We got back a few hours a ago, from a super weekend at Magny-Cours - circuit very familiar to those that follow F1 or Superbike, although the motoGP hasn't been held there for a number of years. Anyway, a big name circuit, and certainly one of the best in France.
The ProClassic series was integrated into a weekend with the French Endurance Championship and the VMA (the other old bike club).
We arrived at the circuit Friday morning after a night in the local "Premier Class" hotel, found the rest of the guys, and installed the gear to be ready for the first untimed practise at 10:50. Being my first time at Magny-Cours for me it was important to put in as many laps as possible, to learn the circuit, which initially seemed like a few straights, which someone had decided were too quick and had put in chicanes all over the place to slow people down! For me there are only about 6 real bends linked by long starights, with the dreaded chicanes, and I think this is where the races are won and lost - in the chicanes. What appears to be slow at the start of the weekend rapidly becomes very fast!
The circuit, starts off with a nice curve to the left followed by "Estoril" which is a VERY long right hander where big B#$%s are required to keep the gas turned up, then onto the longest straight and down to Adelaide (a slow hairpin bend), up through Nurburgring (chicane) and down to "180" a long left hander, up to "Chateau d'eau" past Imola (chicane 2), and then down to "Complex du Lycee" and onto the start finish straight via the third chicane. Finally coming back to Estoril via a very fast left hander.
Because of all the straights, I had replaced the rear chain sprocket with a smaller item in an effort to pull a faster speed down the straight, but I seemed to be in the wrong gear the whole time, so I went back to a 38 at the rear after the first practise. Honestly I was still not redlining in 6th on the longest straight so it was more important for me to find a gear that would pull me through some of the slow bends where you can lose loads of time, waiting for the power band to come in.
The bike ran well on Friday practise, and although we slept under a 5 zillion watt light, Libby and I spent a reasonable night in the car, and woke up to a sunny Saturday morning. I had got down to a lowly 2:11 in untimed practise, and I was looking forward to improve things for qualifying. That was not to be as I qualified with a 2:12, and really I should have taken note and changed the carburation to better suit the very hot weather.
Race one I got the most pitiful start after having qualified on the 5th line, I was last into turn one, and although I was back to my "place" after a couple of bends I had really lost touch with the guys I should have been fighting it out with. I spent most of the race on my own, trying to catch up, and not really managing. The bike was not responding well, and I really should have dropped some smaller jets to cope with the very hot weather (less oxygen = smaller jets).
The second race however was at 18:30, so I was hopeful that the temperature would have reduced, and effectively the bike was much more lively in the second race, plus I was cheered on by the crowd from Pommiers (my village) watching from Adelaide, which was a bonus! They had travelled up (taking more than 7 hours by the pretty route) to watch, so I had to put on a show!
I managed to get a reasonable start (only lost a couple of places) and again I found myself alone, but trying hard to catch Jacques Danzer, and our new female racer on a GSXR - Paticia Houille Audebert. I never managed to catch them, but I did get my best lap time of the weekend, and I was not lapped by the leaders! In the second race I managed a 2:10.
I didn't manage any points from the weekend, and I think this shows how difficult the Post Unlimited category is going to be this year.
Because all the racing was over (for us) on Saturday evening we did manage a small celebration, and a few glasses of English beer followed up with some red wine, whisky, and Pineau des Charentes, so Sunday morning we were happy to stay in bed.
Thanks to all the "fans" that travelled up from Pommiers, and I will try to do better next time at Pau in two weeks!
Video and photos will be posted during the week.