Thursday, 26 April 2012

Icey Oulton and Chester

We headed north to Chester on Monday morning and, after sitting in a 14km, hour and a half traffic jam, we arrived in the 16th century, I mean Chester...

We are staying here with family, Keith and Kathy Astbury (Thank you!), for the next week or so as it is close to Oultan Park - the motocross track with tar on it where our next race is. We arrived on Monday afternoon to a delicious supper and got settled to set up for our tackday on Wednesday, and what a trackday it would turn out to be!

Rain and icy wind is what we were greeted with on the morning of the trackday, but nevertheless we made our way to Oultan Park circuit in Tarporely. A quick sign-on and briefing later, I shivered my way onto the bike and headed on track. This was the coldest I have ever been, with approximately 2 deg temperatures and ice cold wind backing pouring rain, all being blasted at 100mph at my fingers and toes while I tuck behind the fairing! By the end of the session I thought I was going to get frost bite! I pulled in and thawed out my icicle-digits and toes before reflecting on the legendary circuit.

The track is laid out in the hills and appears that nothing was leveled or smoothed before laying the tar. It's pretty narrow and follows all the contours and cambers of the land, reminding more of a type of supermotard tar circuit more than a superbike circuit! Unfortunately all my sessions were in the cold and wet so I couldn't really open the bike up properly to get the dipping and jumping sensation I imagine you would get in the dry.

After a few warning shots from the bike, high-siding me out of the seat and onto the tank, I got settled into the pace to run in the wet conditions and got some valuable wet track experience!

As you come out of the final, on-camber turn, you accelerate hard, with lean angle, up and over a steep hill onto the start/finish straight, which isn't straight either. Then brake hard and swoop into turn 1, dipping into the on-camber at the apex and accelerate to a quick right hand kink before braking left into turn 3 and onto another (sort of) straight. Then drop a gear and into a fast left hand sweep before braking very hard into a big, banked hairpin, just same as Cape Town corner at Killarney. Then accelerate out on the tar 'berm' and into a sharp chicane before accelerating hard again, up and over a big hill, front wheel dancing around. Down a (actual) straight and brake into another more open chicane, then accelerate out to another big hill. You short shift to 4th and, with lean angle again, feel the whole bike lift up and want to wheelie around as you crest it, then tuck in at angle before a left hand kink and brake into a double apex right hander, very similar to Malmesbury, also at Killarney track.then out over a set of 'whoops', about 4 or 5 humps in the straight constantly moving you and the bike around, before you brake hard into the final right hander, turn into the on-camber, hit the apex and accelerate up a small hill leaned to the right, down into a dip, flick left and up the other side onto the start/finish straight. What a lap!

The track must be incredible in the dry, at race pace. Wheelie and lean angle city! I am looking forward to the race coming up on 5 - 7 May, in a weeks time. I will keep the updates coming!

I would like to say a huge thank you to Forcefield Body Armour in the UK who have agreed to sponsor us with base layers and protective kit for the season. Great to have it come together and we look forward to working with them! - Thanks Freddie Hall at Motosport Distribution for putting us in contact.

Cheers for now!

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