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Manx Grand Prix 2008

Jeff Booth's take on the Manx


DAY 1

I arrived at the isle of man with my son Lewis (our first ever visit to the island), we met up with Billy Boy and his crew (great bunch of guy's) .Then we were introduced to Bill's mum and partner Arend (very welcoming people), we watched Bill set off on his first lap and the hairs on my arms were standing up - what an experience seeing these guy's in the flesh doing what most people can only dream of.

We watched the green light come up on Bill's number board to indicate he was a mile outside our grandstand position, He came past like a man on a mission ,(then we heard after a few minutes or so that he had broke down ) I WAS GUTTED FOR HIM. The end of the day came and back at the garage nothing showed as a fault as to why the bike had cut-out on him.

Day 2

Slick Bass put Bills bike on the dyno to see if the fault would occur which it did at the very last minute- turning out to be his battery - this was replaced and retested ok. Bike now sorted for Senior race on Friday.

Me and Lewis went around the circuit on my bike and I must say I now have even more respect than before for anyone who takes part in the races on the TT circuit, later that night we watched the races at PEEL BEACH and my son had his photo taken with JOHN McGUINESS, IAN HUTCHINSON AND DAVID KNIGHT many thanks to them.

DAY 3

the race was postponed until an update at 4pm (which I didn't hear as we had to leave to catch the ferry back home), I heard from Bill later that it was cancelled, the weather being the culprit on the mountain TOO MISTY.

I really felt for Bill as it was gutting that he couldn't get out there (as I knew he had to leave early Saturday morning to catch his ferry).

Many thanks to bill, his mum and partner Arend for having us stay with them for our time on the island and the food they gave us, I couldn't thank them enough, and they made us feel very welcome.

Jeff Booth

Manx Grand Prix 2008

MGP Practice Round up.


Sorry folks for my slack ass and not keeping you all informed about practice. But as you will read I have been sorting the bike out and out practicing every night and it has taken up more time than usual. But this is the Manx, and that’s why we love it.

Wednesday night was good, well to a point. I set off with this buffoon on a bike. He was quick off the line, but carried it all the way into Quarter Bridge and over shot the corner. I nipped up the inside, as you do, but he came back passed me and over shot going into Bradden. I was nearly thinking of pulling in and letting him go.

I didn’t, I just tried to crack on with my own thing and ignore him in front. After following him for a few miles to Ballacraine, I knew that if I could get passed him he wouldn’t be able to keep with me, as it was clear him didn’t really know where he was going. I got an opportunity to get passed him going into Laurel Bank, but he wasn’t prepared to let me by and cut my nose off. I thought ok mate have it your way, I followed him to Cronk Y Voddy, where we came across 6 riders as a big group, 4 abreast over the straight. Great I thought where do I go. I waited to Handleys and nipped passed your man plus another. I cracked on and passed Callum O’Shea too. I was happy as I didn’t think the Buffoon would be able to get up to me now. But this was my next problem, because I had to pass this group we had caught as they were travelling a lot slower than me, I had to ride very hard to pass them. But this caused me to pump myself up.

Going into Guthrie’s I caught another rider, who again was riding a lot slower than I wanted to go. I was passed by a friend, Michael Russell who rides for the RAF, we had fun out there, he was riding his 750 and despite this I kept with him over the mountain mile, it was funny I followed his lines which were quiet nice. I got back passed him going into Ballacraine, he did wave me passed so he could got a tow off me through Glen Helen, only problem was I nipped passed him and the guy in front, and that was the only tow he got. I continued but my second lap was a slow one compared to my first. This was a new personal best of 112.645mph.

The positives that we gained from the session were despite pumping up on the bike, we were faster. I thought my old gloves had stretch too much and this had also contributed to the arm pump, so I bought myself a new pair. Plus we confirmed that the front of the bike needed sorting as it was still far too lively.

So Thursday night we changed a couple of things, mainly the front of the bike and the gearing, more speed Captain!!! Plus after speaking to the clerk of the course I was given permission to start in the fast group, i.e. group 1 to 30. This should be better for traffic out on the course. I shouldn’t be coming across 4 bikes abreast along Cronk Y Voddy straight. I set off with Philip McGuirk. I went through the bottom of Bray Hill full tilt and Phil still pulled ground on me. By the time I was coming out of Union Mills he was already heading passed the camp site at Glen Lough. Thanks for starting with me. The plan was to have a couple of steady laps and try and go quicker but with less effort and stop pumping up.

This lap was awesome; I don’t think I have ever got to Kirk Michael so quick. I haven’t seen the split times but I know it was quick, I got to Greeba and through her in and then crapped myself thinking it was far to quick and I was going to come off, only to find that I made it and easily too. So there is a tenth or two there.

Unfortunately, someone had spilt oil or diesel all the way from the last kink at Kirk Michael to Ballaugh Bridge and it seemed to fill the right side of the road. So thanks to that idiot who did that, because of them the session was ruined. Put it this way, I have NEVER seen a ‘lack of adhesion’ flag waved before. Nor so many of them. The guys in front slowed to a sensible pace, where I was willing to go a little quicker. I caught 2 of them and once clear of the mess that was Bishopscourt and Alpine I decided that these guys might be able to give me a tow. So much for my game plan of a couple of steady laps. I was chasing a guy on a 600rr plus a guy on a 750. The 2 of them instantly pulled ground on me after Ballaugh Bridge and I thought right if I can just latch on I’ll be sorted. But what I actually found was, when I was in Quarry Bends I carried a lot more speed than then and had to roll to avoid clipping the guys back wheel.

This continued till Ramsey, I was slightly quicker through the wiggly bits, but they had the legs on me on the straight, even the 600. This was good though, yes I had again met traffic, but this time the traffic was only a couple of mph slower not 20 mph slower. Going over the mountain I found I had again started to pump up on the bike. My right arm was so solid that I was struggling to not only use the front brake but to twist the throttle on and off. I tried to relax and it sort of worked, but I was still not able to ride 100%.

We went for another lap and much the same, I had my fast bits they had theirs. I was sat behind them the whole lap. I got to Sulby Bridge and I thought right I think I can get to Douglas at this pace and ride through this arm pump, but once I had completed the motocross track, the run from Ginger Hall to Ramsey, I was unable to hold on at all. I slowed right up and ignored the guys in front. I went back to my game plan and just practice my lines at my speed. Which was what I wanted to do anyway.

I was a little annoyed with myself in the end, I mean I should have done that from the start, but I must admit I had some fun riding with those guys. It also boosted my confidence that I was quicker than them in most places I just couldn’t get passed.

More positives, the changes to the bike were perfect. I have never had the bike running so well. The gearing could do with a slight tweak, but I tell ya. Suspension wise. It has never handled this well, the first thing from a riding point of view I have been able to get on the gas so much earlier than I ever have before. I am on it before the apex rather than on it or even after it. Ron and Richard from Maxton couldn’t believe I could ride the bike, looking back I don’t know how I did either. Still I could and I can now. Secondly, when back in the pits the tyre wear is SO different to how it was. The surface is ripped but in a different way, it’s nice. The way the bike was working before, the tyre were working far too hard and was being ripped to pieces. Not that I ever had a problem with tyre wear, but you know what I mean.

Friday night we tried another gearing choice to see if we could go any quicker. The suspension we were leaving. The 2 laps were pretty uneventful. I stuck to my game plan and took her steady and just tried to link everything better and not try so hard. But again I pumped up on the bike. I couldn’t understand why and it was starting to pi$$ me off. My friend Carolynn Sells was going well, she overtook me at Bishopscourt and she was on it.

Heading up the mountain mile I noticed that I had to put a lot of effort in to grip the bars. I was trying to stretch the new gloves. In a short circuit 6 lap race I would never have noticed this. After a few meetings the gloves would be perfect. But trying to break them in for 40 mins at a time is a pain in the right arm, I tell ya.

I pulled in after my 2 laps, to find that there was still 10 mins of the session left. Stevie shot back to the van to get more fuel, or what fuel we had left. Remember this is my 4th MGP and I have never been able to get a third lap in before, so we were caught a little short. While he was doing that I got Mike Craine, new KaKa Racing MGP pit crew, to massage my fore arm to realise the muscle a little. I took on fluid and put my new glove on again. Instantly I took them back off. There was no way I could have done a lap wearing them. So Mike ran back to the van for my good old faithfuls. People were starting to panic, as time was tight, but no need we had plenty of time. I got my old gloves and headed out for my third lap.

This was a cracking lap. The newcomer I set off after, I didn’t see until Handleys. Those R6’s are bloody quick. But I caught him and couldn’t get passed him until the 13th. Once passed, I cracked on. My arms were ok, tired but ok. The gloves were the trouble. This was so much easier than before. I noticed in Kirk Michael that the street lights were coming on. Winner I had my dark visor on.

Heading up the mountain I noticed that the air was cool. It was so nice. Calm! The bike was flying. I was thinking this was a good run over the mountain. Ok I was struggling to see but it was a good run. I was linking things better, plus there was a lot less effort involved. This is a good thing. Then as I went around the 33rd the bike died, blar blar that was it. Out of fuel as quick as that. No warning just Blar Blar and the engine turned off. I rolled from the 33rd to Creg Ny Barr and rang the boys. I was gutted as I only qualified 34th with the first 2 laps. But that lap felt quicker, only thing is I will never know if it was or not. The gearing was fast but not the quickest I don’t think. I have to decide on the day as wind will be a big factor.

Saturday was cancelled due to weather. It was poor. Jet Skis would have been better. You get the picture. With a few days rest and my old gloves and a look at the data, I think we are there or there about for the race. I feel that I have let myself down a little, because I was fast at the start and then have gone backwards from there. But if we look at the other side of the coin, I have never made so many changes to the bike and it work. The bike is a real joy to ride as is the TT course, but if you can’t hold on then you are not going to be quick. I haven’t had a lap under 109mph all week. That ain’t slow. Plus I have broken my PB and Lapped at 112.645mph. So things aren’t that bad. But I will be pushing to go quicker in the race. I can’t wait, just hope this weather improves.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix 2008

MGP Third night finally a go.


Yeah Baby

Richard and Ron from Maxton Engineering came over to Peel during the day to have a look at my rear shock. On closer inspection I had no sag on the rear at all. He adjusted what he could and soon found that we had run out of adjustment. So we took the Shock out They serviced it and found that I was bottoming out the shock despite having a heavier spring already installed. They check what they had with them and unfortunately they didn’t ave the even heavier spring with them.

