After cramming in some trackdays at Mallory Park over the last few glorious weeks - obviously, come race day, it hammered it down. I've not been a fan of (or performed well in) the wet, so I was determined to get my head down.
I've seen that rain tyres can work if you push on, and felt first hand that they really don't if you're overly steady. So my only goal of the day was to force myself to grow a pair and crack on.
Qualified: 14th of 15
Lap time: 1:13.412 (lap 5 of 6)
The conditions during qualifying didn't feel too bad - unlike my footpeg.
For some reason, my rearsets have a flat hex nut-esque end, with absolutely no knurling. As soon as it gets even slightly wet, your foot slips right off. It's ridiculous.
I wobbled around for a couple laps, trying to avoid moving my feet, then came in and attacked the pegs with a file.
I qualified second to last. Whatever.
Started: 14th of 15
Best lap time: 1:03.869 (lap 9 of 10)
I'll be honest, I wasn't particularity looking forward to racing in the wet. It had stopped raining by the time we rolled onto the grid, and there were fewer puddles on the line. So I just convinced myself that it was fine, and to just ride at 70% of how I would if it was dry.
I made a bit of a balls of the start. I'd not bothered to look where the lights were, and couldn't see the flag man point to the lights before the start (serves me right for qualifying so badly). So when I heard everyone else drop the clutch, I did too. Luckily, I was ready!
I managed to pick up off a row (I think) into turn 1, and another 2 going into Edwina's. At this point, I was 9th-ish. The bikes in front were already spreading out. I crossed the line with a 1:13 - matching my qualifying time from a standing start.
I managed to take 8th and catch up with 7th within a lap or two - running 1:05/1:06s comfortably. Nice one.
I struggled to pass 7th. I was losing bags of time exiting Edwina's - having to keep the throttle closed for longer meant that my bike bogged on the exit and their zx10 just pulled away. I managed to get a bit closer into the hairpin, but got left again down the pit straight. Agghhh.
My best chance was Godard's. I felt a lot more comfortable around there, and made up bags of time on the entry. The only trouble was that the only way to pass was around the outside, through some puddles.
I made a trial pass one lap - running wider to test the surface, and exit drive. Providing I stayed either side of the line of bitumen running mid track, it was fine.
So I left a bit of a gap going into Edwina's, in the hopes I could run through at my own speed and exit higher up in the rev range - which worked. I was much closer for the remainder of the lap, and lost a lot less ground down the pit straight.
This was it.
I entered quicker, making up the small gap straight away and began to run wide - around the outside - getting ahead half way around Edwina's.
Now, I knew that if I managed to get through Edwina's and through the esses without being losing the place, he wouldn't get it back.
So, I began drifting back towards the service road of the exit of Godard's - essentially, slowly taking his line from him - preventing him from getting a better drive on the run to Edwina's.
I took a small risk to get through and out quicker than him, and it paid off. He didn't get back past and I started posting 1:04s.
The last lap flag came out and I saw a 1:03 flash up on my dash. I was well happy.
Exiting Edwina's I had a look over my shoulder to see nobody.
So I backed off - and I shouldn't have.
Exiting the bus stop to begin the run down the Devil's elbow (this being the last corner, of the last lap), I took a much narrower line than I, or anyone, normally would.
The unused tarmac after stacks of rain had fallen on it, after weeks of blistering sunshine must have been greasy as hell - combined with not having any weight loading the rear - as soon as I cracked the throttle, the thing whipped around and I was on my ass.
Asses and elbows later, I walked off the track in the comforting arms of a concerned marshal.
The bike lazy highsided and took off down the track tank first. In the process, it took my legs from beneath me, leaving me to ass-slam the track, followed by my noggin. I've got a right shiner on my butt, and had a sore neck for a day - but otherwise I'm a-ok.
Since it was banging it down, I wore my old leathers, which are left with a couple of scuffs and scrapes. Bit gutted about the lid being toast, but by golly did it take a beating on my behalf.
The bike held up well. The frame sliders, rearset and bar ends taking the brunt of it. The swingarm however, had the paddock stand threads ripped out of it. So that'll be a new one of those.
Thankfully, Meala Racing Development are sorting it all out for me. Top bananas.
All in, I'm happy with how the meeting went. I did what I set out to do - push on in the wet.
Special thanks for Track Bike Photos for the photo.