With a vague hint of spring in the air, me and a bunch of friends decided to book our first trackday of 2016, at Mallory Park Race Circuit with No Limits Trackdays.
In the weeks leading up to the day, we were all on weather-watch and in true British fashion, it was scheduled to rain. Darn it!! However, not to admit defeat, we decided to go and make the most of it anyway and trundled up in a 3 van convoy the day before (which, typically, was an absolutely glorious day!).
After what might have been a bottle of red wine too many, we were on the road heading to the circuit at 7am the next morning. It was cold, grey and very damp – bleugh!
First up was registration, followed closely by a bacon sarnie and a hot mug of tea. Unfortunately Mallory has very limited garage space and they were all taken by the time we arrived, so we found a spot in the paddock and unloaded our shiz. Next up was the compulsory safety briefing, followed by an extra 10 minute briefing for those of us in the novice group. This is where the No Limits guys do their absolute best to put minds at rest and tell us to take it easy, especially in the rain!
The day was being run in the usual 3 groups fashion; Novice, Inters and Fast, with each group having 20 mins on track. Inters were up first, so they headed off for noise testing while the rest of us got into our leathers and put tyre warmers on. The fast group were on next so whilst they were out, those of us in the novice group got ourselves noise tested and ready to go. My bike read 98db with baffle which was lower then I expected as it had read 101db at Brands a few weeks earlier!
Our first session started with 3 sighting laps taken at a moderate speed behind an instructor. By this point, rain was coming down in a fine but consistent mist and the track was wet so after the sighting laps we all cautiously got up to speed.
I’d had my bike serviced a few weeks beforehand and put new tyres on, opting for the Michelin Pilot Road 4, so felt confident as they perform really well in the wet. That said, I misjudged my downshift on the approach to Edwina’s on my first lap and felt my rear tyre spin out a little so made a mental note not to get too cocky.
Mallory is a relatively short circuit so you get to do quite a good few laps and as the end of the first session approached, I was feeling good.
By the third session, I was feeling so much more confident. I was focusing on my line and positioning, and was really starting to get my speed up, especially around Gerards corner, despite the fact the rain had really started to hammer it down.
Back at the paddock, we decided that we’d have one more session, then pack up and leave at lunchtime. A few of the guys were really slipping around and didn’t fancy taking any more chances, and we all knew that the weather was due to get worse later into the afternoon. One of the guys, Tom, also had a fuse blow on the approach to the hairpin which made his bike cut out so he was, understandably, feeling a bit uneasy!
Back out on track again, and you could now see that people were getting more confident. A few riders had switched over to wet tyres so were picking up the pace. All was going well until the last few minutes of the session when a guy overtook me on the hairpin approach but misjudged it and lowsided right in front of me. Thankfully, as its quite a tight turn, I had already downshifted into 2nd gear and was going at a reasonable pace, so was able to avoid hitting him as he slid on his back across the track into the grass. The session was immediately red-flagged and, at that, I pulled in to the paddock and called it a day. Thankfully the guy was ok and within 30 minutes was busy fixing his bike with cableties ready to go back out after lunch!
Its a shame it rained so much as I really enjoyed the track. With only 74bhp, the MT07 isn’t the fastest machine on the straights, especially when up against big litre sportsbikes, but I was really pleased with how it performed through the corners and chicanes which is where I could get my overtakes in. The PR4s were fantastic and really performed well in pretty tough conditions. We had a few moments where they slipped a bit, but I’ll be the first to admit it was likely due to user error. The main thing is that I stayed shiny side up!!
I can’t wait for the next one now…