They changed a few internal settings and changed my ride height. We also changed the front slightly to compensate for the changes at the rear. All Data logged and away to the grandstand we went.

The weather was overcast but clear. The roads were also dry except for the odd river across the road. I found on the way over to the grandstand I was starting to get excited for the nights riding I had ahead. So I had to remind myself that tonight was the first nights riding and to take it steady.

It was soon time for me to take off Bray Hill. I was held up by the guy how made a better start off the line. I soon over took him by Alexandra Drive. I got round Bradden Bridge and got my head down. I was soon over taking more. I was noticing that there were a lot of people taking it real steady. I practiced a few things that John Barton taught me and they worked. Which was good.

I came through the Grandstand for lap 2 and once through Bray Hill I caught up with Jules Croft again like last year around Quarter Bridge. I thought here we go again. I followed him through Union Mills and over took him by the Post Office. I soon caught Maria Costello at Greeba but it took me till Ballacraine to pass her. She is quick once on the gas.

The rest of the lap went well. I did have to slow for an accident on the left after Gutheries. I hope the lad is alright.

I was happy to find that I lapped at 108 and 109mph, for my first 2 laps of 08, well happy considering that the track had rivers in places and greasy through Glen Helen.

Let’s hope tonight goes better again.

Autograph

Manx Grand Prix 2008

NO Practice MGP


That’s right we are on for the third night of practice tonight and we still haven’t had a lap in anger yet.

The weather is shocking. I haven’t seen it this bad ever.

Fingers crossed we get out for a lap at least tonight.

Autograph

UGP & MGP

What happened in between.


With the UGP over I was back in Navan out with my Uncle Martin and Cousin Stephen having a few pints and catching up before I caught the ferry from Dublin the next day. On the drive down from Dundrod, Andy Kirk rang and told me he had found a good engine for me, just in case.

I got on the phone to PaPa G who sorted it out for me, half hour later, Arend rang me and told me the new engine would be hear for Monday or Tuesday. Thank god, at least if I had killed the Engine I something to replace her with albeit a standard engine, but at least I’d get out.

I still had to give the bike to Slick for a butchers, you never know.

Back to Navan, after a few pints with the boys, Martin called it a night and headed home. Stephen on the other hand wanted more, so we headed to a night club. We had a laugh. It was cool, last time I saw Stephen we were kids playing. It was great seeing him again.

However I hated him in the morning, my head was banging. I got to the Isle of Man and straight up to Slick. He looked at the bike and said "I thought you'd killed it, I thought you were going to give me a challenge"

He sent me home and told me to pick her up in the morning. I got home feeling a lot better about things.

Next morning I was up at the grandstand signing on for the Manx. Last year they had a conveyer belt system in place. Which worked very well. You went in one end and came out the other all sorted and ready to race. This year however you had to go here for one thing after you had been there for that. You’d get there and then, No you have to do this first. Bugger me, I was eventually sorted and on my way to collect the bike.

I got to Slicks; the bike was sorted however I had a drop in power. Oh dear. This is what we were worried about. We all know the mileage I have had out of her. He asked me if I had cleaned the Air Filter, you can clean the Air Filter. He slapped my hand and took the pi$$ out of me in front of the boys that were there. Never mind, he said that will be why she is down on power. So he wasn’t too worried about the power drop anymore.

He also said that she is sounding sweet. No knocks, no smoke she is sounding really good. Go ride her and then let’s get her back and see what she is doing.

We got her back to Peel, the bike was still apart and I had 50 mins to get her together before getting out that night. As I pulled up to the garage, Maz called me to say that the practice on sat was cancelled. Thank god see called me. I took a step back and stated to sort the bike in slow time instead of rushing around.

I decided to check on the power cable that Jim installed for the Camera. I was a little annoyed when it nearly went up in flames on me

I cut it straight out the bike. No wonder it won’t charge the DVR. So ordering a new one of those today. I'll be getting me a few laps of the course myself I think. In the end I think we cut out 3 stone of extra wiring from the bike. With a clean filter and less weight I am taking John McGuiness's Lap record off him.

I was glad we did have time to sort things slowly I also found that my tank cover was wearing through the quick shifter cable too. Which we sorted and redirected. That would have been a pain. Plus I was knackered from my night out. I’m getting old you know.

Still I’ll finish her off today, and fingers crossed this weather sorts it bloody life out and get some decent laps in over this next 2 weeks.

Autograph

Ulster GP 2008

UGP Practice


Unfortunately things in Ireland didn't go to plan. I got up around 8 in the morning after one of the worse nights sleeps in ages. Couldn't understand why it was so bad I was creamed crackered.

I soon realised how valuable Stevie Christian really is. I was running around like a headless chicken. I was signing on one min, scrutineering another, and then having breakfast. Put like this it don’t sound much but on your own it seemed a lot to do.

Around 11 ish as promised, my cousins, Jonathan and Richard Farley turned up to offer their support. Infact when they did turn up there was nothing left to do except go and watch the bikes. It was a while before I was out.

We watched at last years spot the last corner on the track. Nothing special happened. While watch the newcomers going round I realised there was a few last things to do before heading out.

I sat in the holding area with Johnny and like last year it was like they were waiting for the 'R' (rain) to come. Obviously they weren't, but it felt like it when all you could see was this huge black cloud coming in.

We finally got going, I took it steady for the first lap while I remember my way around and checked out where the wet patched were. Good job I did, because at the end of the Flying Kilo, a corner at the end of a very long straight, it was soaking wet. Infact all the way to Leathemstown it was wet. Then from there it was dry. It was wet where you’d expect it to be dry and dry where you'd expect it to be wet. Only in N. Ireland.

Once I knew what the crack was I started to increase my speed. Good job and all, as the weather was starting to come in. The first 2 laps around Deer’s Leap was dry, after that it was soaking. Not very nice on a corner that requires big, you know commitment.

On the 4th lap or so I caught up with John Crellin and after a scary lap following him I thought it was time to pass him, which I did coming down from deer’s leap. I managed to stay ahead for a little while, but coming into Wheeler's Corner I got on the gas and the bike lost all drive. It just sort of went 'wer wer wer' I first thought that the back wheel was spinning up. But I seemed to have no drive. I looked back there was no smoke, no noises, I tried the gas again and the same happened 'wer wer wer'. I then thought have I ripped all the teeth off the sprocket. I don’t know it could happen. 'wer wer wer' maybe its dirty fuel, or a spark plug gone or HT lead. I put my hand up to let the others know and made my way back to the pits.

Once back at KaKa Race HQ, I started the bike again to show the boys what the bike was doing when Johnny screamed stop and there it was, a hole in the casing.

My world fell in. The UGP was over and the bike might be dead. Dear God.................

With nothing else to do we got on the lash and I drowned me sorrows. We had a good night actually.

Next day we loaded the van and watched the racing. As it turned out, it was to be the only racing at this years UGP, as Sat was cancelled due to bad weather. I must admit I found a cracking place to watch, Flowbog. If you ever go and watch, I recommend.

Fingers crossed I get her fixed in time for the Manx.

Autograph

Ulster GP 2008

Night before Practice UGP


After waking up at 4 in the morning on Sunday morning after only 5 hours sleep, I jumped in the van and made my way to Holyhead. Typical, because of the hour I left the roads were empty and made very good time all the way to Anglesey. If I had left 2 hours later you just know I would have hit all the traffic jams there could have been. Still I didn’t and I only had a few hours to waste at the port.

I was soon on the ferry and sleeping like a baby.

We landed in Dublin, I set the Tom Tom to Clusker Park in Navan and away I went. I had a couple of days to spare before I headed North for Dundrod; I had a few plans for these couple of days

1. See Croque Park, as I was in Dublin.

2. See Slane Castle if it wasn’t too far away.

3. See the family, if I could find where they all lived.

I told the Tom Tom I didn’t want to use toll roads. So off we went. The roads got small and tighter and people got more and more. Then there was a road block and a sea of people all wearing Red, what the fook was happening here. I looked up and there it was, Croque Park. Tick box 1.

Made up with meself for stumbling upon one of the things I wanted to see. I cracked on to Navan. As I drew closer to my Irish home I got the feeling I knew where I was. Suddenly I drove around a corner and was welcomed by a road sign say

“Welcome to Slane”

Bugger me Tick box 2; I’ve just seen Slane Castle. I couldn’t believe it. Thing is Ireland is a big place and I always thought that Slane could have been anywhere, turns out its just a few miles down the road from my Uncle Watty's.

Watty and his Girlfriend Irene took me into town for a few scoops in Navan. We ended up in a pub called Wiggy’s. Oh my god!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I spent Monday at my Auntie Rosie’s which was really good. It brought back so many memories from when me and Tony were kids (Tony can’t remember last week so he would never remember the place) still I did and it was great seeing my cousins and there kids. Oh how we have all grown.

I got up today Tuesday and headed north. About half way up the heavens open, just like the news said. By the time I got to the circuit the place was flooded. I drove around the course, and when I got to Williams Corner there wasn’t just a river across the road, water was gushing out about 2 foot in the air from the hedge. Fook me, the van fully loaded aquaplaned.

I got to the paddock and was happy to find that I am in B Paddock this year and not C paddock with all the Wood Chips. I set up in the pouring rain and checked the bike over. Meanwhile the rain stopped. Once sorted I had a little lie down. After an hour or so I popped down the shops for some food and drink, via the circuit obviously. I was surprised to find that after the downpour we had earlier, that after only a couple of hours the track was mostly dry with a couple of damp and wet patches. Let’s hope the weather stays dry.

While sitting in KaKa HQ (the gazebo) my neighbours, John O’Brady and his wife offered me a power point instead of running my jenny. Then after they finished their dinner they then offered me some food and a can of beer. Which I was very grateful for as it saved me a trip to the BallyMac, a pub a few miles down the road in the middle of no where (they would never hear me cry).

Now I have finished this, I'm off to get my head down early, lots to do tomorrow.

Autograph

Ulster GP 2008

Night before take off to Ireland


Well its 2311 hrs, didn’t realise that it was anywhere near that late. Finally, I am packed and ready for the road. The bike is all stickered up and ready after the Jurby Road. I’ve a few things to do to her after the UGP, before the MGP.

Its going to be a strange one this time. This time last year me and tony were all packed and ready to go, but we had each other to share it all with. This time I’m going alone. So although I’m excited I won’t have anyone to be giddy with. Even though I’m having the time of my life.

