at full speed, with no problems whatsoever. It was great to be as one with the machine. Even though the bike was out of line at various points around the circuit as I either backed it into Druids or spun it up out of Sheene curve, I never felt out of control and damn was I having fun out there! Especially memorable was doing three bikes in a row on the brakes entering Hawthorne’s, don’t think any of them saw that coming! And we got a full 20 minutes on track thanks to no-one dumping it! Bonus!
The final session was spent just bedding in some brake pads ready for the meeting, and I also used it just to make double sure of where al my reference points were. After a few laps I pulled back into the pits and called it a day. Nothing else needed to be done and I was happy with the set up. Confidence is high ready for the round in a few weeks time. Fingers crossed it’s a good one!