“Thunder at the Rock” Rockingham International 27th/28th July
A combination of circumstances meant that only Gerry could enter this meeting on behalf of Team RBRacing/Labman.
Team mate Richy had an important wedding to attend (what a wuss!) and other supporting team members were away on holiday. This meant a lonely drive to Northamptonshire for Gerry, with 2 bikes in the back of the van. His own bike set up for the dry, with Richy’s alongside shod with wet tyres. This saved all the hassle and time changing wheels on just one bike, should the rain arrive!
Flying the Labman Flag alone!
With a hot and sunny weekend forecast, Gerry settled down on Friday night with a glass of wine outside the small tent, trying to figure out the best gearing for the banked Rockingham track that he had just walked.
Saturday morning saw qualifying with the first look at the track from on board the bike. Quick learning of the circuit is called for in the 15 minutes of qualifying session.
The outcome wasn’t too bad considering most riders had done test drives the day before, to ensure decent qualifying on Saturday. Gerry’s qualifying of 28th on the grid from over 35 riders was a little disappointing but Gerry was determined to improve and most of all, enjoy himself!
Race one saw everyone piling into the bottleneck 1st corner chicane flat out in 4th gear with eyes firmly shut! Safely out to the other side was an absolutely flat out drive along the banking with the usual clashing of handlebars. Braking heavily for the 2nd gear hairpin saw Gerry moving up a couple of places. As the race went on, Gerrys lap times improved and the chequered flag saw Gerry finishing at a reasonable 25th.
Race 2 saw Gerry finish 22nd with a 3 sec improvement over his qualifying time! An adjustment of tyre pressures to compensate for the high track temperature helped with the improvement.
A relaxing Saturday night was spent having a laugh with the other riders at the organised barbecue, listening to the band and swapping race stories over a few beers!
Mixing it with other “rookies”
Overnight rain quickly dried on Sunday with the first race at 11am. Gerry’s improvements in times the day before meant he had moved up a couple of positions on the grid and with the “Telly” in attendance he was looking forward to the racing. A big “wheelie” and a wicked start saw Gerry passing several riders by the time the hairpin loomed but in the mayhem of braking and downshifting, Gerry selected 1st instead of 2nd and the bike was heading sideways with the rear wheel locked towards the barriers! Most of the riders he had passed came back underneath him on the exit of the corner. Determination saw Gerry get back on the gas early to get alongside these riders but a “coming together” with one of them resulted in both riders losing momentum as well as a couple of bits off the bikes! 26th was salvaged.
The final race was a bit of an anti-climax with most of the grid having a steady ride with slower times due to the blustery wind across the banking and hot track temperatures giving a lack of grip in vital corners. Another low twenties finish saw Gerry on his way home safe and sound and well worn out (but happy). The results of the day meant a jump back up to 8th place in the “Seniors” category for Gerry (Well chuffed!).
Next outing will be at Mallory Park at the end of September which will see Team RBRacing/Labman back to full strength with Richy flying the flag for the team at the sharp end of the grid hopefully!
See you then!
– Gerry Johnson