This track day at Brands Indy was organised by Focused Events and was unusual in two aspects; firstly this was a “Chrono” track day which meant that all the bikes were fitted with timing transponders, and secondly the track time would run from 9am through to 8pm. The cost of the day was £145 (US$ 220) which seemed a bargain despite the fact that there were four groups.The idea behind the Chrono day is that everyone gets sorted into the group most appropriate for their riding speed. The first session of the day involved three sighting laps followed by some free laps in whatever time remained of the session. The second morning session was timed and those times were used to regroup the riders for the sessions after lunch. Unfortunately, my transponder failed to work (or someone failed to note its times), and I found myself missing from any of the group lists after lunch!
I went to see Barry, one of the Focused Events organisers, and he put me into group 2 (inters). I suggested that I would be better off in group 1 (novice) but he said the group was full and I’d be alright in group 2 anyway. I completed one session in group 2 but found the pace intimidating as I was constantly worried about getting carved up or rear ended by someone as the whole field seemed to be passing me on a regular basis! Luckily someone else in our garage wanted to move from group 1 to 2, so we just swapped our group stickers on the front of the bike! I felt much happier in group 1 with the other novices as I tend to run about mid field in terms of lap times.
I suspect that the Chrono concept is a bit of a marketing gimic as the majority of riders will put themselves into the correct groups when they book up anyway. What it is good at doing is moving “wanna be” fast riders from the quicker to slower groups, and fast (novice track day) riders into the inters and faster groups. The Chrono timer only appear to be used for one session in the morning (see my notes below the lap times), although they do send out your lap times by email later – mine are attached below. It’s worth noting that won’t give out laps times to riders on the day as timing is generally prohibited.
|Time of Day||Lap||Lap Tm||Speed|
There are a few interesting things to note about this “Chrono” timer information:
- Although the laps run from 1 – 22, the time seems to span multiple sessions
- The time of day seems to bear no relation to any of the times I was actually out on track as my first three sessions started at 9am, 10:48 and 13:30
- I know I’m slow but the times reported at lap 2 and lap 5 are ridiculous!
- The lap times reported here for laps 6 to 22 correspond almost identically to the lap times reported by RaceChrono from session 2 except the transponder times are to the nearest 1/10th of second whereas RaceChrono reports them to the nearest 1/100th of a second
Overall I think the concept behind Chrono days is good but that its execution needs some refinement. If you have no data logger then it’s great but in my opinion you’re better off running your own logger and relying on that instead.Tommy Hill was the guest instructor for the day, and it was an absolute pleasure being overtaken by him and watching his smooth flowing lines around the track. Off track he seemed really personable and approachable – I’m sure that those riders lucky enough to have had a session’s instruction with him will have derived quite a bit of benefit and pleasure from the experience. In the photo, I’m being passed by Tommy (immediately in front of me) at turn 3 (Graham Hill). He then proceeded to lay down a solid black line of rubber on the exit from the corner. If I had even 10% of his ability I’d be happy!
The most striking thing about the day was the temperature. It was a real scorcher with temperatures that must have been in the mid 30’s centigrade (at least). We were advised to ride with a degree of caution as the unusually high temperatures were likely make the track feel greasy. In the event that turned out to be the case with a few offs during the day including one where the bike turned into a fireball after crashing at Paddock Hill (turn 1); presumably at quite a high speed.
Here’s a tip for (really) hot track days… if you ride to the circuit; bring a pair of shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops so that you can get out of your leathers between sessions. Wearing leathers all day even in the shade is not fun! Many riders could be seen sporting a wide array of underwear in the garages during the day as they shed their leathers with abandon, although I did happen to notice that the female riders didn’t!
Despite the hot weather, I rate the day as brilliant. Plenty of track time with some interesting characters in the garages. I caught up with a couple of familiar faces from previous track days and it was great to shoot the breeze with them again.
After my last outing at Brands, I came with some specific areas to work on based on the feedback that I had received. Did I make progress? Well, because this post is so long, I’ll add the video, times and my assessment in this second post.