Pre­mier league

A step up in pace rid­ing on track with Honda’s CBR600RR, this is where track­day ad­dicts go to get a proper fix.

Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

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.

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