Our dedicated adrenaline addict Winston Taylor heads to SMSP for a ride day... Words: Winston Pics: Tim Munro
Riding a 1000cc sportsbike on the road has had a negative effect on my demerit point balance recently. The rush of holding the throttle wide open is just too tempting. Thankfully there is somewhere I can open it up without judgement from the authorities. For $285 midweek I can do a ride day on the super fast 3.93km Sydney Motorsports Park track. I’m in…
Booking is super easy and the website explains how to choose a group that suits your riding experience. I normally ride in Medium group. After recently updating my road bike to a 2015 BMW S 1000r RR, I would be a nervous wreck riding an expensive bike like that around the track. A quick look on Gumtree and I found myself a 2005 GSX-R1000K5 track bike for $3k, bargain. A quick check of the fluid levels and tightness of some critical bolts and it was good to go!
ON THE DAY
Upon arrival, I find a spot in one of the many garages and take the bike to scrutineering. One of the smiling staff members will check your bike for tyre and brake pad wear, ensure there is nothing loose, your throttle returns OK and away you go. Then it is upstairs to registration followed by a comprehensive safety briefing that explains what the different coloured flags mean and how to ride safely throughout the day ahead. We all want to leave in one piece.
The day consists of 6 x 20-minute sessions with an hour break in between. As it is Winter this time I’m always a bit hesitant during the first session when the track temperature is low. During the briefing we are reminded of this numerous times but the warning usually falls on some deaf ears as there are always stacks in the early sessions of the day, usually Turn two!
Lining up in the pits for the first session I find myself with a mixture of emotions going on. Excitement, anticipation, trepidation. The goal is start off slow, build up speed session by session, have fun, don’t stack, go home in one piece…
The acceleration of a 1000cc sportsbike on full throttle is something I will never get tired of. What a rush. It’s refreshing to be able to open it up without having to look in the mirrors wondering if I’m about to get a govt paid holiday with three meals a day included. The track is super smooth and very wide. With a maximum of 40 riders per group, track rarely feels crowded. I try to keep my distance from other riders and overtake as safely as possible and hope that the others do the same. I have a tendency to over grip on the ‘bars and end up with pretty bad arm pump so I try to remember to relax my grip and keep the blood flowing into my fingers…
The first session is over too quickly and so begins the high that I will be on for the next few days. As the sessions roll on I try to brake later, carry more speed through the corners and get on the power earlier each lap. I know my times are slowly coming down but to me the day is about the smile we all have when we get off the bike, not what the stopwatch says. Watching the riders in Red group is a sobering experience. The speed they carry past the grandstand and into Turn 1 is amazing, and I know I can learn a lot from watching them, particularly the racers there.
I have sat at the my local bike cafe stop over the years trying to convince mates how fun a track day is and to come and do one. Most of them go on about the dangers of riding on a track. I try and explain that in my opinion the ride we just completed is more dangerous than riding in a controlled environment on a track. I truly believe that.
As the sessions come and go, I begin to relax more and enjoy the thrill of the experience. I come across a few riders that are very close to my times and we have a great little battle between us. At the end of the day it’s always a big relief to put an intact bike back on the trailer. I have a smile that will last for days and go home and enjoy a cold beer!
SMSP Ride Day Gallery