Today I took the Big Black Tambourine Machine over to Snetterton for my first trackday of 2013. Leaving home just after 06:00 to make the 90min ride, the weather was very typical for an April morning: grey and damp. The bike was already fueled after I took it out for a quick spin yesterday to make sure that it was alright, so I heading straight up the A1. I got there a little later than I expected, but still managed to sign on and get noise tested really quickly as the event was under subscribed. Being a Bike magazine trackday a few members of the Bike team were around and the atmosphere was positive and light like all of their previous events. During the safety briefing we we told that there would only be two groups and that there would be ten, instead of the standard seven sessions. I met up with a few of the riders who I knew and/or had met before and we headed on out. I had my Drift Ghost with me, but wasn't allowed to take it onto the track as the marshalls deemed the suction mount not strong enough, I wasn't going to argue, so I rode back to my garage and put it back in my bag.
For all those who attend trackdays you will know that you have to sign a disclaimer saying that you know motorsport is dangerous. We all know it is, but sometimes events occur that re-inforce just how dangerous that means and in the worse possible way. It was the second or possibly the third lap during the second session and I was coming round into Corams, which is a long sweeping right hander. When everything is up to temperature, it's a fast corner than leads to a very light left hand flick onto the main straight. Before Snetterton was expanded a few years ago, this corner with one of only two left hand turns on the track and was the site of many an off. Anyway, when you start the corner there is a marshal post directly opposite which is where I noticed the red lights and then the marshal frantically waving a red and a yellow flag. A few moments later I am presented with the sight of red Ducati parked on the track, a green Ninja lying in the gravel, the rider lying prone across the floor and his helmet some fourty feet away in the grass. From what we could gather and the information that seeped out during the morning, the rider had lost the front tipping into the corner, but as they didnt do their helmet up, it came off as soon as he hit the tarmac. The circuit was closed for over two hours and the air ambulance was needed. The thoughts of myself and the vast majority of the riders at the track were with him. We were told that we would be running through lunch to make up for lost track time, but that didnt bother me as I felt our tracktime was secondary to the fallen riders health.
Once the track opened, everybody took it easier and the rest of the day went without incident. On a personal level my riding improved steadily throughout the day as I cleared away a winters worth of city riding, getting back to somewhere near where I finished last year. I got home, tired and very achey. Tomorrow morning isnt going to be fun, but you pays your money, you takes your chances.