Superbike and Supersport Race Reports
So with the stock engine fitted and a stronger rear spring, I headed into the Superbike race on the Norton. Although I was all smiles before the race I was nervous. Starting from position 34, I was realistically aiming for a top 30 finish and bringing the bike home for the first Norton finish in 20 years. I got off the line and immediately could feel the benefit of the stronger spring; the bike was holding a line better and pitching into the corners had improved too…this with no effect on the stability which was the strongest point of the new chassis. I pressed on hard all race, just starting to intermittently starve the pump of fuel at the end of 2 laps.
On the brakes for the pit lane into the first pit stop the engine stalled. I let go of the clutch to bump start it but the rear wheel locked up, screeching the rear tyre sideways. I pulled the clutch in and got it going on the second attempt – I must have looked like a right nutter coming into pit lane with the bike sideways! I shouted to make sure the tank was filled to the brim to try and avoid running out of fuel after the next two laps. Again I went from pit lane and pressed on getting more and more used to the bike and setting my best lap of 122.2mph on the 3rd lap.
A small issue with brake lever travel held me back slightly but no issues with the fuel came at the end of the 4th lap. I found myself battling on the road with a BMW pulling out on me down the straight but then catching it back up through the technical/bumpy sections. This went on for most of the last three laps. I eventually crossed the line to take 18th place, what a great result for me and the Norton guys. Everyone was pleased with the result, I think I saw a tear in (my mechanic) Touché’s eye. Rumours that Skinner (the designer) broke a smile are as yet unconfirmed – it may have been wind!! There is still more to come from the bike and, looking through the sector times, a 123mph lap was on the cards if I could put all of the best sectors together.
After a small amount of testing on the ZX6, I was happy enough with how it’d been going although the lap times hadn’t come overly good yet. With only one flying lap to my name, 118.13 mph, it wasn’t a big surprise. I went off the line 28th, – it took me a bit of time to get my head around the small bike, the gearing wasn’t perfect and when I pushed the front hard I got some chatter from the forks (Bungalow, Glen Helen etc). With some changes I can improve both issues. I had a bit of a lonely race, not catching Ian Pattinson ahead or getting caught from behind. I nearly ran over some sort of stoat/weasel/ferret that ran across in front of me through the Waterworks! The pit stop went well and without incident and I set my best lap of 119.5 mph on the final circuit to cross the line in 23rd. Not a bad result for me, with the mentioned improvements I reckon we can crack a top twenty on Wednesday.
I sit now in my caravan in the paddock, glad of a rest after 7 laps Saturday, 6 on Sunday and 4 today! The cycling I’ve been doing has had a big effect on my fitness, finishing every race without once feeling tired on the bike. My knees are taking a bit of a battering and my hands are sore as normal but all in all I’ve barely broken a sweat! Anyway I’ve got a day off tomorrow, Supersport race 2 on Wednesday and then the Senior on Friday to go. I’ll keep you posted.