Phillip Island Track Day������������ Tuesday 26th April 2011

Misho Zrakic

Honda CBR1000

Dennis Lindemann

Honda CBR600

Tim Emons

Honda CBR1000

Kurn Bridgeman

Honda CBR600

Damir Djikic

Honda CBR1000

Dave Chisma

BMW F800

Tony Stegmar

Honda CBR1000

 

 

Spectators: Pina Garasi, Jason and Ang Wilson, Pierre Ong

It was 3:30 am and I wondered if the party was over. So I took out an earplug. Crap! My 17 year old niece and her friends were still on full birthday party volume. Back in goes the earplug and I try to get some more shuteye at my brother-in-law�s place at Cape Woolamai. So goes the night before the Phillip Island track day. Maybe I should have slept at home in St Kilda and ridden out in the morning.

I know, riding to a track day sucks (clever people have trailers). And having to ride home sucks, too, especially if you bend your bike during the day. So I�ll just have to be careful. But being a sport-tourer, my BMW F800ST can carry luggage, and the bags come off quickly for �sport� mode (calling a 61 kW bike sporty is another matter). It�s not exactly a track day �weapon�, it�s more like a track day �target�. But for me it�s all about getting out on the track for a bit of fun without having a care about idiot road users coming the other way, or paying the voluntary Victorian Road Users Tax and buggering my license. Compared to what can happen on a normal weekend ride, the cost of a ride day is a bargain. Assuming, of course, you don�t crash. But we ride every weekend without crashing, so what could possibly go wrong?

Although my track experience began with Kawasaki triples in the 1970s, these days I have an unfortunate habit of using the wrong bikes for track days. First there was the 1100 Gold Wing that I brought from Canada. I used it for the level one Superbike School a dozen years ago but got rid of it the first chance I got. Later I had a BMW R1150GS and it was kind of fun on track days. Then there was the Triumph 600 rental bike that I used once (it worked fine, but I really don�t like riding someone else�s bike). Now I have this little commuter/sport-tourer, which goes OK for me.

I�ve taken my F800 to track days at Sandown and Broadford, but this was my first time at Phillip Island. I wondered how the plush touring-oriented suspension would cope. The non-adjustable front forks concerned me because of the amount of dive under braking, which can be a worry on tight roads. However, they weren�t a bother on the circuit (maybe I�m just getting used to it).

So how did the day go? For one thing the weather was perfect. I�d bought new Michelin Pilot Road 3 tyres and wondered how they would go on the track (secretly hoping for wet conditions). The tyres were good, and I have no complaints. I didn�t find the limits of traction, but then I wasn�t looking (unlike a few others who found and surpassed the limits). In addition to the new PR3s, I also had new front disks. The week before, BMW had kindly provided me with about $1200 worth of disks after I complained about vibration when braking hard from high speed. BMW stuff is expensive, but their warranty (even after expiry sometimes) is fantastic. So I had brakes and tyres that worked perfectly, a front end that didn�t give me the shits, and I didn�t bin it, so all was good.

The first session of the day was red-flagged due to a couple of offs, and we got a stern talking to by Steve Brouggy. A few people strayed from the tarmac throughout the day, but I don�t think there were any injuries. The closest I came to grief was when someone decided that they could dive up the outside of me as I was setting up to go through Turn 8. As I moved to the left getting ready for the right-hand bend, I saw a front wheel coming up on my left heading for the grass. He backed off, and then passed safely a few bends later. The �rules of engagement� required a 2m separation, and I reckon this was closer to 2 cm.

Due to my lack of sleep the night before, and the dreaded end-of-holiday traffic heading back to the city, I decided to skip the last session and just head home. The trip home wasn�t as bad as I�d expected, and I was later kicking myself for not staying to the bitter end.

Thanks to Dennis for suggesting we spend the ANZAC Day holiday at the Island. Thanks to everyone for splitting the cost of our own pit garage: it was sensational having the facility. We had to book (and pay for) the garage in advance, and I believe we all thought it was worth it. Also thanks to Tony for bringing chairs for everyone to relax on, and to Misho for the fuel (I was running low after four sessions). I look forward to next time.

David Chisma