Friday Test Day
First things first, we unloaded the van and then got setup. We were only testing on the RS660 Trofeo today, which meant that we could focus our efforts on the one machine. The morning started quite cold, so we used the track time to get reacquainted with the circuit layout. Contrary to what we expected, the fresh tarmac was lovely to ride on - but Druids and Clearways were covered in dust/dirt and was a bit sketchy until a clean line appeared.
Unlike at the previous Darley Moor event, the suspension felt extremely stiff at this circuit - so we proceeded to make changes to soften the front suspension setup (preload and compression damping changes). At Brands Hatch there is not a lot of braking done whilst the machine is upright, which may be why there is such a pronounced difference.
In the third session, we saw smoke on the entrance to Druids and on the exit saw a rider going around Graham Hill Bend with smoke pouring out of the exhaust - which turned into flames down the Cooper Straight. Not knowing what slippery stuff may be on the circuit, we pulled aside and then saw what looked like the "Ghostrider" in the distance - flames had engulfed the machine and the rider ended up in the gravel at Clark Curve. You can see the rider flash by at 0:28 in the video below.
Our final task of the day was scrutineering & signing on - where the technical team were unhappy with the Kawasaki Supersport camera mounting (as we expected as it was on the top yoke), but allowed us to carry a camera in the Supertwins races. With that done, it was time to nip to the Kentagon for a beer!
Saturday Race Day
We were the first out onto track in the 9am Supertwins practice session, where we didn't learn much due to the cold temperatures - but it woke us up and got us in the mood for the day ahead.
About half an hour later we took the Kawasaki Supersport out for the first time (after making some equivalent front suspension changes to the RS660 Trofeo). The Pirelli Supercorsa tyres fit to this machine felt nicer to ride on in the low temperatures than the Metzeler TD slicks, but that might just be because I have had so much prior experience with them... Out on track we were using the wrong gears in the wrong places - but that was resolved when we went faster later in the day.
Shortly after the Formula 600 practice we went out into the Formula 600 qualifying session - and went as fast as we could comfortably go - but some guys out in the session were flying! We qualified in 12th position (13th on the combined grid) with a lap time of 51.95.
Our final qualifying session was for the Supertwins, where we struggled to get a clear lap, but qualified in 3rd position in class with a 53.73 lap. This put us 7th on the combined grid.
It was now onto the races, starting with the Formula 600 race. When the lights went out we got a decent start, then settled in and got quicker. We managed to pass one rider to move up to 12th place, which is where we finished at the end of the 12-lap race. We set a New Personal Best lap time of 51.81 on the Supersport machine and had got our best-ever finishing position in the NG Formula 600 class!
Sunday Race Day
Sleeping in a caravan with two young children is not recommended! But despite our youngest doing her best impression of an Octopus overnight, along with some of the heaviest rain we've heard for a while - playing an impressively loud tune on the caravan roof - we did manage to get some decent sleep in! Little Kate turned 4 years old on the Sunday, so was treated to breakfast in "Hailwoods" cafe.
* Joe Connolly, who managed to get on the podium in the Powerbike race!
* Stuart Fitton, who was debuting his new Triumph 765 bike - but unfortunately suffered a head gasket failure during the weekend :-(
So with the fun and excitement over, we packed up, headed home and watched MotoGP until the early hours!
Other than our usual preparation, the Supersport machine will receive a new rear tyre and some new EBC GPFAX front brake pads - we'll see you on track soon!