Snetterton is one of the fastest tracks in the country. The high speeds generated on a 1000cc race bike like my R1 leave me my hands shaking and my head spinning after each track session. It’s the ultimate high. Having said that, it’s not the sort of place you’re going to have a slow crash, so leaving the circuit in one piece on Sunday evening is always the biggest result of the weekend, regardless of how well the racing’s gone.
This is my third visit to the Norfolk track in 2009. I’ve raced here twice and been here when my brother raced in the Rookies earlier in the year. It’s not the most hospitable place to live from Thursday to Sunday night. Being in such a flat location there’s constant wind, which knackers you out anyway and that’s on top of all the practicing, racing and sleeping in the van. By the time you’ve got home and unpacked you’re absolutely spent. Rock and roll it isn’t, and I’m glad I don’t have to go back again this year.
For the races I scored a 7th (I should’ve been 6th, but I stupidly ran on at the end of the straight on the penultimate lap), a 9th and an 11th (I would’ve been 9th if I hadn’t even more stupidly jumped the start and got a 10-second penalty).
But the best thing for me about this club racing lark are the characters involved and the unwavering commitment they put in. The paddock is packed full of racers, friends, family, organisers and marshals who all sacrifice an unbelievable portion of their life, time, money and energy in to racing. They/we do all this despite the obvious dangers, just for the chance to win a plastic trophy and the hope of seeing our name somewhere good on the results sheet.
Each and every person in that paddock at Snetterton last weekend has a story to tell, but here are just a couple of the stand-out characters I bumped into:
Seb Bulpin, Yamaha R6, MRO Supersport 600
We shared a garage with Seb at the weekend and I was staggered to find out that after a horrific accident at Cadwell at the end of 2007, he now lives with 34 pieces of metal in his body, including his skull. He’s lucky to be here, let alone racing! This hasn’t deterred him from racing, or from breaking his collar bone twice this year in racing incidents. A top guy and a very fast racer.
Joe Burns, Yamaha R1, MRO Powerbike
Joe’s been a front runner in the National Superstock 600 Championship this year on a Splitlath racing R6. But he moved up to the Superstock 1000 class mid-season on a new crossplane crank R1, despite being right at the front of the 600 the championship. He was using the MRO Powerbike races as practice to get dialled into the bike ahead of the next Superstock 1000 race at Croft. He made everyone look silly on Sunday by winning both feature races and a best lap time of 1.08.4.
Olie Linsdell, Yamaha R1, MRO Powerbike
Olie’s still recovering from leg injuries sustained when he crashed at 155mph at this year’s TT, but the 21-year old used the weekend’s MRO Powerbike race to get back into the racing grove on his crossplane crank R1. Another very brave, very tough, talented cookie!
Rhalf Lo Turco, Triumph Daytona 675, MRO Triumph Triple Challenge
I remember when Brazilian-born Rhalf turned up in the Bemsee paddock a few years ago on his CBR600RR. He stood out with his lumo Rossi-rep leathers and lurid, lumo yellow Nastro-rep paintjob, set off with a fluorescent orange novice jacket. Since then he’s got faster and faster and if you look at pictures of him riding, he even looks like his hero Rossi on the bike. He’s a class act and had a storming weekend at Snetterton, winning both of Sunday’s TDG Cup races.
Next MRO Powerbike round: 26/27 September at Brand Hatch
All photographs by RSSouthern Photography