Track At­tack

How to mas­ter the best of Bri­tish cir­cuits. This month: Brands GP.

Fast Bikes - - CONTENTS -

1 Brab­ham Straight

It may be called Brab­ham Straight, but it’s fair to say you won’t be get­ting any time to rest. You’ve just ex­ited Clarke Curve which means you’ll be hard on the gas and hold­ing on for dear life as you drift over to the left hand side of the track amid all the bumps. The track dips away be­fore the rise into turn one, so be aware that you’re go­ing to be un­set­tled, and rear brak­ing helps to keep things in check. In or­der to make things harder, the track is also fairly un­du­lated as well to­wards the pit wall, so you’ll be at a con­stant an­gle. Here you’ll prob­a­bly be in about fifth gear (bike and gear­ing de­pen­dant) so it’s in­cred­i­bly quick, but be think­ing about set­ting up for Paddock early and be pre­pared for the roller­coaster of a turn that comes up as you climb the hill into the brak­ing zone…

2 Paddock Hill

As men­tioned, it’s ab­so­lutely vi­tal to get your body shifted over as early as pos­si­ble be­fore you hit the rise on the en­try to the cor­ner as you’ll be hard on the brakes and don’t want things un­set­tled. For this rea­son you’ll want to be ready be­fore the brak­ing zone, which can be any­where be­tween the start-fin­ish line and the top of the crest – de­pen­dant on the size of both your en­gine and your balls. If you’re closer to the crest (about where a 600cc bike would hit the an­chors) then it’s best to not hit the brakes at the very top too hard, as it can send the ma­chine very flighty at the rear.

On the way into Paddock Hill there seems to be an ar­ray of lines, yet the one that works well for a lot of peo­ple (and that I learnt from Leon Haslam) is to stay about a foot to the left of the mid­dle of the track – or just to the left of the pit lane exit paint. You’ll be brak­ing at an an­gle any­way and there isn’t much gain from be­ing any fur­ther out – plus off line can get fairly dusty up there. You’ll be head­ing in there pretty quick even though it’s up­hill so you need to be pre­cise, and as the in­side curb pro­trudes out pretty far you don’t want to be tak­ing it so tight that you catch your pegs. As you tip into the apex you’ll find it ac­tu­ally sticks out slightly giv­ing you a clean in­di­ca­tion of where to clip, be­fore mak­ing sure you’re on the gas straight away to get the piv­otal drive out and up Hail­wood hill.

The track drops away here like a roller­coaster ride, so a qual­ity setup is ab­so­lutely vi­tal to stop you from high-sid­ing your way up the hill. You’ll want to stay away from the out­side curbs as well, as they are made to stop cars ex­ceed­ing the track lim­its and aren’t nice on a bike! The one thing to re­mem­ber is that this is a great place to head up the in­side of some­one as well, so be brave and you’ll be re­warded, but don’t take the mick. Build up, as the gravel at Paddock has claimed many bikes and bones…

3 Hail­wood Hill

If you’ve got Paddock Hill right, you’re go­ing to have Hail­wood Hill ab­so­lutely nailed. It’s on the run in to­wards an­other im­por­tant over­tak­ing spot, so a good charge up the steep hill is im­per­a­tive. You should be right over to the left of the cir­cuit here, ba­si­cally on the white line. The track rises quickly and ac­tu­ally drifts slightly to the right, so don’t stay out to­wards the curb for too long, as it can catch you out. As soon as the bike is set­tled from the dip you’ll want to be pre­par­ing your­self for Druids!

4 Druids

Druids is an­other great over­tak­ing spot, as you can stay out wide or come about a me­tre into the mid­dle of the track – due to its na­ture you’ll be peel­ing in on the brakes so it doesn’t make too much dif­fer­ence. On the en­try you have some great ref­er­ence points – depend­ing on the bike you’ll prob­a­bly be aim­ing to hit the an­chors just about where the kerb ends from Paddock, be­fore trail brak­ing all the way into the apex. As you re­lease the brakes, it’s im­por­tant

to hug the in­side curb for as long as pos­si­ble, although it works just as well to treat it as a dou­ble apex for the per­fect exit as even though it’s a hair­pin the cor­ner is fairly long. This means to get a sling­shot down Gra­ham Hill you need to pa­tient on the throt­tle or you’ll find your­self point­ing to­wards the field at South Bank rather than down the hill, which isn’t good for any­one. Al­ways give your­self a lit­tle room on the exit, and if you nail Druids you shouldn’t need to be on the kerb for the exit – about a me­tre out is per­fect!

5 Gra­ham Hill

You’ll now be fir­ing down into Gra­ham Hill bend, and you need to be mak­ing sure you’re aim­ing over to­wards the right hand side of the track to the kerb in or­der to get the per­fect tra­jec­tory through the turn. You’ll want to be as up­right as pos­si­ble as you’re brak­ing hard. It’s off cam­ber as well, mean­ing you have to be in­cred­i­bly care­ful on a good day, and es­pe­cially if it’s wet or you’re on your first few laps. As you head down aim the bike fur­ther to the right, al­most to­wards the mar­shal post, be­fore haul­ing back to the left, clip­ping the apex as late as you can and pick­ing the bike up to get on the fat part of the tyre. Don’t be afraid to use the out­side kerb if you need to!

6 Cooper Straight

If you’ve nailed the exit of Gra­ham Hill, you’ll be fir­ing through the box all the way through Cooper Straight – even though it isn’t ex­actly straight. There’s no time to rest though, as you’ll be fight­ing the bike try­ing to wheelie and grip on the way out, and as soon as that’s all sorted you’ll be fo­cus­ing on set­ting your body po­si­tion up for Sur­tees! Just as the track kinks left here you’ll want to be get­ting over to­wards the right side of the track near the white line.