I can’t wait. I just hope it dries out a little. It has monsooned now for a couple of days; rivers are starting to appear where they shouldn’t be. I need it dry to break lap records. Fingers crossed.

As soon as I can get on interweb and up date you all, I will. If anyone reading this finds any pics taken of me please post them here for other to see.

Faster Faster Faster, that’s the goal this year.

Well there are bound to be a few moments along the way.

Autograph

Jurby Road

Andreas Racing


What a day, what a day.

The day started with a delay due to the lack of marshals. While we waited for the situation to get sorted this gave the radio commentators a chance to get round the paddock and chat live to a few riders. One of them being me. So I have now had my first live radio interview. I’m sure I was stuttering like mad, but think I sounded ok. Nervous or what with a mic put in your face.

Eventually we got out for practice. This was ok but I geared her really wrong. I had no legs down the straight. So I got back to the pits and changed the gearing and a few settings on the suspension and out for another practice. The bike was so much better.

Because I messed up the gearing in first practice I also didn’t qualify to well. So I had my work cut out. I got a blinding start, which made all the difference. I had a good dice with Dennis Booth from Northern Ireland. I passed him he passed me and I’d pass him again. Once finally passed him I got my head down and set about chasing the guys in front. One of which was Si Fulton. I tried to pass him going into the last corner, but once alongside him he drifted wide and nearly put me in the hedge. Poor spectators shit themselves, thinking I was coming to join them.

Eventually I got passed him after riding right up his backside round the kink at the end of the start finish straight. He knew I was there and stayed down the left side of the track. But I went further left and got him on the brakes.

I tried to catch Andy Cowin but couldn’t. I was well happy having lapped at 108mph. 2mph faster than last year.

The 600 race was on row 3 for the start. Another good start and I was away. Again I had another good Dice with Dennis Booth, only this time he got the better of me. While chasing him I was taken by Alan Jackson, which meant I had to get passed him to get to Boothy. This took a little longer than I thought it would which meant he had now taken Andy Cowin.

Once passed Jackson I set about get passed Cowin. Like Fulton in the earlier Race Andy Cowin tried to put me in the Hedge, I lost a little ground on him while I sorted myself out, then the horns came out and I want to pass him. I chased like a mad thing and caught him at the last corner again but was too late to make a move. I was well happy I had lapped even faster at 109.229mph

Last race of the day I had a pig of a start, I had a good little dice with Alan Jackson again. I sat behind him for a lap and tried to learn a little of him, Once the class was over I nipped passed him and didn’t see him again. It was a lonely race, so I concentrated in putting in the fast laps. Unfortunately my fastest lap was only 108mph. Not to shabby but I was trying for a 110. The re is always next year.

I love the Jurby road event. Relaxed, no pressure and bloody good fun. I did take some video footage which I will post ASAP. But I only got practice as my DVR battery died. But it’s clearer than last year’s footage.

Next race is the Ulster and Manx. I cannot wait.

Autograph

Southern 100

Southern 100


Well I'm here on the island just a couple of days till the Southern starts. I’m looking forward to riding. I tried to get the new fairing on the bike for the event, however when I crashed at Cadwell a couple of weeks ago, i bent further an already bent Subframe.

So my new fairing won’t go on. Well it sort of will if you force it, but it may explode at any time. So we stopped and put the White one back on. Still I hope to have it all ready for the Manx.

John Barton is taking me out for a lap of the TT cse tomorrow and hopefully unlock a few more secrets of the mountain which will hopefully let me go quicker, and then it’s down south to sign on for the southern 100

I have a couple of things I am wanting to try over this S100, before I get to the Manx. Fingers cross they work and I start to ride faster.

Thanks for reading,

Well, first night of practice is over. Not too bad, could have been better, but could have been worse.

Firstly I used my Michelins that I always use and tried new gearing, as well as some suspension changes. The front felt horrible. Very unstable, diving which made the rear lift off the deck. But I only lapped 2 seconds off my personal best. Not bad as the bike was a dog.

The positives were the gearing was spot on. Very fast and drove hard out of the corners. Infact it was so fast, I got a bit over whelmed with the speed. Road racing is so bloody fast compared to the shorts circuits.

Next session I tried the Dunlop tyres that John Barton gave me and changed the suspension settings back to last years settings. The bike handled a lot better than in session one, it stopped diving and lifting the back wheel and felt like my old bike. I took it easy for the first 2 laps till I sussed the new tyres. They were very good, they moved a little, but I tried not to let this freak me out. The faster I got the more the bike weaved but I wasn’t too sure if this was because of the tyres or was I just out of touch from racing on the roads.

I'll make a few minor tweaks again tomorrow, and give the Dunlop’s another try, I think its a combination of both really, the tyres are different from what I am use too, and I haven’t raced on the roads since the Manx last year. Once I get dialled in a little more and stop having sensory overload, I might be able to get going a little faster.

Unfortunately I was a second slower in the 2nd session, but was held up by a real slow rider. Never mind, it was only practice and tomorrow is another day.

On Tuesday night I was only going to get one session out on track, which I later found out was also my qualifying for my grid for the race. I spoke with one of the Dunlop’s; I mean they should know how to set up a bike. Anyway after bouncing it a lot, he said she was too soft and started making changes. Not just one or two, but massive changes.

I was a little concerned, and after all if it didn’t work, I could always change back. But it could have made me go even quicker.

Unfortunately the opposite happened. The bike was horrible. I nearly came off coming out the bomb hole. Plus I was proper bottoming out everywhere. So I thought the session was wasted. But nothing ventured nothing gained.

As it turned out I Qualified Last on the grid for the senior race. Check that out. I thought id only get in the Consolation race. Turned out I was quick after all, imagine if the bike was set up right.

Lucky for me, as I didn’t think I had qualified I never turned up for the senior race, the race was cancelled, so I was put on the back of the grid for the Consolation race, so I could get another ride, as I did pay for 2. So race day tomorrow

Got down the pits early Thursday morning, ready for the day’s antics, the weather was grim, over cast, wet in places dry in others. There was only one tyre choice to make and that was dry’s, as it would of kill the wets.

We were the first race of the day. So out we went eventually. I had a good look round on the warm up lap and it was wet and horrible at all the bad corners you really didn’t want to be wet. Iron Gate, Ballanorris (Billy's Gate) and Williams, Great Meadow was slippy too.

We lined up on the grid, the lights went out and we were off. I got a cracking start and went from the third row to 5th. Down into Iron Gate for the first time and I slid a little, then into Ballanorris, like last year the bike went sideways and nearly put me into the wall. I slipped in Williams and completed the first lap. I decided at that point I would just finish the race. I was eventually over taken by Adam Jones and Peter Simpson, because they were just willing to go that bit quicker than I was in those areas. Fair Play boys, I just didn’t want it to end in tears. I finished in 7th place and lap 1 sec slower than my PB.

I was also in the last race of the day. Which meant a lot of waiting around. As the day dragged on, the weather turned for the worse and started to piddle down. Off with the dry’s and on with the wets.

In the Solo Championship race there was a big crash involving Victor Gilmor, which delayed the proceedings, as it seemed to take forever for them to clean things up.

This meant our race was cancelled. Which was a shame as I was all fired up for a wet race again like last year.

Looking on the bright side, at the awards night in Castletown we were given back £50 as we paid to race but didn’t, so it was great telling everyone that I had won some prize money for my efforts in the 600 race. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. It felt like prize money anyway.

On to Jurby Tomorrow.

Autograph

Cadwell Park

North Gloucester Road Race Club


After a three-hour drive to Lincoln, we stayed at my mate Jules Croft house. Seeing as though he only lived 45 minutes down the road, it made sense to stay at his house rather than camp at Cadwell. Tracey, his good lady got up at six in the morning to cook me and Pea, bacon and mushroom sandwiches. Okay we left 15 minutes late, but it did set us up for the day.

We parked up in Jules’s little hideaway, under the trees. What a little goldmine this was going to turn out to be, as the temperatures of the day started to sore. We got to scrutineering, only to have the most awkward scrutineer in the world. I know he's only doing his job and it is a job I am thankful for, however, there wasn't much time before I was out practising. Bear in mind, I still had to change my gearing. Once signed on, bike ready to race. I could finally sit down.

I was pleased to find out that I actually had qualifying this morning, as I was a Sunday only rider, I was fully expecting to start at the back row of the grid in every race. At least, I wouldn't be the back row for the open race. But on looking in the programme, I was too start in ninth on the grid for the 600 qualifying race. Yeah baby!!! I got practice out the way, dialled myself in with the different track. I didn't take the piss; I knew I’d be flying by the end of the day.

Qualifying was okay; I overtook a few slower riders, and wasn't actually overtaken myself. Pea explained to me a new line around Charlie’s 1 and Charlie’s 2. Which I experimented with. And bugger me. It worked. What I really try to work with, was much speed around Chris's Curve. I knew the last time I was at Cadwell, I lost a lot my time around Chris's curve. I also lost time going through the goose neck, despite knowing it wasn't my fault. The last time I crashed here. So with this in mind, I had my goals. I qualified something like 20th on the grid in the Open A final, two places ahead of my other arch nemesis, Jamie Adam. Yeah baby!!!

I got back to the pits, made a few changes to the bike suspension; I softened off the rear of the bike, as the rear tyre was getting ripped up from the hammering it was getting around Chris's curve. It was around this time that my sponsor Tim King, from TK com and his good lady Pam arrived in the paddocks. As well as the in-laws, Tony and Wendy McArdle. It was good to see everyone. However, it wasn't long before I was out in my 600 qualifying race. Yet more drama at Cadwell.

The race started, and I made a bloody good start, half way round the first lap I was in eighth position. Then on the second lap coming out of the chicane just before the mountain, this guy three in front of me high sided. The two guys in front of me unfortunately were pushed wide onto the grass to avoid hitting the bloke who high sided. To be honest, I was just trying to avoid the carnage. But in doing so I overtook two guys on the grass. This put me in sixth position. I got my head down and cracked on regardless thinking that some point I was bound to be black flagged for an unfair advantage. However, the guy was spat so high into the air, that he actually really did hurt himself. So the race was red flagged.

