A step up in pace riding on track with Honda’s CBR600RR, this is where trackday addicts go to get a proper fix.
After having an absolute blast on the ‘On-Track’ course, it was time to grow up a little bit and head out on the first of the big-boy bikes; a Honda CBR600RR in the ‘Premier’ course. This is designed for those who fancy that bit more time on track, on a bigger bike and with some more intense instruction. Okay, I know three 15 minute sessions doesn’t sound like a lot but when you’re pushing your limits it does take its toll; think of it as the same as doing three club races in the space of two hours and then you realise why it’s enough, although you can generally add a few more sessions on if things are going to plan.
With this in mind it was time to jump into another briefing, and although it was the second of the day it didn’t send me to sleep too early on, giving an insight into the different approach on the ‘Premier’ course. The half-day’s riding is intended to give a greater knowledge of riding techniques, with the same two pupils to one instructor ratio and a full debrief after every session. Due to another wardrobe malfunction (the barbecues are really taking their toll), I had to nab another suit, but thankfully the race school was on hand to drop me in a Spada number before heading out on the CBR600RR for session one.
Lapping it up
I know it’s not the quickest thing in the world but compared to the 125 and 500, the CBR600RR felt like an absolute rocket ship as I fired it down Redgate for the first time. Once again, I found that me and my partner had varying speeds, which wasn’t too bad at first, but within a few laps Rocket Ron came to the rescue and I managed to latch on with him and get up to speed. As the Dunlops started to warm up and grip levels were coming good, I could really start cracking on, especially so as the track was now drying up. I was revving the absolute tits out of the RR and riding it like an absolute savage, which was highly entertaining if nothing else. But it wasn’t making me fast.
For that I needed to start implementing the advice and guidance I’d been given by the instructors on being smooth with my down shifts and less aggressive with my throttle pick-ups. That kind of stuff might seem a bit backwards, but that’s where the fast guys find the tenths the others don’t, especially so on a bike like this which didn’t have a quickshifter or a slipper clutch to make life easier. By riding like this, my confidence grew with every lap and my pace was on the increase. It was so much easier to keep on Ron’s shirt-tails, even though I knew he was only tootling compared to his fastest of paces, but that’s the case for most people when they follow a GP legend. He was showing me great lines, indicating how deep I could brake and generally making light work out of an otherwise challenging task.
After the first session drew to an end, he came over and gave me some great advice on body position, weight transfer and how to trail brake deep into bends without washing the front or scrubbing too much speed. It was advanced stuff, but it was perfect advice for me at my level. If I’d have been a tad slower, the advice would have been tailored to suit. That’s the beauty of the course; it’s pretty much customised to suit you rather than being one big generic hotpot that wouldn’t see a rider make half the improvement this class permits.
Getting back out on track, Ron’s advice really played a huge role in my next two sessions. My laps times improved by two seconds and I didn’t feel like I was trying at all. The CBR was being much more manageable for far less effort, which is always a winner. Even though Ron left me to do my own thing, he was still keeping a watchful eye on me when I was out in those sessions and he gave even more feedback after I came in from each. I felt absolutely buzzing by the end of the stint, because I knew I’d achieved a lot and I knew what I’d learned could be applied to riding any bike, anywhere. That’s a result if you ask me.
‘I’ll tell you whatever you want to hear.’ Ron was having a nice relaxed ride.