Catalunya- March 2016

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alpinebiker
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Catalunya- March 2016

Post by alpinebiker » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:35 am

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It’s been like the countdown to having a baby, except the period was only 5 months not 9. I’m talking of course about the time elapsed since I was last on track. The winter break had given me time to fettle the R1, and now all I wanted to do was to get out on it again, brush off the cobwebs, and get back to thrashing around a track, and it's a good one to start the season with, the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.

As per usual there are three of us going. Me and my R1 which has been updated with an HM Quickshifter and Zero Gravity Corsa screen, Mark, who has bought Andy’s S1000RR and will be riding it for the first time, and Andy, who is bringing his R6 Cup race bike, as his brand new purchase of an RSV4 Factory has not yet had sufficient running in miles put on it.
After an early rise the next morning the bike is loaded and Sue and I set off at 9.20, some 20 minutes later than planned. The circuit is circa 800kms and an 8 hour drive for Mark and Andy, and 700kms and 7 ½ hours for me. We’ve planned to meet at the La Palme Ouest services near Perpignan at around 15.00, which would allow us some time for catching up and to fill the cars and petrol cans. With the track only being an hour and a half from the services we would hopefully arrive bang on time for the entry time to the circuit which the organisers had advised as being open from 18.00.

Eventually finding our way to where Andy had very kindly blocked off enough space for the three tents and cars, we started to unpack and set up the tents and living space for the next couple of days.

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With the tents erected and bikes on the stands we went and registered, and chose to take this rather fetching and top quality cap rather than a t-shirt, as our souvenir of the event.

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Next came fitting of race numbers and transponder. Me applying my number, 107


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Marks S1000RR

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Andys R6 Cup race bike

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As you can see there was a great sunset over the paddock that night

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Full of expectation for the next days riding and a forecast that looked rain free, we turned in for the night. Let's see what tomorrow brings!

The mandatory briefing was at 08.30, a time which always seems unnecessarily late given that the first group is due out at 09,00, and never leaves them much time to get ready, nevertheless. the days riders crowded into the pitlane to listen to the briefing notes which were given in 4 languages, French, English, German and Flemish, to accomodate the multi national riders.

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The head honcho giving the briefing was known to Andy who warned me that it may be a protracted meeting, and we soon found out why. "Normally" the trackday organisers representative welcomes you to the track, gives you a pep talk on how we're there to enjoy ourselves not race, and to take care as they'd like us all to go home in one piece. I say normally, because that didn't happen today. As he talked, if he didn't have 100% of the attendees attention and he heard anyone talking whilst he was, he would just stop talking. After a few stoppages he pointed to the watch on his wrist and told us he had plenty of time even if we didn't!

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Not a great way to endear yourself to people whose money you've taken and who want to hear the briefing and get on with it. When he stopped and directly addressed a guy on crutches who he claimed wasn't listening, the guy had a great put down line, saying he wasn't riding (check out the crutches) and that he should get on with it!

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After the ultra officious briefing which probably alienated a great number of the riders and certainly didn't win him any friends, finally it was over and the day was able to commence with the first group at 09.00.

The format of the day was a bit different from that we'd expected. Originally when we'd signed up the schedule showed there would be four groups each with 6x20 minute sessions, but there turned out to be five groups, with the format being one initial 20 minute session followed by 4x 25 minute sessions. All were chrono laps so groups would be revised after the timings from the first two sessions, revised during the lunchtime break, with the final 3 sessions run in the newly revised groups. The groups would also be revised at the end of the day for the following, and we'd need to get a new group sticker regardless of whether we stayed in the same group or not.

Andy was due out in the first session but decided not to ride as he felt the track would still be a bit cold and didn't want to risk his R6 which he is hoping to sell shortly.

Mark and I are in Group D which means we have over an hour to wait before going on track for the first time. With Mark not having ridden his new RR, and with only two sessions in which to put in a good time if we want to move up a group, we need to ride well from the off. When our turn came to go out, we quickly found the huge disparity in skill levels the beginners group always brings ( we only booked in this group as it was the only one left with two spaces when we booked). There was such diversity of lines and variation in speeds we soon began worrying how safe it was. Panigale riders who rode like demons in a straight line and then literally parked it every time they came to a bend, riders who braked at the most inopportune time, 3 or 4 really very quick riders clearly in completely the wrong group, and young kids and women on smaller capacity bikes looked a recipe for disaster, especially given the chrono times were showing 30 seconds between the fastest and slowest, which on a 2 minute something lap is a a massive discrepancy.