The race was re-run, although slightly shortened. I got off the line, I thought okay, only to be overtaken by Furry. Thing was, I knew he started way down the grid. In my mind I was thinking that he jumped the start. I know he had a go a novice, but a bloody quick novice. This made him an absolute nightmare to follow. I just didn't know where he was going to go next. I followed him for three laps, and then on the last lap I really want to get passed him. He was fast down the straight; he has a very quick bike. But I knew and could see I was carrying a lot more corner speed than him. So I use this to my advantage. By this time I was getting very confident around Chris's curve, I was doing what I had been told to do by Jules, and that was red line in fourth gear all the way round to the Gooseneck. Any ground, furry had gained on me into Park bend, I made up around Chris's curve. Only to my horror, Furry let off mid Gooseneck, and with nowhere to go I almost slammed into the back of him at speed. (The memories).

I rolled enough to miss him, and tried to drive down into Mansfield. I got along side furry, but could not overtake. So in my mind. I wanted to do the old KaKa manoeuvre and over take him at the bottom of the mountain. But to do this I needed to drive hard out the chicane. I tried to carry as much corner speed as I could through the chicane, but did not judge furry speed very well. He was going fast into the chicane but mid chicane he just stopped. With nowhere to go, I had to do something. Otherwise we both would have gone down and I probably would have caused lot damage to the bike. So banked right over, I grabbed the front brake to avoid hitting furry. I went down, I landed hard on my shoulder and tumbled like a little rag doll. I was worried I was going to go back out onto the track and get run over. But luckily I didn't. But when I tried to pick myself up and get away from the track, all I could do was full-back over. Three times, three bloody times I tried. On the third time I just stayed there laughing. The Marshal however was a bit concerned; worry that I may have heard my self. When the racing finished, I was allowed to write back to the pits, which I did with a round of applause from the crowd.

Once back at me pit, everyone was there waiting for me. They knew I had crashed as they didn't see me on the last lap. Tim was only thinking “how much is this going to cost me”. But lucky to him and me the only damage to the bike was the screen. The crash bungs had done their work. So off I ran to Dennis Trollope and bought myself a new screen, and set to get the bike ready for the next race. Always drama at Cadwell Park on a sunny day.

Up till now everything had been a bang bang bang. We had been flat out from getting to the track to this point. Finally we could calm down and have some time to ourselves. It was at this point I could finally sit down with the in-laws and have a chat about our new house. If you are reading this Tony and Wendy, thanks again for all your help.

The Phoenix Open Final.

I did, as you have already read, start somewhere like 20th on the grid, I can't remember to be honest. And I don't really remember much about that race. Except that one point in the race I was on my own. With clear track ahead of me and some guys in the distance I got my head down behind my new Pan European screen got about chasing these guys ahead of me. It was at this point I put in my fastest ever lap around Cadwell Park 1.40 something. Three seconds a lap quicker than I had ever gone, which wasn't too bad considering I crashed the last time I was on the track. But for me, I caught the three guys ahead of me. And for three laps, I tried everything to overtake them. I lunged and here, I overtook there. And eventually I overtook in places I've never over took before. Once ahead of them, I pulled a three or four second lead over them. Now, this write up doesn't give this race any justice. It wasn't just one or two manoeuvres, I tried everything. And when I finally over took them it was the greatest feeling in the world. I don't remember where I finished in the race, it doesn't matter where I finished, and all that matters was the fact that this was my best race ever.

Why was it the best, because it was my hardest circuit race I ever had. I wasn't just the icing one bloke I was dicing with three. And with a little patience I finally got past them all. It felt like I had won the world championship.

600 Final

Because I never actually finished my 600 qualifying race, I never qualified for the A final. Except for the very first meeting on the 600 RR, I have only ever qualified for the A final. The first time I ever qualified for a B final, I had to crash to do it. Thing is with this brings pressure. Everyone thought it was a foregone conclusion, that I would win this race. Looking at the lap times of everyone in the race, I too thought I was going to win this race with these. You live and learn.

While in the holding area, I noticed 1000 cc Kawasaki sat waiting to go out onto the grid. It was at this point I recognize the bike and knew this was no slow guy. Oh well might not be as easy as I thought. We lined up on the grid, and I knew I had to make a good start. The Kawasaki was on pole, while I was in 18th on the grid, last place. We set off on a warm up lap and straight away I blasted past many of the other riders. But making sure I didn't get too carried away, warm up laps not always a sign of what about to occur. By Charlie's one I was in second place following the Kawasaki. Once on Park straight he opened up and just pulled away from me. I used the rest of the practice lap to judge if I could carry enough corner speed to get back anything I lost down the straights. We pulled up on the grid for the final time. In the back of my mind I knew I could catch him from the mountain round to the start line. All I had to do was make a good start and not let him get too far in the lead, otherwise I'd be fucked.

I was more concerned that the pressure would get to me and I would fluff the start. Lights came on, I held her at 7000 revs. Lights went out and I blasted off the line. It was mint; the front will lifted 1 foot off the deck and stayed there most the way down the start line. By Coppice I was in 12th or 13th place. I knew I couldn't let the thousand get ahead of me too far, so I just held it open and went around the outside of everyone on the right-hand side. By Charlie’s one I was in third place. I could see the thousand just up ahead in first, already I had made up the lot ground on him. Just had to get this the 600 out of the way. I carried as much corner speed as I could onto Park straight, and chased the 600.

Wherever he was braking I was braking later. I just couldn't let the thousand get too far in the lead. I broke a little later than usual into Park corner and almost ran off the track, but I held it together and got my head down and chased the Kawasaki. Around Chris's curve I did hold my own, but the Kawasaki did have the legs on me. However once we got round to the Gooseneck's, he was mine. From this point all the way round to the start straight, I gained on him. In fact he held me up. Especially at Hall bend, in the previous race oil had been spilled on the racing line all the way through Hall bend. What I found was the thousand gingerly went through Hall. I use this to my advantage and setting up for an overtake at old hairpin. The only thing was the first time through Hall at speed I lost the front over the cement dust. Luckily I never went down, but my arse was twitching. Hasten to say I didn't overtaking this lap.

Again on the start straight he pulled away. So like a Nutter I carried as much speed as possible and dared to do around coppice. Again I closed him in on the bends, but once on Park straight he was gone again. You get the picture, he pulled away, I closed him in, and he held me up. On the third lap I was starting to get frustrated. I knew if I could just get past him with make up so much ground in the bends, that he would only catch me down the straights but not actually pass me. So I had to do something and I had to do it quick. I found around the mountain and through Hall I was very very quick, and he was holding me up all the way through this section. So I lined them up on the penultimate lap, for an overtake at old hairpin. I lunged at him and lunged at him hard. Even though he swooped at me, I was determined to over take him. The problem was I was so off line I had lost all momentum and could hear in snapping at the heels around Barn corner. I knew he was so close that he would probably overtake me down the start straight. Which he did.

If this happened on the last lap, which we were now on. It would be touch all go who would get to the line first after all; with all those extra ponies he really would have the legs on me out of barn corner. But we'll worry about this later, we still I another lap of racing to go yet. Again I can't this he had a few yards on me, I carried as much speed as I dared. I went round coppice so fucking quick that I drifted out to the wide line. I really didn't want be touching the grass at that speed. I got along side the thousand, but I was way off line. I could see the tip in to the right hander of Charlie's one, I tried to hold my line, but bottled it when he swooped at me. Thinking about it now, if I had held my ground he surely would have let off. But to be honest I really didn't want to touch at that speed. So I let him by. Again he gained a few yards me down Park straight. I tried my best and catch him on the brakes into Park corner. Which I managed, however he was still ahead of me. This was the last lap I had nothing to lose so I took Chris's curve as hard and as fast as I dared. Again once in the Gooseneck, I gained so much ground on him that I nearly clipped the back of his bike. I accelerated as hard as I could down into Mansfield, where I got along side the Kawasaki but on the outside not the inside.

At this point I was thinking the only place left to overtaking is the bottom of the mountain, if I do it here with the speed up and carry through Hall bends and around the old hairpin, it didn't matter how many ponies he had he would never catch me down the start finish straight. Leaving it till the old hairpin simply wasn't an option. So I drove as hard as I could out Mansfield into the chicane at the bottom of the mountain. I tried to carry as much speed through chicane as I could, knowing that he would drive hard out there into the mountain. Mid chicane, like furry, he almost stopped. I scrubbed as much speed as I could to avoid hitting him. But in doing so he was able to get on the gas early and pulled those vital a few yards on me into the bottom of the mountain. I was devastated; it would have to be the old hairpin or nothing at all. I still accelerated just incase, and to my surprise, he again rolled mid corner. As we were going up hill his bike just stopped. I screamed “Now Now Now” and darted up the inside. I turned so tight that I actually ran over the kerb on the inside of the track. I thought I'd lost it at this point, re gaining control and in the wrong gear I was fully expecting him to fly back past me into Hall bends. Which he never. I rode through Hall bends like a lunatic, carry as much speed as I dared. Although I knew he was right up my chuff, I didn't want to ride too defensively and lose the place I just gained. So I took the normal line around old hairpin I carried as much speed as possible. I came onto the final straight and decelerated as hard as I possibly could and crossed the line the winner. My first win!

Some people might think that this was a foregone conclusion. In reality I should never have been in that final, but thinking about it nor should that thousand. We were both far too fast for the other riders and none of them stood a chance. Now if I'd won the race by 10 seconds, I would have had a deflated win. But I didn't, I had to chase right from the start, and chased the whole race. I had to use my brain, my wits and everything I had learned over the last four years to catch and stay with this bloke. But the best part of the race for me was I had to plan my overtake. I had to line him up and execute it despite thinking it slipped from my fingers. But there was no way I was losing that race.

The last two races that day were the best short circuit races I have ever had. Not just was one and believe me I felt like Valentino Rossi, but because I really had to fight for my finish. I have been accused in the past of not being that aggressive and always riding in my comfort zone. At the start the year I promised myself that I would ride a lot harder this year. After this weekend, I can truly say I have the field my promise.

I feel I am now ready for the roads, and I can't wait to get on the roads. I like short-circuits, in fact I love short-circuits, but I truly love the roads and this has set me up nicely for my next Road meetings.

Roll on the Southern 100 and Jurby!!!

Autograph

Oulton Park.

