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Back On (The) Track After 3-4 Year Hiatus

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Until 2011, I did quite a few trackdays (and a couple of CSS classes) per year. A small highside with broke my right radius bone (and a few bits on the bike) in August 2011 and a 2½ year expatriation contract put a effective stop to that. I did manage to sneak in 2 days on Big Willows followed by a CodeRACE class (Streets of Willows) in October 2012, but until this month, I was not get to ride on a track. Well, until this July 5th, when I went back on Sturup Raceway.


The low-down of successes were:

1) I kept the rubber side down

2) I stayed within the track limits

3) The bike runs well (although it did a couple of lurches that I still need to figure out though)

4) I got my knee down again

5) I passed someone during the last session (yay!)


I can feel that my I need to "get my mind up to speed again" - I'm riding way slower than before (~7sec), is a bit more cautious about lean angle (I'm barely getting my knee down) and I feel more concerned about how much the bike is moving around under me (the track has always been rather bumpy, and it has gotten even more so since I rode there last time in July 2010).


Overall, I'm feeling that it's pretty OK overall. I'm planning to get back out at least a couple of more times this year, to conclude whether I want to continure with the track riding or sell the racebike and the van.


ObCssRelatedContent: I absolutely need to work on my visual skills (as always). Getting the visuals and RPs right will help on getting the throttle control sorted out too. Just like on the Big Willow's Turn 8/9, it's the big, long turns that I suffer most.


Yes Cobie, I need to get my "dots" out again so I can get enough RPs through the long turns to find and hit a good line :)


Photos courtesy of my friend Carsten, who's a fellow CSS student.



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I went back to Sturup this past Sunday, determined to sort out RPs and getting reacustomed to lean and speed again. Sturup is a fairly compact circuit, with primarily left-hand corners (6 vs 2) due to a counter-clock layout.


In contrast to two weeks earlier, where we had 32C/90F in the shade and high sun, we had overcast and around 16C/61F this time. Chilly, to be honest.


Before my hiatus, I was riding in the fastest group ("White"), but for now I'm deliberately running in the 2nd fastest group ("Red") - which is a good thing, since the other guys are riding faster, and I'm riding slower.


One advantage of running the Red group is that I have the option to watch the fastest group take to the track first, so I went out and looked at what kind of RPs and turn points the fastest riders were using in Turn 1. Turn 1 is a very big ~200 degree sweeper, but it is so bumpy on the "ideal" racing line, that you have to choose a different line when going into the turn. This gave me a good starting out for RPs, Turn point, and apex. Must it also highlighted a classic problem: their lines weren't very consistent between riders, and even some of the control riders were taking, uhm, 'alternative' lines. This was even more evident, when I went to look at the lines the riders were using in Turn 6 (around the lake), between 6 & 7 and in Turn 7. Turn 7 is a true hairpin, with a steep increase in elevation. The quickest way through those two turns is the shortest line, because there are no real straights after them, but this seemed lost on several of the riders.


My fastest laptime here was in 2010, with a 1:12:69. Three weeks ago, I managed to squeeze in a 1:19.37 in the last session. A looks at the GPS logger data showed the bare facts: I'm slower everywhere.


Armed with the knowledge from the GPS logger, the new inspiration of RPs, turn point and line through Turn 1, I headed out. After warm-up laps and getting around a Panigale rider, who was pinning it down the straights, but over-braking into the turns (so much that it was almost dangerous), I found myself settling into a good rythm and found that the RPs and line through Turn one worked quite well. After I passed the Panigale, I found myself doing a 1:19:51 lap, then dropping a second on the following lap, and then another 0.8 seconds, to hit 1:17:77, before getting hit with a bit of passing traffic. Woo-hoo, a good 1.6sec off, in just the first session!


Between first and second session, we started getting raindrops, but not enough to to make the track wet. These raindrops would haunt us for a couple of sessions, but never panning out to make the track slippery, so we kept kept going at it.


During session two, I worked on keeping the speed out of turn one, into through the fast turn two and down to turn three (there's a fairly sharp downhill 2/3rds between turn two and three). That picked me up another 1.4secs, so I was down to 1:16:37 - three full seconds faster than two weeks earlier!


I was unable to follow-up on this in the third session, since because I'm not consistent enough yet in my riding. The fourth session was cut short, due to a guy lowsiding (15min sessions make even small spill a stopper).


I decided that I didn't want to go out chasing laptimes in the final session, but rather working on the final three turns (6-7-8) and I eventually also did post a section time that was 0.36sec quicker that my 1:16:37 "flying lap" in the second session.


So pretty nice steps forward, although they probably won't come as easy the next time :unsure:


I'm planning to go to my "home track" Ring Knutstorp next Friday for a full-day session. It's gonna be fun :)




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  • 1 month later...

I had planned to have my 3rd trackday on Sunday July 31st, but I missed out the day as it was booked out. I simply waited too long to be sure that the weather would be OK.


Instead, I went to "home sweet home" Ring Knutstorp this past Thursday. My personal best at the track is a 1:08.86, which I did in August 2001, shortly before I had a very small high-sider that broke my right radius bone.


As with the two first days on Sturup, my friend and I were booked in the 2nd fastest ("red") group.


I the spent first session to get re-aquainted with the track, getting a feel for where all the RPs, braking markers, turn points are while riding at-speed, and get an sense of whether the track had gotten any more bumpy over the last four years. Much to my satisfaction, I found that the track hadn't changed at all since 2011 - no new bumps or anything. The laptimer showed that I was already down to a 1:12.01 laptime, and I was doing fairly consistent 1:12.xx laps (if a 1-second variation can be considered 'consistent'). This was much quicker than I had expected, since I had used 2 days to get within 4 seconds of my personal best on Sturup Raceway.


I kept working on hitting the RPs in the second session and was rather surprised to find that I knocked another second off (1:11.04) despite the session was cut in two due to an off-track rider. Third session wasn't great, but I started hitting my markers more consistently (although slower than in session 2).


It turned out that there was quite a variation in speed in our group and several riders seemed to be recent 'graduates' from the third group (out of 4 groups). The newcomers weren't riding unpredictable or bad lines as such, but they did lack some common sense such as not sitting up and slowing significantly down in the middle of race-line. So while we weren't the fastest guys in the group, we were frustrated enough about it that we politely asked to be (and got) moved up to the fastest ("white") group. Much better! I was definitely the slowest rider in the group, but the passes were executed really safely and I felt totally comfortable with the other riders (and the other riders weren't complaining about me either).


In the afternoon the "White" group starts each session with a practice start, which is new from 4 years ago. I definitely need that, as I am not giving the R6 enough RPMs and probably also dumping the clutch too quickly. Oh, and I hate liter-bikes when I'm not riding them :angry: By the sixth and final session I did a couple of 1:10.xx laps, with the fastest at a 1:10.36, exactly 1.50sec off my personal best :)


I had borrowed a GoPro camera from a friend and have recorded the 2-6th sessions, so there is plenty of material to sit down and analyse. Have anyone noticed that it feels that you're riding really slow when they watch the onboard video?


I hope that the weather behaves in two weeks time so I can get a final trackday in in mid-September before the trackday season ends. I have already chalked up a couple of points for improvement: overbreaking into turns (Turn 1 in particular), not accellerating hard enough out of the turns, and a couple of turns where my RPs are not very consistent.


ObVideo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnLBKwazvbY

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