After the last round of WorldSBK in Assen, the 2016 European Junior Cup & European Women’s Cup has had a long break of five weeks but finally the time has come round three of the championship this coming weekend. On Thursday we will head to the UK for an action packed three days racing at the beautiful Donington Park circuit.
I’m definitely ready to tackle the challenge of another race weekend after good results to start the season and a fair bit of track time since then. This past month has been reasonably full on – achieving my goal of riding as much as possible, getting saddle time on a similar bike to that we are racing in the Junior Cup.
It started with a trip to Croatia, to ride at an old Grand Prix circuit called Rijeka. We had a wonderful four days riding here getting in a ton of laps despite the wind, rain and cold. I tore through Pirelli Supercorsas like no tomorrow due to the grippy surface on the track. Even with a bit of rain these tyres worked well as the track and tyres were suc a good combination! Everything about the circuit was straight out of the 80’s – right down to the stained bottle glass windows in the shabby pit buildings. It provided everything you could ask for however, including two restaurants, tyre service, photo service, fuel pump and cheap garages to shelter from the horrendous winds. Its not long since the war has finished there so it was great to experience a bit of Yugoslavian culture as well as the snow storms driving through Austria to get there. It was certainly worth the culture shock, cold weather and 12 hour drive as I gained a lot of confidence and speed after so much riding.
We arrived back at home base in Germany a few weeks ago and after two weeks hitting the local gym on a daily basis, it was definitely time to head to another race track..
This time it was in the form of an endurance race at Nurburgring; a really famous & historic circuit here in Europe. The opportunity to race here came up at last minute and being just 1.5 hours drive away we took the plunge to give the race against supersport and superbikes on my 80 horsepower 650cc. The whole Nurburgring complex is another amazing place – complete with a roller coaster going through the hotel and alongside the circuit, and spectacular views of rural Germany. Unfortunately, the owners ran out of money and it’s not all finished, but you can still drive / ride on the 20.7 km long Nordschliefe (the original circuit) as well as the newer world class circuit.
I entered a sprint race in the morning which I qualified in Pole Position for, despite the 15 minute session being the first time I had seen the track. As well as the rain on and off all day, the cold really was something else! Never before (even racing at Teretonga in Invercargill) have my fingers been so cold that it could be that painful. Incredible. It absolutely poured down for the 10 lap ‘Breakfast Cup’ race leaving the rack very slippery. I made a small mistake on the 6th lap and crashed out but myself and the bike were fine & learnt from the mistake. We did the endurance race that afternoon with two Germans that we didn’t know, making it interesting trying to coordinate team strategy with our limited German and their limited English. Anyway, despite two crashes from one of the team members, we managed to finish the race and I got a lot of valuable track time in.
Next we headed to Belgium for one day of riding at a smaller circuit Zolder. They had a billboard of the lap record since the track opened and I was cool to see a kiwi’s name up there from the 1960’s! Any guesses who it could be?
We only wanted to test a few things on the bike so achieved what we needed to in a few sessions on track and had a good day finally riding in some warmer conditions.
I’m not sure it will be that way in the UK this weekend, but I do know that I’m now prepared for anything!! It will be another fantastic weekend and I just can’t wait for the lights to go out on Sunday.
Please don’t forget to follow along by watching the race on Sky Sport NZ (2am NZ time so possibly hit record) and follow the updates on my facebook page throughout the weekend here: https://www.facebook.com/avalonbiddleracing/
Thanks again for the support which is allowing me to give my absolute best this year.
All the best,