New Era MCC


This weekend turned out to be the best weekends racing that I have ever had. While driving up the motorway with Pea, I was getting really excited about what the weekend was going to bring. I mean, I was about to race on the two greatest tracks in the UK in one weekend. Oulton Park and Cadwell Park! Okay, I admit there was a bit of admin involved getting from one track to the other, but that's racing and this was going to be one hell of a weekend. We finished work about noon. Well I did anyway. Van already loaded, Pea met me at the house and we started the epic drive. Thing is, Pea has a little trick, he jibber jabbers the whole way. I didn't mind though, the journey flew by. We got to Oulton Park late Friday evening, where Jeff Booth, new baby KaKa, and Family were there to greet us. Looking all tanned after their holiday to America. Lucky bastards!!! We got the bike sorted, i.e. gearing changed, pit sorted, etc etc. Then there was only one place left to go. That was the bar.

After a few sherbets. It was finally time to get my head down.

We got up in the morning and scrutineered the bike, signed on and had breakfast. Practice went okay; I knew I wasn't going to break any records that morning. I had just fitted some new brake pads and new tyres to the bike. Both needed bedding in. We also change the suspension settings on both the front and rear of the bike, something I don't normally do. After chatting to Pea, we decided it was something I needed to do. See, at a few circuits now I have hit a brick wall, not literally, I just can't seem to go any quicker. I think I have done all the improving I can do; now we had to start changing the bike to get the most out of the bike. Hopefully with this, the speed will come. Still, nonetheless, I was going to go out and have some fun.

After the first couple of laps, I could start pushing the bike a little as the brake pads were bedded in. But as I started to push. I noticed that the suspension on the front felt very, very different. It was like I had to fight it all the time. It just didn't want to do what I wanted it to do, it almost felt alien. Something which it had never done before. I got back and spoke to Pea, as well as analysed the on board footage. As we watched the footage, we noticed that the bike was chattering under braking going into corners. Just one of the things that were making the bike feels alien. Once in the corner, the next thing the bike was trying to do was push me out the corner. Obviously we had gone the wrong way the suspension. It didn't matter too much this was after all a learning curve. No surprise at the end of the session Jeff qualified 25th on the grid, while I qualified down in 30th. Remember I was still bedding stuff in, and the front end wasn't feeling too great. And I was only one second slower than Jeff, lapping at 1.54.83 not my quickest time, but only three seconds slower than of ever gone. So not too bad really, I wasn't really worried.

So after a few tweaks here, a few tweaks there, it was time for my first race, the formula 600. Although the brakes were working, they were working different to what I was used to. They felt weak, even though they weren’t; I just had to pull harder on the levers than I normally do. Instead of using sintered pads, which I am used too. I'm now using carbon pads, which were obviously feeling very different. I got out on track and set about setting a good lap time. The suspension improved, but it's still little alien to me. I mean, it was working better, but there was still room for improvement.

I got okay start; I got boxed in again into the first turn. But coming out the first turn I got on the gas earlier and power down past many riders into cascades, Jeff being one of them. Once around cascades, the race pretty much settled down. Although I did overtake one more going into Ireland's, a ballsey left turn before Shell hairpin. I was following Matthew Norman on a bright green Kawasaki 600. I tried everything to keep with him as the race continued. He slowly pulled away from me, each lap. I ended up being on the track by myself. So I just concentrate on setting good lap times. I found after about lap six, I started to get really tired. With only a lap or two to go, I could hear another bike behind me. Once the race finished I wasn't surprised to see it was my arch nemesis Jeff Booth. Once back in the pits. It was apparent that Jeff was beginning to suffer with gearbox problems.

Jeff's lad went and got the lap times from the race office. I was well happy, when I saw that I lapped consistently at 51 seconds and 52 seconds laps. Hence why I got so tired. Although I never lapped quicker than I have ever gone, I was only a fraction off of my fastest ever time. But I was knocking on the door of a fastest time the whole race, which wasn't so shabby.

I explained to Pea that there were still a few changes; I wanted to make the bike. It is still better than of qualifying session, but still weren't right. As it turned out we almost went back to the settings we had at the start of the day. But I did take away a lot of knowledge after that, I try something do. It didn't work, but hey, at least I know what he does now. Plus I know what chatter feels like, as I never had it before. We made the last few tweaks for the next 600 race.

The next 600 race was 10 Lapper. If I struggled with eight laps, what the hell was I going to be like after 10? But who cares, I just love riding man! To be honest the next race was pretty uneventful as well. My fastest lap was a 1.51.57. Again, not my quickest ever time, but not far off. And again, I lapped consistently around 51 seconds and 52 seconds a lap, which wasn't bad considering I did it for 10 laps. At one point, I did hear Jeff get right up my arse. After a couple of laps. He was no longer there. In my head, I thought I left him; it turned out his gearbox problem was becoming worse. I finished the race in 20th place, with Jeff all way back in 25th. Not to bad, lap time wasn't great. However, I was learning more and more about suspension and feel from the front end of the bike. Shame about Jeff's bike, as we normally have some good races between us.

Up until now the day was running really smooth, every race went out on time, every race was a cracker and I was enjoying the day. I was also proud of the fact that I was racing aggressive and I was maintaining a fast lap time every lap. The next race, the Open Race, is more of fun race to get more laps under your belt. I mean let’s face it. When you are racing against 1000 cc bikes, on the track like Oulton Park, you don't really stand a chance. Once they get on the back straights and they open up, they just pull away from us 600s. But we'll give it a go.

I think somewhere high above God was looking down on me as I was seventh on the grid. Jeff was miles down the track on something like 30th on the grid. I knew the way things were going I wasn't going to see him the whole race. So again I set about setting good lap times obviously deep down I was trying to break my lap record of 1.50 .98. I got good start, despite the thousands being quicker off the line and found myself in fourth place going into cascades. Once out on the back one by one they picked me off. After just a couple of laps the race was red flagged. Now starts the pandemonium. We lined back up on the grid after a few minutes wait at turn one. Then the guy running the grid, came down and told all riders, what was about to happen, when your man on a Kawasaki, just pulled off the grid and went out his warm up lap one by one all the other riders followed. Frantically the marshals were waving the red flag still because there was still carnage out on the track. So we made our way back to the start line. For a second time. After another couple of minutes of waiting I say a couple, it was probably more like 10. We got going for another race.

Again after a couple of laps into the race, there was another red flag. So we lined up on the grid again. This is where all the confusion came in, most of the guys were starting to worry about fuel and one by one they pulled off the grid to get some fuel. This must have been about crash, because we seem to be waiting forever. Even the guy on pole fucked off, which was great for me because I moved up the pole. Check me out. Would have been good to get a phot of that. Don't think I'm going to get many of those in my career. I took my gloves off and felt the tyres. They were stone cold. After a couple of guys got a bit hot headed about the cold tyres. We finally got 2 warm up laps. But race eventually got underway. I made another good start, all better than I used to anyway. I thought I was holding my own against the thousands, but as the race continued they eventually picked me off one by one.

I was finally happy with the new settings for the front and back end of the bike. Although they were very close to the settings I had originally on the bike, I did get just a little bit more out her. I could brake a little later, in every corner. I did have a couple of dices with a few guys, they had their strong points I had mine. Jeff on the other hand had pulled in after the first red flag. His gearbox problem had become dangerous. He couldn't change down to second or first at speed, so coming out of corners he was just bogging down.

I was a bit gutted I didn't beat my lap time of 1.50.98. But on the other hand, I gained lot knowledge about suspension setup of the bike. As well as I lapped consistently at a very fast pace for the whole race, despite hanging out. Just would be nice to be it. Still got back to the pits and packed up as quickly as possible. Jeff and the gang all mucked in so we can get on our way to Cadwell Park.

Never mind Boothy there is always next time.

Autograph

Brands Hatch - 18/05/08

New Era MCC


I noticed that the first 3 reports were a little long winded, so decided that I would try and get to the point a little more in this one. The weekend turned out a little strange. I went there with probably the wrong attitude. I wanted to better what I had achieved before. This isn’t a bad thing to think. However I thought I was better than the other riders around me. Which some say might also be a good thing but I think it hindered me more than helped me.

Practice was good. My plan was to get Graham Hill Bend better than I did the last time I was here. Which I sort of did. I lapped around 54 sec a lap, which wasn’t too far off what I was doing the last time I was there. I was down in 15th. But the leaders were only doing 51 sec. I could lap around 52, so in my mind I thought it was a done deal. Get a good start and the trophy is mine.

F600 Race 1

We went out for the warm up lap and straight away I could see that the New Era Club Championship was a little less professional. The riding seemed a little ragged. I did think there was going to be carnage in the first lap. The lights went out and I got going. Although not as good as I had at Anglesey. Then as I set myself up for Paddock Hill I was passed by a guy who startled me. I thought he had jumped the start he buzzed me that quickly. He was so fast passed me that he nearly slammed into the back of the guys in front of us. There was the carnage I predicted. Only not. The group went wide, I saw it happen, so I turned tight and tried to drive down Paddock Hill up the inside of everyone. A good idea, until I grabbed the throttle. The back let go and came round, I panicked, let off the rear gripped and spat me over the front of the bike. In true Billy Boy fashion, I couldn’t and wouldn’t let go, obviously I might save it and managed to hold on. I didn’t quiet high side but I was over the bars kissing the front wheel. The as I went through the dip and headed off up to Druids the G Force forced me back into the seat. I wobbled off to the outside of the track and nearly over the rumble strip. As I reached it I nearly hit another rider, who narrowly missed me. My fault not his. Infact, he did well to avoid me.

Once I gained control I was passed by many riders who drove past me into Druids. I gathered my thoughts and got my head down and chased the guys in front. I must admit I rode hard and was faster than them in places, but they were faster than me in others. So I struggled to pass them. I did struggle around Paddock Hill for the rest of the race. But was surprised, despite the near miss, that would have been my biggest crash ever, I still lapped around 53 sec. So I didn’t slow much, in the great skeem of things.

F600 Race 2

Not much to report here really. I realise in race 1 that I have reached my limit as a rider. I mean I have progressed as far as I think I can go. I seem to have reach a wall at a few circuits now. I have done all the improving till now. But I cant improve much more on my times. I think and fell, plus after talking to a few other riders, I think I need to start playing with bike set up a bit more. By doing this, which until now is something I have stayed away from, in case I get it wrong. But by getting a better set up I can brake later and get on the gas earlier and harder and therefore break through these walls I keep on encountering.

This was proved in race 2. Pea Peacock , a friend from work who use to also race for BEMSEE, came along to help and made me change a couple of settings on the front. Admittedly I needed to be pushed, like I said I never have wanted to play before. So a couple of clicks on the front I went out and tried it in race 2.

