Arriving at Silvestone at 7:30am under a cold overcast grey sky, the weather couldn’t have been more different from my last outing here two weeks previously. With Andy’s help, I had made good progress riding a little faster on this circuit. This time I would be riding on my own trying to put some of the pointers that Andy gave me into practice and I was curious to see just how much more progress on my own.
The track day comprised three groups; novice (group 1), inters (group 2) and fast/advanced (group 3). The fast group contained many racers as BEMSEE would be racing on the same International circuit the following weekend. I signed on, to be greeted by Neil and Joe, two of Silverstone’s friendly instructors who have both helped me in the past with instruction and tips. I think they were a little surprised to see me back again so soon!
Since borrowing a set of tyre warmers last time out, I was sold on the concept of using them and brought my own set of Diamond ones and paddock stands. After unloading my bike and gear and getting everything set up, I headed over to the briefing. Luckily this one was a shorter and more to the point one than the previous one two weeks earlier!
Being in the middle group, we were out after the fast boys. The track still had a few damp patches on it and looked cold. I had a feeling that my warm tyres would lose most of their heat after the three sighting laps and the short return to the pit lane prior to heading out for the remainder of the session again. While the sighting laps proceeded without incident, the mayhem really started when we returned to the track for the rest of the session. On the first lap back on track, someone overtook me on the grass going into the Vale! I’m surprised that they thought I wouldn’t stay to the right of the track on the corner entry before flicking left for the chicane.
The first session was carnage. Three offs and a red flag terminated the session; the result of some spectacularly bad riding. Talking with Joe afterwards, he figured that this was the first time that some riders had been on track this year and their excitement was getting the better of them. He hoped for calmer riding after lunch when people had a few sessions under their belt and stodgy food to slow them down.
A 250 two stroke was parked next to me in the garage. Its owner had only just fitted its newly rebuilt engine the night before. You don’t often see two strokes on track days, and this one was lovely despite the fact that it has been created from a selection of different models and makes of bike! I offered to follow and film him for as long as I could keep up with him. On track, I found keeping up with him harder than I thought because although it was relatively easy to catch him on the straights, he literally flew through the corners!
Unfortunately his bike only managed three laps before his engine seized going into Stowe at the end of the long Hanger straight. You can see those laps and the effects of the engine seizing in the above video. Despite the rear wheel locking up, he managed to save it and avoid a tumble. He also seemed pretty cheerful when he returned to the pits considering what had just happened.
Although Joe had offered to ride with me for a bit in the second session, with one thing and another we didn’t manage to hook up until the third session. Following him that session, I managed to reduce my lap time from my best the previous fortnight by a full second again and that was in a session with lots of other traffic on track. In the debrief that followed, Joe indicated that I needed to try and improve my consistency following my lines from lap to lap and to get really try to get on the gas earlier in the corner exit. One benefit of a Daytona 675 with an Arrow pipe is that anyone following you can hear as soon as the throttle is opened up hard so Joe was easily able to tell when I was (or wasn’t) opening the throttle. He suggested going out in the next session on my own and concentrating on those two areas.
The next session didn’t particularly feel any faster than the others. However I did notice that I was overtaking quite a few more riders than I had in the previous sessions. On returning to the pits, I found that I had just shaved another 2.5 seconds off my previous best time!
That session is shown above – it was the last before lunch and my best session of the day as it turned out.
After lunch, Joe found me on the track and tagged along for a bit, before leading me around again. At one point on track he came past on the Hanger straight giving me a big thumbs up. Chatting afterwards, he said that my exit out of the tight right hander on to Hanger Straight was light years better than before – he could hear me opening the throttle earlier and harder than in the previous sessions. In fact, he jokingly remarked that he actually had to open the throttle fully on his GSXR750 to catch me, which was the first time that day! I didn’t manage to better my time from the previous session but was still pleased with the progress I had made.
The other aspect of my riding that Joe mentioned was body position when I complained about finding it really hard to match the radius of his turns at speed. He reminded me of the need to loosen up above the waist and drop my inside shoulder towards the corner far more than I was currently doing. The more weight I shifted to the inside of the turn and the lower that weight, the tighter a turn I should be able to make for less lean angle. Looking at my tyres, Joe reminded me that there was more lean to be had from them and that this coupled with a more open throttle mid turn would allow for higher speeds through the faster turns like Stowe, Club and Abbey. One final thing he picked me up on was having my feet too far forward in the footpegs; something that came back to bite me the very next session!
Over lunch, I’d been chatting with two riders riding Suzuki SV650s. One was riding in the fast group lapping at 1:16!! The other, Del, was hoping to start racing this year, and as I had passed him earlier in the day on track, I offered to follow and film him as best I could for the sixth session. We managed to get one lap in before it was red flagged. After a few minutes delay back in the pits, we were allowed out on track again. Despite the fact that the SV only makes 70bhp compared to the Daytona’s 112bhp following Del proved to be a lot harder than I thought. He was really quick on the gas coming out of the corners as you can see in the video below.
During that session, I managed to catch my toe when cranked over to the right going through the Village right/left complex. That silly body positioning mistake coupled with my general tiredness made me decide to stop for the day before I had an accident during the next and final session of the day. I had been riding harder (and faster) than ever before on this circuit and the pace had taken more out of me than I previously realised. I was happy to head home with myself and the bike in one piece.
My times for the day were as follows:
|1||-||-||Didn’t time this session|
|3||9||1:31.86||Riding with Joe|
|5||10||1:31.6||Riding with Joe again|
The quick witted among you may have noticed the discrepancy between the times reported in the table above and those shown in the video overlays. This happens because RaceChrono is using the mid-corner at Stowe as the start-finish line, while the video overlay is using the first line on the start-finish straight after Club alongside the new Wing complex.
This track day was a lot busier than my previous visit in the Inters group. It also had some pretty fast riders; some of whom were so excited to be on track (probably for the first time this year) that it looked as though they’d forgotten to bring their brains with them. This probably explained some of the offs and red flags. Thankfully no one got hurt.
Silverstone is really starting to feel like a second home to me. Hooking up with Neil and Joe again was great fun – the instructors at Silverstone really are a great bunch of guys. I’m especially grateful to Joe who helped me so much throughout the day. As I drove home in the van the evening, I reflected on how much fun I’d had and how much I’d learnt. I’m back again in four weeks time on Silverstone’s GP circuit and I can’t wait!