Snetterton - Lansdowne
3rd - 4th October 2015

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The final round of the Lansdowne Championship was at Snetterton, and I'd already tied up the Championship at the penultimate round, so the pressure was off and we decided to have a competitive but fun weekend's racing.

Normally we would have done the practice day on the Friday, but with Millie's chassis being still damaged from the Goodwood crash and Mork's engine still at Freds being repaired after seizing there too, we though "lets just take what we have and have the best time we can".

I'd been away at Brno a few days before and had 'Cato' with me, I'd coached Paul Firth the previous week but he had crashed early on his day so I said I would re do him another time. He was racing at the Snetterton meeting so we arranged to coach him on the Friday. The weather forecast was good and this time Paul's day went very well.

While we were there anyway on the Friday I had a quick 10 minutes run on the Matchless to make sure all was ok. I was initially worried as I was having a lot of front patter but asking around most other people were too, so I guess it was just a case of dealing with it.

Saturday we were out first on track at 9:00am, it was cold and foggy so I did as little as I felt necessary to get a reasonable time in qualifying.

Mike Russell was riding well and posted pole position with me second and Keith Clark third, Steve Jordan was back riding too and had his best qualifying of the year in fifth.

Race one soon came around and the sun came out to watch as well. Lights out and off we raced up the hill to turn one. Mike jumped away but I didn't want to let him lead so I pushed under him into the first corner and got my head down for the first lap crossing the line a couple of seconds clear

There were only 6 laps so I wanted to open a cushion up and control the race from there. Mike hung on for a few laps but then his bike went sick leaving Chris Firmin and Clive Ling scrapping it out. It left the way clear for me to open a seven and half second gap and take a first race win. Returning to the paddock Stan Woods collared me and said "give them a chance Mike, make a race of it in the next race mate", right Stan will do…

But it's about winning at the end of the day and getting in a dog fight looks great - but it can backfire very easily I thought!

Mike was really up for a fight and Richard had sorted his machine, magneto wire broken, so as we roared away in race two I didn't manage to bag him into turn one this time however a few corners later I muscled my way past to take the lead.

This time though I couldn't break the tow of the group on the first lap like normal and as it was only a four lap dash it turned out to be a right ding-dong battle between Chris, Mike and me.

 

I worked out I had to be leading out the last corner to stand any chance of winning as I couldn't out drag either Mike or Chris to the line for the last corner, so as we passed the last lap flag I dove under Mike into turn one again and pushed as hard as I could.

 

It was almost over at one point coming onto the back straight when the front pattered and slid across the track, I thought it was Goodwood all over again but some how it picked up and I was still on two wheels.

Rounding Corham's for the last time I could hear the duelling duo right on my heels however I hung on and crossed the line two tenths of a second clear of Mike and Chris.

I couldn't wait to see Stan and ask him was that any better, he just laughed and gave me that big grin of his with a comment "yes".

 

There was only one race for us on the Sunday and as there were a few races that weren't run from the Saturday schedule we had a lay in and a late start, perfect Sunday morning.

The sun was out again and it was perfect conditions for our last race of the year and the Championship, Paul who I had coached on the Friday came and asked me would I race his FZ600 in the production race to give him some feedback and assess his bike for him.

 

I thought as it would be after the Lansdowne race it would be a laugh and help Paul out so we agreed, but it turned out to be the next race after the Lansdowne so I didn't know how tired I would be as the last Lansdowne race was due to be an eight lapper.

Mike was determined to beat me in the last race but one thing was for sure I wasn't going to give him it, he'd have to earn it. Lights out and this time Mike led for the first lap and rode super quick and as a result I couldn't either pass him or break away, fight on.

We passed each other over the next few laps working out where each other was quicker but as we had eight laps we both figured out it wasn't going to be easy. We both pulled way ahead of chasing Chris and the pack - settling down to a two horse race. As we started the last lap Mike was leading but I needed to be right on his tail coming onto the back straight where I could slip stream him and pass him into the Esses for the last time. But as we approached the hairpin a back maker got in the way and I had to take avoiding action as by now my front brake was over heating.

This allowed Mike to open a small but important gap on the back straight. I closed up at the end but couldn't safely make the pass.

Then as we closed in to Corham's another slower rider got in the way Mike went under him as I was going round the outside, the rider sat up seeing Mike right into my path, how I missed him is a mystery and once again Mike pulled a small gap but it was enough for me not to be able to safely pass into the final corner.

 

I slip streamed Mike up the hill to the line as before but I already knew I couldn't pass him, it was a great race and we opened up a thirteen second gap from Chris and we both had gone a couple of seconds quicker than we had all weekend with Mike taking the quickest lap on his last lap.

Returning back to the paddock Paul was waiting with his bike for me to hop on and was foaming at the mouth with excitement. It was mad really as I hadn't even sat on it before and I was straight out in a race. In the holding area I was given position 25 row 10 to start from, it was so weird being that far back I could hardly see the flag to start us! I may as well have been in another post code, but down it went and we were off. I didn't go quickly to start off with as I had no idea how the bike would handle, stop and turn. It was strange compared to the G50 with soft suspension ...yes unlike the G50 it had some... brakes too worked well but I quickly found it did have some inherent "issues" that no matter how I rode I couldn't ride around. After four laps of the eight it felt like the engine was holding back so I pulled in and retired not wanting to cause any damage. To say Paul was even more excited was an understatement he was fizzing!

I couldn't get a word in sideways and we had a good laugh about the ride.

A great way to end the year, a super weekends racing with some great riders I'm proud to call my mates.

Also fantastic too for Ripley Land Racing, especially team owner Ian Garbutt who has supported me thoughout the year, it was Rob's last event working or the team as he wants to move on and do some travelling and focus on his business, thanks for everything Rob!