After months of preparation it was time for my first race of the year writes Nicole Lynch
Sitting on a petrol can beside my bike, leathers, gloves, boots and helmet on. Visor open, but only a bit, the universal sign for ‘please don’t speak to me’ not meant in a rude way but everyone understands. The final two minutes before it was time to go out on the track to qualify for my first race of the year on my Medlar Racing SV650 and the conditions were wet.
It wasn’t an easy week in the run up to Donington, the first race of the 2018 Thundersport GB, my second year to compete in this competition. It runs from March to October each year on several race tracks throughout the UK and I am racing in the Supertwins class as before. Thundersport GB is a good competition for aspiring professional motorbike racers like me as it’s well organized, with a friendly environment and a high standard of racing. It’s a widely recognized stepping stone into the bigger competitions like the British Superbikes Championships.
I discovered a major fault in the bike just three days before I was due to get on the boat and I sat my final college exams the night before I left. Thanks to a lot of help from the best friends I could ever ask for, we got it sorted, I passed my exams and I soon found myself comfortably towing my bike in the trailer behind my Flogas Dacia Logan. It was a bit of a rush, I would only arrive on the morning of the test day, and because the entire bike had to be stripped apart to fix the aforesaid major fault, everything would have to be checked over, not leaving much room to focus on lap times.
Time to qualify
Now it was time to qualify and I was focused. A comment was made from the guys I park with at Thundersport GB that they had never seen me so quiet or so nervous, and it was true. It had been a long time since I had felt that nervous going into a session. You’ll often hear throughout the year about this problem or that problem with the bike. These things happen. This time though the bike felt perfect. This is a great feeling but with it comes a need to be totally focused. When the bike is perfect, the lap times are down to you. I have a mixed record in the wet, with a few crashes, denting my confidence somewhat when racing in that kind of weather, so I was determined to get over that for qualifying.
The call was made for bikes to go to the grid, and we went out on track. A lap to check where the worst of the water was and to feel what the track was like for grip. Circulating on the track I thought “I can go faster”. This is the first time this thought has ever come into my head on a wet track. I pushed on further, until finally a big rear slide going down through famous Craner Curves told me that the tyres were cooling and it was time to pull in. I qualified a full 15 seconds faster than I had on the same track in the same conditions last year. What a confidence boosting start to the weekend!
The weekend continued in the same vein. In every race I went faster than before. Someone asked me what I had done to the engine over winter to get so much faster, but the engine was never touched. It’s amazing what a straight frame and some extra confidence can do for you. The races were close battles and running wide at a fast-right hander cost me five positions in race 2. This is all part and parcel of motorbike racing and I am sure that with the bike going so well and my confidence sky high going into my next race at Oulton on the weekend of 20th April, that it’s only a matter of time before the results start coming.
11th April, 2018