Itís about time I started posting again and what better way to begin than posting about my first ever race. Iíve been riding track schools and track days for about 18 months now and it was high time to start off my racing career, even though I know Iím still a few seconds off the pace. Itís all about fun right? My only objective for the race was to finishÖ The race meeting was held at a track in Pretoria called Zwartkops Raceway, itís a relatively fast flowing track with an extremely tight hairpin bend which is turn 2 (track runs clockwise with the start just infront of the red roof in the middle of the picture).
Itís a club race meeting, so no professional racers which makes it easier for the beginners I suppose, but still some really quick riders. There are no classes for different size bikes, so the 600 riders are penalized in a sense but that doesnít worry me in the slightest. Practice was held on Friday, the day before the race itself in very windy and overcast conditions but fortunately no rain. The first 3 sessions were horrible, cold track and I just couldnít get down to a decent pace. After the 3rd session I changed tires and spent the 4th session scrubbing them in and actually got a little quicker, back down to the fastest time I had run at the track up to that point which was in the 1m13ís. By the time the 5th session arrived the sun had come out and the wind had died down and I knew that I could go much faster. By the end of the session my time was down to a 1m12.1 which I was extremely happy about, although still about 3 or 4 seconds off of the pace but certainly not last on the grid.
Saturday morning, 7am Ė qualifying Ė 15 minutes. Again it was cold and windy but not as bad as the day before. I set out pushing quite hard although I had to bed in a new set of brake pads before I could really push. My lap timer wasnít working so it was just a matter of pushing as hard as I could and hoping for the best. I landed up setting a time of 1m11.84 which was good enough for 16th place on the grid out of 21 who qualified. I was extremely happy with the time and was relieved that I wasnít last. The first race was at 10:20am, we lined up on the grid. 30 second board, I decide to wait for a few more seconds before slotting into 1st gear and getting the revs to about 5000RPM as I was told to do. 5 seconds later, 5 second board. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER 20 SECONDS???? Oh ****! First gear, revs are up I look towards the lights and they go off immediately. So much happening at the same time, I release the clutch smoothly and I see a few bikes come past me off the line. I managed to make up a position into turn 1 as I had the inside line off the grid. Iím behind a CBR1000RR, a friend of mine who is usually a bit quicker than me. I try to get past him a few times on the first lap, no go. Heís too quick on the straights. Lap 2, turn 3 which is a long right hand uphill sweeper I stick behind him accelerating hard, until the braking zone for turn 4. I brake later than him and stick to the inside, Iím past him but have to drift a bit wide through the turn. It turns out okay though, as I accelerate hard up to turn 5. I push hard and start catching the next rider quite quickly. I pass him on the following lap hard on the brakes into turn 5, I keep the line quite tight and keep him behind me. Iím quickly behind the next bike along, number 25 Ė a Suzuki 750 or 1000. Heís a bit faster than me in some parts of the track and Iím a bit faster in others but I just canít seem to get right behind him even though I caught him quite quickly. Lap 8, the last lap and I try even harder to close the 1 second gap. I run a bit wide through turn 6 which compromises me through turn 7 but I keep on the gas and Iím about 2 bike lengths behind him into the last corner. Heís slowed down, Iím right up behind him in the corner and dive to the inside of the corner and squirt out as hard as I can. I get the chequered flag, heís almost next to me but Iím made it across the line before him. Awesome!! I get 17th place, not too bad for a bad start and a first race. 22 riders completed the race, Iím the 3rd 600 across the line. I again set my personal best time during the race (a 1m11.73) - I'm ecstatic with the result!
Race 2, was 4 hours later which many car races in between - enough cars to leave a few oil slicks for the bikes to trip over. The warm up laps are rather scary as the rider in front of me on the track almost high sides himself into oblivion on one of the oil patches right on the racing line on the first lap. On the second lap 2 riders actually crash on the oil, leaving us waiting on the grid for 20 minutes while marshals clean up the mess. No side stand means that I have to sit on the bike, fully kitted up with one foot on the ground and the other resting half way up the bike (Iím rather short), not very comfortable and I eventually start getting a few cramps. Eventually weíre set off for another warm up lap and then itís the start. I get a much better start this time as I now know what to expect. I still have one rider over take me and I spent the next 5 laps trying to pass him. I keep trying to outbreak him into turn 5 but he closes the door on me each time. Eventually I get past and set off to close the gap to my friend Ė bike 25 from race 1. I almost make it onto his tail but itís all too late, the chequered flag is out and I finish 14th. Again Iím the 3rd 600 and finish 14th overall for the day.
I achieved my goal, finished both races and managed to keep consistently good times. The bug has bitten, I canít wait for my next race on December the 3rd!!
My bike in the pits early in the morning on race day
The start (Race 1)
My friend on the fireblade after I had overtaken.
Just after I had overtaken Andy in race 1 (he's also ridding a CBR600RR)
A random picture during race 1
Another picture during race 1
Battling to get past Andy in Race 2
Finally past and setting off for number 25 ahead of me during race 2