It was an interesting day to be honest.
The track itself is a nasty piece of work; I think GD once described it as PI's younger, uglier sister. I don't mind it but lots of little twists and niggles that will catch you out if you aren’t too focussed. That said, I did have a great day, at least when I was out on the track… I’ll explain…
I rode the bike to the track in (most of the) original plastics, the intention being to change to race glass when I got there. After about 45 mins, the bike was all ready to go to scrutineering. I turned the key. Nothing. Removing the original headlight fairing (and harness) meant the bike wouldn’t start. A mate (Dave) who I brought along to buy the coffees turned out to be a fairly decent spanner monkey. He came into his own and we worked out that there must have been some sort of switch or light or something that had to be connected for the bike to run. We stripped the harness from the headlight and connected it to the bike again. It worked. The bike fired up first time. We then tied up the harness with some cable ties and the bike went through scrutineering no problem, but it had taken up valuable time and it meant we’d need to re-strip the harness out at the end of the session. We put the bike up on the stands and fitted the tyre warmers.
My turn came and I set off. Things felt pretty good. 1st lap we had to go round under yellows (normal for track days here I'm told). I exited turn 12 and headed down the main straight dropping down a gear at the end and tipped the bike into the fast, long, left hander. A short burst of throttle up to the approach to turn 2 and hard on the brakes. I tipped the bike into the hairpin - for those of you not familiar with the layout, another left-hander..
It was something that took me by surprise. At pretty close to full lean, the bike suddenly cut out on me. I was carrying enough speed to be able to sit the bike up, and coast off the inside of the turn. I stopped by the wall and tried starting the bike. Nothing. I unplugged the harness we had been fiddling with, then reset it. The bike fired up. I finished the lap and came straight in. Dave, who watched the whole thing unfold, was puzzled. “What happened?” he asked “No idea. It just died on me going round 2”. We checked over the harness again but my session had finished before we were able to get any more laps done. The next session came – and the same thing happened. Turn 2. It didn’t seem to matter what gear I was in, what revs I was doing, or where I was on the track. Same thing. Every single lap. Off on the infield time after time. I should have fitted knobblies. Frustrated, I came in again. I said I couldn't ride it the way it was.
I asked another mate of mine (yes - I have one more than you Ledge - or is that 2 more??) to take the bike out for the next session to see if he had the same problem. I watched him finish the first lap fairly quickly. Then I didn’t see him for ages. He appeared, came into the pits and told me the same thing had happened to him, but at turn 9 (a right hander) not at turn 2. He reckoned that the bike was unrideable the way it was – it wasn’t giving me a lot of confidence, that was certain. We stripped the bike and noticed the power commander wasn't working either. We took off the tank and disconnected the PC. It made no difference. The wheels in Dave’s head were turning; something he joked about earlier may well have been the cause. We stripped the bike down again and attached the wiring loom to the original front fairing again. With the engine running, Dave turned the front fairing upside down. The bike cut out. “Mercury switch” he said. “There must be a mercury switch in the front of the bike which cuts the engine if the bike leans too much – it’d be a safety measure in the event of a crash” Well slap me around and call me Susan. Mercury switches. And there was I thinking they were used in rocket science and bomb-making. So all this time, the bike was thinking I was going to crash. Well thanks to the friggin mercury switch, I very nearly did. As you can imagine, I wasn't happy, the bike cruising most of the way round a lap without the engine running.
We put the original fairings back on and I headed out for the last session. Thankfully, it all came together…. I had a great last few laps – full of confidence, and it made the whole day worthwhile. Not too much in the way of track time, but fun nevertheless. I am definitely a bit track rusty though.
Dave, as well as being a top spanner monkey, was also able to make a video of the day's events. For a laugh at a really slow rider, have a look at THIS
. And watch out for the dummy spit at the very end