75th Members Meeting - Goodwood
18th / 19th March 2017

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The Members Meeting at Goodwood is the first event in the Goodwood motorsports calendar.

It was the 75th running of the event normally just for cars and for the first time last year Goodwood invited motorcycles to the meeting.

It was my first time at the meeting and I was invited to race the TZ350 Yamaha built and owned by George Beale and Eddie Roberts that I will be campaigning in this year's ICGP Championship.

 

However, to comply with the specifications of the race we had to fit original TZ forks and brakes plus several other  minor mainly cosmetic changes, we had originally intended to run a standard 350 George had in his collection.

But after testing at Mallory there were too many issues with the chassis to deal with to get it ready in time -  so at the last minute we switched the ICGP spec machine and retro fitted it to conform to the strict regulations.

There was only one 15 minute practice session on the Saturday and one 20 minute race on Sunday, so that didn't leave any room for alterations or modifications before the race. The bike had been scrutineered Friday evening and was set up in the open garage ready for the following day.

 

Lord March, who is a great motorcycle fan, always likes to get the bike involved somehow and as he was having an evening meal for some special guests on Friday evening at his house thought he would a treat to get a dozen bikes with riders all geared up to ride thought the house at speed and loads of noise to match; I imagine that gave them all a shock and something to remember!

The meeting itself is very popular and the crowds were huge and getting into the circuit can be difficult unless you get in early in the morning. Our practice was at 11:00 so we rolled up at 9:00 so as not to have any issues. We arrived in the garage, but no signs of George or Eddie. No problem the bike was ready to apart from mixing some fuel, checking the tyre pressures and warming it up.

An hour or so later, still no team, then my phone rang and is was Eddie, "Mike we're stuck in traffic and my fuel lights on" don't worry Eddie we'll get the bike up to the warm up area and see you there...

The bike fired up no problem and we were soon in the warm up area as Eddie and George turned up slightly flustered, then after the riders briefing we were let out onto the circuit for our 15 minute qualifying.

There had been rain overnight but as the cars had been out earlier there was a rough dry line but it was very patchy, cold and windy but with only 15 minutes to play with there was only the chance for about 8 to 10 laps before the flag.

Thankfully the bike ran sweet as a nut, slightly rich but more than rideable.

I knew my way round so quickly put in a 'banker' picking my way round the wet sections and stayed out almost until the end hoping to get a late quick clear lap in and it worked and I was sat on pole for the race.

Nigel Parmer was second and Mike Russell completed the front row.

We thought about altering the suspension and jetting but as there was no warm up decided to leave things as they were.

Race day 'the team' were there bright and early as we arrived, the race was at 10:25 so before we knew it we were all gathered up in the warm up area again.

As the race was in memory of the late great Mike Halewood we were to be led round the sighting lap by his son David on a Honda 500 four.

Forming up on the grid I was aware of the wind now almost blowing a gale; this was going to make the race interesting, potentially difficult passing and close riding if you ended up in a group of riders, so I was going to go hard from the flag and try to break away early on and control the race from the front.

I hadn't practiced a start yet and when the green warm up flag dropped the bike initially pulled away then bogged down thankfully this was only the warm up lap...

Reforming on the grid again I was determined to get away so as the union jack fell I screamed the motor right round to 12,000 rpm and made a great start this time. I could sense a bike close behind me but didn't look back to see who and how close until I was coming onto the second long straight and I had already a huge lead.

I felt comfortable with the Avon tyres early in the race and made the most of it crossing the line for the first time over 4.5 second clear of the chasing pack. Keeping my head down I pressed on for a few more laps keeping an eye on the gap which was opening up lap by lap.

The wind was really bad in places pushing the bike wide out of the corners blowing it off line and making it jump around over the bumpy surface. I pressed on and soon started to catch slower riders and now, looking back could tell who was chasing me.

We had made the mistake of not bringing my pit board  guessing at progress, gap etc so I simply pushed hard right to the chequered flag crossing the line 33 seconds clear of Nigel Palmer and Mike Russell in third.

 I had lapped everyone up to 5th place in the race and set a new lap record of 1:25.1 (101 mph) on lap 11 of 13 making me the first Classic machine to break the 100mph lap in a race.

Riding back into the Parc Ferme the team were delighted and everyone had enjoyed the race, I was glad my plan fell into place and the race was over, all be it a lonely ride but getting the win was the main aim given by George and Eddie.

Later on at the prize giving, always a great event in itself at Goodwood, Lord March gave out the awards which comprised a beautiful winners medal and a special bottle of Goodwood ale with a solid silver bottle top, by Theo Fennell, I think I'll be saving that one.

 

A special event to be involved in and a great start to the season. Will be catching up with the team again at round one of the ICGP in 3 weeks time at Paul Ricard, see you there.