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Race of Champions - Mallory Park - 2nd November.
Perhaps we would have been better prepared with a windmill and a snorkel.
With only four club class riders making up the minority of the predominantly professional BSB riders on the grid we knew the day was going to be tough. With a £10,000 winners purse up for grabs it was easy to understand why so many big guns turned up. With an ageing Roadstock specification bike pitted against some awesome looking kit and experienced jockeys it was a case of having to grit our teeth and admire the views. However as the old adage goes in order to finish first, first you must finish and many made their way onto the kitty litter no longer mounted on their bikes.
Qualifying was a futile waste of fuel and rubber as despite the transponder being picked-up by the circuit organisers my qualifying time wasn't associated with my name. So I was allocated last place on the grid, but at least we've not crashed yet. I was to later learn I was fourth from last but that still would have put me nearer the front end of the club class. The tyres were well past their best and overwhelmed by the very wet conditions so after a handful of laps I pitted to get a newer rear wet tyre fitted. Special thanks have to go to Keith Bugsy Jaggard of Total Plant Ducati who let me have a second-hand scrubbed rear ready for Race 1.
Unfortunately while following Keith in race 1 I was witness to a pretty nasty looking crash involving Keith as he gunned his Ducati hard through Lake Esses. Luckily Keith escaped with only serious bruises, however there was a moment while dodging his unconscious, spinning body that I feared the worst.
The replacement rear wet tyre might have been second-hand but felt phenomenal and in race 1 managed to go from last place and gain back the four places. However the BSB boys were soon to lap us club boys, their experience, tyres and professional set-up in such wet conditions simply couldn't be matched. Still they only matched to lap me once and we hadn't crashed.... yet.
For race 2 I lined up on the grid four places nearer the front to a quickly drying track. With only our now warm wet tyres ready we decided to stick with them for the race. Although being told by some big names to be careful running them on such a dry track did have me starting to wonder if the decision was the correct one, everyone else had slicks or very intermediates fitted. With a now badly slipping clutch gradually getting worse after the two lap warm-up it was fingers crossed to see if I could launch off the line. Luckily the now badly grabbing clutch still worked and I managed to even make it around the mighty Mark Littler of Buildbase BMW fame around Gerards, although this wasn't to last long.
This time the race went a little smoother and despite us all being once again lapped by the BSB teams albeit a little later near the end of the race the positives were there. Finishing at the sharp end of the club boys and even lapping a none novice rider made the hassle or packing away sodden wet equipment not such a chore. With almost the only person running full wet tyres I was hunting strange lines to get some moisture on the tyres and with a fast approaching storm had my fingers crossed for what could potentially be a dream come true finish. However the heavy downpour arrived a little too late, just as we pulled into the pits at the end of the race, imagine if we had been delayed just a few minutes.
Well that's it for 2014, most certainly not the best season considering the final Roadstock championship position due to the crash in July, however it's merely made me more determined to give it another go next year. Big thanks to all that have shown their support this year and a special thank you to Lucy Warren for all of her patience and help.
Qualifying: 26th position.
Race 1: Started 26th, finished in 16th position.
Race 2: Started 16th, finished in 12th position.