Brands Hatch - Shakedown for the Ducati 848 Evo
I started the 2016 season with a move on to the Ducati 848. Having never ridden a V-Twin before, let alone a Ducati, and with the bike not being road legal, I decided to do a track day at Brands Hatch on a cold November morning. The idea was to get a feel for the bike and make sure there was nothing wrong with it before moving on to a three day European track day at Cartagena, Spain.
The day was cold, with Brands Hatch shrouded in fog when I rolled the bike of the trailer. I was nervous on the brand new (to me) bike and BT016Pro tyres which were unfamiliar. I did the warm-up session tottering round and then the first two sessions at a slow pace, all the time with a growing feeling that I had made a very bad decision.
The bike felt slow to turn, jerky on the throttle - I'd never ridden with a quick action throttle and didn't realise that the rear sprocket was one tooth up and the front one tooth down for added acceleration. Worse than this, it felt like riding a plank, the bike was super-stiff and I could not feel what the front end was doing. After riding round on a spunky VFR400 this was completely different.
During the lunch break I took the bike to the suspension guy. He set the bike up for my weight, though I could have done with a slightly different spring, and told me that it had been set up extremely stiffly and for a heavier guy than me.
After lunch I went out on track and the bike felt completely different, and although I rode round gingerly and tentatively as the low sun obscured one of the turns, I did start to feel a lot more comfortable on the bike and actually started to enjoy the day.
I've since discovered that it always takes me some time to figure out a new bike or a new track, so it's best to take my time and not add pressure. Half a day on the bike is simply not enough, but this track day was enough for me to go through excitement (new bike), disappointment (I hate the new bike) to enjoyment (we might just get on).
With the suspension tweaked and some garage time to set up the brakes, rear sets and add our A&G logos to the bike I was ready for the Ducati's first Euro day.