My start was average, and instantly lost ground on the leaders around paddock. Which was to be expected, as I was just getting around it without another episode like in race 1. I had a long hard chase with three novices, which were on the quick side. Again I was fast round Grahams and into Clearways, they got on the gas earlier else where. An average race really, but the new settings seemed to work, except I was now lifting the back end braking harder and later. But I could now brake a little later.

Open Race

The days progress was good, infact so good, Jim Parker from the ACU said that the 6 lap Open race was now going to be run over 15 laps. Just a little jump then.

We changed a couple more things on the front end. Well it was only suppose to be one thing, but like John Lightbowne, Pea thought he’d change something else without telling me, and tell me at the end. This turned out good because I again tried something else I would not have tried. Only thins time I was braking later and the back wheel was staying put. Plus the bike didn’t dive as much as I have been use to.

The first corner again turn into an episode. Like Oulton I had to 1000s on the inside of me. Only this time I didn’t try and pass them around the outside as I had no confidence in the rear tyre. It was hammered and really was asking to go to tyre heaven. Anyway, one sat the other up and they both went on into the gravel trap at Paddock Hill, only they almost took me with them. I had to brake and sit up to avoid them. I went over the rumble strip and avoided going in the gravel but 2 incidences at Paddock Hill, new tyres only from now on.

Again not much else to talk about. I chased the guys in front. But to no avail. But I was happier with the front end. Lessoned learnt. Play a little bit. Change a few things and try them. If I get it right, I can go quicker and finally break through a few of these walls I seem to be hitting.

Next meeting is Oulton and Cadwell in the same weekend. New Tyres and Brakes, let's have it.

Autograph

Anglesey - 10/11 May 2008

New Era MCC


I managed to get away from work a little early, seeing as I had such a long drive up to Anglesey. The weather was cracking and I was really looking forward to racing the new circuit at Trac Mon. A couple of hours into the journey things changed, as they invariably do on UK roads these days, and what should of taken just 5 hours ended up being an 8 hour drive from Plymouth to Anglesey. It wasn’t that bad once I was driving through Snowdonia, brought back many memories of Mountain Training with work.

Friday night proved just as eventful. Performance bikes magazine had a track day on Friday and had a few beers that night to celebrate the fun they had, not taking into account that we all were racing the next morning, so thanks for that boys and girls. Just what I needed after a journey like I had. Then to top it all off in good old Anglesey style we had a Thunder storm to boot. Was I ever going to sleep Friday night

Still I awoke in the morning to find a nice grey sky to look at and of course one damp track to match. Still lets go racing. New Baby KaKa, Jeff Booth, yes My arch Nemesis Jeff Booth, having had a track day on Friday was willing to not only walk the track with me, but was also willing to give me a tow around the place. Very kind of him. We went out for practice and to be honest I couldn’t see any advantage either Jeff or I had. Over each other. Pretty even Stevens from where I was looking. The new circuit was fun. Very tight and twisty, except when you think about what you are doing, the first corner is in 4th gear. So not that tight I suppose. The back straight is ballsy, 2 kinks taken flat in 6th. Followed by a very short straight, no longer than 100m into the slowest corner on the track. Although taken in 2nd the contrast from 6th to 2nd, does aid the bike in wanting to lie down every time you ride around it. Coming Over hill top was good fun, a variety of lines, each fast in its own way. But the wide line asks a lot of the rear tyre, even for a 600 and the back can let go. The Cork screw is fun. Modelled on Laguna Seca, but not the same. You come flying over hill top and into a fast left. You are pushing the front real hard but it never seems to want to let go. If you are fast enough a overtake around the outside is possible. The it’s a real tight turn right and drop down into the last corner before you are fired back onto the start finish straight.

After practice Jeff was a little surprised, despite having a whole days testing the day before, I lapped faster than he did, without ever seeing the track before and was positioned 16th on the grid while Jeff was on 19th.

Saturday F600 Race 1

This was going to be a new experience for me, we were about to have a 20 min race plus 2 laps. Following in the footsteps of the BSB, the race was going to be run with a pace car instead of red flags, and as many laps as we did in 20 mins instead of a set race distance of 6 laps. For the first time ever on the 600rr, I got a good start. I launched off the line and had the inside line for turn 1, I forced my way through to around 11th or 12th. I tried to start setting a rhythm as I knew I was in for a long one. I felt my laps were pretty consistent. As I lapped more a more, I felt I was really starting to know the track. Although I did struggle all race with turn 3 onto the back straight. No matter what line I tried I always drifted wide and had to wait to get on the throttle. I lost count of the number of laps I had done, I did look for other peoples pit boards for an indication but there never seemed to be one when I came round. I got to a point in the race where I noticed that I had slowed down. The laps were ticking by one by one and I was beginning to tire. After the race people were saying to me that if I raced the Manx GP I should of found a 20 min race a piece of cake. But the truth is I struggled towards the end. Full credit to the professionals that do 20 plus laps. Still I was having fun. Then I was passed one, then a second, then a third. Then I was passed by Jeff, then I realise just how much I had slowed. My overall speed wasn’t too slow, I just wasn’t pushing as hard in the corners. I tried to get my head down and take Jeff again but it wasn’t to be. With a couple of laps to go I was lapped by the leading 4. Couldn’t believe the speed of those guys, I was kinda glad as well it also ment I had one less lap to do. I did finish 15th in this race. The only problem was the fact I believed my tyres were screwed after I nearly high sided myself over hilltop, chasing Jeff. After the race, the tyre was real chewed up.

Anglesey Clubman Race 1

We had lunch and time to recover, then we were out again for the 6 lap Clubman race. Again I made another good start and again was well ahead of Jeff. But as the race continued, again I was caught and passed by a few as I still struggled with turn 3. I finished where I started 12th on the grid. The tyre was still getting chewed up.

F600 Race 2

The sun decided to finally show, and with it came a mini heat wave, the temp changed dramically. I was a little concerned that the tyre might not hold up for the remainder of the day with the increased temp. But I went out and just waited to see what the tyre would do. I had another good launch, I think I have finally worked out what is needed to be done for me to get the thing off the line in a forward motion instead of loosing places right from the off. I had a good line round the first turn and carried a lot of speed into turn 2 the banking. Not sure what happened to Jeff in this race, I never saw him the whole race. But this didn’t make this a bad race. In fact lots happened in this little 8 lapper. I was holding my own in about 14th place until I was taken by 2 in the third turn and down the back straight because of the third turn. I wasn’t having this not again. I got my head back down and chased and held on.

I had James Edwards and John Shipley ahead of me. On the second to last lap I was following them both over hilltop into the Cork screw. I carried lots of speed into the corkscrew, and lined up James Edward. As he went left for the right turn, I lunged up the inside, realising that he had no idea I was there and suddenly thought this was a bad move. As he flicked right and suddenly found me there he sat up slightly, meanwhile I Screamed, I mean a sound came out. James went a little wide but could carry speed, while I had to get on the gas a little later as I had to turn very tight. James and I were neck and neck into the last corner, with him slightly ahead. Now that he had the inside line I had to try and carry as much speed as possible around the outside. I managed too, and ran across the rumble strip on the right side and passed James. Then I was on the back wheel of John Shipley. He turned in to turn one and again I managed to carry more speed, and over took him on the outside of turn one. I was smiling under my helmet thinking that James was now stuck behind John. And I had made up 2 places, only to be caught and passed again down the back straight. But it was a wicked race, lots of fun and good racing.

Anglesey Clubman Race 2

The last race of the day and back to back with the F600 race 2. Topped up and straight back out. I started the race 19th on the grid. Again I made a good start, I found I was ahead of Jeff.. This was a good thing. I pushed and pushed. Then I pushed too hard. I tried to brake a little later off the back straight into the Mickey Mouse tight left. I missed the braking marker and went wide. So wide that I had to sit up. As I looked left Jeff and Julian just rode up the inside. I got going again, but the damage was done. The tyre was shot and they were too far ahead to catch. Still had fun.

Sunday F600 Race 1

Today the sun was out from the moment we got up. The temp was already high. I put on a new set of tyres, I couldn’t get my usual tyres I use, so I had to try the Bridgestone 002. They were good. Grippy, just different to ride because of the profile of the front tyre. Mid corner you could pick it up or drop it in, which you cant really do with the Michelins because they are so planted on the front. Still I had to ride something.

The first race of the day was the 20 min plus 2 laps. I got off the line ok but was held up in turn one. I watched as Jeff went around the outside. Bastard. The race was on. I tried to pull him back in, but the more I tried the further away he got. After about 8 laps I was in turn 3 coming onto the back straight and I could see Jeff already climbing up to turn Mickey Mouse. There was no way I was going to catch him unless he fell off.

So I settled into my pace. Again like the day before I started to struggle with the race distance. I again was lapped my the front 4. Mark Cronshaw, who was at the time in 4th over took me in the tight hairpin in turn 5. I had my knee on the rumble strip on the inside of the course, when he came up the inside of me over the rumble strip. I lifted up, although too late and as he got on the tarmac, he got on the gas and just lit the back wheel and power slide off after the front 3. No surprise he won the race, the way he was riding.

During the race I lost a little concentration and fell back in the race and was passed by Julian McKay. I wasn’t having that, so I gathered my thoughts and got to taking back the place. I eventually got back past him. Another good race, mainly because I had to race for my finish.

Anglesey Clubman Race 1

I had another good start, I had to pass a few along the way. The race was immediately after the 20 min race. I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it, but I did. I was surprised that I finished in 4th place. I didn’t even realise I was in 4th during the race.

Anglesey Clubman Race 2

The F600 was a good race nothing to much to report. Again our races were back to back. So we were on song. Again Jeff had a good race in the F600 and finished ahead of me, so I was determined to finish ahead of him. Because this was the last race of the day, the whole grid didn’t turn up for the race. So we were all moved up to the front 3 rows of the grid. I was 4th on the grid. A good start and I might get a podium, or even win.

