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Logan - Vic Club #3, '05No Hair Racing Race Report
Vic Club #3
Well it was time to race again! Finally on the No Hair Yamaha FZR400, Only this time down at the other end of the North Island, at Manfield in Fielding. The only other time I had been here was my first ever race meeting I had been to, some 2 years ago now - and lets just say that was a big wakeup call!
With my Practise coming up, the option of wets but not enough available time to change them in (needed to borrow stands that were being used to change wheels on team mate Bob's bike) I headed out into that pouring rain armed with a set of Rennsports and some serious lack of wet race experience as well as confidence. My Practise was appalling, I Qualified 35th/39 without genuine excuse. This really got me thinking negative and there was nowhere I wanted to be right then but home! Warm and playing a far less dangerous sport like ping pong. Nevertheless I had travelled all this way, and had support around me, so with that and an old set of wets I was ready for the first race, with my first experience on wets (clean slate in the head!) my aim was to gradually push and set a new mind-limit.
I waited in complete nervousness on the start line having never Launched this old FZR400 previously and wanting to get a good place off the line (well, I couldn't get much worse at least!), the green flag dropped and with it so did my clutch with a good 10,000rpm of pure Yamaha power screaming through it. Well Logan, yes you are now on wets which are great, but not THAT great… She broke traction instantly leaving both my feet still on the ground and the rear wheel spinning, everybody else was heading for the first corner and it seemed a lifetime till my hand re-engaged the clutch lowered the revs and re-launched! Despite all this wasted time, with wrist wide open, and hooking second gear (with no more traction being broken) I was hurtling passed bikes both left and right and once I saw half a bike-length gap on the inside line of Turn 1 I pushed into it quite happily, securing a good 15 bike overtake from the green flag. Things were going well, however the pressure of faster riders nipping on my heels (I was holding the buggers off after such a good charge down that front straight!) and my serious condition of "girl-grip" on my left hand, not being able to let the clutch out smoothly, I locked the rear pretty bad heading into Turn 4, lining me up to go straight off track, fortunately pulling it back in and re-blipping the throttle and a smoother clutch action saw some more traction and I was able to do a late dip into the hairpin but let 2 bikes go underneath. The other 6 laps were spent slowly working on my own technique, working the wets a little harder, bit by bit and improving my time each lap, finishing in 22nd place.
With such a positive race my mind was now in the mood for more! Lined up on the grid of the second race, still having to start from 35th I was actually keen as mustard for the first time in my life to race in a full wet race, I had enjoyed the first race so much, and was taking this as a day for education! This time around the green flag dropped and I couldn't have hoped for a better start for my ability, I just ran passed a good 18 odd bikes again pushing into Turn 1 in about 16th place. This time being further up the field and in such a positive race mode I was able to retain the position only fighting for it a couple of times, wasting time as the next group (a motard and a 400) got further away. Something then clicked? It was about the 5th lap, with nearly a full straight between me and the next group, and I suddenly though "hey, I'm catching these guys!" and being more of a close-chaser, and not being able to ride solo at pace previously really was the opposite to what I was feeling at this stage, It did take me some good 3-4 laps to catch these guys but each and every corner I was just touch by touch pushing that bit harder, and it was all working out, until I reeled in the 400 and took him coming into the sweeper ready for the front straight. I next lined up the motard, and surely enough with a good exit out of the Turn 4 hairpin I beat him into Higgins and carried on my running, knowing that I couldn't get any more places but hell, I knew I was cutting times and gaining very valuable experience here! I once lost the rear coming out of turn 1 but I was not scared at all, I was well-advised by Greg that the wets were very progressive in their sliding and he couldn't have been more right! In my own head I was so proud to excited to exit turn 1 getting on the gas a bit early, and loose the rear slowly, then with slight levelling of the throttle and lifting of the bike from its lean angle she regained traction without snapping. This combined with my only knee-down experience of the day on the final lap coming thru the sweeper onto the front straight I was so happy to know I had gotten smoother and pushed the envelope-gaining much needed experience for future wet racing, despite only finishing 14th.
To sum it all up… It was definitely my most enjoyable race ever in the wet at least - if not including dry racing!!
Thanks to EVERYBODY that even talked to me that weekend, you all helped make it just wicked - and so helpful for my future racing.
And not forgetting our sponsors: Henderson Motorcycles, Pirelli Tyres, SSSLodge, EZSite.co.nz and BK Engineering.