Before daybreak on this freezing morning Greg and I set off to Hampton Downs Raceway for the last ART day for the season. Bikes in tow with talk about fat people’s livers and we were on our merry way. Stopping off for a pie, coffee and a fuel up at the servo before we get to the track we meet up with a few more early bird bikers, one of which has decided it is to cold to ride and will soon be loading his bike onto the back of a trailer so that he can relax in the warmth of a work van, laden with biking needs.
Once we set up and go through scrutineering, sign in and gear check we await the call for the track walk. Lines of excited bikers wait at the track entry and we are soon stopping at each corner and checking them out. Since my bike doesn’t have a stand attached to it, I have to lie it up against the tyre wall’s and barriers that line the track and unfortunately pick up a large amount of mud on my tyres which I have to try hard to scrub off before we enter back into the pits and am very tempted to just let out a huge standing burnout, but refrain from my urges as I can’t be bothered being told off so early on in the day.
Session 1 and we are all systems go, it is a pretty slow pace to begin with as the majority of us have never done the track before and are trying to get acquainted to it as soon as possible. I pass around 6 riders who are dawdling along and start to pick up my pace a little but as soon as we had started, the finishing flag hangs lazily from the start grid and we make our way back into the pits.
Now before we go out for the second session, rain starts to piss all over the lovely track and what we are left with is a nice slippery surface on which we now have to navigate. Normally I am fine in wet weather but my tyres were starting to get a little old and harden up so gave me the feeling of riding on ice for the entire session which wasn’t pleasant. Expecting the tyres to give at any second, left me riding like a nana around the track. As I enter into one tight corner and am leant over slightly my rear tyre steps out for a second or so, but it quickly resumes it’s place in line with the front and I am off down the straight. I could feel the bike edging out from underneath me on every turn and it consumed my mind leaving me with little concentration on what I was actually doing which was kind of dangerous as we will soon find out.
As I am coming out of turn 5 which drops 8 metres in a decreasing radius style corner I then power onto the short straight, reaching around 170km/h when the bike that was close in front of me decides to slam on his brakes for whatever reason, leaving me to quickly shut off the throttle and grabbing a little too much front brake. That in itself is a big no-no as it upsets the bike considerably and will no doubt cause the front to lock up…which it did. The front tyre violently moves from the left to the right and then suddenly grips on the tarmac causing it to catapult into the air and land back down with a heavy thud and leaving me with the bewilderment and confusion that I am still up on two wheels and now coming up to the long sweeper which I need to prepare myself for.
As that session finishes, I put my bike up onto the stands and I then go and have a much needed cigarette as I miss half of the debrief. My nerves aren’t too happy at this current point in time and I await session 3, hoping that it will not bear the same, if not worse results.
Session 3 goes rather well, and I start to get the hang of the slippery slopes and smoothness on the bike and start to work on each corner, getting progressively faster as I go.
By Session 4, the track was finally dry and I could have a little bit more fun and give it some gas around the corners without fear of it dropping out from underneath me, started to link up some corners but I am still a fair way away from mastering this track. It is a busy circuit with camber and height changes and many decreasing radius corners and a double apex corner. You don’t have much time to think before the next corner jumps out at you and to combine that with 20 other bikes whizzing around on all sides of you, if keeps the body and mind very busy.
Now that I can get my license back after a painful 3 months, I may as well buy a road bike so that I don’t have to bus everywhere (Major pain in the ass.) So, lacking the funds to have both a race bike and a road bike, I must sell my beloved SV650.
But I think that if I can save up enough coin in the next 5 months before the start of the season, I might be able to get a new race bike and enter into the Pro-Twin series and work my way up to the top. Just looking to iron out my riding habits now and really start to learn about the bike but that shall have to wait.