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Oulton Park 25-26 May 2012

Thundersport GB


The original plan was load the van Thursday afternoon, work till 4.30pm and then hit the road and get to Oulton Park ready for the weekends racing. Sat in a stuffy office dealing with mundane problems, the pull of racing and me having the breaking strain of a soggy kit kat, the van was loaded over lunch and l just had to get on the road. See ya Later!!!!! I was off!!!!

Three traffic jams later and a five and half hour journey, l got to Oulton Park late afternoon. The sun was shining, plenty of space in the paddock, I cordoned off Team Navy’s area for the weekend. While l waited, l got the bike and leathers scrutineered and waited for the others to arrive. One by one the team grew. Across the paddock from us was the other half of Team Kaka. Jeff Booth and Paul Goodwin. The foundations for a good weekend were in place, everyone together, sun shinning and good racing to be had.

Friday started with testing which l decided not to take part in. Although in hind sight, l shafted myself a little because qualifying was in the afternoon and everyone was on song whilst l was blowing out cobwebs. Jeff Booth also sat out testing whilst we helped Team Navy and Team Kaka improve. All the novices got quicker as the morning went on, which set them up nicely for the afternoons qualifying.

Mid afternoon l finally got my chance out on track. I was surprised at how rusty l felt on the bike having raced at Donington a month earlier. But rusty l was and that was that. I had fixed the rear sets on the bike which altered my riding position and d it took me a session to feel at one with the bike again. But good news, the quick shifter problems seemed to have been solved. I qualified 28th in the 600 elite and 24th in GP 1. Not the best qualifying in the world but l wasn’t last either. Unbeknown to me, this was basis for some outstanding racing over the weekend.

Race 1 600 Elite race 1

Good friend Jeff Booth qualified on the row in front of me. Like always l didn’t care were l came in the race aslong as l beat Jeff and went quicker than l had ever before. The bike had new shoes and the sun was shining, surely lap records were going to fall today. Jeff made a good start and l got baulked n the first corner which gave him the gap he needed, fair play to Jeff, he gapped me and despite getting my head down, there was no way l was catching him this race. The boy done good.

Race 2 GP 1 race 1

This is a grid for 1000cc bikes, l found out l was to be the only 600cc on the grid. This didn’t phase me, l love this class more than my own class. I think it is fun, dicing with the 1000’s they are faster down the straights but really slow in the corners. After the shenanigans with Callum O’Shea at Donington, l smiled when l pulled up on the grid and had qualified just beside Callum. This was going to be a good race. I completely fluffed my start and wheeled off the line. Something l haven’t done for years. This gave Callum the upper hand and was well ahead of me into the first corner. I chased and soon found myself sat behind him. #### decided he wanted some of the action and he joined in the mix. It was the usual story, they would leave me on the straights and I’d catch them on the brakes and in the bends. It was like this the whole race, as l started the last lap, l thought to myself, l have to do something it is now or never. So l carried as much corner speed as l could through turn 1, which means they didn’t gap me as much into cascades. Both Callum and #### moved to the left and l though here is my chance. I was hoping they would keep a tight line around cascades and l would go around the outside of the pair of them carrying as much speed as possible down the straight, which l knew they would overtake me before Irelands but l knew with them being this close, l could out brake them and carry more speed around the outside of them again at Irelands. This wasn’t to be the case. I got around #### going into Cascades but Callum drifted really wide which sat me up and put me wide, so wide in fact onto the grass. In true motocross fashion l didn’t let off as l didn’t want to lose too much speed. But when the back end started moving about, the elbows were up and off l went. I had to admit defeat, they won this battle.

Here is the on board footage from the Race, watch the last lap for the on grass exsursion!



Race 3 600 Elite race 2

Grid positions were the same, Jeff on the row ahead of me. If l was to have any sort of race with Jeff, l had to be more aggressive in my start. I got around the fist corner and there were 2 riders between Jeff and l but l quickly nipped past both of them into cascades and was right up Jeff’s chuff. I giggled to myself because l knew l had the camera on him. I only knew halfway through the race that he had a camera pointing back at me. Jeff was quick out of the corners but having ridden his bike; this was because it is lighter and more agile and has a crisper throttle than my old dog. But in the corners l could out brake him and carry more corner speed which allowed me to catch him through the race.

