Dan Thornton's Honda Hornet blog: Taking to the track
I've always enjoyed track days, but for a variety of reasons I've ended up missing out on any circuit riding for a while now. In fact, it's actually been a couple of years since I took part in an actual track day.
But I don't think I could have wished for a better re-introduction than the Honda Hornet and a Motosport Vision Novice Track Day (0870-8505013). The day is aimed at riders with limited experience, with less motorcycle on track at any time, and briefings after each session to cover topics from track position to riding position.
And if that wasn't enough, the Honda Hornet was a perfect match for the Brands Hatch Indy circuit. The stock suspension had been a little firm on bumpy Fenland roads, but it was great on the smooth (but hilly) Kent track. The only change I made was to replace the utterly dependable original Bridgestone BT012s for a set of sticky Avon Viper Sports (£160-£180 plus fitting 01225-703101), and dropped the pressures to track settings to Avon's recommended 30 psi front, 28 rear. You need to drop your pressures as the tyres are going to be worked much harder on the track. And you'll end up wearing them out far more quickly. The only thing to remember is to obey the advice to warm up your tyres for two or three laps with lower pressures.
The speed of the Honda Hornet was enough to be able to pass bikes ridden by less experienced riders, with the start-finish straight giving enough space to hit the rev limiter in third. The only place where I struggled at all was the downhill Graham Hill bend, which saw the revs drop out of the Hornet's powerband on the Cooper straight.
Unfortunately the planned onboard video of my heroics didn't quite come off, despite the great efforts of the Brands Hatch marshals to sort out my technical problems. If you are planning to take a camera, the rule is that you are not allowed any cables between rider and bike, so the entire unit needs to be saely bike-mounted.
You can get a quick idea of the day by watching the video, but the best thing to do is to try it for yourself! Within a few days I'd booked up for a track day on the full circuit. And having been placed in the Intermediate group, along with a friend who had a minor spill, it emphasised the value of attending a day aimed at novices before sharing the circuit with more experienced riders with slicks, tyre warmers and mechanics...
To read more about the Honda Hornet: click here