British Superbikes Round 1, 2014

All little boys like big noises and fast rubber
All little boys like big noises and fast rubber

A horrific day of extreme downpours meant that the Sunday qualifying for the first round of the 2014 British Superbike season was left with a somewhat miserable grid at Brands Hatch. Luckily for us, the sun broke through on Monday morning as we took a ride from Brighton to Kent for race day.

I met up with Gaz at a reasonable 9am, ah the joys of living close to the track. We set off on my old commuting roads of Brighton to Tunbridge Wells to pick up my old man who was joining us for a day of racing and an uncertain weather front which could strike at any moment.

I took out the Drift Ghost-S hoping that I have finally dialled in all the right settings but it’s still not quite there. I think my conclusion from this is I’m going to move the mount to the top of the lid. It’s too much faffery to get the horizontal right.

Traffic wasn’t too bad but I can’t help but sit in too much traffic when I have somebody else out with me. Usually I would have overtaken everything in front of me because I believe I am safer when traffic is behind me not in front, but when you’re not certain if your convoy is going to follow you, it means you got to sit back a bit.

Gaz is togged up for a day of high-octane excitement.
Gaz is togged up for a day of high-octane excitement.

A quick brew and a slice of toast and we headed out through the back of Tonbridge on our way to Brands Hatch. The route through Shipbourne, Plaxtol and Ightam can be really great, there is a particularly technical piece just before the turn off to Brands’ with a wickedly deceptive left hander which drops from a national down to a 2nd gear 10mph right angle. It caught me out the first time I ever took it leaving me locking up the rear and heading a tad too close to the bush in front before I recovered and flicked it round.

Dave and Gaze pitching up at the bottom of Brabham Straight / Clark Curve
Dave and Gaze pitching up at the bottom of Brabham Straight / Clark Curve

We took up the same spot I have sat in on and off for the last 20 years. Growing up so close we used to be regular attendees. As the day went on I remembered why I hadn’t been since the final race on-track with Carl Foggerty.

First race we caught was the 1000cc Superstock and we were in prime position to watch a dubious undertake around Clark which resulted in a huge punch-up which was excellent stuff to start the day!

Sadly, that was the peak of the day. The rest of it, albeit a good day out was marred with restarts, track problems and generally twattery from the irritating track commentator.  When will this scourge of motorsport be eradicated?

First of two British Superbike races was faced with a blowout on the start/finish line leaving liquid on the track and the race was stopped providing us with a opportunity for a 45 minute trundle down the market stalls, where I picked up a HRC overcoat for my leathers that last year I saw at Silverstone during the MotoGP for £60, now a mere £20.

I had a chat with Mark from Laguna Motorcycles, Maidstone about a Triumph 675 I spotted in their used list last week that I have my eye on and a demo for a GSXR600 which we sorted out there and then. Laguna have been around a long time and I’ve never had any complaints with them which is more than can be said for my local.

Kawasaki had quite a presence this weekend with their club stand offering the chance to win a bike and had Walker’s bike on display from last season, which looked pretty battered.

Chris walker's 2013 Kawasaki, plenty of duct tape on this fella.
Chris walker’s 2013 Kawasaki, plenty of duct tape on this fella.

I was reminded how close to stock British Superbike machines are, of course what is under the petrol tank barely resembles what rolls out the factory into your local dealership.

TT legend John McGuinness signing autographs and taking snaps with big and little kids alike.
TT legend John McGuinness signing autographs and taking snaps with big and little kids alike.

Bumped into TT legend John McGuinness posing and signing things for people at the classic motorocycle stand and couldn’t help snapping a pic on my way to the Innovation Drift stand where nobody was present all day.

In fact, nobody showed up until they were packing up during the Tristar cup at the end of the day where I did manage to talk to a guy who was really pleasant but not much help. I wanted to find out what settings they were using for the on-board cameras this season and see if I could get some advice and tips on editing and exporting but he knew nothing about that sort of thing and nobody was around. Shame, missed opportunity there guys.

Luckily for us the weather held out although it got mighty cold when the clouds came in, and I discovered contact lenses + the concrete dust they put down on track to clean up spills do not mix.

A good day out you simply cannot knock BSB on price. Our tickets set us back £26.00 for general admission and compared to the disgusting £80++ for MotoGP which only hosts 3 races throughout the day there is no comparison in quantity of activity.

My only knock is that Brands Hatch is in reality a dull as dishwater track. There’s plenty of japes to be had about it being one of the only tracks with just one left hand bend and on the indy circuit you’re blessed with sub-two-minute lap times but at the cost of a bit of a scalextric race. You’re just waiting for someone to bungle it into a corner or on the way out to make a mistake. Unless you’re Kiyonari of course who managed to stall it on the start line in race one yet still beat his way up the positions from last taking 2-3 riders a lap on the home straight.

Will we be back at the end of the season for the GP circuit race? maybe. I might be washing my hair that day, I just don’t know.

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Andy Parker

User Experience Designer, headbanger, biker, skater, gamer from Brighton UK.