JC (Dino) – Red group, R6 track bike
Dean – Green group, SuperDuke track bike
Mario – Yellow group, R6 track bike
HarryD – Yellow group, K1200R road bike
Sash (Dean’s mate) – Yellow group, KTM 690SM track bike
Con (Dean’s mate) – Yellow group, K1300R road bike
Pizza – First track day , White group, SV650 LAMS
At 9AM, there was a loud roar in the garage as Dean’s beast, the SuperDuke, fired up with its trademark, glorious v-twin beat and Dean roared away to sample the new North circuit. Everyone in the garage was eagerly awaiting Dean’s return to quiz him on the new circuit. Soon enough Dean roared back in and you could make out that he’d had a ball. There’s an energy about Dean when he’s on the track, it’s electric and it’s infectious. His whole body gets animated, his grin gets wider and his jokes get funnier . Next out was JC in the fastest group (Red) and I took Dad to the roof to check out the action. It was funny watching his reaction as the first speed demon came screaming down the straight and then the next and the next. He had never seen anything like this in his life and he was speechless! It reminded me of the first time I came out to see a race out here, I’d been speechless for about 15minutes too!
Anyway, I was on next and the heart was pumping at a million beats per minute with the excitement, anticipation & fear all rolled into one. I went out in the middle of the pack and rode gingerly, feeling out the beemer and the track. Plenty of people passed me, some ducking in the inside and I was even passed by 600s on the straight . I came back in quite neutral, none of the euphoria I’d felt after my first track session but neither was I particularly worried. The beemer was hard to turn in the tight stuff, as expected, but was solid once on its side. The brakes pulled up nicely and I felt like the foundation for the day had been laid. In the next session, Mario lead me out and showed me some lines. I was getting more comfortable and following Mario’s smoother lines, I was getting more drive out of corners. I was going faster, leaning it over a bit more and fewer people passed me while I passed a couple of people as well. By the third session, it started coming together. I was getting the hang of the big beemer, throwing it on its side, scraping the peg or the boot and then picking it up nicely to get the required drive out of corners. I was picking people off who had been overtaking me previously and that was pretty satisfying ! My favourite place for overtaking was between Turn 5 & 10 but I was also getting good drive out of 12 and passing people on the straight. In the fourth session, Dean very generously allowed me a ride on his SuperDuke. I’d been lusting after the SuperDuke ever since a test ride it last year and was really pumped to give it a go on the track. Coming off the lumbering beemer, the SD is so easy to flick side to side that I almost fell off it in pit lane! Out of the starting block, I was taking it nice and easy but the whole thing was shaking like an epileptic tiger! Braking for turn 2, surprisingly there wasn’t much dive, which Dean attributed to the forks being setup for a 100kg body rather than a 75kg one :. It was so easy to lay on its side in turn 2, which is the hardest turn for me on the beemer. But as I went round and round, I realized its limitations as well. The power band was narrow and I was hitting the rev limiter constantly, which violently slowed down the bike. It took me some time to figure out which gear I was in and at one point, coming into turn 12, I managed to hit neutral and coasted into the turn under no power . Must’ve confused the fuck out of the guys behind me! The bike is an absolute blast because of its handling but I think it would take me a while to get used to it.
For the 5th session, I was back on the beemer and revving to go. I was 6th or 7th in the line to get out and went balls out from the word go this time, braking hard for turn 2. What the beemer lacks in agility, it makes up for in stability under braking and ball crushing power exiting corners. I went out wide to the left for turn 3 and then cut back to the right to setup for turn 4, just like Mario had showed me. Hard on the gas exiting 3, the front wheel gets air before I start setting up for turn 4, which had frustrated me all day. But this session, I got it right a couple of times, hard on the brakes going downhill, the beemer stable as a rock, I cut the apex on the left hander and setup for a fast, wide exit out of turn 5. With the beemer’s wide spread of torque, I’m able to maintain 3rd gear between exiting turn 5 and slowing down for turn 10 so there’s no chance for the guy behind me to make a move. I nail turn 12, taking a wide entry and gradually easing the giant back to vertical as I use all of the track entering the straight. Crouching under the meagre screen, I upshift to 3rd, 4th, 5th everything’s a blur, from the corner of my eye I spy the speedo at 230 as I’m still accelerating past the 300M mark. I sit up at 200M and dab the front brake gently while downshifting to 4th around 200M, shift my body weight left before hooking into the mega fun Turn 1. Hold the line trying not to look into the grass where a guy is pushing his red sportsbike to the wall. Turn 1 is fukking EPIC Fun if you carry decent speed through it!
We still had 1 session to go but it had been a hot, tiring day and we were all ready to pack it in so our garage cleared out pretty quickly and we said our goodbyes knowing we’d all had a pretty special day.
That last session was just incredible for me and I was amazed at the beemer’s poise under some hard riding. Throughout the day, it didn’t miss a beat, no wobbles under braking, no front end pushing over bumps while leaned over, no “moments” anywhere really and it gave me limitless power and pull whenever I asked of it. Fuck, I gave it my all in that last session but couldn’t induce the slightest bit of temperamental handling. I came to the track to find out what the big lumbering beemer could do and its satisfying to know that it can do a lot more than I can .