Rockin’ with the Rocket!
Three days later I was back at Donington Park to participate at the Honda Ron Haslam Race School. It would have been handy to do this before the race, but as it was, I learnt after the event how much I had been getting wrong via Ron’s instructors who are trained to help you go faster. The school takes place over a morning or afternoon and is truly ‘family-run’ as Ron’s wife Ann is ever-present in the running of the operation and son Leon is generally on hand coaching. I was lucky to have senior coach Adrian Clarke all to myself and he posed the question: “What do you want to gain out of today?” I simply said: “Everything!” After the safety briefing we headed out for the first session, Adrian on a VFR and me on a CBR600. I thought it had been a good session but Adrian looked at me and said: “Well, where do I start?” Apparently I was missing the apexes, moving too frequently around the bike, not using the rev-range, my feet were not positioned properly and with all of these things combined getting into a tuck position to make up those milliseconds on the straights was apparently a waste of time. All the things I had been doing the weekend before were picked up by Adrian in his mirrors! Having been instructed to sit up and look around, use second gear for the Melbourne Loop upping to third when you rev out on the start-finish straight we went out again. The pace was much quicker and I could concentrate on hitting the apexes. We were overtaken just twice in session two. A few more minor adjustments and advice came before we had a final briefing
and Adrian and I headed out for the final session. I was determined to nail this circuit and having found the rhythm noticed Adrian searching for gears as I followed closely behind. I was finally riding to my potential. Adrian could not get away on his VFR and when we finally came in he demanded to know if Ann had set him up as my improvement had escalated so quickly over the three sessions! I had been delighted with my nine-second YPM improvement over 24 hours, whereas Adrian told me I had gone a good 20 seconds quicker between the first and final session at the school. This was all down to taking advice, settling my style, learning the track and injecting some belief into myself. I was to go faster around Donington later that day, this time with disapproving looks from the coaches who were questioning my mentality as I climbed on the back of a Blade with Ron Haslam himself. Five laps of adrenalin-fuelled madness with as much time on the front or back wheel as with both. If you can take away a mere percentage of Ron Haslam’s ability after being on his school, you will be a much better rider whatever you ride, classic or modern. I know I am.
Charlie follows Adrian.
About to be scared by Ron!