This season is flying along; round four is next weekend at Oulton Park. It’s
a single day event, so there are just two races. While that doesn’t change
the aim away from winning all the races, it does mean that there’s less
opportunity to make up for a mistake. I need a clean weekend.
Oulton Park isn’t a circuit that I know very well. I’ve raced there three
times, but always faced extra hurdles. The first visit was on a glacial
Ducati Multistrada 620, a bike as well suited to racing on a demanding
circuit as politicians to a self-regulated expenses system. In 2007 I raced
there in the GSX-R600 Trophy, but left in an air ambulance with a broken
neck after a pile-up at the start of race two.
Last year’s visit with ThundersportGB was also tough. Having lost the
practice day to electrical gremlins, qualifying was wet and the race dry.
Consequently, I didn’t have the bike or myself dialled in and struggled.
Importantly, this is the last of the circuits that worry me. Cadwell Park
and Mallory Park were also tough last year, and now successfully ticked off.
Maybe it’s something about tracks with ‘Park’ in the name, and awesome
Donington could be the exception that proves the rule. I was there over the
weekend actually, at the brilliant BikeRadar Live cycle festival. The
70-mile Sportive ride was my main reason for attending. In the run up to
Oulton Park I’ve been working even harder on my fitness, cycling to work the
long (24 miles) way and doing more weights. The Cycling Plus Sportive was a
great opportunity to test and add to my fitness. I completed the ride in
4hrs06mins, putting me in the top quarter of finishers in my first event.
That’s rewarding in itself, and encouraging a week before racing.
The Aprilia Tuono Factory is getting some attention too. I stripped,
cleaned, and rebuilt the brake calipers, replacing the standard pads and
fluid with higher spec race stuff as it all went back together. That should
improve power, and also reduce the annoying pad drag that made the front
wheel hard to spin by hand and must have been soaking up a few horsepower. A
larger rear sprocket is on the way as gearing is important at Oulton for
acceleration from the several slow corners that lead on to quick sections.
Lastly, Moto46 have helped me source an adjustable steering damper to
replace the ineffective standard unit. It was actually slowing me down at
Pembrey as I kept having to roll off to stop the bars slapping.
Finally, the best and last thing I can do this week to complete the
preparation is get some good sleep, so that’s what I’m off to do now.
All the best,
The 2008 season was my novice year, and I entered Thundersport’s top class, GP1, on a GSX-R1000 K4. Racing on a shoestring, with no back-up at all and riding the oldest bike on the grid, I scored strong results against fierce competition. These performances earned recognition and praise from commentators, organisers, and rivals alike, culminating in the club’s Rookie Of The Year award.