My novice year racing in the Formula 400cc class

A heartfelt recollection of my first year racing

It seems a lifetime ago that I arrived to a bitterly cold Croft on the 6th of April. If I knew then, what I know now, as the saying goes. Stood on the pit wall shivering from the cold in my orange Novice bib, feeling completely out of my depth wondering why on earth I'd wanted to do this.

My first race went by in a blur of nerves, inexperience and euphoria, to just finish was the only goal I had, to finish anywhere but last was nothing more than a dream to me at that stage. The red lights came on, the noise was incredible, the red lights went off and I embarked on my year as a Novice Formula 400 rider.

My first visit to Mallory Park saw my first crash, oil leaked onto my front wheel which saw me sliding on my bum, a few cracked ribs and a bruised pride was all that was hurt. The bike wasn't damaged and with encouragement from my friends I went out in the following race to bring home one of my best finishes at that point.

Cadwell Park has always been my 'bogey' circuit and I'm afraid 8 races there this year has done nothing to dispel that. However Cadwell holds some fond, if not wet, memories for me, this was where I started 24th on the grid and finished 10th. This was all done on dry tyres at a very wet Cadwell. Nice weather for ducks!

Donington Park holds a certain Kudos with me, it's the first track I ever rode, I've watched my MOTOGP hero's here many a time and I've always loved it. So much so, I also entered the Allcomers Race. This race consists of any level of experience on any size of bike. To my horror I saw I was only one of two 400cc machines in the race, everyone else was on a 600cc or above. I was scared, frightened and extremely worried as we lined up on the grid. But that race was one of my best and brought the biggest smile. As the saying goes 'do one thing everyday that scares you' how true, I remember thinking, as I passed the chequered flag to finished in the bottom quarter of the field " but not last by any means!

At Snetterton I collected my first trophy (3rd place novice). I carried that trophy down the pits with a grin on my face that nothing could remove, a few tears in the caravan and a huge swell in my chest I went on to bring home my 2nd trophy the following day " Snetterton will always be a special place to me now, all that hard work, effort, expense, blood, sweat, tears and determination resulted in two plastic cups that are currently taking 'pride of place' on my mantle piece.

I've never even seen Oulton Park, let alone raced there so I arrived for a day of practice before race day. I instantly took to Oulton and found the track to be flowing and fast. We woke up to a very wet day on Saturday. I started 16th and after two corners I was in 4th place! I was holding on to the front runners and on the 3rd lap I overtook the guy in front and this put me into 3rd, I was getting excited, giddy and emotional and trying to reign myself in and concentrate, then disaster struck. I lowsided at Druids corner (due to being slightly over enthusiastic on the throttle). This resulted in me breaking my wrist and my bike! People ask me if it's a bad note to finish on (the last race being only 2 weeks after that so I would't be able to race due to the injury) I say not. It was the first time I'd been at the front of the pack and it proved I can be competitive (although I do need to work on being in that part of the pack and NOT falling off).

If my calculations are correct I've finished 5th in the Novice Championship, which is better than I ever thought possible.

So, to sum up, I've had a fantastic year, it was harder than I thought it would ever be but that also pay's dividends on the happiness factor when it all goes well. There have been tears, tantrums, euphoria, fun and of course the nerves, it certainly pulls on your 'inner' resources " would I do it all again? OH HELL YES!!!

Roll on 2007

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