Having loaded up the van on the Wednesday night, we only needed to hookup the caravan on Thursday in order to start our 220 mile journey from Northwich to Brands Hatch. We left at 3.00pm and arrived in the dark at 7.30pm in a half-empty race paddock and setup in what seemed to be an appropriate position. Other race teams continued to arrive through the night and in the morning we awoke to find ourselves surrounded by vans on all sides, which made escaping to the nearest access road on our Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin (which has restricted lockstops) a quite interesting affair.
The Friday test day started out damp, but the rain soon started and then never seemed to stop. As the sessions continued throughout the day, I got progressively faster and, importantly, kept the bike upright. Due to the combination of the low track temperature and heavy rain, many riders fell throughout the Friday practice sessions.
Saturday hosted the qualifying session and two of the weekend's four "Supertwin" races. The qualifying session was damp and I qualified in 17th place out of 36, in a session that was split into two due to a rider crashing (fortunately, the rider in question was only winded and was back out on track later in the day).
Race one was run in the damp. Having the mindset that we were here "testing", I was overly cautious in the first few laps, but that was probably for the best as I witnessed two riders crashing on the first lap & then three more riders crash during the race. I finished the race in 19th place, having set a personal best lap that was 1 second faster than my previous best.
Race two was slightly less damp but also slightly colder, so I decided to stay on the wet tyres that I had been using all weekend. After a good start, the purpose for being here faded away and I began racing (rather than testing) and had a few good battles on track; catching and passing riders before overheating the wet tyres and being repassed in the last two laps. I finished the race in 20th place, having set another new personal best lap that was 1.4 second faster again than my previous best that I set in race one. I was starting to feel comfortable and confident on our new Kawasaki ER650 Supertwin, even though I knew that the bike was capable of going faster than I was willing to go!
We woke up on Sunday morning to see snow falling gently in the Brands Hatch race paddock. Fortunately, the snow didn't stick and it decided to stop falling around 9.00am. The 10-minute morning "warm up" session turned out to be anything but, as the temperature was bitterly cold, but the bike felt planted in the cold and damp conditions and we finished the session in 12th place.
Before the scheduled Sunday races, the weather took another turn for the worse and the air temperature dipped to around zero (with the track temperature allegedly being measured at only 1.5 degrees!). Then, a bike in another class had an engine failure and dropped oil over roughly half of the track, which delayed the race schedule by 90 minutes. After viewing the track conditions, we decided that it would be in our best interests to avoid the Sunday races, as there was little for us to gain.
So, all in all, we have taken many positives from the test and have identified a few areas of improvement to implement for the next test session, which will be at Darley Moor on Friday 22nd March, where we are hoping that we may finally get some dry track time!