Despite missing hizzys chicane and gaining 200 metres on the track, l didn’t let this phase me although l did think that was it he’ll be off. I got my head down and concentrated on putting fast laps in the try and catch him. On lap 4, l caught Jeff and went for an overtake around the outside at Cascades. I got alongside Jeff but he was on the gas sooner and made ground. But this was the closest l was to him all race and knew that l could try the same manoeuvre at Irelands and did. I chuckled as l went past. Because l knew l had it on camera. I had no had to concentrate on braking later than he could and carry more speed to gain an advantage over Jeff. However, despite braking as late as l could in Hizzys, Jeff thought he would try the same and proceeded to miss the chicane again, this time he slowed to let me back past.

On the last lap, coming into lodge corner, l saw three yellow flags one after the other. I must have gone into TT mode and slowed significantly. Forgetting this was a shirt circuit, the lead l had over Jeff was dramatically reduced as he missed the yellow flags altogether. I got on the gas for the line, only to be pipped half a bike length as we crossed it. This debate will continue.

Here is the on board footage from my perspective.



Here is the on board footage from Jeff's perspective looking back at me (#194).



Race 4 GP 1 race 2

Obviously l had concentrate on not messing up my start. This time l was over cautious and got off the line too slow. In the first turn, guys in front of me hit each other, causing all sorts of havoc but once l got going guess who l was behind. Callum and ####. I was definitely having them this time. But things didn’t go to plan. They gapped me and started pulling away. So like a whining three year old ooooooooo. I sulked thinking this was going to be a lonely and boring race. But to my luck, and not to the guy involved. Someone blew an engine, there was thick smoke everywhere and with the concern with oil on the track, everyone slowed to be safe. Not me, l saw this as my only opportunity to close the gap that had been made. With caution thrown to the wind, l chased after them and quickly we were back on the track together. With only a few laps to go, l overtook ####, around Cascades and Callum around Irelands and applied my theory to stay in front, l had to brake later than them and corner as quick as l could and let them use their speed to close the gap l was making. Every corner l could hear them behind me, but the elation when l crossed the line ahead of them was amazing.

The Oulton weekend was fantastic, the weather was excellent, the company was brilliant and Team Navy actually felt like a team. My favourite corner for the weekend was definitely Cascades and Irelands but the bit l liked most of all was the bit between the start line and finish line. I just loved it. I got down to a 1.50 lap over the weekend which equalled my fastest time ever around Oulton and was surprised with the weather conditions l didn’t go any quicker. But speaking to other riders everyone’s lap speeds were suffering and no one could figure out why. I had plenty of moments during the weekend an d actually found myself sliding more times than l have before and can only put this down to it being too hot and the tyres struggling in the heat. But hey it was fun. But most importantly Team Navy closed the point’s gap to just 5 points in the combined military services championship.

See you next time.

Autograph

Donington Park 23-25 Mar 2012

Thundersport GB


Although racing the TT in 2011 was the most fantastic experience in the world ever, except for the birth of my kids of course. It was also a turning point for me as a racer. Unfortunately being waited on hand and foot by my support crew, family and friends has turned me into a pre-madonna. During the TT all I did was turn up and ride. Ask for things to be changed and then rode again. I even had my visors cleaned and prepped every day by Stevie. What this meant was over the winter when I should have been hard at work prepping my race bike that Tony Bakker kindly parked at Ballacraine for me lap 1 of his Manx GP adventure. “No” I was waited for it to be done for me. Which it never did! So with 2 weeks before the first race of the season I decide to start prepping my bike for the 2012 Season. Ok there were hurdles to over come but, but no cuff to tough. The end product was one very sweet looking old dog of a CBR 600 RR 04. She is fantastic!

Also over the winter I had been busy taking on my new role of RNRMMSA Treasurer, Web Master, Road Race (in fact all Motorcycles) and Royal Marines Rep, and along with the RAF and Army we created the Inaugural Combined British Military Services Road Race Championship (Inter Services Road Race Championship) in association with Thundersport GB. So things for 2012 were looking a lot better for road racers than they ever had before. This was thanks to the vision and drive by everyone involved in creating this Championship.

So onto Donington Park. This was my first round of the Combined British Military Services Road Race Championship. It took a little convincing, but I managed to get Colin Wilson to also come along and represent Team Navy at the event. Racing started when I left Poole. A text from Colin at almost the same time I left telling me he was on the road, had the same reaction to the lights going out on the start line to a race, it’s on who was going to get to Donington first? Colin won and saved space for us both and the other members of KaKa Racing Jeff Booth and family and Paul Goodwin who would be also making an appearance at Donington.

Once at Donington and while the sun was splitting the stones we set up and then went and said hello to the organisers. During our visit we bumped into a couple of the RAF guys and said hello. I must admit with Saturdays racing only round the corner I was excited at what the day may bring. Eventually we got our heads down. Thanks to Colin and his mobile home, I ended up having a lovely night sleep in his camper rather than the cot I was planning on sleeping on.

