YAMAHA YZF-R3

Har­ris gets stuck into two very dif­fer­ent cir­cuits: the wide-open and rapid Snet­ter­ton and blind, twist­ing Knock­hill…

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS -

I’M WRIT­ING THIS while we’re on a fam­ily hol­i­day in Greece. We flew out here, but given the amount of driv­ing we’ve done to the last two races, I guess dad could have eas­ily got be­hind the wheel and driven us...

Snet­ter­ton was a 10-hour round trip in mid-June, and al­though it was worth it for the ex­pe­ri­ence, it was mem­o­rable for the wrong rea­sons. Ba­si­cally, I did a test day there ear­lier in the year and had made up my mind that I wasn’t a fan of the track – wide, open and with a lay­out that re­wards top-end, I knew we’d be up against it with the Kawasakis we’re com­pet­ing against.

I qual­i­fied 21st, but a 17th place in race one put me in bet­ter stead to get 15th on the grid for the sec­ond race. That was all go­ing pretty well un­til I went up the back of the bike I was slip­stream­ing with my head on the tank down the straight. Un­for­tu­nately, I took us both down. My bike went down the track on its al­ter­na­tor cover for what seemed like an eter­nity. But thanks to the GB Rac­ing en­gine pro­tec­tion we’re run­ning, the dam­age wasn’t as cat­a­strophic as it could have been.

I went for X-rays but I’d only suf­fered bruis­ing (and a dented ego). My first words to dad were, ‘Can we get the bike ready for Knock­hill?’ As soon as we got home, he stripped and re­built it.

Knock­hill was a mon­ster jour­ney – seven hours each way – but it was worth it; I just clicked with the track. I got some de­cent times in prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing, and worked my way down to a 58-sec­ond lap in the races. We took some solid top-15 re­sults, but in the fi­nal race of the week­end I was run­ning in 13th when I had a mas­sive mo­ment go­ing into the hair­pin.

The bike went into a mas­sive slap­per (dad saw it all hap­pen; he doesn’t know how I stayed on... my arse was in the air!). Af­ter that scare, I didn’t want to give dad another huge re­build job, so I parked it. Which was just as well...

Our bikes run with steer­ing lock re­stric­tors fit­ted (no­body needs the amount of lock a stock YZF-R3 has when you’re rac­ing). Be­cause the bike went lock-to-lock in the tankslap­per, the bracket hold­ing the re­stric­tor got ripped off. As did the steer­ing damper! And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, be­cause the bars shook so vi­o­lently when I was hav­ing my ‘mo­ment’, the throt­tle assem­bly smashed into the fair­ing. Prob­a­bly for the best that we parked it up, then... Af­ter all of that, Knock­hill was still my best race week­end so far, and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to get­ting back to it once we’re back.

I’ve got to give a big shout to Nick Beere of Ark Rac­ing, who’s sort­ing the bike in readi­ness for a Thun­der­sport round at Brands Hatch while I’m sun­ning my­self out here on the Med. Af­ter those races, I’ll be able to lose my novice vest, just in time for BSB at Thrux­ton. Bring it on!

Snet re­wards top-end speed and late brak­ing; Knock­hill (in­set) is a blind en­try lover’s dream...

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