What a weekend! Never let it be said GT Racing do things by halves. Hardly any dry time before the race, then two crashes by Brad, a gear spigot falling off so he was stuck in one gear, a ride through penalty, and a leaky front brake master cylinder on Geordie’s bike and still the team achieved 9th in class for 8 important championship points in the Hottrax Junior 1000 TAG series.
All thanks to another sterling effort by Pit boss Sam Bonnet, Chief mechanic Drew Tuck, Pitwall manager Doné Schreiber and Raceshop mechanic and advisor Simon Watson, your collective efforts were invaluable! Geordie, Brad and Doné arrived at Anglesey to clear skies on the Thursday evening in preparation for the trackday before raceday to prepare for their first ever look at the North Wales coastal circuit, only for the heavens to open almost immediately after they’d set up camp.
Friday dawned with miserable weather for the trackday, and Brad and Geordie set off tentatively for their first few laps behind the safety car in wet conditions, equipped with cold road tyres while nearly every other rider was out on warmed rain tyres. The track revealed itself to be quite technical and undulating, with a fair share of blind corners, negative camber, positive camber, and even its own Laguna Seca style corkscrew.
Sighting laps done, Brad pulled into the pits and set about changing his dry wheels for wets while Geordie carried on acquainting himself with the circuit aboard his old faithful GSXR750, with Sam and Drew on their way up to Anglesey with the newly rebuilt ZX10R, following the cataclysmic destruction at the Snetterton round. After lunch Brad got a chance to try out wet tyres for the first time ever, and with the fantastic abrasive new surface, was soon finding his way around the awesome Anglesey track.
As the day wore on the weather started to clear, with a dry line eventually forming, although both riders found themselves just using the day as a direction finding mission for the next day. Sam and Drew then arrived with the repaired ZX10R (thanks to Simon of Race Engineering at Bishops Stortford:- www.raceengineering.co.uk 01279 755544) and the team got scrutineered and prepared for Saturdays race.
Much to everyones relief Saturday presented a glorious sunny day, if somewhat breezy next to the Irish Sea. Both riders went out for combined free practice and immediately found good pace on their first ever dry session at the track. The positive camber and technical sections really allowing both pilots to enjoy their way around.
Qualifying was again a combined affair thanks to the addition of the Supermono class taking up track time, but a team strategy ensued and GT Racing qualified 3rd on the 26 strong grid, and 2nd in class. Considering the session had started with a brief shower, and was interrupted by an oil spill all the way round the track, the team were overjoyed with the result. The decision was again made for Brad to start the race, with Geordie holding the bike at the pit wall ready for the Le mans style start. A rather disastrous start then unfolded as not only were the bikes all too close together but the woman holding the red flag at the front dropped it in start style instead of pointing at the man with the Welsh flag, and so a hesitant 26 riders all eventually rushed across the track to start the race.
Brad hit a false gear and had to re-engage 1st before leaving the grid in 3rd place, following bike # 70 for the first lap and a half before passing into 2nd place. GT racing then maintained the gap to first place and was gapping 3rd position, setting the second fastest lap with a 1m15.2, which would remain until the end of the race.
On lap 5 Brad was following the leader as he passed the first backmarker, and lost the front under braking into the slowest corner on the track, luckily there was no real damage to rider or bike, but it wouldn’t start, so he ran back to the pits with the transponder for Geordie to carry on the race while the team tried to figure out what next to do. Up in the Race Control tower Brad was told that unless the pace car came out during Geordie’s session, thus enabling a recovery van to be dispatched, then the race was over for the number 49 team.
Not prepared to leave it to chance he ran back up the hill to the stricken ZX10R where it eventually fired up again, and rode it to the pits to get re-scrutineered, and the all-clear by Race Direction. Geordie pitted after his thirty minute session, unaware that Brad was now ready to go again, and inadvertently forgot to put his foot down at the pit lane entrance. Brad rode off to try to claw back some positions with the team now down in second last place. Two laps into the session the gear change spigot fell off the lever, leaving him stuck in 3rd gear, and three laps later he was called in for a 30 second ride through penalty for Geordie’s foot-down transgression.
This turned out to be a real silver lining as he could now tell the team he needed to pit again, and rode out to do two more laps stuck in third gear before coming in for another rider changeover. Geordie then put in some more good consistent laps and the team started to gain some ground on the competition. After another half hour on track Geordie pitted again and Brad set off to try and put an incident free session in for once, this was all going well until about ten minutes in when, while chasing a very quick GSXR1000, they came upon another lapped rider, with the Gixxer rider going round the outside, Brad going up the inside, and powered on too much over changing camber, lost the rear and got thrown over the highside, luckily tumbling onto the grass and sustaining only minor scrapes.
Picking the bike up he restarted it ok this time and rode into the pits to pull the grass and mud off the bike, and set off again. Geordie, who had by now been summoned to the pit lane from the team camp got Brad called in early and rode off with the red mist truly down to gain back some important positions in the standings, with GT Racing running in around 20th position overall.
Brad set off very carefully for his final session of the race, running the full half hour this time, and gaining a very handy tow from Claire of Throttlemonkeys 172, who he followed for several laps before she lost control exiting turn one and crashed in front of him – luckily Claire was able to return her transponder to the pits for her teammate Joan to carry on. As Geordie took over for the final 30 minutes of the race, GT Racing were looking like being able to control their 16th position overall, with 9th in class.
On the pitwall everyone was unaware that Geordie was getting serious brake fade with his front brake master cylinder drawing air, though luckily he was able to ride around the problem and keep it in the race. It was a nailbiting few minutes until the chequered flag came out and GT Racing claimed 8 very valuable and unexpected championship points after a very harrowing and eventful day.
Once again the excellent commentary by Steve Day saw many mentions of GT Racings exploits, although for all the wrong reasons. Steve was kind enough to mention the team at the prize giving later that evening, and earned GT Racing a round of applause from everyone, cheers guys! Again a massive thanks to the whole team, especially Sam and Drew for making the monster drive up to Anglesey with the repaired bike, Niel from Createq for site management and the lovely Doné for her excellent pitwall work.
The final word from Brad:- “Sorry to the whole team for my stupid crashes, and credit to you all for carrying us through, thanks everyone!” Next round at Cadwell Park on 4th of July, we hope to see you all there! www.gt-racing49.com