Ahoy Cali Superbike school members of the choir!
Well Round 1 is out the way, with only a few marks on the fairing and errr...a slightly bent rear sub-frame! Easily resolved with a pry bar or 3 :-D
DAY OF TRAVELLING THERE
So, last Sunday myself and my two fellow riders made our van journey to the camp site LOCATED HERE (email: mairie.fere @ wanadoo.fr) , this was the nearest and most decent looking one I could find. Nothing to report on that journey, all went smoothly via SeaFrance (Van = £120, Car = £95 through Nutt Travel)! Our pit crew and photographer followed us all the way in a separate (and probably comfier) car. Setting up the camping was done pretty quick and food was cooked within the hour :-P Everyone but me was on the booze, just wanted to have a relatively clear head for the racing - aren't I a good boy! Err...they also didn't have my favourite masculine drink, or ice!
Us Set up at the camp site
THE DAY BEFORE
Next day we awoke chilled and having had plenty of sleep (very little traffic noise or noise from fellow racers leaving early - much respect). In our own time we left for the track (Circuit Des Ecuyers) via a supermarket, which I found on my phone's GPS. I guided us there nice and easily...unfortunately I completely buggered the journey from there to the track as illustrated below. You see, I hadn't taken into account that junctions on a toll-road are few and far between! Despite the track being criss-crossed by 3 main roads, none of the bastards had junctions. Note to self - zoom in to potential junctions before relying on them!
Blue is route taken, green is the route I should have taken having checked actual motorway junctions, red is the race track
So after that amusement we watched the big cc class and witnessed some quite serious accidents - knocking the riders unconscious and requiring an ambulance. It's never nice to see someone not get up and just get tossed around like a ragdoll. Fortunately I heard they were both OK in the end, just a few broken bones. After that we (directly) returned to the camp site via the small village adjacent to it. I bought some local ###### upon the request of Kerri (I scored highly, woo hoo!) and by the by, if you ever need an English speaker, there's shop that sells tatt and the guy in there is very fluent! We then rinsed and repeated the previous night only with much less alcohol! I also went for a jog for a few miles to get myself prepared for a long time in the saddle.
It was decided that we had to get a good spot, although most of the pit is either on a slight left to right gradient, or a slightly more left to right gradient. Nevertheless we got up at around 5:30am, everyone was up and ready, myself included. We then packed up the tents ASAP and jumps in the transport, where upon I managed to ###### up the directions yet again...this time it was because I didn't zoom into the map enough, a real map will be used next time! It wasn't so bad though and only wasted 10 minutes or so...for a 15minute journey.
We arrived at the track (Circuit Des Ecuyers) and unpacked quickly, getting everything ready while it was lightly drizzling, remarks from our neighbouring teams were in the region off, "you english brought your weather with you, go home". As expected! Once English briefing of rules and stuff were our the way, we went out in medium drizzle on dry tyres, we quickly decided to use racing wets.
MY GOD, it is the strangest feeling to be able to lean over enough for getting your knee down, while spray is coming off the bike in front! The oldest/most experienced member (Stuart) of the team was sent out to scrub wets and drys, then the youngest (Jay) went out and binned it at a very low speed on the first lap. We were hoping that by doing that so early, he'd got the crashing out the way! Nothing serious was done so he went straight back out again after a quick inspection. Then it was my turn, I actually quite enjoyed drizzle and we were doing between 2:12 and 2:22 laps - nearer two minutes is the dry lap time.
To show the quality camera work!:
After the 3 hour practice/qualifying time (we got 4th position!) it was already 12pm, we then had nearly 2 hours of debating whether to use wet or dry tyres as well as another briefing. It was decided by the organisers that a rolling start would be cancelled and a timed release from the pit was best. Jay went out and did some good laps and then crashed, doh! He came back and had done the other side, but again, very minor damage and nothing was hanging off! He then did some good laps during his 'shift' of 1hour and 20mins. He then came in and it was my turn, nothing to report there really, just went round the track for an hour and 20 minutes. I chose to go fast but not balls out so that I could last the distance and to lower the risk of binning it. Next up was Stuart, unfortunately he had two accidents, one of which was rather bad. He was fine though but the bike needed a new upper fairing, clip-on, screen and top yoke. The bike was started and it immediately redlined, after killing the engine and unsnagging the throttle cable, it was fine and Stuart went back out having lost only 8minutes. He then did the rest of the race without incident. We ended 18th but at one point we held 7th for quite a long time.
AFTER THE RACE
Now, for some reason we thought the ferry was at 9:45pm, we were packed easily by 7pm...errr....leaving quite a close call as it was around a 3 hour drive! We arrived at the port and found out that the ferry had been cancelled, having VERY speedily arrived at 10pm. Next ferry was at 11:35 with P&O Ferries (no charge), so we waited around drinking very good vending machine hot beverages - no bloody tea though! We arrived at dark 'O' Clock in Dover and got back to the main destination at around 2am. I have a fun autopilot ride home and was in bed by 2:30 writing a bit on facebook for everyone, mainly thanking the superb team we had.
So that's it really, in a nutshell.
Massive thank you's to:
Darren Stolton, Dave Chillingworth - Pit help, fire safety, fuel fillers.
Darren Whittaker - Photography, driver.
Stuart McIvor, Jamie Kelman - Riders and (extensively experienced) mechanics.
Jackie Cannam - refreshments, lap timing.
None of them frequent this forum, but I feel they do deserve it!
Forward thinking that was helpful:
Pre-packing meat / english milk and having an in-car fridge, bought for around £70 from Halfords. Having a booster pack/air compressor for pumping up tyres, charging phones, etc. Practicing pit stops and having everyones job arranged. having plenty of lighting and an adaptor for the electric socket in the camp site. Having 4 tents for 7 people Borrowing one of those blow up airbeds, quality. Getting a medium/long wheel base van even though there was too much room! Buying cheese for the burgers Having a saw to cut down dead trees for the fire Having a Aserbis quickfiller (over 1 litre per second) Taking plenty of lock-wire and cable ties Having a spare fairing and almost spare everything Taking euros
Things for next time:
Make an A frame to hold the barrels of petrol for easier filling. Take electrolites after race to avoid cramping (me) Do exercises to strengthen fingers and inner thigh (ooh err!) Take a broom to sweep up the fag butts in the non-smoking pits (ha!) Use the euro-tunnel, bugger ferries! Take more tea bags Look after the time-keeper more.