Snetterton – 13/5/12 – Group 1 (Novice).

Time for the second trackday of the year. This is back at Snetterton with Focused Events and it’s going to be popular as it’s one of the few available at the weekend. And thank the stars the suns’ out for my journey up and will be for the rest of the day, but boy is it cold to begin with. My first stop is for petrol at Newmarket but the main purpose is too put on two sets of petrol pump gloves under my Alpinestar gauntlets. This means I can concentrate on riding for the rest of the journey.
Like usual I’m not early (despite getting up at 5.30) but not late either. Having learnt my lession from the last time I was here I ignore the massive queue for noise testing and head straight to sign on – there is only about 70 people in this queue so it only takes 20 mins(!). Then it’s time to find a garage. Now I had intended to do an ‘Alpine’ version of trackdaying today. Alpine mountaineering is when you climb K2 with just a thermos and your teddy for company – it’s the opposite to the seige-mentality big team climbing that first opened up the world’s highest mountains. So I was not going to take a bag and just stop outside the cafe for more tea after every session. However this is no more practical than taking your teddy ice-climbing as I was bound to want to leave some clothes and helmet to one side when not riding rather than dragging them around with me. Eventually I found some space in one garage and nodded my hello’s to the souls in there.
Now as it happens (que Jim Saville noises) the one person I hoped to see at Snetterton was a guy called Mark – MarchHare from Pistonheads who had said on PH he would be there also. Mark was having his bike noise tested when I arrived in the garage but as if by magic I planted my bike next to where he had set up. What are the chances etc. Thankfully Mark has his PH name on the front of his bike so it was easy to make my introduction after he arrived back. Mark was also in group one (on a K5 750) and we spent the rest of the day chatting to one another. There may have been space in the garage since it was number 13 and it was the 13th day of the month – hmm. Kar Lee from Performance Bike was also there a couple of garages down – so if I really screwed things up there was always the chance I could get a mention in the mag – cool!!. Later in the day I made sure I passed his girlfriend giving her a really wide berth..
After the briefing there was time to remove my mirrors and adjust tyre pressures and then we were off for our sighting laps (the guy in front of me as we queued to go out had slicks on his Ducati and sponsorship signs on his race-fairings – in novices!). This was no bother since I’ve done Snetterton 300 twice before and soon we were up to speed and off we go! The delight with having track knowledge is the ability to punch about your weight – during the first session I managed to overtake a Fireblade and have a dice with a KTM RC8R. Infact Mr RC8 wasn’t sure we could overtake the first session as we both got noise tested together after session 1 came to a close – I bet mine was quieter.
The next three sessions went roughly similar up until lunch, my confidence rose with the ambient tempretures, and I had a great time out on track. Few people were throwing themselves at the scenary, and when they did it was only causing yellows – so no bother. I was getting over taken very little in the morning and doing a lot of over-taking my self – it turns out I am a demon on the brakes using half the space many other riders were using. I don’t know if this is due to track knowledge, knowing I’ve got ABS or lack of self preservation but many times I would catch those with faster bikes that had passed me coming on to one of the long straights.
Power, or lack of it was a big issue for me. I was keeping the throttle pinned on both straights, coming out of bends and sometimes right after the apex, and still other bikes would just walk (or shoot away). Did some crotchless upshifting but it didn’t make me go a lot faster tho! This is really annoying after gaining on someone in a bend and then only to lose them as we get up-right..
At least the sun was still out and it was nice to sit outside and eat the really boring sandwich I had made that morning and chat to Mark about his biking experience – he’s another recent DAS man.
More tea was drunk. I may have spent as much on tea (at £1.5 per cup) as tyre wear and petrol. By the end of the day I was asking if I could refill my cup for free if I re-used my tea bag – Serious Racing does recycling.
Back out in the afternoon and pick up were I left off. Only everyone else has more circuit knowledge now and and the easy pickings are now over. But it was good to be out on track feeling like I was going fast with no ‘moments’ (except one where I tried to use the back brake going into the first hairpin as well as the front brake and very little happened in terms of slowing down until I let off the back). Otherwise no drama – just had to tell myself to keep breathing. By the end of the day I was even shadowing people round the bends – it felt cool!
Last session of the day came and I just knew I had to resist the temptation to push on – just keep it at the level I had been on and I’ll be fine. Which was true but not everyone felt the same way and we had 2 yellows in a row and then the first red for group 1 in the day which brought the whole thing to a close.
Pumped the tyres up – I brought a foot pump this time, put the mirrors on, bid Mark a good bye and it was off home. Maybe there was less trackday cocaine than usual but I knew I’d had a good day riding.

3 thoughts on “Snetterton – 13/5/12 – Group 1 (Novice).”

  1. Wow. Great write up Tony and it sounds like you are making some great progress. I am not a little jealous and am glad you had sunshine and no idiots causing reds. The pics look great and you have a good style. I think you are only a few trackdays away from kneedown. I know you are talking about lack of power but I think it makes the overtakes that much more impressive. ;). I especially like the I didn’t know you could overtake excuses from the RC8R dude. I can’t wait to be able to fit into leathers and so a day.
    Any more pics?

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