In February, Andy and Talan (supported by Danny and Tony), headed out to Almeria for three days on track. There are now two circuits accessible at the same venue, but the riders decided to focus on just the one as that would lead to greater progression in the short time available.
Andy didn't get off to the greatest of starts, on the first session he quickly learned the tightening left hand corner leading into a chicane requires time and patience. Luckily there were people on hand to source a few bits and pieces required - big thanks to Mike 'Spike' Edwards for the spare air bag canister.
As proved, the track is actually tricky to learn, there are blind crests leading to turns, creating radius corners, no run off, lots of dirt off-line, and the odd hole in the dirt of you do try to straight-line a chicane! So, having regrouped and planned the sessions, both riders set about the task of learning where to position themselves on track in order to get happier with where they were going, and therefore happier about using the 190bhp on tap.
Talan was taking things steady as it was his first time on the YZF-R1. He was initially amazed at the sheer power and torque of the litre bike, claiming it was a quantum leap ahead of the last 1000cc he had ridden - a GSXR1000K6.
As the sessions ticked by, both racers dropped laptimes, with Andy the first to be moved up a group, followed by Talan a day later. The groups were't too big and there was time when sometimes the riders would be circulating for most of the session without seeing another bike. The use of transponders by the organisers meant that the groups were sorted by actual lap times, rather than the perception of the rider.
Overall the time was well spent and both Andy and Talan got a lot from the trip. Another useful learning tool was sending online video to Mike 'Spike' Edwards, who analyses the video and sends it back to you with running commentary about where you can improve. Talan improved three seconds on the final day after he had given his onboard footage to Mike.
Now we wait, with all other racers, for the season to continue.