Elite by na­ture

Ron HaslamRace School’s crème de la crème; the ul­ti­mate guide for learn­ing to at­tack the track!

Fast Bikes - - FEATURE -

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.

Throt­tle junky

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.


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.

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