The start was unfortunately shite, I could not keep the front end on the deck. Once I did get going I was boxed in in turn one. Jeff again went around the outside. I just got my head and chased him. He still had the advantage around turn 3 but I had other advantages. I pulled him in, and on the second to last lap I thought about passing him down into the corkscrew. But thought better of it as I didn’t want to take him or I out. So I carried all my speed down the start finish straight. I was right up his ass around turn 1, and went for a slightly wider line. I got on the gas and piled into the turn 2 the hairpin. Where ever Jeff braked, I was braking later. He kept telling me that he was out braking me there all weekend. No way not now. He broke, I broke. I really though the front was going to wash out. I peeled into the hairpin and got on the gas as early as I dared. I knew Jeff was strong around the next corner. I tried all I could to not fluff it up. But knew that I was faster into the mickey mouse turn at the end of the straight. Which I was. I held him off to finish ahead of him. Then came the good news. I only bloody finished in 3rd. I never realise I had made up so many places. I was concentrating on catching Jeff and Jeff only, after I messed the start up. My first Short Circuit trophy. Awesome!!!!!!!!!!

Autograph

Oulton Park - 26/04/08

NEW ERA MCC


Whilst driving up to Cheshire for the 3rd round of the New Era Super Club Championship at Oulton Park, I had no idea of what was going to unfold for me this weekend. My friend, John Lightbowne managed to come along and support me. During the trip up we talked about the way I ride and I told him I had vowed to ride harder than last year. Looking back over the 07 season, I realized I was riding within my comfort zone, no way to progress. You have to push the limits to move forward, and to do this I had to start riding above and beyond my comfort zone.

After a very interesting nights sleep, or lack of it, I woke up blurry eyed, and got signed on. I was parked next to new friend Jeff Booth, a novice, but a very quick novice. In fact after a little chat, he said that he’d take me out for a tow around as he could lap quicker than me. This was to prove a key point to the day’s events. My goal for this meeting was to improve on my fastest lap time from last year of 1 min 55 sec.

Out we went for timed practice. From the off he was riding quick. So much for a steady start. On the second lap I noticed rain on my visor. Seeing as it was so light, we pushed on hard. The track didn’t even look wet. Remember this was our qualifying session for our grid positions; I was annoyed when the session was ended after just 4 laps. But when I got round to clay hill and saw why it was red flagged, I changed my mind. I qualified 20th on the grid, not bad when you say that the lead guys were lapping nearly 10 sec a lap quicker than I could. But this didn’t stop me from smiling; I already broke my Personal Best (PB) and lapped a fastest lap of 1.54. Hoofing, we can only go quicker from here.

After a few hours and lunch it was finally our turn to race in our first F600 race. I was determined to get a good start and build from there. Usually, I take the warm up lap steady as this is exactly what it is, a warm up lap not the race. This time however I got going and got my mind into racing mode.

We pulled up on the grid after the sighting lap, the lights went out and we were off. I had the inside line on the grid, which assisted me for my start. Jeff Booth was on my outside as we peeled into turn 1 an extremely quick right hander. On the exit he was held up while I nipped past a couple of riders. I smiled to myself thinking that’s the last I’ll see of him. On lap 2 I came out of the hairpin in the wrong gear and Jeff just pulled away from me. From that point I struggled to keep with him. Slowly he pulled away from me. I was beginning to think there was nothing I could do. Then as we rounded Knickerbrook on lap 4 there was a rider down just by the bridge at Clay Hill. We later found out much to Johns, Lowi's and Laurens amusement the bloke had high sided at Knickerbrook, never let go and skied alongside the bike all the way up to clay hill wear he finally fell off after his feet couldn’t keep up at 30 mph. Would have been a good save. Anyway Jeff slowed when he saw the yellow flags and looked to see that I was no where in sight. But I used the yellow to my advantage. I never over took on the yellow, but Jeff did slow, I did not and was a lot closer than he gave me credit for. Flying down the back straight, I out broke Jeff into the final corner and was gone.

Or so I thought. I cracked on, pushing harder than before as I knew Jeff in honesty was quicker than me. I managed to stay ahead. Then on the last lap, going into the first turn, I peeled in a little too hard. I rolled the throttle to knock off that little bit more mph, only to load the front end. The front gave and I started to Low side. I remember thinking “This is gonna Hurt, low side 80mph + ekkkkk” Now I like to be able to tell you, like Colin Edwards or Nicky Hayden I had the presence of mind to realise what was going on and opened the throttle and push on my knee on the deck and picked the bike back up, but I cant. What actually happened was, because I actually put weight on my knee and not just skim it over the tarmac, when the front went; I fell off the side of the bike. My knee slider dug into the tarmac hard and threw me in the opposite direction, technically high siding me. But here comes the magic. In this motion I was still clinging on for dear life and actually picked the bike up while being thrown the other way. I saved the low side. Awesome.

As you will probably appreciate I lost all faith in the front end. On the exit Jeff nipped back past me and again pulled away. Not only was I then riding like a girl but my knee slider was ripped off. Jeff thought I was throwing things at him. This proved very off putting when in corners. As I couldn't gauge how far to lean over. Weird, just glad I didn’t drop it.

Race 2 was shocking, I think I should have been wearing Jeff’s novice jacket. I pogo’d off the line like a newcomer. No clutch control, what so ever. Then I was held up by a slower rider around the first bend. By the time I got going I could see Jeff in the distance. Although not that far ahead. He was still riding quicker than I was so therefore I was unable to catch him.

When I thought I was ok this guy over took me going into Cascades. Sure he was carrying speed and did nip up the inside of me, but was carrying to much speed, and he drifted wide. In fact he went so wide that he nearly went onto the grass. The thing was he took me with him. Scary, you are carrying a lot of speed at that corner; last thing you want is to hit the grass. I settle for what ever place I got, and still lapped at 1.52. Not bad although as I had new hoops on the bike I was hoping to knock another sec off my time.

Race 3. Open race.

I was given a grid position of 9th. Jeff my new arch nemesis, had a grid position of like 30 something. I knew I wasn’t going to see him all race. Then in the holding area he showed me he had swapped with someone else and now had grid 8. No F%%King way man.

I was annoyed at myself in Race 2, I could of rode better. No excuses this time I was going to win. Well beat Jeff anyway. The lights went out and Jeff got a blinder yet again. I, on the other hand could of done better. Like being back at school, must try harder. I was on the outside this time going into the first turn. I got along side two 1000cc bikes that were now fighting for their place in the race. I watched them and knew I could ride quicker than them around the bend. I lined them up and started to make my way around the outside of them both. Only to have the bloke on the inside realise he had turned in too tight and lifted himself up, which in turn lift up the guy next to me. Who then lifted me up and sent me onto the rumble strip at the side of the course. Ekkkkk Those two pulled away with Jeff just ahead of them. I got on the gas hard and chased them all. In cascades I did get around them both on the outside, then set after Jeff. He had made quite a gap between us. But I was determined to catch and over take him. I chased and chased, with every lap John said that I was visibly catching him. Then on the 4th lap, like before I carried more speed down the back straight and got past him on the brakes into the last turn. I gunned it from there knowing he only had one last lap to try something back. He didn’t have a chance. I finally beat Jeff.

We had a cracking day. And both Jeff and I loved it. It was fun having someone to race all day, not like some races when you are there just putting laps in. That is boring. The good thing this weekend was Jeff Lapped 1 sec quicker than he had before, while I dropped my time to 1min 50 sec a lap. Dropping my PB by 5 sec. Couldn’t believe it.

The next meeting is Anglesey, this is a better judge as to who is really quicker between me and Jeff, as we both have not rode the new circuit here, therefore neither of us has the advantage.

Booth - you are going down.

Autograph

Brands Hatch - 12/13 April 2008

North Gloucester Road Race Club


After waiting 3 years to finally race Brands, I finally got to race the circuit I was brought up near and always wanted to ride. 2 crashes and work have stopped me in the past. But this weekend there was nothing going to stop me. We landed at Gatwick on the Thursday before after having just had a 2 week holiday in the States visiting The Little One, brother dear. We drove back to Plymouth, packed up the van and then on the Friday morning got back on the road, drove pass Gatwick again on the M25 heading for Brands Hatch. John Lightbowne and I got to Brands around 8 o’clock Friday night. John having quaffed a posh bottle of red on the way. We checked the bike over and finally the jet lag was catching up and all I wanted to do was sleep. John promised me it was going to rain all weekend end. During the night the heavens opened, boy did they open, sleep inside the back of the truck, it was like sleep inside a drum. Didn’t really sleep much despite being as tired as I was.

Still got up on sat and could wait to get on the bike, after not riding for 8 months I knew there were cobwebs to blow out. Could believe of all the tracks to be riding, the first corner of the 2008 season to be taken in anger is Paddock Hill bend. Probably the most famous bend on any short circuit in England. Blind, down hill, off camber and of course bloody fast too. I couldn’t wait.

Saturday

Practice was ok; I wobbled around for the 10 min session and learned the circuit. I now understand what everyone has told me about the place. It’s an easy circuit to learn the direction of, but very hard to learn to go fast around her. But even in practice I was doing 55 sec laps. Not to bad considering the circumstances, 8 months off, never been here before, no sleep. The thing that did stand out was how hard it is to ride, I mean physically. I didn’t realise I could actually breathe through my arse, but I managed it. Not totally sure why but I was really struggling to breathe whilst riding. I think I totally shocked the body. It just had two weeks of eating and drinking like a King in the states, to being thrashed around brands hatch at 55 secs. And as short as the circuit is, you really don’t get any rest on the track all, you are doing something all the time.

The first race of the day for me was the Open qualifying race/practice session. Another 10 mins to throw myself around Brands. I still was lapping around the 55 secs mark, I was just struggling. I could ride quicker than my body wanted too, still I qualified in 37th place which isn’t too bad when you are racing 1000s, this put me in the Open A Final. Even better, I thought I might end up in the B Final.

Straight after that session I mean only 10 mins later I was out in my 600 heat race. This was actually a race where finishing positions count for grid position in the 600 final. As always there were 2 qualifying heats for the F600’s. Jamie and I competed in different qualifying races for the F600, this was a good thing, and we could concentrate on qualifying without trying to beat each other. I started 12th on the grid for my qualifying race. This was a fairly good grid position considering I had never ridden the circuit before. I finished the race in 9th place, a top 10 in my first race ever at Brands, awesome. Jamie had a blinder of a qualifying race after yet again starting near the back of the grid. Jamie fought his way through the field to finish 14th. I couldn’t believe it; I had only bloody qualified for the F600 A Final too.

