Our van was promptly started at 2 pm on Thursday in anticipation of a five-hour journey to Oulton Park. Sadie and I were in good spirits for the trek.

The good spirits left as soon as we got to the M25 and we were desperate by the time we got to Birmingham. We rolled into the paddocks at 21.30 to be greeted by Mark 'Cabin Boy' Thompson (#45) and Big D, his crew chief.

We were joined by Dave Harviek (#22) and the van was emptied, marquee erected and beers opened in record time. Steve Rapa (#90) made an appearance after all the hard work was done and started to gloat that, for the first time, he had arrived for a race meet with a working bike! Hmmm - time will tell.

It became apparent that it would be very cold, so bargains and deals were struck over hot water bottles and we all settled in for the evening.

We woke up early Friday. Bloody hell was it cold overnight, even though we were in a fully-insulated van. Poor old Dave was up at the crack of dawn doing star jumps to get warm. His work van's side door, it transpires, doesn't close fully. Arctic was the word he used.

Friday Practice Sessions

The bike was prepped and we trundled out for what was the first of our two practice sessions. I used this session to get the layout of the track in my head and sort out some dodgy lines. Still going down the gearbox too many gears and ruining my corner entry speed. Best time of 2.06 (#90 broke down!).

During the second session, I tried to run a gear higher the whole track round and it made a huge difference. Albeit rubbish times still, compared to my personal best of two mins dead on the stroker. But hey, I'm 50 now and I've always been the slowly-slowly-catchy-monkey sort of rider. I'm not going to chuck it up the road in a practice session. Best time of 2.05.

Friday Qualifying

Qualifying was in the afternoon and the track was busy. I lagged behind the lunatics at the front looking for a bit of free track - doing my thing for a few laps. I wound myself up for a quick one on lap four and surprised myself. I finally started to gel with the bike and was getting good feedback from the track.

I soon came up behind Dan Hardy (#63) on his full-power ZXR - he was a great rabbit to chase. I was all over him in the corners but losing out down the straights. But he pulled me along nicely and, although I was a lot slower in some sections, I was getting the hang of Druids corner. I was literally not braking there now and throwing in the knee on the deck. Best time 2:06.309. I qualified ninth in class, 23rd overall from 29.

JTW Motorsport Photography
Saturday Race Day: Race 8, Row 8, P23

I was hoping to make a good start on the eighth row. But when the lights went out, I missed it, dropped the clutch and wheelied off the line going backwards.

I got in front of the Strokers and Dan Hardy and concentrated on being smooth and using a gear higher than I think I need. It was a boring race. No one was behind me and I'd lost the group in front too. The race was red flagged and called on lap five.

I finished position six in class, 18th overall. 2:05.122.

Race 18, Row 7, P20

Well, I made a stonking start overtaking six people going into the first corner. I got my head down. I was hitting my markers, concentrating on my gears. I felt okay.

I got beaten up at Shell Oils by a pesky two-stroke on the outside of me and a rookie on the inside, but I managed to claw back that place before the chicane. Happy days.

I had a near miss on lap three with Allan Clarke (#47) who came from nowhere and stood me up at Island Bend. I picked my bike up and moved a foot out of the way. The guy behind me did the same and Steve Rapa (#90) was punted onto the grass at 100mph!!

Allan was busy apologising as he entered Shell Oils, so I took advantage and stuffed it up the inside of him on the exit and made off on Fergie. As we came into Clay Hill, the red flags came out - BOOOOO (the helicopter rescue was landing to transfer the unfortunate crasher earlier that day).  

I was well chuffed as I was running in 12th overall and my lap times were now 2.03.

JTW Motorsport Photography
The race 18 restart was from the original position of 18, which was a gutter. And on the restart, I didn't catch it as well as expected, but held my own into the first corner and had a nice race with Dan and Kurt.

I'm getting to grips with how this diesel racing works now. I was keeping my corner entries not too scary but the speed high, all the same.

All the way up Clay Hill until Lodge Corner, I don't touch the brakes and it's bloody awesome. I can't believe I needed to brake there before! I was really happy with the feedback and feel of how we're going now.

I finished position five in class, 14th overall with a Diesel PB of 2:01.178

It's such as shame that we don't race on Sunday at Oulton. I think I could really have made some further progress. But we're off to Cadwell at the end of the month and I know it well, so there're no excuses.

I would like to thank for their continued support. I'm sure they'll be receiving a letter pleading for oils and sprockets in the next few days, haha.

Thanks also to Skint Racing's crew chief, Sadie, for putting up with my stroppy van driving on the way there and back (there really are too many idiots driving on motorways). Thanks to Sadie as well for the team talks and calming influence and the insistence that we do a track walk. Yes, you notice so much more at 2 mph than 100 mph.

Plus, thank you to all the F400 massive that make the racing so much fun.

See you at Cadders

Posted by Nick Cooper
for Wemoto News on 10 April 2019 in Racing

Edited By: Daisy Cordell



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