My French Trackday Pics (inc crash)

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My French Trackday Pics (inc crash)

I've just got back from my trip to France, where I did a trackday at Croix-en-Ternois, a small circuit in the middle of the french countryside. For those that don't know already, a group of regular trackday friends hired the track out exclusively and sold us spaces, any profit went to a local kids hospice charity. 26 were booked and confirmed to turn up, about 10 rode down and got the ferry.

When we got off the ferry, one of the organisers had planned an amazing ride through the thick of the French country-side, avoiding all toll-roads and autoroutes (motorways/highways). We had a brilliant 130 mile blast through varying quality roads, and only suffered one incident. Fredy ran wide on a corner and rode into a ditch. He got his bike out of the ditch and we got to the hotel, after a rather worrying ride from two automated fuel-stations that only accepted French bank cards. So four of us got to the hotel 28 miles into our reserve fuel.

We had big beers, a great dinner and some partying, before settling down to a few hours kip before departing for the track in the morning. The weather forecast was iffy at best, varying from full dry, to wet afternoon, to full wet. The morning was dry but the sky ominous. We got out on track and I was soon chuckling after the guy who rode into the ditch, and wanted to race me, entered himself into the novice/intermediate group (we were running two groups). I was quietly relieved at this, I know it would only fuel more bullshit if I had to put up with him and his shit riding on track.

I put the video system on for the second session, and had some great battles with three guys who belong to a race team one of our friends runs. They were on gixxer 600's, but were far better riders than me, but it didn't stop me giving everything I could to stop them, and help them off until the braking point at the end of the straights where their experience just had them going around me as I tried to close the door on them (Something learnt here). Unfortunately a battery popped out of the bullet-cam pack and I didn't get any footage after the second lap Pissed doesn't describe it, as I was really improving my lines.

On the third session, I decided to sit it out as I wasn't happy with the heavy air and cloud-cover. But I caved into to friendly-abuse from friends and joined the session half-way through, against my gut-instinct.

After the fourth lap, I was happy that my mind was in gear and the tyres were performing (harder to warm them up at this circuit, very tight, quite low speed in comparison to UK circuits), so started chasing the lead-pack. As it's a small circuit, you ride around the paddock in the middle, and my friends were watching me, the corner right by them is the maximum lean angle one, and I happen to hit my biggest lean angle yet and touched down something which felt like fairing (non solid object), then the next corner, which was still in view of them, I saw the lead pack was being slowed up by each other, so wanted to run around and into the midst of them in the corner after the one coming up, so ran into the first apex slightly hotter than before, and trail braked a bit too hard to the second apex (decreasing radius corner) and the front washed out and I was quickly on my arse at about 80-90mph. The bike spun round a couple of times, throwing up sparks everywhere (it was a right-hander, doh!) and then as it joinedthe grass, flipped over, making me cringe, but luckily it was just one flip and came to rest easy enough on the left side.

Four guys quickly came through behind me and I have to say, it was a bit close, for the first time in the previous two times I've come off on track, I was affraid of being hurt by another rider. I got up, the bike looked fine, picked it up and managed to start it and ride back to the paddock.

The rearsets weren't even scratched, Gilles are hard as old boots! The exhaust is crumpled at the hanger point and shaved at the link-pipe section. An Akrapovic service kit should fix this. The RHS fairing has a scuff down to the black stuff the side of my palm. The R&G crash bungs did their job wonderfully as usual. The woodcraft clipon bent, and snapped on trying to bend it back, but someone had a spare tube, so fitted that. The front brake lever was snapped off, but still operable as a stubby (quality OEM gear as usual, nice one Suzuki), again a friend had a spare. The fairing stay broke both lugs as the bike landed on its head, and has slightly damaged the top fairing due to the stress.

Everything else was okay, amazingly. It doesn't look bad at all, and I was able to ride home. It rained shortly after and people came over saying they were experiencing slides everywhere and called it a day. I'm a little dissapointed that I didn't experience any slides myself, to act as warnings, but I guess there were other signs that I failed to read, such as the visor misting/condensing.

I learnt from the crash, which is obviously the most positive thing that I can do. I learnt to trust gut instincts, analyse them and then be more observant if I make a decision that leaves me with a degree of doubt. I also learnt I don't need to lean so far, inspecting my tyres shows me that my front-tyre is worn completely to the edge, which I've not previously done, always leaving a few mm spare. My friends watching also said I lean more than anyone else, which sounds impressive, but it's not, I'm spending too long not on the power, and more at risk of traction issues (as this report shows).

On a positive note, I got to ride a tricked-out supermoto with full-wets round the circuit after the crash, when everyone had called it a day, and was blown away by how much fun it was! It took a long time to get over the feeling of a lack of power, and the frame/suspension flex/travel, but it was nice to be out on track with the three racers who changed to full-wets and were getting their knee-down without issue around the outside of me.

I'm dissapointed that the rain called off play after I completed my repairs, I wanted to attack the circuit again and take the piss out of that guy who wanted to race me, but completely failed to even get his knee down once. My mates did a good job of putting him in his place.

On a positive note, my friends who were watching said that they saw the crash and said it got 10/10 for style/speed as I was at quite a lean-angle at the time. Unfortunately I didn't have the video system on as I didn't have time to turn it on, bah, should have, would have been awesome footage!

A friend rang me tonight and said my carbon race fairings have turned up. Oh the irony! We'll fit them tomorrow perhaps.

Damage sustained (to the bike, I bounce well):

- Bent clipon tube (replace)
- Snapped front brake lever (replace)
- Snapped fairing stay (replace)
- Crumpled can (repair)
- Scratched RHS fairing (sell)
- Punctured top fairing (sell)