Midweek track day

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What good are a few days off from the office without making a track day a priority? For those that didn’t know, most tracks around Gauteng are open on a Wednesday.

My track of choice was Redstar Raceway, in the middle of nowhere. The good thing about being in the middle of nowhere is no sound restrictions, unlike Kyalami. You would have thought that everybody living near Kyalami knew about the race track, with the large sign boards on display & being the most famous track on the continent. The bad thing about being in the middle of nowhere is that it is far from home, about 120km. Being a week day it meant normal workday traffic & Johannesburg congestion. This reminded me why I commute on 2 wheels & not in a cage. My GPS was superb & took me on a tour of the East Rand; I saw areas I didn’t know existed. If you thought it a good idea to load the day before for a quick morning get away, don’t bother. Here’s a week day track day hint; sleep late & load/pack in the morning & leave after 8am. Any time before & you’ll be stuck in traffic question your bad judgement.

98 minutes later & I eventually roll into the pits, quite nervous as it’s been 9 months since my last time on a track. During the first session I caught up to a R1 out on a leisurely recon, I stuck behind him & he progressively upped the pace. This worked well & after a few laps I was warmed up & up to speed. I felt good & comfortable pulling into the pits. An hour or so later I was ready for the 2nd session of the day. By the 3rd lap I was on my usual pace & progressively pushed myself. The latter half of the session produced my best lap times to date & all consistent to within half a second. This would not have been possible was it not for the confidence inspiring Pirelli rubber.

There were a few times I found myself braking very deep & would probably have been on the floor had I been on regular road rubber. The Pirelli Super Corsa SC2 rubber coped so well I could not find their limit; even achieving my best lap times to date was insufficient to get them even slightly worried. These tyres allow you to focus on riding without the worry of grip.

Redstar is very physical & by mid-afternoon I was feeling quite tired but decided to do one more session & just enjoy the ride & the opportunity to be on a bike on a weekday instead of driving a desk in the office. It is quite common to see a few regional & national racers out for a practice on a Wednesday afternoon & this day was no exception. During this session I was following my mate Rusty when I heard the distinct sound of a new Yamaha R1 approaching. Coming into turn 3 (a tight 1st gear left hairpin) I was considering making a pass. He always runs wide leaving the door wide open. This time however I wasn’t sure what to expect from my tail so decided to let him pass & gave signal with my right foot. I kept it tight & he came around only to be blocked by Rusty coming back onto the racing line. Into the next left, turn 5, I thought he was going to hit Rusty’s rear wheel. Instead he went to the outside, turned the R1 & went pass with knees, boots, & elbow on the tarmac & shot off down the back straight.

These national racers are fast. Not “I’m a track day enthusiast & ride in Group A” fast but rather “I’m a pro & have sponsors & stuff” fast. Not once did a pro pass a slower rider in a dangerous manner or stand around bragging about their go-faster bits or boast about lap times, like some of the Group A “enthusiasts”. They just got on with their business. So, no matter how slow or fast you are you can always learn something & have fun at a track day. Even if you get passed by a pro national racer just think, a slow day at the track is better than a fast day at the office.

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