Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Aftermath ... and finances

When I was racing bikes, I had no children and the Internet Boom was happening. As my bike racing costs rose, so did the shares given to me by my employer. I was never really short of money, in spite of spending upwards of 30 grand on the sport in the year I won the Bemsee 250 Championship.

These days, with two kids and my partner no longer working - and no more share schemes as computer companies retrench and cut costs - things are a bit tighter. Unfortunately things came to a head, and I had to take out my first loan for nearly 20 years, shortly before I crashed at Cadwell.

There was no chance of paying McMillan to the work, as I had last year after my expensive Snett crash. But my friends were great, and Trev, Charles and Chris all rallied round to help out. I did most of the basic strip-down myself, until we got to the "engine-out" stage. Then the guys, and my brother, all came round for an "engine out and barbecue" party. A great time was had by all, and the engine was removed, together with everything else that still needed to come off.

The chassis went to Arch, who were (and I guess still are) struggling somewhat as Caterham had told them they wouldn't be making any more chassis after April, but they still were due to the apparent inability of Caged to start production of the new metric robot-welded chassis. Hence it took them a couple of weeks or so. Then we had the boys around again for a rebuild barbecue - and then I went off to the US with work, then on holiday, etc.

Knockhill or Thruxton might have been possibilities for my return to the track, but I really couldn't be arsed to drive all the way to Knockhill for one race in the pouring rain at nine o'clock in the morning (as it turned out). And I wasn't over keen on Thruxton with no test day to get back into things.

So my return will be for the final, glorious (we hope) meeting at Spa in October.

So what happened at Cadwell then?

For the simple answer, check this video.

Now for some reflections...

It's often said that "a race is not won or lost in the first corner". That's undoubtedly true. However, it's also true that when there's a line of people queuing-up for the first corner, should you take a creative line through, you can sometimes overtake four or five people. Overtaking that number of people later in the race is likely to take as many laps to achieve. It can be the difference between making it to the rear of the front pack in the first lap, and seeing the front pack disappear as you make your way through the midfield in the first few laps.

For people who qualify well, this probably doesn't matter. But I rarely do, so I'm always keen to take maximum advantage of opportunities early in the race.

Hence it was that when I saw a spinner at Coppice, my thoughts were along the lines of "great, that will have slowed down the people on his side of the track, we can get through on the left and get a clean getaway".

Sadly, it wasn't to be. The guy in front of me (and it was so long ago I've forgotten who he was) obviously had a better sense of self-preservation than me, and braked much harder than I expected as he approached the incident. Not being prepared for this, I had to swerve to avoid hitting him in the rear.

At this point I got screwed by my bike racing past. I could easily have swerved left onto the grass to miss him. But on a bike, you touch the grass and you're down - or worse you keep going totally out of control until you hit the tyre wall. So all my instincts told me the grass was out of bounds - and I swerved right - hitting Charlie and Jamie and eventually causing the carnage you can see on the video.

There were lots of recriminations and accusations of "Supers being crazy" after this. I kept my head down. Was it all my fault? No. Was I a factor in the crash? Certainly.

Charlie's car was a real mess. He got hit front and rear, and it did a huge amount of damage. Jamie's wasn't that much better. In the circumstances, I got away quite lightly. My chassis was badly bent at the front, but it hadn't trashed too much else.

Lazy zod

I've rightly been getting some grief from the the Grads forum for not updating my blog ever since I crashed my car big time at Cadwell.

There's actually a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, I wasn't feeling too good about my part in the incident, and wasn't sure I wanted to share those feelings. Secondly, I've ... umm ... been playing Battlefield 2 in all the spare time that I might have been writing blog entries. What a sad git.

So it's about time I created a few entries I reckon.