GW x HD: Autodromo di Franciacorta April 2017

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Over the weekend of the 22nd-23rd of April we headed down to Autodromo di Franciacorta for an extended track-day event. It would be the first time for many this season and we couldn’t be more excited for it to unfold, and also my first time riding with most of them. In all there was 5 of us in the group, with a clear preference for either Aprilia or Honda. Here is what the paddock looked like: Aprilia Tuono 1000R, Aprilia RSV Mille, Aprilia RSV4, Honda CBR900RR and finally my Honda CBR1000RR.

We had quite the setup with 2 large vans hauling all our gear and bikes, and then 2 large gazebos for our pit area. I’ve never been at a track-day with so many people but it was amazing to have such a group and organisation.

The bike remained largely unchanged since Monday and I’m still running the Pirelli Superbike slicks. My only issue at the moment is that without tire warmers I have to be quite careful every time I go out on track and I’m also adding needless heat cycles to the tire. They are on my list to purchase soon.

On day 1 we concentrated mainly on getting to grips with the track (although I rode here on Monday) and then riding together to have a few battles and some fun. We were lucky that the weather was great all weekend; mostly sunny but not too hot, which meant we weren’t sweating all day in our leathers.

We did some suspension tuning midway through the first day, with the help of Michael (CBR900RR rider), as my rear tire was starting cut up pretty badly. Reset all the preloads and tweaked the damping rates; overall the bike feels great and it cleaned up my tire! But I don’t have enough experience to give a good impression. It’s simply easy and fantastic to ride.

We also spent a lot of time working on our body positions, which is something we could all improve upon. As I get more comfortable with the Fireblade I am more confident to really push it, which meant I was able to get into a more correct position, begin scraping my knee and tuck my body next to the bike. But, there’s still a long way to go.

On day 2 we practiced lines; with some guidance from my dad we were able to improve and start getting our lap times down to a much more respectable level, which meant by the end of the day I had smashed my previous PB by 3 seconds with a 1:25.56.

I had to change my rear tire as the right corner heavy track was unevenly wearing out the tire. Luckily they had the shop open at the track to be able to swap it onto my spare wheel.

This would also be the first time on track since we started discussing our future plans of entering some endurance races. With that we decided to practice an endurance simulation run and see how our pace and fitness lasts over an extended period on track. Normally we would run for about 20 minutes and even then we would be tired, but this time we decided to approach the 40 minute mark, which would be typical for an endurance stint.

This was actually one of the most enjoyable moments of the weekend. Being able to push at a reasonable pace for that long was simply amazing. Lap by lap you perfect and learn and then deal with the stress and tiredness.
My dad managed to time my entire session and I was very pleased I could run for 42 minutes with a lap time range of just 3 seconds from start to finish, all at a pace that was very similar to my PB last time round of 1:28.

Hopefully we will get the opportunity to do this simulation again and maybe even start working on our change overs and strategies.

All in all an incredibly enjoyable weekend which I cannot wait to repeat. Hopefully I’ll be heading to Anneau du Rhin at the end of May.

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