Matt Bond, 10/11/06 – 12/11/06
After the final round of the European Superstock 600 series at Magny Cours I flew back home for a few weeks rest before Mike & Gerry Bryce of Racedays.net organised for myself to go out to the Spanish circuit of Jerez for a test on a Superstock specification GSXR1000. Now bear in mind I’d never been to the track before, the bike was suspension guru Steve Jordan’s pride and joy (he sold his Nissan Skyline to afford it) and I was to “take it easy”, everything should have been a simple ride round, get used to the speed of a thousand and get by without too many incidents, well, yes… kind of.
We arrived at the circuit on day one, and knowing I wasn’t going to be riding, I decided to go for a training run around the outside of the circuit. Probably a bad idea with me being full of cold and it being midday. Anyway off I went at a normal running pace and about halfway round I realised just how long it was going to take me and just how big the hills lining the track are, bloody massive if you must know! I returned to the pits feeling like I’d been shoved in an oven for the last two hours at gas mark 7 and thinking that I was never going to be doing that again for a while. Anyway, back on track everyone was pootling around whilst I enjoyed the spectacle of Mr. Leon “Loon” Haslam and Jeremy McWilliams, roast the nuts off their 750’s along with Iain MacPherson doing his equal best to keep pace. All three were, as ever, phenomenally fast. Sitting back in the pits talking to the three stars was a good laugh all day, and I’m glad to say everyone went home safe and sound, ready for a good meal and drink that evening.
Day two and I finally jumped on board a bike, albeit Sarah Jordan’s marvelous ThunderBike. I have to admit that was probably the most fun bike I have ridden in ages! It was so light and nimble and had enough torque to rip Arnie’s arms from their sockets let alone my scrawny sticks! It was amazing the lean angles you could get were simply unbelievable. But then came the proper machine. Steve’s meticulously prepared GSXR1000. I was just edging towards it when I remembered Mike and my old man’s last words “Just don’t go binning it” and looking into Steve’s eyes as I rolled out from the pits I knew he was as nervous as me. No surprise really, would you let a nineteen year old hooligan jump aboard your favourite ride?
Within about half a lap I thought “Stuff it, lets open this thing up, she can’t be that fast”… Oh hell was I wrong! Out of the last turn I nailed it and nearly went straight over the rear! It wheelied through every gear change, it was awesome! I then started working on hitting the lines around the track and putting into practice everything I had learnt from MIST Suzuki and the Racedays instructors from the 2006 season. Within four laps I was beginning to really enjoy myself, maybe a bit too much as down the pit straight I changed down to fifth as I entered the first turn and then… Oh shit, I can’t change anymore! That gravel trap looks appealing right now. Wait I’m ok, I saved it, phew. I managed to keep it out of the gravel and on the black stuff. I toured back to the pits and gingerly passed the bike back to Steve, saying “Sorry mate, it just… blah… blah… blah”. Thankfully only a bolt had come loose, so no harm done. Later in the day I got another chance to jump on board the bike, and it began to feel smooth and tractable, but still a damn sight faster than my 600! I just kept putting the laps in until the fuel light came on and then returned to the pits with a huge beaming smile across my stupidly happy face. And to top it off, I went faster than Steve!
Day three and again I didn’t do much but got a third ride on board Steve’s machine and I just kept on riding round, speeding up bit by bit throughout the session. Despite a dodgy front tyre I still managed to improve once more and although not being timed I did catch and stick with Malcolm Ashley (runs in BSB Privateers Cup) and his times were a lot faster than what I had been running, so maybe I snuck in a faster time than Steve but he was, on paper at least, faster by about 0.3 seconds, bloody old guy. I’ll get you next time boss!
Really all I can say is I learnt a lot more than I thought I would from under an hour on board the bike. I found that the bigger bike suits my size and riding style a lot better than the 600. I found the machine a lot easier to ride, and once I’ve mastered the controlling of the wheelies Iâ€™m sure I will be fine. I just really want to race one in 2007!
Huge thanks and praise goes out to Gerry at Racedays.net, these guys are the dog’s danglies when it comes to organisation, track time, service and instruction. Honestly doubt you’ll find anyone worldwide who does it better than these guys. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me. The instruction has brought me on so much as a rider and the amount of track time I have had with them is far superior to anywhere in the UK.
Big thank you to the following folks:
- Gerry Bryce & the crew @ Racedays.net
- MIST Suzuki Racing (Cheers Mike)
- Steve & Sarah Jordan for use of the bikes and looking after me all weekend
- Hotel Le Ceuva (Sorry I left the room in a mess)
- Leon & Ollie Haslam
- Jeremy McWilliams
- Iain MacPherson
- All the people on the Racedays trip & academy for making it memorable