Feature Image: Belinda Watson
On the 11th and 12th of February 2017 was the weekend that the 2017 season kicked off for me. I feel like I’m the last arrival at a party or something as everyone seems to be gearing for their season before me. I have been feeling rather left out while waiting for the Australasian Superbike Championship to kick off... but that’s not until April.... it feels like an eternity away.
So in the interim, I thought I’d have a run at the Honda RJays Road Racing Championships hosted by St George Motorcycle Club. As I’m riding a 2015 ZX10r, I am only eligible for the ‘Unlimited’ category which is essentially the newer model bikes (explanation for the non-racing folk).
It was an interesting weekend to say the least. Conditions were pretty ordinary with record temperatures across Sydney. At the peak, the track was 70 degrees and air temperature was 46!. The track felt greasy and the heat was simply overwhelming. I had extremely hot dry air blasting through the vents of my helmet, not dissimilar to hot hair dryer in your eyes at close range. Not pleasant for someone who wears contact lenses to see! It was absolutely brutal.
In garage 38, we were lucky enough to have a small pool which was promptly filled with ice and I think was what got us through practice, qualifying and the first round. There were certainly a lot of hot and bothered riders out there that’s for sure.
So after practice and qualifying I was feeling quite ‘out of sorts’ almost like I was riding someone else’s bike. I think it’s indicative of a long break and a decent spill right at the end of last season. I was really pushing to get the bike squared away leaving me no time to get to the track before the meeting. I was quite off my usual pace. The one thing I know about myself is that I need a little bit of time to get in my groove. One practice and one qualifying session is just not enough for me. Note to self... get organised earlier!
First race on Saturday was a little hair raising! I got caught up in an incident at turn 1 and collision avoidance was the name of the game, not once but twice in the space of two corners on the first lap. So after putting my heart back in my chest and re-grouping... I decided to work on a few fundamentals while I was not feeling particularly comfortable.
I must mention the flag marshals at this point in time. I do not know how they stayed out in that heat. My observations lead me to believe that the ‘flag marshal’ is a strange and unusual breed of people. They share two unusual personality traits..... selflessness and dedication. A few ended up needing some medical assistance and I think after that the organisers saw the writing on the wall and we called it a day. Good call I think.
Sunday came around and everyone in the paddock was hoping for better conditions. The organisers opted to omit warm up in favour of an earlier start to racing. It was a decision unanimously supported by all the riders.
The first race was uneventful but I felt so much better and got into a little bit of a battle with a few of the guys which was loads of fun. I made a mistake on the last lap, missing a vital gear change into turn 9. Of course I relinquished my position with no drive on the exit. It cost me two positions. The good thing about that race was that I felt it was positive and I started to put a few things together as well. Relaxing on the bike, getting back to my usual braking markers etc etc. It’s amazing how the thoughts in your head translate to what you input into the bike. When I relax I move better on the bike, my body position improves dramatically.... it all just comes together. Still off the pace but headed in the right direction.
So after that first rotation, racing was cancelled for the remainder of the day due to a serious crash. I do not know the circumstances of what occurred and it’s certainly not for me to comment on. However I must say that I was very sad to hear that the rider had passed. My heart goes out to the family.
I cant help but feel that the universe was against the organisers of St George Motorcycle club. Despite their best efforts there was not much actual racing.
So, between now and the next race meeting which is the opening round of Australasian Superbike Championships, I’ll be getting in as much track time as the budget will permit. This weekend has really highlighted the need for some time in the saddle.
Keep them shiny side up folks.