Elite by nature
Ron HaslamRace School’s crème de la crème; the ultimate guide for learning to attack the track!
So you’ve learnt your skills in the ‘On-Track’ course, nailed a CBR600RR on the ‘Premier’ course and want that bit more? The Elite course is the answer for you. With one-to-one tuition on Honda’s brand new Fireblade SP, a guaranteed hours track time and your own little room with refreshments. I’ll have a slice of that please, sir. I know those of you with moths in your wallets will be wincing at the price, but just break it down for a minute. Tyres, fuel, track time, kit, bike and as much tea, coffee and snacks you pack in for under £450. That’s a steal, especially considering that includes crash damage, should things get a little out of hand.
Pick ‘er up and fire it out
With this in mind, it was time to head out for the final experience of the day. Thankfully, the track had completely dried out, and being a sneaky little bugger I managed to grab Ron to configure the track settings on the Blade, and he insisted on taking me out. Who’s going to turn that down? Interestingly, after having two Honda technicians over from Japan for a few days to play around with settings, Ron actually runs no traction control, and as he pulled a monstrous great rolling burnout out of pit lane, it was easy to understand why. The Fireblade SP immediately felt like a whole different animal in comparison to the 600, and as you blast up through the box you have to control yourself until those tyres get some heat.
Being in the Elite class means that you can actually go straight out in between sessions for a few clear laps, and after being out with Ron before it took no time at all to get up to speed. Before long I was really pushing on, and carving my way past the Premier boys and girls who were being ushered to the side by their instructors. But just as I was starting to get into my groove, a red flag came out and forced a return to the pits. Still, it was a good chance to have a chin-wag with Ron and to look through the data-logging that showed clearer than anything my foibles.
I could see literally everything, such as how I was riding the bike like a 600 and not a thousand; which was actually losing me a fair whack of time as I was on the side of the tyre for too long – and how it needed to be improved. Even though it’s a pretty standard system everyone seemed to benefit and it was a really nice touch – it even showed how another chap had just tucked the front, from the difference in wheel speed and throttle/brake positioning which he was chuffed with for some reason.
As we headed out again, changing my riding style which I’d grown so used to over the last six years was a real challenge. Every time I pushed harder I was over thinking rather than letting it come naturally, but following Ron’s lines, things started to fall into place. At corners like the Melbourne Loop he would literally plant the thing on its nose on the way in, turn it and absolutely nail it out in three different motions, compared to the one usually smooth swoop that’s become so natural to me. This is what he really wanted me to work on; to get my throttle delivery working to its max. We both knew I could run the speed round corners, but that wasn’t what it was all about on the Blade. I was a little worried about it at first, but he kept explaining the best technique to me, before we’d go back out and try it.
I was riding with a bit of traction control engaged and that made life easier. Still, more to the point, his driving advice was making a huge difference to my performance. So much so that I found myself able to snatch another gear in places, because I was carrying that bit more straight line speed. After the third session things were already starting to click, and by the fourth it was fair to say we were cracking on.
No way did I expect ever to learn how to ride a thousand properly in a year’s worth of racing, yet after just four sessions my confidence and genuine ability had grown massively. I was in my element when we rolled back into pitlane for that final time. I was taken back by how much I learned from the tailored experience that saw me get shed loads of track time and all the advice I could consume. Ron had proven to be the absolute instructing legend he’s known to be, and I’ll be forever making the most of his guidance, which I’m sure will serve me well next year when I step up to race in the 1000cc class. What a cracking time.
AFTER JUST FOUR SESSIONS MY CONFIDENCE HAD GROWN MASSIVELY
Carl never did find the apex.
‘You open the throttle here, here and here.’
Ron was not impressed by the hair- do.
We can see a lunge coming on.