Ledenon,France TD 2002

 

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The Road to Circuit de Ledenon:

I'll basically summarise the events that took place for a number of Go Star racers who decided to commit to a few days in the sun down under in the south of France about 1.5 hrs drive from Monaco. Joe Patti, Tony Norman and myself Ian the Porter.

The plan was to leave work on Wednesday and go straight to Joe's then my place and finally Tony's before heading of to Dover where we would sleep over before catching the 07:30 hover to Calais. The plan was going to plan and all three bikes were packed but during the trip to Dover we had a major blow out on the van while towing the caravan. There was this big bang and then everything went loose and I had to do a

great many left right, left right in order to maintain a vaguely straight line.

Finally after a lot of messing about with left handed threads on the wheel nuts we finally got to Dover for 05:00. We only managed 1hrs sleep before we had to board the hover before we set out on the 600mile trek. We spent a few hrs in Calais trying to find a cheap tyre for the spare wheel but eventually had to settle with paying 120 euro. After that the trip was completed over two days without any further incident apart from beautiful scenery and good French food. How ever as we came to Circuit De Ledenon we were met with the steepest hill we have ever seen on a natural road. This circuit is set within the hills and as such it is a Cadwell park type circuit but x4. We got stuck up this hill and had to unload Tony's bike from the caravan and unhitch the van as well. Tony road his bike on the road to the circuit while I drove the van in 1st gear up this hill while Joe stayed behind protecting the caravan. Luckily we met an ex pat from Germany with a 3.5litre Mercedes van who hitched up the caravan and easily pulled it up the hill from a standing start. Listen here " don't tow for several hundred miles away from home if you are on the power boarder line and don't know the route". Listens are to be learned and remembered.

Practise days:

The track day sessions started on Saturday with a stern warning from Ambrose " the organiser" on the dangers of the circuit and the respect we should give it. Joe & Tony were running in their bikes so opted for the Novice group and I went into the expert group as I always believe these groups to be more safer in which to ride fast. This track is about 2miles long with approx 13 corners. It has jumps, steep up hills and down hills with about 3 hairpins and fast sweepers. It's got just about everything and we were told it is the most technical track in Europe which was also confirmed by an MCN report on European tracks that same week. We set a deal up between us that who ever crashes on the first day will buy dinner for everyone. I'm glad to say that nobody brought dinner for anyone that day. Everybody's bike was running fine and we took the next 1.5 days to get to know the track as there are more blind corners on this track than I have ever seen.

More practise:

After two days getting to know the track we all started to make real progress with getting to ride the circuit faster and getting more familiar with our bikes. I must say that after an initial ear bending, Joe finally took our instructions on board and ended up looking real smooth and sharp and must be a candidate for the most improved rider of the week at Ledenon. Tony was also making progress and was power wheeling his bike as a result of his resent engine tuning work. My R1 is standard and needs no introduction and I was getting well comfortable with the front wheel continuously leaving the ground after our 4 days. Every time I nailed it to the stop in 3rd gear the front would leave the ground so I had to line it up with where I wanted to go before pulling the trigger. It's definitely more fun than Aprilia RS250 and a lot faster.

Final day:

On the final forth day I put slicks on for the first time as it is what I will be using in the power bike. I could feel the extra grip even after just 3 laps and I had full confidence in the tyre probably too much as I ended up crashing on the 3rd session by trying to enter a corner about 15mph faster than I had ever before. I guess I needed to build up more heat in the tyre or go slower. The damage was sorted out and I was back out in the afternoon to pick up where I left off. Joe was also full of riding confidence and wiped out a 14yr old kid who was on an RS125 challenge bike by going up his inside. Joe was in fighting mood and said " he should not have been going so slow". Fighting talk is good and we will need lots of it during the season.

In closing we had a really good time and 4days back to back is equal to or greater than 8 separate track days in England. It's recommended and I will be doing it again. We met some new friends along the way from Germany, France and England. For consistency a couple of Germans parked next to us in the paddock and crashed their VFR400 ( Michael ) and ( Klaus ) ran of the track on his GSXR1000. Again people we meet at track days who park in our garages or next to us always crash! Michael and Klaus are real hip guy's and spend a lot of time globe trotting around Europe and USA just for kicks. Michael is also a  designer and made a carbon fibre tank and one of styled carbon fibre fairing for his VFR400 which does not look like a VFR400 anymore. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of his bike. If you have a picture Michael, send it to me for the web site.

We also met a guy called Oliver who I dubbed Luca Cadalora as he was a dead look alike. He rode a CBR600 and was very fast. He was part of the tyre crew there selling tyres and is an experienced racer of many years. His friend Bernard was on a Honda SP 1000 and was one of the fastest as well. Their company is call Motek and they service and repair all type of generators as well as sell tyres. www.motek.de

We also met a farther and son team from Bournemouth who were there just for the fun of it. Darren was the son and he was having a few tyre problems due to over stiff rear suspension which was causing his tyres to spin and hence blister. I lent him some of my experience and made some adjustment to get him going in the right direction. A few clicks here and there and a new rear tyre and the blistering was cured. He was looking real fast out there and I reckon this boy will be racing soon.....I can tell! Darren give us a call when you are ready. Darren was on an R1 and so was his father Steve who I never managed to see riding as there were a few blue R1's out there and I could not tell who was who. Darren was also a lucky man as his
girl friend Naomi was there with him all the time. My girl told me to ?|!%$£& off when I asked if she wanted to come to circuit de Ledenon.

The way home:

This time we had plenty of sleep before taking to the roads and we drove a marathon session to cover 600 miles in one day at an average speed of 50mph. We got to Calais for 02:30hrs in the morning after leaving at 10:00hrs. The trip back was smooth without problems and we arrived back in our homes on Thursday well sun tanned and feeling ready for the season to begin.
 

Race track Images courtesy of Digitography Thanks.

 

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on the way to Ledenon
we encountered snow


The town of Ledenon


Circuit De ledenon
is set in the hills


The bikes we rode


Klaus our new
German Friend


The big hill that nearly
spoiled the day.


This chap Darren will
one day be racing


The road to Ledenon


Some girl we
met in Ledenon


Joe lost his
virginity big time


Klaus with his
"666" GSXR1000


I ( Ian ) crashed


some damage


Ghost rider


The ciruit went
left,right,left,
up,down,down,up


The ciruit went left,right,left,
up,down,down,up.

and more , 1 , 2  , 3


The paddock


GO Star arwing

 

 

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