Leighton Hall Sprint

with Accrington and Rossendale College - 28th September 2014

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New on the sprint / hill climb calendar was a run out at Leighton Hall near Carnforth.

 

The Accrington Rossendale College motocycle department asked me if I would give Gordon and their Honda CBR600 street fighter, newly named 'Keith' a blast up the hill.

 

I hadn't done a hill climb before, it seemed to differ from a sprint being in the fact it isn't a straight line. At Leighton the start area was flat but after 30 yards a slight hill started and a long right curve lined by the most enormous trees then the final 50 yards a straight run to the line.

Only being 10 feet wide, with a slightly bumpy surface, and a camber - it was going to be a real challenge just to keep on the tarmac and avoid bouncing off the trees.

The run would suit the lower powered machines because of the nature of the climb so I had my money on a Supermotard type machine making the running and taking the pots.

In the days running up to the event Gordon needed new brake calliper seals, unfortunately when the replacement seals arrived they were incorrect and there was no time to replace them, so with much sadness, Gordon had to sit out this event.

Luckily Keith was fighting fit, recently having a new motor fitted. Meeting up with the college boys early in the morning we got through technical inspection then waited for our practice sessions, as we only had Keith we decided to enter both the Supersport and Superbike classes.

The irony being that the 'real' Superbikes were at a disadvantage for a change, as they were unable to get their power down due to the bumpy, curved surface.

After a couple of practice runs it was clear that grip was going to be the main issue, the road tyres used on Keith couldn't grip as well as using a wet tyre.

Luckily, the boys had a wet on a spare wheel, but when the boys attempted to fit it for the second practice runs they found the new wheel bearing fitted was the wrong size and the spindle wouldn't go through the wheel!

 

So, we would run with what we had - adjusting the rear damper, stiffening up the rebound and compression damping to keep the tyre in contact over the bumps. For the second practice runs it was much better; but hey, it was still going to be a bumpy, slippy, sliding ride for sure!

The bike was running much better with the new motor and after warming the centre of the rear tyre up, where you spin the wheel holding the front brake, on the warm up block; I could get off the line OK - but then came the curve!

 

It meant leaning over on to the cold side of the tyre. Tyre warmers aren't allowed, so the rear would spin up and slide out on the curve.

 

I had a couple of 'moments' but managed to post some good times and was leading the Supersport class right up to the last run where a certain John McGuiness on a CRF450 supermotard machine pipped me by two hundreds of a second, pushing us back in to 2nd place.

In the Superbike class I finished in 4th place overall just out of the trophies but with a very respectable time of 8.667 with the quickest time of the day being 8.564.

It's a blink of the eye in reality, but it's tight at the top when you are talking about an eighth of a mile sub 9 second run.

 

Everyone was chuffed with the results except Gordon, who I would imagine would be back at the motorcycle department in a right mood, think the movie 'Christine' - I don't think I'd like to be Keith for the next few weeks having to go back and share garage space with him.

Thanks of course to the staff and students from the college for all their efforts, mostly with their own money and in their own spare time - and I'm looking forward to next year's events already.