Pembrey Circuit in South Wales gave GT Racing their second unfamiliar track of the season for Round 5 of the Hottrax Junior 1000 TAG series, with neither rider having seen the circuit before, and without the regular team structure in place it was only Geordie, Brad and Doné making the trip to the far West.
Friday morning’s practice thankfully remained dry as Geordie and Brad rode out to find their lines and setup. Pembrey proved that while essentially quite flat, it was very grippy, and an enjoyable track, but with the rain coming at lunchtime they called it a day, not wanting to risk any incident; and also keen to save the ‘wets’ in case they were needed on race day.
The executive decision thus being made to sack it and crack open the Foster’s. Once the bikes and kit had been scrutineered the second executive decision to move the team vans and bikes down to the allocated pit lane spot was somewhat flawed, as setting the awning up on Geordie’s race van was ill advised and it ripped itself to pieces during the night as the awful weather continued.
Further drama unfolded in the morning when circuit officials advised that we had set up in the Fire lane, and had to move again. Practice and qualifying were affected by the wet conditions, with a dry line appearing most of the way round by the end of qualifying, but unfortunately with not enough time to change wheels. This saw GT Racing in 12th place on the grid, a fair position given the lack of track time and wet experience.
With the regular pit crew of Sam and Drew absent from this round, the team are extremely grateful to Nick Matthews, Adam Woby and Glen Levy from Apex Racing (Senior 600 team unable to race due to Nicks broken collarbone from Cadwell) who kindly volunteered to help with pit duties.
The assistance was massively welcome, eternal thanks to you fine gents! At quarter to two on Saturday the start procedure got underway with two sighting laps and then lining up along pit wall, Brad again started the race with Geordie holding the bike as almost 30 riders sprinted across the track at the dropping of the Welsh flag.
A fantastic start saw the green 49 machine surge from 12th to the front of the pack, entering turn one in 2nd place behind Andy Rouse on the Project 39 R6, and with Rousey running deep into the corner Brad pulled it back to take the lead exiting the first hairpin.
Maintaining this lead for two laps was a surreal but most welcome experience for the rookie squad – mirroring a similar start at Snettertons Round 2- and with Brad barely able to believe his position as he crossed the line a second time still in the lead.
The #39 R6 then got by at the hairpin, closely followed by two litre class bikes, with Brad then holding 4th overall and 3rd in class until the end of the 33 minute session.
Into pit lane and Doné performed a perfect Transponder change with the help of Nick and Glen who aided with tyre warmers and refueling, as Geordie set off to start his first stint.
Steady progress on the number one Kawasaki until Geordie ran wide at turn one, and while attempting to turn the bike round on the run-off area lost the front at slow speed on the ‘marbles’ and tumbled off.
Luckily no damage inflicted and he was able to remount and carry on with the session without losing too much time. At the hour mark Brad joined the track again following another flawless pit stop, only to feel the chain jump on the sprocket about 2 laps into the half hour session, this got progressively worse until most of the faster runners were coming past, and so with some dubious signaling to pit wall he pitted to get the sprocket changed as Geordie took over on track.
The chaotic conditions soon saw the Safety Car out, this time for a rider crashing onto the straight right in front of pitlane, and with a frustrated Geordie following closely behind the Audi S4 for much of his session, hardly any ground was made up. Keen to make amends for time lost with the sprocket incident, Brad was waiting to get out on track for what would have been his last session without the interrupted second stint, only for the bike not to start, and needed pushing down pitlane. This was quickly re-started and GT Racing set off in search of important championship points.
Geordie’s final session was again blighted by the deployment of the Safety Car for yet another incident on track, with the race now becoming something to forget for our intrepid leader – who had been experiencing shooting pains down his left arm the night before (Brad issuing team orders that he was not to die before the chequered flag dropped).
Special mention needs to go to Froggy, Butch and Ros of Team Asbo (#16 1000’s) who have always been very good friends to GT Racing, indeed helping with fuel for the final session at Pembrey – thanks guys!. That and their two dinners the night before (and Froggy’s dead AP brake pads) were surely designed to help the GT cause.
After 3 hours on track the chequered flag finally dropped at 5pm, with GT Racing claiming 7th place. This was a disappointing result given the potential, but with this being the first visit to the track, and the incidents that occurred, it was a welcome points haul. All things considered (including sunglasses getting nicked from pitlane, and Geordie’s van breaking down on the way home), it could have been worse, and the team now look ahead to Snetterton, a track both riders know and enjoy.
Join us there for Round 6 on August 14th & 15th where we hope to step onto the podium once again.
Thanks again to Dennis for lending us the awning in pit lane, Darren Hansen for the excellent team livery and new magnetic logos, as well as Doné Schreiber for faultless pitwall and pitlane work, the excellent Apex Racing boys for all your support, our friends in Team Asbo, and Niel Chapman for website maintenance and support. See you at Snetterton! www.gt-racing49.com Sponsors needed!!