7 Sur­tees

A com­pletely dif­fer­ent turn on the GP loop, Sur­tees is one of the most im­por­tant cor­ners to get right, but also one of the hard­est. Aim to use all the track on the right hand side and where there’s a lit­tle tar­mac change just be­fore the two hun­dred yard board hit the an­chors hard – although be aware you’ll be at a slight an­gle. Try to peel in late, al­most where the out­side kerb starts, and pick up the in­side apex as late as pos­si­ble; where the white line crosses the track. As soon as the in­side kerb nar­rows out get hard on the gas as the track opens out, so pick the bike up and cover the rear brake – if you’ve got a good drive it will wheelie like crazy over the hill so be pre­pared. Start slow, be­cause if you lose the en­try, it’s in­cred­i­bly hard to re­cover it back.

8 Pil­grims Drop

If you’ve got the run out of Sur­tees, Pil­grims Drop will be com­ing at you, fast. Cut the kink as tight as pos­si­ble and on some laps you might even kick gravel be­hind. Watch the wheelie down the hill and catch it early as pos­si­ble though, as the wind can take it quickly. Watch out for a speed wob­ble here as well and be as close to the white line on the left as pos­si­ble.

9 Hawthorn Bend

Hawthorn is de­cep­tive, as the quick­est way through is to brake hard and quick be­fore the three board, be­fore re­leas­ing the brakes and turn­ing it at the two board to roll through the cor­ner, hit­ting the apex smack bang in the mid­dle of the cor­ner. It might sound wrong, but as an example, Id­don ac­tu­ally uses dou­ble the brak­ing power here than at Paddock Hill! Your brain will tell you to trail brake in, but the cor­ner ac­tu­ally goes up­hill so will scrub speed off for you any­way. Use a high gear here, as

you don’t have enough time to catch it if the bike flicks out of shape on en­try. This will be safer and faster, al­low­ing you to gas hard on the exit all the way to the kerb.

10 West­field Bend

West­field is strange as there isn’t un­du­la­tion on en­try, which means your bike will prob­a­bly want to pick the rear up with­out us­ing much fork travel as there isn’t enough ex­ter­nal force (like a hill). Stay to the left and do your brak­ing in a straight line where the patch of tar­mac is, be­fore re­leas­ing and throw­ing the bike in – there’s re­ally one quick line through here and the apex sticks out nicely. Com­mit on en­try as the cor­ner opens out with an in­cred­i­bly bumpy exit, mean­ing the more speed you can carry through the bet­ter, as it puts less pres­sure on the rear through all the changes and un­du­la­tion on exit. Stand up on the pegs all the way out of here and into Din­gle Dell to let the bike buck and weave, but try and stay in the mid­dle of the track.

11 Din­gle Dell

As you ap­proach Din­gle Dell, treat it as one long sweep and aim to get as close to the white line on the left hand side of the track as phys­i­cally pos­si­ble. Go for this when the track opens up and drops away slightly... just make sure you’re con­cen­trat­ing where you want to be here as it’s easy to get wrong. Treat the sec­tion as one long cor­ner and drive hard through the dip, us­ing the com­pres­sion on the bike as it pulls you back in line when you hit the bot­tom of the dip. There isn’t much ref­er­ence for the en­try to Sheene Curve, so aim for the out­side of the top of the hill for the best en­try.

12 Sheene Curve

If you have a nice line on en­try, as you rise up the hill the bike will be fac­ing to­wards the out­side trees. Aim to hit the brakes at about the two board, but re­mem­ber you’ll be car­ry­ing lean an­gle, so don’t overdo it. Sheene Curve ac­tu­ally has a blind apex that you’ll want to hit smack bang in the mid­dle, so turn it as soon as you see the in­side kerb. If you watch the rac­ing ev­ery­one looks like lit­tle Meerkats try­ing to find the apex there! Ev­ery­thing will grind out, and you’ll be car­ry­ing a lot of lean an­gle. As you hit the apex, pick the bike out and if you can, drift the rear to turn it. Watch out though, there’s a slight crest on exit which can make the rear break away.

13 Stir­lings

Make sure you get the bike back over to the right side of the track here, and aim to hit the brakes at about the two board. Be­cause of how the en­try is formed with cam­ber the rear comes around eas­ily, so take it easy un­til just af­ter the one board where you’ll want to turn in. There’s a clear apex here which is the thick­est kerb and there’s bun­dles of cam­ber, so roll a load of speed through and gas hard on the exit as the cam­ber will help… just try not to high­side here as ev­ery­thing will be com­pressed and it will send you to space. Pick the bike up as the cam­ber flat­tens, and the kerb on the exit is flat now so if you run out of road you have a bit of safety as well.

14 Clear­ways

You’ll need to be back on the left side of the track as soon as you can here and use the bridge as a brak­ing marker. It’s bumpy the whole way in, so get plenty of brak­ing done up­right on en­try, turn­ing in where the Indy track joins the GP loop. The track drops away as you tip in to go with all the bumps so add an­gle but try not to fully com­mit un­til the lat­est mo­ment. Apex at the thinnest part of the kerb, be­fore gassing hard all the way to the edge of the track into the dip where pit en­try be­gins, and as it hol­lows out, aim to apex at the in­side mar­shal’s post for the best line to­wards the start/fin­ish line.

Paddock Hill is the ul­ti­mate roller­coaster.

Late apex Gra­ham Hill Bend for a bet­ter drive onto the Cooper Straight.

Rush your cor­ner en­try into Sur­tees and it will knacker up your exit.

Hawthorn is fast and blind.

It’s a tricky cam­ber out of Stir­ling’s.

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