AMCC Round 3 | Race Report
I signed up for a day of racing, and went snorkeling, with a mix of tenpin bowling from my team mates instead!
I set out with a goal of achieving my first 1.25 around the National Track at Hampton Downs, but my hopes were thwarted by the impending doom of rain… and to make it worse, it held off, right until it was our time to race. Convenient right…
As the rain drops slowly started to fall during riders briefing, I really did have absolutely no idea on how this was going to go. A) I had busted my hand in a dirt bike fall three weeks prior and was still in a temporary cast… B) I had never raced in the rain before… and C) I was running the ultimate in road legal slicks, Bridgestone R11’s. Before someone asks again where the set of wets were, this is a specific rule set about for this particular cup whereby we must be running usual DOT rated street tyres, without warmers – not wets allowed here!
My only saving grace of the day was that I had managed to book a garage, so pleased I did after it became torrential about 30 minutes in.
It took a lot of mental prep to get on and go out for a very wet qualifier. I had already seen a few of the cup riders opt out and head on home, so my mindset was at a pretty nerve-racking level by now. I’m watching dudes that have ridden in the cup for years, pack up and ponder off – is there something they know that I don’t?!
A few PSI up on the street slicks, a quick clean of the visor (pointless… really), and I was booted and suited, ready to roll.
I lied. I wasn’t ready.
I was a ball of nerves going into each corner, aiming to keep the bike upright, while leaning all the way off, and still trying to get around each corner sunny side up, was an interesting feat. I was actively feeling the limits of the tyres, and I quickly discovered after they walked a bit around turn 6, that that limit was very slim. I can’t say I’ve ever drifted a road bike before… but today, I did. My last few months of dirt riding really had me tuned into how the ol’ girl handled, It felt surprisingly similar, and the more I reminded myself to let it do it’s thing, the better it got. One thing I entirely forgot, was a pinlock for my helmet, so here’s me, riding along, with my visor up, and bullets at my face down every straight (I don’t recommend…)
I popped out a 14th place qualifier spot at 1:50.578 – not too shabby considering the majority of laps were me dodging riders coming off or going ice skating. Watching a Ninja 400 flop right in front of me just before Turn 2 was rather interesting, especially given it was on the straight and narrow!
We started out with a grid of 33 riders on board…
Race 1 was all-go, and surprisingly, through the course of the day, I actually had some okay starts! (par Le Mans... I’ll get into that soon). I decided that being at the back and finishing the race was the best bet for the first one out, and I am so pleased I took this approach, because as we all went swimming into turn 5, it turned into a slip and slide of bikes, and riders, everywhere. Kendal decided she wanted to really experience this new slide, and parted ways with her bike, for it to then accidentally take out another rider, and they both experienced this newfound way of fun…. Both riders are okay, but heck, I take my hat off to Kendal getting back into it for Race 2!
This did mean a Red flag was out, so back to the grid we went.
Same approach for Race 1A as it was for the Race 1… at the back, slow and steady. A very noneventful race, more just me getting a feel for riding in the rain and learning the right braking points, lines and techniques. It was great to be able to dial it down and focus on the slower aspect of racing for a change, plus I couldn’t see anything out of my visor, so that didn’t help much either. I managed to grab a 15th place… being reminded of course that a few riders had gone out just 5 minutes before... so really, I was very much at the back (haha!) Running in 6 seconds slower over the qualifier for a 1:56.765.
Race 2 was up, and with some excellent support on the ground and Kiwi ingenuity, we cleaned my visor inside and out with Plexus, slapped a cable tie around my helmet to stop my visor shutting, opened up all the vents, and alas, fog be gone!
As soon as the lights went out, off I went, pottering around the track in the same chilled manner I had done before. This was very much a Sunday stroll…
I was enjoying myself and quickly realised I could out-brake a few people given how light both the bike and I were, we just had that little extra forgiveness over the GTR’s. As we rolled into Lap 2, I heard a pretty horrific sound behind me of metal grinding, and quickly checked next to me to assess it wasn’t me taking a fall, but nothing. Neither a bike nor rider came sliding past, so off I tootled into turn 2. I ended up catching up to another X4R, and we played cat and mouse (at a very slow speed) until eventually I caught him... It wouldn’t last long, as just as we were into the last lap, he caught my drift (or drops…) and away he went up the straight to take the lead in front. I was 99% certain I was at the very back, so heck, what’s the difference between last for me or second to last, at least I finished! As I arrived back to the pits, my lovely support crew (thanks Luke, Ken, Andy & Tim) were giving me a grand clap and a well done – here’s me thinking I was being congratulated for just finishing, but no. I had actually managed to whack out an 11th place, right in behind 10th! My goal of a top 10 finish was much closer than I could have ever imagined, that’s for sure. It turns out there were a few riders behind me after all, and one of those happened to be Kendal, who unfortunately tried to get past me into Turn 1, and that metal sound I heard… You guessed it ☹ So, from three ladies to just, well, one, I guess.
As there had been so many slip and slides for the day, the last race was canned, which marked Race 3 as the final – also a Le Mans start, my favourite!
By this point, there were only 21 of us on the grid (12 riders lost through the day) so it was rather different to have such a small start for a change. I love my Le Mans, this is where I get to shine… That is, until the lights go out, you run to the bike, go to turn it on and……… nothing. Again? Nothing. Luke pops his head around, the Marshall’s come running (a dead bike on track is a bad bike!) and alas, the damn kill switch had been flicked, on and GO! I don’t think I have ever hauled into Turn 1 as fast as I just did. I was right at the back, which meant I had a lot of ground to cover. Fortunately, the ground had dried out somewhat, so I was able to give her some goose and get going. Ahhh, the freedom of being able to put down power without slippage, amazing!
I was motivated! This was my first ‘proper’ race of the day, and I needed to get going. Ripping into each corner again felt amazing, the bike felt good, the tyres felt good, the track felt good, and slowly but surely, I was picking off riders, one by one. I found myself a fair way back from what I felt was a rider at ‘mid pack’, and damn, catching him was a challenge. Slowly but surely, I was creeping up towards bike #68, and alas, off we went into Turn 6. I managed to borrow his tow on the uphill, to eventually wiggle past. The checkered flag was out, and DAMN, that was close. I was convinced I had managed to sneak past, but on getting back into the pits, I realised that they hadn’t counted my last lap and stopped the clock at lap 5… bugger. So, that slotted me into the grand place of 11th.
A darn good effort, with smiles all around, but a lot of confusion to be had… 1 second behind 10th, but a whole lap missing in total (If you’re a Speedhive wizz, let me know how this works!)
I took away 12th overall for the day and first on the ladies podium, so, one place better than the last. Not quite the Top 10 finish I’m aiming for, but I will get there eventually!
Thanks heaps to all the Marshal’s who made the day possible, for not just sitting in the rain for the duration of the day but plucking rogue bikes off the track in every race. And of course, Ken, from Carl Cox Hyosung & Ninja Cup for making this series possible!
Luke for being my pit crew… and my little brother, Tim, for snapping some photos!
Round 4 will be held at Taupo Motorsport Park and features a one hour enduro… best I get running!