Donington Park, UK – Testing

Matt Bond, 12/03/07
Hot Trax Track Day

Having not been on a bike for what seems like an eternity it was safe to say that I was ecstatic when Mike informed me that we were booked on a test day at Donington Park, just a few short weeks before the opening round.

I couldn’t wait to get on the new bike, and although it’s still in the early stages of development, we still had a new-fangled, all-singing-all-dancing, Ohlins shock and fork internals, thanks to Steve at Steve Jordan Motorcycles. The plan for the day was simple, get used to the new bike, get used to the new tyres, get a good base set-up and figure out where the heck the track goes, having not visited the place for 6 years!

The first session I spent bedding in the new brakes and getting a feel for the bike. First impressions were simply amazing! The bike is just so fast and so nimble straight from the word go. After a handful of laps the bike started to feel more settled and I began to get some good feedback from both the new suspension set-up and the lovely and sticky Pirelli Supercorsa Pros.

Towards the end of the session I began to get more confident and started to get on the gas a little earlier and a little harder, while I tried to sort a number of reference points, to make learning the track easier, whilst also speeding up the learning process. After the first session we discussed the bike and set-up and just decided to keep things the same, as every part of the bike was still getting fully bedded in.

Session two was similar to the opening session, only I found myself going a lot faster into and out of the bends, while maintaining a much smoother line. The bike seemed to get better with every lap, and by the half way point I knew pretty much what was needed to help make the bike better suited to my needs. A few adjustments on the suspension made a world of difference by the middle of the day, and despite the rear tyre starting to deteriorate rapidly I still far comfortable on the machine, despite a few scares thanks to some sideways action around Coppice bend.

After realising the tyre was almost completely dead we went for a new plan out on track. The idea being to follow the fast riders, e.g. Howie Mainwaring and Martin Buckles on the MV Augustas, and see what they were doing differently to mean, in terms of riding style, lines, and use of the power of a 1000. Unfortunately neither wanted to play ball, and both either sat up or pulled into the pits as soon as I began to tail them. No harm in trying however.

The next session was to be much of the same, as well as learning how to control spin from the rear end on a dead tyre, for myself, something I have never really had to deal with to the same extent before. The session was going well and I felt really good on the bike, and then it somehow all went a little bit, well, wrong. I don’t know exactly what happened by remember entering Craner Curves, standing the bike up coming out of the right hand section and then, poof, blue smoke, grass, mud, upside down bike and me sliding down the hill on my backside.

It was a big, fast off and as I got up from a slide that seemed to last forever I was relieved to see the bike in pretty much one piece, albeit a rather bashed and bent piece. I’m guessing I just lost the front end, but really cant say why, all I know is neither myself, or the team needed it at this point in the season. At least I didn’t do too much damage. Sorry guys!

Hopefully I should be back out on the bike next week and by the looks of it we should have some more bits to add to the bike. This time I’m going to try and keep it upright and rubber side down for the entire day!

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