Talan Skeels-Piggins #83
The trip to Castle Combe is always one I welcome. It is where I learned to get back on a bike after being paralysed, started the journey to become a racer and founded The Bike Experience charity. This race was going to one of a mental battle, as I was racing an exact copy of the bike that had paralysed me 14.5 years before, a 1997 Honda CBR600FV.
The weekend began with free practice and a discovery that the track was (or certainly felt) considerably more bumpy than the last time I had ridden it. So bumpy was the track that my right foot fell out of the toe clip coming around the final corner of the track. I managed to get over onto the grass and stop by leaning up on the armco barrier next to the pit lane exit. A marshal helped to get my foot get back on the bike before the team crew arrived from the pit lane. All sorted and I finished the session gently. With new velcro in place on the knees and a different angle on the foot peg, I was all set for the coming races.
Each race throughout the weekend was hugely enjoyable, starting from the back of the grid and battling my way forwards. Each race was seeing my lap times reduce, as I got the feel for the track and the feel for the bike. The final lap on Saturday saw me reach a 1’22.00 lap, an average speed around the track of 81.87mph - which just shows how fast the circuit is. Hoping to get down to the 21s or even 20s, I was ready to push a bit harder on day two. However on my second full lap of the first race on Sunday I was stuck in 3rd gear for three corners, then in 2nd gear for the length of the start/finish straight. The racers I had overtaken on that lap caught me up when finally the gears started to work again. Knowing that the gears could go at any time, I was careful and did not push as hard as I wanted. It was still a fun race and I enjoyed a four-bike battle for the final two laps.
The bike was inspected and the electronic gear shifter was felt to be overheating and not working correctly. We also weren’t sure of what else could have gone wrong and so the decision was made to abandon the final race of the meet. There was no point in damaging the bike further or trying to ride with a faulty gear selector.
Despite the mechanical problems, Castle Combe once again provided me with a wonderful racing experience and a decent set of results. In addition, I was able to show everyone that the bike didn’t rule my mental state, it didn’t beat me, it didn’t stop me from living a fantastic life.
Many thanks to all the supporters and sponsors - MW Solicitors, ERIKS, Bennetts Insurance, Held Rider Protection, Get Geared, MotulUK, Performance Parts, FWR Tyres, BikersDiscountStore, Lemonade Screenprinting, Steve Jordan Motorcycles, Dymags, D Rogers,
Race 1 Started 45th Finished 37th Overall and 15th in Class
Race 2 Started 45th Finished 32nd Overall and 13th in Class
Race 1 Started 44th Finished 30th Overall and 15th in Class
Race 2 DNS
Best lap speed 1’22.00 - 81.87mph
William Swift #17
My first race meeting at the fearsome Castle Combe with the North Gloucester Road Racing Club has been, on reflection, great success. I'd visited the track on numerous occasions as a team support and spectator but never as a racer. On these previous visits it was difficult to not pick up on the tracks deserved reputation as extremely fast, bumpy with the crash barriers in very close proximity to the track. With this at the forefront my mind I spent as much time as possible in the run up making notes and studying the track, as well as watching footage of as many races as possible. This preparation allowed me to arrive and attack the course from the first practice session. The nature of the track played well to the strengths of my Honda SP2. Its compliant chassis absorbed the worst of the bumps and the stability in the fast sections instilled great confidence allowing me tap into the stomp from the 1000cc twin engine. It also didn't hurt that the weather was absolutely glorious on both days which helped the Continental slicks dig into the tarmac. The grip was phenomenal and no matter what ham-fisted inputs I threw at them did they threaten to break traction. My goal was to simply finish strong in all the races and improve session by session. My lap times started at 1:28sec and by the final race had tumbled to 1:22.4sec with a best position of 16th in class of 40 starters. All four of my races produced strong mid pack results with some excellent, close quarters battles.
I started the weekend with trepidation and finished wishing I'd pushed harder everywhere. Not a bad position to be in leading up to the next round at the Brands Hatch GP circuit. The team at Talan Racing did a fantastic job with the machine preparation and North Gloucester club were extremely welcoming and very professional.
Thank you to everyone who made this event possible. I couldn't do it with out your support.
Race 1 Started 30th Finished 29th Overall and 18th in Class
Race 2 Started 29th Finished 28th Overall and 16th in Class
Race 1 Started 28th Finished 27th Overall and 16th in Class
Race 2 Started 27th Finished 27th Overall and 17th in Class
Best lap speed 1’22.40 - 81.47mph