Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Brands Hatch Race Weekend - 22 July 2012

After rounding off our Contiki trip around Europe, Rox and I got back to Colchester a week before the race and I got back to routine of hard preparations for the race. We met back up with boys, loaded up the van and made our way to the historic Brands Hatch circuit!

Our schedule was hectic for our Friday, which is normally a relaxed practice day. Because of the noise restriction on the area of the full GP circuit, the BSB series gets limited time on it. So we had our first race on the shorter, Indy circuit. We had a practice in the morning, qualifying at lunch time, and a race in the afternoon!

I knew the Indy track from earlier in the year, so we got straight to quick times, but had a little to find. We made changes for qualifying, which never worked, so this put us 6th on the grid for the race - not where I wanted to be! Noting our mistakes, we corrected the set up and hoped it was the right thing for the race.

We lined up on the grid with the top 13 being covered 1 second! The lights went out and I got a great line into the first corner in 4th. From then, the race became hectic! It was a dogfight of note for the lead between the top 6 riders, being lead, narrowly, by Rob Guiver. He kept the lead the whole race, and our scrap behind gave him just enough space that I wasn't able to make a pass on him. I got bombed back in the closing laps and after some last minute passes, I got back to 3rd by the finish line, just managing to pip fellow South African, Phil Atkinson for the last podium spot. 2nd was taken by Finnish rider, Valter Patronen for his first podium this year. I really had fun and it turned out to be a cracker of a race!

Champagne and trophies behind us, we got straight to work on set up for the GP (full) circuit. I was happy with my set up on the short track, but the GP track is a lot faster and has much harder braking zones and dips and rises to compensate for when you're on the edge. We decided to leave in the short settings for the practice to get an idea of the changes we needed to make.

The practice presented a few rear end stability problems for me, so we made the changes and had to hold our breath as we would go straight into the race with them, no practice to try them!

We were given two warm up laps before we lined up on the grid and I used them to try the settings, and after nearly flinging myself into the woods, as I lined up to the lights, I knew I made a bad decision with our settings - they made it worse!

The lights went out and I gave it my all, fighting to stay near the front as long as I could, holding up everyone behind until eventually I couldn't safely keep the pace with the bike trying to buck me off out of every corner. I got left in 5th, chasing as hard as I dared, until the many crashes behind and in front of me left me, pleasantly, with another 3rd place! The consistency payed off and we were back on the podium, albeit not in the position I felt we were well capable of.

We noted the suspension 'characteristics' of the shock after our changes and have learned from it for the future. After a good hour of analysis and head scratching after the race, we kicked back and the guys enjoyed our spoils (bottles of champagne from the podium) and we threw some meat on the braai before packing up the caravan.

It was a very different race weekend for me - It was my first race without my Dad! We had an all new team in the (funny-looking) shape of Morne as new mechanic and Chris as tyre and timing man on friday. Jason Davis and the fam arrived for Saturday and Sunday to get us going with advice and help as usual, and my lovely Roxanne was once again (way overdue and missed) my Brollie Dollie! All in all, still a great weekend on and off track!

We have 4 weeks until our next race at Cadwell Park, so we have a few track days and training planned in the coming weeks. There after, our calendar is jam-packed with racing - just how I like it!

Rox left for home (South Africa) yesterday, and we had an awesome holiday and time together again. She's off to work for Unilever and we'll be carrying on with our norm - BIKE RACING!

Cheers for now!

Our current support team, without the main driver behind it - Dad!
Back row, left to right: Jason Davis, Rab, Owen (Rab's son), The one and only Eevie, Bjorn Estment
Front Row, left to right: Donna (Jason's wife) with their girls, Holly, Meg and Little Eevie, Morne (don't look twice!), Chris (Kloppy), Rox and Me.

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