We woke Saturday morning to be met with thick thick fog. I couldn’t believe it. While the time passed while we waited for it to lift, the nerves started to jangle. But this was good. Eventually the fog lifted enough for us to get out on track. One of my strong points is despite not riding a road bike since Oct last year I always manage to go as fast as I ever had before at a circuit. Never faster but as fast. This was no different. However, it was like I had never ridden a bike before in my life. I felt slow, ridged and rusty on the bike. My shoulders and arms ached like mad after just a couple of laps and I was breathing like I was on the endurance course again for fun. I came in after one qualifying session and with 15 min rest I was back out again in the next qualifying session. This was because I was racing in 2 classes this weekend, the 600 Elite and the GP1 (Open) class. So 2 marathons later I was all qualified and ready to go. However qualifying wasn’t as good as I first thought, despite matching my quickest ever time around Donington I had qualified on the last row of the grid in both classes. Never mind I can only go forward from here.

Having raced with Thundersport on only 1 other occasion before today, I didn’t think I was going to do that bad. Wrong answer Lofty. This club was quick, very quick. I immediately changed my goals and that was to not get lapped. By the end of the first race, I realised this may be harder than I thought. With riders from the British Superbike Paddock and a circuit like Donington where the 1000’s could really open there leg’s this was definitely gonna be one tough weekend ahead of me

Si Critchlow from Team Air Force was on the row ahead of me in the 600 Elite race, so I set about making sure I beat him at least. The lights went out and I passed him into turn 1 Redgate but was immediately baulked by everyone jostling for positions, once back on the gas I saw Si had found an easier route around the Malay and was off. I sort of caught him, but he was taking some of the strangest lines and blocked passed his way up the field. A tactic for sure that was appearing to work. So I concentrated on putting in good laps 1 after the other. By the end of the race Si was way up the field. I finished the race where I finished with who ever in front, but I had lapped at 1.45 around Donington. This was 6 Sec quicker than I had ever been round the circuit before. This was a success to me. This was obviously the Road Racer in me. Lap times are more important than places. As long as I am going quicker than before, this is good. Places are a bonus. Sat ended on a high.

We all went out into Donington Village and had an awesome curry, (the diet of Champions) and then got my head down for yet another good nights sleep in Colins Love Bus. Although we weren’t lovin’! Anyway moving on…………..

Sunday was a completely different day, we awoke early, the sun was shining, the temperature was up and I was looking forward to going even quicker. I changed the gearing on my bike to give me a little more speed down the straights. Warm up was ok as was the racing throughout the day. I had a good race long dice with Callum OShea on his blade in the second GP1 race of the day. It was nip and tuck every lap. From Redgate to Coppice I would catch him through the bends; I even would get along side him around Coppice every lap. Then down the Dunlop Straight he would wind open the Blade and off he would go. The same out of the Foggy Esses and the Melbourne Loop. He would just put in some distance between us, for me to gain it all back again the next lap. It was fun and slightly hard to come up with a valid plan of attack to actually take him. Then with a couple of laps to go he pulled out the race. Gutted. I really wanted to beat him on the track. Still I had fun and actually lapped another sec quicker than I ever had, 1.44. Well happy.

By the end of the day I had had 4 x 12 lap races around Donington Park. My tyres got a hammering and started to shred up after the 2 morning races. After chatting with my good friend Jules Croft it turned out I was running 2 psi to much in the rear tyre.

Really, 2 psi?????

Yes Really!!!!!!

So I lowered the pressure and turned the tyre on the rim to get the last bit of mileage required for the afternoons racing before the day was out. KaKa Racing, I will not spend another penny. After the last 2 races of the day the wearing had stopped and the tyre looked in pretty good nick. If only I had realised this earlier. Still after 7 years racing the road bikes I’m still learning.

Here is some on board footage I took during the GP 1 Race



I was knackered by the end of the day. 48 laps in anger going on average 6 sec quicker than I ever had before was amazing. Shame I was lapped. Just means I have changed my goals for the rest of the year and that is to make sure I am not lapped again. It’s going to be tough though, especially if I get to race Anglesey, Cadwell and Oulton, cause they are not slow tracks either. Still it’s gonna be fun trying.

Autograph

2012 Season

Hello and Welcome


Hi Guys

Welcome to my new site. As you will see I have uploaded all the old stuff that was on the KaKa Racing forum,which sadly was closed. I plan on blogging my way through the year and update you all on how things are going. I hope you like what you see and read. Remember you can follow me live through my twitter account and have live updates as they happen.

If you have any suggestions for the site please get in touch.

Take care and see you soon.

Autograph

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