Bit of a ho-hum weekend.
Wasn't sure whether I'd be able to make this one, but Jan graciously avoided showing any signs of giving birth in the hours running up to it.
Not that that helped much...
I've only raced at Donington once before - this time last year. And we only had eight minutes of untimed practice to remember where the circuit went.
It was my least favourite conditions. Damp, but not properly wet. We'd opted for intemediates all round, though some were out on full wets. Donington is treacherous in these conditions - East Midlands airport is right next to it, and planes taking off leave a fine mist of aircraft fuel just waiting for a shower to turn it into a greasy ice-rink.
I felt like I was pussy-footing it round. The quick boys all passed me, but I did manage to overtake quite a few slower riders. But I figured that Duncan would be very scathing about my lack of speed. The first few laps were spent remembering the turn in and braking points - but with only eight minutes the chequered flag was soon out. Practice - so the chequered flag means you have one more lap. I tried to put in a quick final lap. I'd got the line right for the fast left-hander under the bridge into Schwantz curve, so this time I applied a bit of throttle in the middle. Big mistake...
The back end stepped out big time and tried to highside me. It failed, but left me hanging off the side of the bike. The "I can save it" moment only lasted a second or so, then I was surfing across the wet grass on my elbows at high speed - but with a perfect view of the bike continuing happily across the grass. It must have made nearly 200 yards before running out of steam and flopping over - but not before a heart-stopping lurch back towards the track.
I was fine apart from light bruising to fingers and toes, and the bike had basically fallen over in mud - total damage: light cracks to screen and top fairing.
I didn't. I failed to qualify. Here follows a selection from the "Racer's Excuses Manual (17th Edition)" (soon to be available from this web site).
There were fifty-seven 250's at Donington, and only 40 would qualify.
The track had a broad dry line all the way round. Off line was damp. If you know you're on the line, you can use the full power of slicks in these conditions, and ride virtually as hard as in the total dry. But if you're not sure of you're lines, the knock in confidence can take 5-10 seconds off your lap times.
I'd opted for an inter front with the slick rear, but this was a mistake. I had some alarming twitches from the front while "going for it" on the completely dry entry to Craner Curves.
Initially I failed to get below high 1:24's. But after a stop, I immediately dropped into the 1:22s.
A lot better, but a huge way off the pole time of 1:15's, set by Rich Grinling who was obviously VERY confident of his lines!
I wasn't too upset about failing to qualify. Sure, it's a bit of a downer on my ego and confidence, but at least it meant there was much less chance of me doing myself a mischief just before the baby is born.
Next MRO round is at Snetterton. Donnington was new to me last year, but I've been riding at Snett since my KR-1S days back in 1993, so I'll feel a lot more confident there. And there's a Bemsee day (and a practice day if I book it soon enough!) to get dialed-in to the circuit. Roll on next month (baby in tow!)