Checking the laptimer at the end of the first session revealed a not too impressive fastest lap of 2.26, but we were requainting ourselves with the track and I was having some small issues with the new quickshifter, I needed to adjust the kill times and readjust the rearset which seemed to be trying to dismantle itself!

Session two and it's Andy's turn to go out first, and despite "only" being on a 600 he quickly made us look stupid by turning in a rapid 2.05 lap.

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Next up we're out again, here are some shots of Mark from session 2.

Leaving the paddock

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Pitlane

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Passing me towards the end of the straight

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Being chased by one of the faster guys in our group

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Laptimes came down to 2.20, so a 6 second improvement, but still a long way to go to the 2.14 I'd done back in 2014 and Marks previous best of 2.04.

During the 3rd session the organisers were changing the groups, so at 13.00 we checked to see if we'd done enough to improve but no joy, we hadn't been quick enough, but were holding 22nd and 23rd positions of the 43 in our group, with the quickest having gone 2.08 and the slowest around 2.52!

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With the lunchbreak groups sorted and Andy (below) still having only done one session, we decided to go and watch him in action.

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I was still sorting my rearset when Mark set off for the grandstand nearby, so Sue and I told him we'd be along shortly but we didn't find him up there! Seems he'd found a good spot to take these photos from track level whilst we watched Andy hassling the bigger bikes from above in the grandstand. Clearly quicker in the bends it must have been frustrating for him watching the 1000's clear off as soon as the track straightened out, but nevertheless he was riding fast and well and keeping them honest.

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Session 3 and I managed to knock my time down to 2.18, so another two seconds off, but I was still being hampered by a finicky gear change caused by the self destructing rearset which seemed determined to dismantle itself.

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Session 4 and another drop in times down to my best of the day, a 2.17.95, whilst Mark was now at 2.16.13.
They say Lorenzo is metronomic, but I was amazed to find on the fourth and fifth laps I'd put in two consecutive times of 2.21.84 and 2.21.85, how's that for consistency?!

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I almost didn't make the last session as the damn rearset had decided to pull a bearing through one of the moving arms and I was struggling to find a way to keep it in place. Eventually after dismantling most of the rearset and finding a big enough washer, I was able to bodge a repair which held, allowing me to get back out for the last 25 minutes, and I'm glad I did, as no-one overtook me and I was able to ride my own rhythm and pace. I didn't improve my times but posted two very close laps at 2.19.72 and 2.19.75, split by a 2.20.30. The lap charts posted at the end of the day showed we had now moved up to 6th and 8th overall, which looked to be enough to have us moved a group for tomorrow.

With the day over after 36 laps, 218kms, and with the benefit of sun all day, we were tired but very happy to have had some great riding, next we looked forward to enjoying our evening supper.

You'll have seen in the pictures from our arrival day that there was a great sunset over the paddock. I'd asked Mark to take some pictures but he'd decided to hold off until tonight to take them, so later on he disappeared off to take these pictures of the track.

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After a few beers and finishing off a couple of bottles of wine it was time to turn in for the night, but we were all a bit worried that Sues online forecast of rain for the whole of the following day starting at 04.00 might be correct, hopefully not!

Day 2

In short the rain had started at around 05.00 and kept going and going and going. We got up at around 06.35 and in between the downpours started to unpack the stuff we'd been smart enough to put in the car overnight to keep dry, to repack it again for the return home. With close to zero chance of any let up in the rain a few brave souls on wets ventured out around 10.30 but it was game over and at 11.55 we headed home.

Back at home and waiting to be unloaded the following day

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SUMMARY
It's a shame we didn't get the second day, as having identified where I could gain time, I'm sure I could have gone much quicker, but it had been safe and the most fun and satisfaction I've had on track for some considerable time. The change of gearing to 16/45 worked a treat and the bike had handled like a dream, so all in all a great result.


BMW K1300GT & Yamaha R1 (track bike)

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Re: Catalunya- March 2016

Post by DaveR » Thu Apr 07, 2016 12:27 pm

Good write up. I love Catalunya.

Some trackday organisers really piss me off with their lengthy officious briefings. Focussed events used to be the worst - treating everyone like naughty school kids. Shame the weather meant an early bath.

Thanks for posting into out new Trackday Section.

Dave R

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Re: Catalunya- March 2016

Post by Vanman6 » Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:00 pm

Nice report and photos, I did some track days at Brands and Snetterton a few years ago, but yours looks the business!

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