6 Circuits, 9 Days. Mallory, Buxton Speedway, Donington Park, Anglesey, Redcar Speedway and Teesside. Its what perfect holidays are made of and for the record, I cycle and get the train to work… #reclaimmycarbonfootprint.
Saturday: Hop on the Ducati Supersport S and rag it to Mallory Park, until I reach the nimby village and encourage the de-catted Ducati to go into sneaky quiet, no burble mode. Wave at the Army Motorsport Road Racing Team to see how they are getting on in the Tri-Service championship and giggle at the first third of the race being led by a pre injection thou (legend) before Richard Spencer Fleet (@RSFRacing18) opens up his V2 and battles it out for the win against a rapid ZX6 piloted by Paul Cuwin, RAF lad. Got to see my old team manager Alan Knight of Knight Road Racing the phenomenally fast Jim Bob rag his CB500 through Edwinas.
Sunday: The SLK55 rumbles its way to Buxton Speedway with @RideandSkidit, run by Aidan Collins, the 5 x British flattrack champion. Its a bookable test day for flat track bikes and I hire out a little 125cc Honda CRF for a play. Turns out I’ve got faster, having managed to keep @jameswoodroffe and Jez, of @Wag.Scott fame, at bay for a session. Literally spent my time screaming and laughing as James took these wonderfully wide lines and bogged himself in the dirt. Video available of the chaos on my Insta. Wag also kindly let me ride her 250 and I didn’t sh*t myself this time. Turns out the training from Pete Boast’s Championship Flattrack school was worth every penny!
Monday: The V8 rolls again! This time to Donington park for a track day evening. Met by my hero friend Mike Cutler (@shaolinmike) who is my valued and trusted co driver. He’s a walking secret weapon to a sub 9:30 minute lap round Nurburgring and a handy pair of hands on the track. I managed to show a Porsche Cayman Cup what corner speed looks like through the Foggy Esses and out drove a BMW something E46 ish with the greatest Halfords special spoiler. Brakes work extremely well on the Merc but oh boy do I need new tyres. Photo credit to Opentrack.co.uk
Tuesday: Hired a 21 plate automatic Ford Transit. Game changer, I can eat burritos and drive! I collected my recently acquired track toy, the Yamala R6 from a mechanic in Burton on Trent. Not your average mechanic, but the 1993 Speedway World Champion, ‘Sudden’ Sam Ermolenko. He signed my race helmet with a flourish and I honestly believe I’m faster wearing it. Actual legend. Keep finding excuses to take my bike back there and listen to more stories. Tuesday night, driving through the sunset to Anglesey, absorbing views over the back of Snowdonia.
Wednesday: Time to send it! Ripped up the Dunlops around Anglesey’s coastal circuit. It was a private track day organised by @Weefrenchie who got married up the corkscrew on the following day. Blissful weather, mega laps and plenty of time for posing for the camera. Elbow down? Flipping almost… see footage on the Insta! Managed a low 1:17, so that’ll do little Yamala, that’ll do. All packed up in the van to head home on Wed.
Thursday: Take wet stinky leathers from van and put in car. Add tent and food. Drive to Teesside.
Friday: Teesside testing! I met my new team from Yorkshire Lass Racing who invited me to take part in the Freetech Enduro 24hour endurance race. First one in the UK and oh boy were we in for a real challenge. Learnt the track pretty quickly, never been on a track that had potholes and grass growing through it… but to be fair, it was sticky practically everywhere and once I realised that once you kiss your knee on the ground = throttle fully open, the lap times came down.
Friday bonus:Redcar Speedway! It was about time I’d seen proper Speedway, inspired by Sudden Sam of course. If you haven’t seen Speedway yet, you absolutely must go. How on earth someone thought riding those things, like that, it’s a good idea… for a minute long race, its utterly mind blowing. The best bit was the saturated mud that was flung at the spectators from the rear wheels of the bikes. Never before have I hidden from incoming mud pellets behind a battered umbrella and paid for it.
Saturday: We practiced some rider changes in the morning and got very slick at it. Superpole began and our rapid rider Kate (@Walker_61racing) sorted us out for a solid 27th out of 62 entries. The heavens opened and Denise Lawson got us going on wets for the endurance start, avoiding the chaos at every corner as the shakedown of the first lap began. Denise kept it clean for the first stint, then onto Polly who managed a couple of laps before a low side. 45 mins later with expert fettling and duct taping from Jon Lawson, we were back out. We did a full rider change, from Kate, to Lindsey, to me and and back to Denise, then sadly Polly lowsided it again and we lost another 45 mins. It got to 1900 and I was out… but I bottomed out the forks at the bottom of the corkscrew and ran it back to the pits for some TLC
All riders got out on again until my stint, trying to recover some laps. It was 2130 and I was on a good session, fighting in a pack until I chose to undertake a fellow rider. It didn’t end well. He’s now ok and an absolute hero. Our poor little CBR125 took a proper hit. Bent radiator, bent forks, possible bent swing arm and a hole in one of the downpipes. That was the end of our race and a round of champagne to celebrate 10 hours. Massive thanks to Denise and Jon for bringing the team together and to my rider and paddock buddies, Polly, Kathryn, Denise, Lindsay, Cath, Peter and Lisa. I watched some of the racing with my awesome pit buddy @justina_burkute and went to try and help @wag.scott who was doing a heroic job with James and Jez, and they finished! Solid result given that they had entered the 24 hour about 24 hours before the race. #notevenjoking.
Sunday: I rolled out of my tent hole to see how Denise and Jon were doing. All good. Denise mentioned that the @FactorySachs team were short of a rider so my ears pricked up about the chance to ride again. I introduced myself to a very exhausted group of lads who had been up all night being heroes. They trusted me to ride their Sachs 125 which had faithfully withstood 20 hours of screaming. The best bit? Having never even heard what a Sachs 125 is, I rocked up to the rider change point, took it off a rider who had no idea who I was and 10 seconds later, shot it down the pit lane into turn 2 and gave it a decent 30 mins! At least it was in road shift eh? I realised about 20 minutes into my planned session that I had no idea what their pit board looked like so my brain was busy recalling glimpses of what they might be waving at me, whilst I was hauling through the hairpins. Photo credit to Grid Motorsport Media.
Photo credit to Grid Motorsport Media.
After an hour off, I sat on the Sachs again, knowing that it did actually only have 5 gears and this time with a rear brake lever that had been ‘encouraged’ back to a more feasible position and managed to do their best lap of the race, a low 1:25. Turns out the Sachs and I had a connection and being trusted by the team to do a few #supersub laps was a great privilege. Thank you to the @FactorySachs dream team, Scott, Hugh, Oliver, Jonny and Brad.
Midday was reached and the pitlane was full of exhausted but delighted riders, spraying champagne in successful cheers. With the tent packed, Sunday afternoon was a proper South African treat too. Justina and I were invited to a traditional Braai in the paddock and we filled up on perfectly cooked beef meats over proper Braai wood with Hudson Kennaugh, a rider with Team RST, the 1st place winners. Now describe me a better week! 🙂