Tuesday, 6 May 2008
Hi to all,
I am back after a busy weekend. Libby and I packed up the trailer and car on Wednesday evening, and left for Croix-en-Ternois on Thursday which was the May day holiday in France. We travelled up France without a hitch and stayed in a hotel in Arras Thursday night - mainly because Libby didn't want to spend 4 nights in the car on the circuit.... Understandable with her knee in its current state.
We arrived at the circuit around 9:30am and setup the tent, trailer and bike. The weekend racing was with the VMA, so basically an "old bikes" weekend, so the paddock was very roomy -even the showers were hot!
I managed 3 practice sessions on Friday, the bike was running well, and the new brakes and forks were working very well - better than expected. Libby was timing me, and my laps times were improving on those from last year, so I was pretty happy.
Saturday morning we had the timed qualifications for the 2 categories I was running in. I had opted to run in both sets of races just for the fun! That means in my category (250/350 two strokes) and the faster Post Unlimited category.
In my category I qualified on the 3rd line of the grid with a 1.07 fastest time (one second faster than last year). And in the Post Unlimited category I qualified on around the 4th row, but my time had improved to 1:06 and I was in front of some GSXR's and other faster bikes.
Saturday afternoon, and the first race (my category) - I got a crap start barely missing a guy in front who stalled on the line (perhaps this was an omen (bad)), but managed to pull back a few places in the first hairpin. After a couple of laps I was fighting it out with 2 other RD350s, and we stayed together all of the race. A new guy on a blue 350, was outbraking me at the end of the long straight, whilst I would get him back on the twisties. We swapped positions, and I lost out on the last lap coming in third of this group, and (I think) 5th in my category. My best lap time had come down to 1:05 which was getting pretty good, although I must improve my braking. Just for info, the GSXRs are getting for the fastest in the 59 seconds, and for the slower in the 1:05, which is easily understandable with the long straight!!
Second race, and I got a better start, although as soon as we got to any straight, I was blasted into the weeds by all the bigger bikes, after a couple of laps I was overtaken by a couple of Martin Kawasaki's and although I was faster in the curves, I could not make enough headway to stay in front down the straight, and hence I ended up behind them to the end, and my best lap time was "only" 1:07.
Sunday morning racing started with my category at 10:40, and we went out for our setup lap, and then 2 warm up laps (as the circuit is small). The lights changed and off we went, I think my start was going to be good, however once again the guy on pole had had mechanical problems and stopped about 5 metres down the track. Herve with a 750 Honda, had come past me like a rocket off the start, and smashed straight into the back of the Ducati on pole (Christian Vite). His engine struck Christian's rear suspension and hit his leg, Herve's bike went down straight in front of me, and I basically ran over Herve's leg (we think!), my bike pushed Herve down the track a few yards before taking off, and throwing me over the top. I landed on my shoulder and head (no problem!), and rolled down the track a few more metres, my bike sliding after me - I have an image in my head at one point seeing the bottom of my bike sliding down on me! I jumped up scared about being hit by someone else, but most people had either got passed or stopped - luckily no one else was involved.
The result of the accident was a broken leg for Christian, a sprained knee and ankle for Herve, and pretty much nothing for me - just lucky I guess.
The race restarted, but without us. The damage to the bike was surprisingly little, however enough to stop me restarting. The left foot rest, gear assembley was destroyed and the left expansion chamber was flattened. The fairing had only a small scrape, so after removing the broken bits you would hardly notice.
We stayed to watch the second race, which was one by the fast no. 16 - GSXR.
Anyway, the weekend was positive overall with my lap times coming down and a general confidence level moving up, but of course now I have to get the bike ready for Nogaro in 4 weeks time. A small challenge!