The start of our 2014 season took place at the Brands Hatch ‘Indy’ circuit with the NG Road Racing club, with a three-day weekend consisting of Friday Practice and Saturday/Sunday Racing. A quick mention and thanks must go out to the Poole Performance Centre for the hard work taken to get us out on track following some last minute electrical hiccups on our Kawasaki ER6 Supertwin.
Having not ridden for five months over winter, I was feeling a bit rusty when I went out onto the track on Friday morning, so decided to take it slowly from the off and build up gradually at my own pace. Witnessing two people crashing in the first session reinforced my impression that I was doing the right thing! By the end of the day - after 80+ laps of the circuit - I was able to end the day with a series of laps in the 55-second barrier, which we were happy with. As all of those laps had worn out the tyres, we fitted some new ones in preparation for the weekend’s racing - with thanks going to Sam Pointon for picking up the bill for those!
This was the first time we had raced with NG Road Racing. NG structure their weekend differently from other clubs I have raced with, in that the ‘Final’ race is by far the most important - with that race alone providing both the championship points and trophies. Grid positions for the ‘Final’ race are determined by your finishing position in the ‘Qualifying’ race. Grid positions for the ‘Qualifying’ race are determined by the Top 10 championship points rankings, with positions 11 onwards being determined by when the entry form was received by the club. Somehow, I managed to find myself starting in pole position for the ‘Qualifying’ races on both days!
Saturday Race day was a dry but cool day. Starting from pole position, I finished the 9-lap ‘Qualifying’ race in fourth position. I managed to get into 55-second laps - but as it took me a while to get up to speed, the leaders got away from me. I started the 11-lap ‘Final’ race from fourth on the grid and managed to retain my fourth place until the end of the race, setting a new personal best lap time of 55.17 seconds. The ‘Final’ race was won by Wayne Axon, with Gerrard Spear taking second place narrowly ahead of Rhys Hardisty.
Sunday Race day was another dry day but was significantly warmer - reaching 18 degrees! Before our ‘Qualifying’ race took place, a sidecar engine blew up (and then caught fire), which dropped oil onto the track through Druids and Graham Hill corners. A lot of cement dust was used for the clear-up and our race distance was shortened by one lap as we were given two sighting laps instead. I found the cement dust to be very slippery, which meant that I was overly cautious during the race and only got my lap times into the 56-second barrier, eventually finishing the ‘Qualifying’ race in fifth position.
Sunday’s 11-lap ‘Final’ race was the final race of our weekend and also the final race of the day. The race was started at 5pm and the sun was already beginning to set. I started the race from fifth on the grid and got a mediocre start. After two laps, a crashing bike spread gravel onto the circuit, so the race was stopped so that the circuit could be cleared. This meant a full race restart over nine laps. The restarted race worked in my favour as I managed to get a better start and got into my race rhythm a lot quicker. With some clear track ahead of me, I set a new personal best lap time of 54.28 seconds, with the final five laps of the race being within 0.14 of a second of my best time (the outright class record is 53.76). Thanks to a final-lap fall from Gerrard Spear, I finished the race in 2nd place - 4.79 seconds behind race-winner Wayne Axon.
My 4th place and 2nd place finishes this weekend mean that...
I am currently standing in 2nd place in the NG Road Racing Supertwins championship!
The next round of the NG Road Racing championship will be held at Oulton Park on Saturday 5th April. Before then, we will be racing at Darley Moor Round 1 on Sunday 30th March.