Thursday, August 26, 2021

Champion's Champion Day


With the Queensland round of the ASBK being cancelled due to more Covid related border closures, Champion's Ride Days snatched up the weekend to run two track days at Morgan Park Raceway up near Warwick, on the Granite Belt . A QANTAS mate was booked in to do one day on his ZX6 and I thought it would be a great opportunity to get the R1 out of the shed and into it's natural environment.

Not having done any track work since the California Superbike School day back in October 2019 I re-read their bible, "A Twist Of The Wrist II" during a work trip to Perth in the week leading up. It was interesting to note that I picked up some tips that I hadn't even registered last time I read it. This highlights the need to be continually reading and trying to improve - something I have sadly neglected these last 18 months.

Will was coming along to be my pit crew/official photographer. We threw the little TTR230 on the ute so that he could access different vantage points around the track, a sure fire hook to get him to come along!

We decided to head up to Warwick the afternoon before so that it wasn't a stupidly early start on the Sunday morning as the track is about a two hour drive from home. It was an early enough (and cold enough!) start from Warwick but we were at the track super early and got through the unloading and scrutineering process quickly.

We were so early that there was plenty of time for a coffee and a wander around the pit garages.

I noticed with some trepidation that I was one of just a handful of riders on a road registered bike and one of the even fewer that didn't have tyre warmers. I was glad I chose the second slowest group (Green group) but was wondering if that might even be above my pay grade!

It was soon time for the riders briefing and this was pleasantly easy to hear and understand, even for an old deaf bloke who hadn't done a track day since 1994.

We were going to be the third group out on track so we had fifteen minutes or so to chill before needing to gear up. The organisers gave a 5 minute warning, then a 2 minute warning for each group's start time. I struggled into my leathers - the leathers that were slightly loose two years ago for the CSS track day but today were just a bit too snug around the middle...... a thousand curses on 2020..... but to be honest, being able to fit into the leathers that I bought at the age of 23 when I am now just over half a century isn't too bad!

The 5 minute warning was the time to don the lid and get out to the pit exit. Mike and I were pretty enthusiastic and were at the front of the queue to hit the track. Whoops. Which way did the track go again?

Once allowed out I took a few laps to get my tyres warmed up and to figure out where the track went again. Mistake number one was being too keen to get to the pit exit and thus having the entire pack of Green group behind. Even though this group has overtaking rules, namely no overtaking on the inside into corners, I was carved up by all the people who knew where the track went, had slicks on their bikes AND had warm tyres. Already I was wondering if I should have started in the beginner group. 

Surviving the first session I resolved to make sure I was the last to leave in our group for the remainder of the sessions. This proved to be gold as I had a mostly clear track until maybe the second last lap of each session for the remainder of the day, as it took most of the session for the fast guys to catch up that lap.
This gave me more time to think about all of the "Rules" from Twist Of The Wrist and to try to apply them.

Meanwhile, the roving photographer had been cruising around the track taking some snaps for us. Access at Morgan Park is pretty limited in that you can't get right around the track or access the bridge over the track at turn 3, so Will did his best to find a decent vantage point. A great excuse to poke around on his dirt bike!

Mike on his ZX636

I settled in after a couple of sessions but to be honest I hit a wall (quite early on) speed wise during the day. I just couldn't make myself push any harder into corners as I was concentrating too much on trying to go faster, not on the basics that would allow me to be faster. Feeling like I was holding traffic up didn't help with just being able to concentrate on the mechanics of riding the bike smoothly and I wondered if I should have actually gone in the beginner (Red) group as there were some riders in the Green group who were significantly faster than me and who I think should have been up one group in Blue.
Another mental block was having "rain" tyres on and needing to do a couple of laps to warm them up when everyone else was at pace right out of pit lane on their warm slicks. Michelin PR4s and 5s probably aren't the best track tyres but I know they have way more potential than I used.
My tight fitting leathers also proved to be a distraction, making it hard to move around and to breath. It might be time to admit defeat and go up a size (or two if necessary!). Besides the fact that I don't know how 28 year old stitching might fare if I do take a tumble.

That isn't to say I didn't have fun. I had a ball in fact!! My problem is that I expect too much out of myself and I had just forgotten too much since I last did this almost two years ago. I am definitely going to do the remaining CSS training levels once they start scheduling their days again (they cancelled all 2021 days as of May as it was just too hard to organise with the Covid bullshit/border closures going on)

Mike again.

Mike and I.

There was an official ride day photographer in attendance and she cruised around on her Tiger snapping everyone doing their thing. Her photos are really good (sorry Will) and I may just support her yet by purchasing a package.

Lori Poffenroth image

Anyway, we finished the day with our bikes and ourselves intact and huge smiles on our faces. Their next track day is mid week, in a months time. Time to get the valve clearances checked and some stickier tyres fitted to the old girl.



  1. Good man!! No bins and a smile a mile wide! On my rare outings, I always go with the beginners group so there's no pressure. Pleased to see that your Michelin PR's stood up pretty well. Mine always stood up tolerably well on the GSX-S 1000, just went a bit blue near the edges. Pleased to say that my leathers purchased in 2003 still fit perfectly :-). Happy days Dave!

    1. Thanks Geoff. I might try to do a few more while I have my eye in and before it warms up too much here in SouthEast QLD.

  2. Awesome day out bro. Slicks are the go with tyre warmers, the costs just started going up to start on the pace. Yeah its fun but its also costly. No speeding tickets either

  3. Yes, I mightgo for some super sporty sports road rubber. I know slicks are cheaper but I don't have warmers and I don't know enough about setting the bike up for slicks. To be honest, I think I'd still just hit my internal inclinometer and they would be wastted on me.

  4. Dave, I'm reading this more than a month after your post but have thoroughly enjoyed your perspective on doing a track day. although tempted, I've never actually done one.

    1. Hi Jules. Sorry, I didn't notice your comment until today (almost a month after you left it :O) I hope you are doing OK down there in Vic?
      Track days are fun and nowhere near as daunting as you build them up to be in your mind. Get out there and give one a crack!


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