Track day, Lydden Sept 2000.
I went down to Ian's a few weeks before and under his watchful eye re-jetted the
ZXR 400, helped fix the fairing and get the bike started. The night before we got the van loaded ready for my
first ever track day on a race bike. Fortunately my two piece leathers were up to the job as they came with Kevlar inserts, but the old boots needed some repair. Some art & craft glue with duck tape did a nice job.
Signing on was at 07:45 to 08:45 so we aimed to leave GO Star HQ at 07:00. Myself,
Ian and baby Dela left for Lydden around 08:00. Ian was up at 05:00 to get baby Dela ready. This was most admirable and certainly appreciated as without Dela the day would never have happened!.
We got to Lydden a bit late, missing the 1st session. Actually I didn't mind because it was one less opportunity to crash. Having parked up and got the signing on over, I was surprised to see how fast Ian leapt into action after we got the Bike out the Van. It was "Jerome mate, push it...push it mate". Well I
pushed and pushed but the thing didn't want to start. Up the hill, down the hill, round the paddock all over the place, still nothing except for the occasional backfire and spluttering. After around 15-20 mins I became acutely aware that we seemed to have captured the attention of the entire paddock. - great, thats all I need.!
Turning the engine over, seemed to warm things up a bit and eventually the bike started but
ran like a pig. A few concerned blokes from the paddock gathered round. "Sounds like its running on 2 mate, or is it three".
We checked the plugs/leads - all ok. Started it again (push, push!) but it still ran rough. Eventually the problem was diagnosed as dirty petrol and once that was sorted the Bike erupted into a splendid roar. Bloody hell at last. As it warmed up it began to growl and I thought
shit - am I up to this!. I was definitely dreading the push start
(with Ian pushing this time)
With that now out the way, Ian cracked the whip and got me sweating again (I didn't realise you had to work this hard) .
"Check the tyre pressures, check them loose fixings, go get a foot pump (off some bloke I didn't know), get the Nose pliers, put the tyre warmers on" -
If could do a Brummy accent I'd be doing it now, you get the picture. The guy had me running around like a blue ass fly...For FCUK sake!. In the midst of all this semi chaos, Dela seemed as happy as could be,
smiling and giggling as the world went by.
Finally all the work was done, and all I had to do was wait for my call. It came -
"Green" (meaning novices), and before I could I say "pray for me
Dela" Ian was pushing me down the paddock towards the collection area. " Second gear mate, second gear, let the clutch out quick" - I can't get second, the gear levers in the wrong place. Shit, everything about this Bike is different. I was used to a
"sit up and beg" position as groomed by my good old Suzuki Bandit, but the Quacker equipped with rear sets, limited steering lock, and obscene
"get down and shag it" riding position was a real handful. It was difficult to control at walking pace let alone in full flight around the track.
As I set-off from the collection area onto the track I prayed it wouldn't stall, because that would require another push. - and who would do
that?. I took it easy, as I was unfamiliar with just about everything. The throttle was stiff, the riding position alien, the steering lock limited etc. In fact my right wrist became numb whilst operating the throttle and through Devils elbow I struggled to turn it
on. I had no intention to go fast. My intention was to simply to stay on.
The World and his dog passed me by, but so what?. The Bike sounded good, felt safe and stable and that's all I wanted. The session didn't end a moment too soon as I started to feel
fatigued and wanted to get off anyway. Peeling off and entering the paddock I noticed that two fellow GO Star comrades had turned up to watch and presumably take the piss.
Matt & Sean (theres a reason for the order - red mist) were parked up and seemed keen to talk. I recollected an earlier telephone conversation with Sean. Basically it was an exchange of nonsense, goading one another into greater claims about riding ability. The conversation ended with a memorable statement from Sean telling me that I should bring a first aid kit to lick my wounds..silly stuff init.
Anyway in true turn up and see what happens fashion, Matt and Sean enrolled into the intermediate group. Bloody hell they couldn't wait to get on the track. When their call came, it was a case of side stand up, hit the button and off you go - none of this push mate, push.
It was quite amusing to watch, seeing them both going for it. Sean in particular, was really
giving it the gun down the hill into paddock bend. I mean the guy looked possessed,
mad dog, insane, unbelievable. Due to the sit up and beg position of the
Fazer 600, his body language resembled that of the famous cartoon character
Road Runner - beep beep. Finally they came in and, Sean man, he didn't stop talking. - NO ONE OVER TAKES me AND GETS AWAY WITH IT.
(true - ed)
The morning passed without incident and lunch came around. Ian was rustling up some dinner for Dela whilst Matt and Sean disappeared to get some more petrol. I played with Dela in the meantime. With Lunch over the games began again.
My next few sessions were better as I felt more comfortable with the Bike, and on the last one I set my fastest lap. Again although I went quicker it was within the comfort zone of the Bike. I never felt like I was pushing it. I found the braking ability and acceleration of the Bike quite amazing, in that it seemed to be cruising past most road bikes and
out braked an R1 into Devils elbow. I couldn't; get passed the bastard though, due to wrong gear and crap throttle action (mind you this was the novice group).
In conclusion , I would sum the day up by saying that rather than getting a rush I got satisfaction, a sense of achievement by way of staying shiny side up and improving my lap time over the course of the day.
The day was not without incident however, (Sorry Sean I couldn't let it go - why do you think I've gone to 2 pages).
Red Mist got the better of one of our top ROAD riders. Unfortunately he fell victim to the same curse that seems to be plaguing ALL our Yamaha riders
(sorry Mark). As he entered pilgrims (fast right hander) he saw the mist but ignored it - even though
sparks from the end can told him no more, - you can't lean anymore. Next time around, those same sparks were ignored and the can
"dug in" lifting the back wheel off the Racing line - so the story goes!. Remembering his martial arts training from another life, Sean quickly transformed himself into a human ball, so as to avoid being hit by his bike, that by now was cart wheeling through the air with a few hand stands thrown in a long the way. No one saw any of this action, so we've only got Sean's word for it. Personally I think he missed his breaking point, over cooked it, braked to avoid hitting a Marshall and simply fell off. - Typical road accident really.
Anyway the session was stopped whilst they recovered rider and machine. Thankfully Sean was ok,( - you see I do care) but the bike was a bit bent - mainly the front forks. I have no doubt, that when the medical staff tended to Sean at trackside they gave him some happy drugs, because when he returned to us, He couldn't stop
laughing. - Now is that mad or what...Fortunately the GO Star transporter was on hand to whisk his bike back home. Needless to say the event dominated our conversation as we packed up, but there was still one last laugh to be had from this action packed day. -
Matt and Sean 2-up on the Bandit riding off into the distance.....followed by the GO Star transporter...Sean mate who needed that first aid kit?.