Open A Final Race

I made a good start from 37th on the grid and immediately made up places in the pack, unbeknown to me; I had overtaken Jamie on the start, who started 34th on the row in front. But Jamie had also made a good start. After just a couple of laps Jamie nipped past me going to the Druids. No way was I having that. Can’t have the Matelot beat a Marine. From there I was left with nothing to do but chase. The two of us made up more places, but I struggled to over take Jamie, it became me verses Jamie and all the others idiots in the bloody way. I knew we weren’t racing for first place, but it felt like I was. I’m not even sure if Jamie knew how close we were. I was up his chuff all the way. There were places I was quicker and places Jamie was. But over all we were pretty evenly matched. Not bad, he has rode the circuit twice before, despite crashing both times here. With only a few laps to go, I was still hot on Jamie’s heels, but couldn’t see I was going to over take him. I really needed to change my gearing; he would pull away down the straights. But too late to worry about that now. Jamie overtook 4 back markers, with what appeared like with ease. I had a harder time of things, I was hoping it would mess up his rhythm and I’d have the advantage, but things never worked out. Jamie had the Breather he needed. I struggled to over take the Back Markers and used up more energy trying. Jamie Finished 19th while I finished 2.45 Sec behind him in 20th. Bloody good race though. I love races like that. Doesn’t matter if you are racing for last and second to last. If you are fighting for it, it’s all worth it.

The F600 final was not as hotly contested between the Navy and Marines, nor Jamie and me, as the Open Final. Unfortunately my rear tyre had seen better days and after trying to spit him off, no less than 3 times on the opening lap, I decided too slow for safety reasons, however, instead of pulling in I would the race as more practice, remember I am still a newbie to the circuit. This took nothing away from Jamie who again rode extremely well and finished 17th, just outside the points and starting 27th on the grid. I finished somewhere near the back. But finally learned a better line around Jefferies Bank (Graham Hill Bend) this proved very important for Sundays racing.

All day long John could never remember the name of Graham Hill Bend. So every time we spoke about the corner we called it something different. Funny as we always knew what we were speaking about.

We went to bed that night around 9pm. I was shattered. Brands was everything I hoped it would be. But very tiring. Still I hadn’t rode for so long, I thing I traumatised my body. It really didn’t know what the hell was going on

Sunday

We check the regs the night before, no scrutineering in the morning and a late start. Hoofing, a lay in then. For practice I only went out for a few laps. Blow the grogginess out after so much sleep. Plus I didn’t want to nagger myself out again. I planned to do all my practice in the open qualifying race. But things didn’t quite work out. Saturdays weather was ok it was dry all day. Sunday it really didn’t know what it wanted to do. But we are talking extremes here. Sun out it was splitting the stones. Then the heavens would open and it would be raining Cats and Dogs. The track would flood, but the sun would come out again and the track was dry again in 20 mins. Choosing tyres, mmmmmm my favourite! I went out on dry’s, hoping to get a tow around from some quicker boys. I caught up with new friend Alistair Loomes from Team Cheese on a 1000rr. I could keep with him, but when it came to the start straight there was no way I could. So like always, it was about riding like a nutter in the bends to gain any sort of advantage. On lap two of practice the rain started. After the Ulster I know just how good my tyres are in the wet. So I just cracked on as normal. Lap three the bikes in front were leaving lines on the wet track a bit too wet for me. Not that I minded, as I didn’t want to drop the bike from pushing hard in practice, Racing is another matter. I pulled into the pits. Having only complete 3 laps of qualifying, knowing that I didn’t have enough time left to change wheels and have enough time left to get some laps in. Still things weren’t too bad I qualified 24th on the grid. Looks like the extra practice on Saturday paid off.

Again there were two F600 races for qualifying. Jamie and |I were again in different sessions. I had probably one of the best races in my 600 Short Circuit career. I started 12th on the grid again and made a really good start. I manage to over take a couple of guys throughout the opening laps. Then with only a few laps to go I caught another guy who wasn’t so willing to give up his place in the race. I overtook him and then he overtook me again. I found I was also living up to my own promise of riding harder and with more aggression. I found last year I would show a wheel to someone and would back off and give them the place. Not any more. Paddock Hill bend was a classic; I cut off a few noses there. At speed, it’s an awesome feeling. You ain't getting me here mate. I was right on the guys back going into Paddock hill, he had the line and there was no way round, so I changed my line and went deeper into the corner and squared it off and got on the gas a lot earlier than matey and blasted past him up to druids. Then on the next lap the Yellow flag was out and I slowed, the Isle of Man is to blame for that. He never and got back past me. I finished in 8th but had a cracking race fighting for 7th. Jamie had another good race; he started something like 31st on the grid and made his way up to 8th. Good riding. As it stood I was 15th on the grid for the A Final with Jamie in 16th on the same row of the grid. The race was on.

Open A Final.

In the race previous to ours was the 250 ACU Championship race that was to run over 30 laps. Fair play fella's, don’t think I would be able to hold on after 20. Still I was struggling as much as sat; think I definitely was riding more relaxed, which made things easier and not so shocking. Anyway it rained heavy in this race and it was stopped for the riders to change to wet wheels, in order not to spoil what was to be an interesting race. But as the weather had been changing all day, as the rain stopped the track started to dry. My next dilemma, what tyres? I was starting to think, sod the Open race, see what the weather does during that race as the 600 final was the next race after the open. Plus me and Jamie had to have our head to head. The rain had came down that hard, it was taking a little longer for the track to dry, plus the sky was dark with yet more rain clouds.

Sod it with minutes to go I made the call and John and I rushed back to the bike and changed wheels. We were that late changing them I missed the warm up lap for the race. I was still riding through the pits while they were all riding round. I was lucky I got to race, as I was pulling out and onto the grid the lights were on red, I pulled up and as soon as I stopped the lights went out. I almost had a rolling start from right at the back of the grid if I had slowed slightly. Hope the stewards didn’t see that. Anyway I made up places right form the off. Fighting my way through the pack. I had cold tyres and the bike was also not up to temp. By the end of the first lap it was up. But on lap two there was a dry line I still pushed hard. By the end of the race the track was dry. I wasn’t moving around so I kept it up. I ended up catching a couple of guys having there own little battle, although I was quicker I couldn’t get past. The hit each other a couple of times which is a bit much so I backed off slightly, didn’t fancy getting caught up in there carnage, I had the F600 to come yet.

F600 A Final

I pulled into the Pits and told John that the course was dry and the Tyres needed changing but there was no time to change them before my next race. I didn’t fancy another last place start. So I said “I'm going to kill the tyre some where if not here, so might as well just kill ‘em here. I ride as hard as I can and if the bike starts moving about then so be it.” I pulled up on the grid and Jamie was laughing at me. He had a Wet front and Dry rear. I was thinking oh shit. He’s going to beat me because I have Wets on.

We went out for the warm up lap and the track was even drier than I had left it 10 mins ago. Ekk, then at Gregory’s curve (Graham Hill Bend) the heavens opened. By the time I got to clearways which is only a couple of hundred metres I was soaked to the skin. COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wets were the right choice. Jamie along with half the field pulled in.

We pulled up on the grid and the stewards tried to cancel or postpone the race. We were all saying no way, would you of postpone the race if we had turned up on wets in a dry race. No way would they, the race was declared Wet we were using wets the race should be run. It was. I made another good start. Up in the top ten from 15th on the grid. Not bad, but then the fog came in, or so I though. No I changed my visor for the race to a clear visor, only I didn’t treat the visor with anti fog. So I couldn’t see a thing. I actually clipped another rider going into clearways because I couldn’t see him. I ended the race riding 1 handed holding my visor up. Then it was like needles in the eyes. Another crappy, last race of the day. I finished 11th in the end. Threaders as I was in the top 10 and think I could have run in the top 6 if I could see. Still I’m here to tell the tale.

Brands Hatch was awesome. I loved it, it was hard work, but I’d go again. I think as the year progresses I will be more relaxed on the bike and won’t have such a shock to the system. Roll on Oulton Park. I have a few things to improve on their too.

Autograph

Pre Season 2008

1 Month to go and we’re racing


It’s February 19th and less than 1 month till the first meeting of the 2008 season. For some reason it’s been a long slog this winter for the start of the season. Things have been made worse this weekend gone, when I sat down and watched the MotoGP practice. It just made me wanna go out and ride. Still, not long now. WSB roars into action next weekend also, so at least I get some sort of fix.

I wanna start prepping the bike for the new season, so that it is done in slow time rather than a mad panic, and rush the job. To be honest, money was at an all time low this winter, and didn’t get to do half the things I wanted too for the new season. I basically dropped the water and filled her up with anti freeze before the cold set in. I very nearly put the fairing back on, just as a bolt of lighting hit me, if I had put her back on, I would only have to take it back off, to drop the coolant and change the oil and plugs, etc etc. So the poor thing has been sat there all winter, naked, waiting for the warm of spring to come around, and for the love to start pouring over her again.

So what of 2008, like always, I am not competing in one single championship. Where at the end I can see where I truly finish in the club championship. No, that would be the obvious thing to do. No like always I will be competing in the events I want to race. Which I actually prefer. I race on the circuits I want to race, which means I am always enjoying where I am riding. Rather than racing at a circuit I don’t like only because I need the points.

I love Cadwell Park, and my season starts here on the 15 March. I am really looking forward to it. Like every year, I will be using this meeting to blow out the cobwebs of both me and the bike. The plan though this year is to throw caution to the wind and push that bit harder. Stop riding in my comfort zone and scare myself again.

Last year I discovered Oulton Park. As good as Cadwell, only I got to ride her once. So this year I plan on racing there as often as poss. It truly is a rider’s circuit. I also plan on putting my demons to bed and finally get to ride at Brands Hatch. Although I am from the Isle of Man, I was actually brought up in Basildon. Just a few miles down the road from Brands, and have always wanted to ride there. But for the last 3 years there has always been a reason why I have not made it there. Twice was because of crashes. One was the broken collarbone; the other was a broken bike. I hope this year I can blast around paddock hill bend.

Finally on the short circuits I also plan to ride at Anglesey. As you will know I have raced at Anglesey a few times in the past and loved the circuit. However they have drastically changed the circuit all for the better. On our way to the Ulster GP Tony and I stopped off at the Anglesey Circuit to see the changes. We were both very impressed with its new look. However the weather was just as bad

The roads are again high in my priorities for 2008. With maybe another new edition like the Oliver’s Mount and hopefully a few Irish road events too. These are not yet set in stone, but fingers crossed.

All in all, I am really excited about the 2008 season, and with the new website and forum I hope you guys keep in touch and up to date with how my season is unfolding.

Let’s go racing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Autograph

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