The Friday test day was one of those 'wet then dry then wet then dry...' type of days. The track surface was mainly wet all day but we did manage to a get a couple of dry sessions in at the end of the day. The test day proved useful with us managing to reduce our wet-weather times from a best of 2.08 in the first session down to 2.00 in the fully wet conditions, 1.54 in the damp on wet tyres, then 1.48 in the dry on dry tyres.
Apart from returning from the first test session to find the awning wrapped across the top of the caravan due to the strong winds, the rest of the test day ran smoothly!
The weather forecast for the race weekend was 'heavy showers' but after our first wet practice session at 9.20am on Saturday, we were greeted by some glorious sunshine. This sunshine lasted for hours and (due to a number of delays) dried out the track completely, so we decided that we would switch from wet tyres to dry tyres for our 'qualifying' race, which was delayed to 2.18pm. As soon as we had changed the rear tyre, the heavens opened and it was a quick switch back to wet tyres again! Due to our championship standing position, we started the 'qualifying' race from pole position. We finished the race in 2nd place, meaning that we would line up for the 'final' race from 2nd position on the grid.
Some good news came in the afternoon when we were advised that we had made it into the final three for the 'Best Prepared Bike of the Meeting' award, where we were eventually awarded 2nd place. It's nice to know that "keeping it shiny" hasn't gone unnoticed :-)
Further delays to the race schedule meant that it was 6.18pm when our 'final' race was finally started. A continued mix of weather conditions meant that there was a mix of tyre choices on the grid. We opted for wet tyres and it looked to be a good decision as the rain started to fall as we headed out onto track. Starting from our 2nd position grid spot, we made our way through the pack and into the lead! But then the track began to dry and our competitor Will Leaning, who was on dry tyres, managed to catch and pass us. Despite fighting and retaking the lead (see video here), we eventually had to settle for 2nd place when we crossed the finish line 1.19 second behind the race winner. The 2nd place finish did however mean that we took the lead of the NG Supertwin championship going into Sunday's races.
More delays and a passing thunderstorm(!) meant that by the time our delayed 'qualifying' race started at 2.30pm, the track was very wet. We started again from pole position and finished in 2nd place after putting in a best lap of 1.56.2 in the wet conditions.
After the 'qualifying' race, the weather improved and allowed the track to dry once more. But with more rain falling, and further delays being incurred, it meant that our 'final' race was combined with the Open class race and was run as the very last race of the day. With the track conditions mainly dry but the sky looking very grey, we decided to play it safe and use wet tyres for the 'final' race - our competitors had chosen dry tyres. On the sighting lap, it was obvious to us that even with the shortened race distance of 5 laps, the wets would overheat unless more rain arrived - so all we could do was to try and put in some quick initial laps and then try to hold onto whatever position we were in "if/when" the tyres overheated. The race started and we managed to take the lead on the first lap. Then on lap three, a short rain shower helped our cause and cooled the tyres and track. A quick look behind on lap four saw there was a bike behind, so we kept pushing and put in some 1.53 laps. Coming out of the last corner of the last lap we had managed to retain the lead, so crossed the line to take our first win of 2014, ahead of Pete Gibbon.
With only 5 out of the 14 NG Supertwin championship rounds completed, there is still a long way to go to secure our aim of a 'top 3' championship position - but it is nice to have some decent points in the bag!
There is now a six week gap until our next races at Castle Combe for Rounds 6 & 7 of the NG Road Racing Supertwin championship. We will take advantage of the break to make some more tweaks and changes to our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin and will provide regular updates along the way!