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  • Writer's pictureGareth Owens

Silverstone Track Day on the VFR400

The VFR400 first successful track day at the Silverstone GP circuit

After attending the Chris Walker Race School in 2013 I had planned to get on track regularly on 2014. However, for one reason or another I just couldn't find the time.

Late in the summer I finally got on track for my first track day organised by No Limits at the Silverstone full GP circuit. 

Seven of us rode up from London the night before and stayed at the Saracens Head at Towcester close to the circuit.  We were all excited about the day and I was a little nervous due to this being the first real test of the VFR400 NC30 since I restored it. Would it be able to handle the abuse? Had I tightened every nut and bolt? etc etc...

We were up early in the morning and arrived at the circuit around 7:15. It was cold and the weather forecast for the day wasn't great. But luck was with us and after the morning briefing the sun came out and we were in for an unexpectedly hot day. A perfect day to be on track.

Fully briefed, the bike noise test coming in just under the limit, wing mirrors removed, lights taped  up and several nervous wee's and I was good to go.

My friends were riding a range of bikes including a ZZR1400, 675 Speed triple, a Multistrada and an SV560. Looking around the paddock my VFR was the smallest and one of the oldest bikes in the place. Silverstone has a lot of long straights and high speed sections so I knew I'd be getting passed quickly and hoped I wouldn't get too swamped in the corners too.

Soon the sighting laps were over for the advanced and intermediate groups (fast guys and track day junkies) and I was out on my sighting laps. Then straight into the fast was going well until it wasn't. Three laps in and the back stepped out. Thinking the tyres were still not up to temperature, I slowed for the next corner and it got even worse. 

I limped the bike back to the paddock with a deflated rear tyre, it appeared that a bit of road metal must have been embedded, who knows when, and getting the tyre hot had worked it out. The good news is that there was plenty of kit and help on site and I was soon able to go back out.

The day went well and I got more comfortable with the bike and the track as the day progressed. By the last session I was having a ball and although the bigger bikes could pass me easily on every straight, I could catch some of them up under braking and in the tighter corners so I was able to keep up for a parts of the circuit. My only caution was is whether the engine would stand up to the task, as it was flat out all did.

As a novice my lines were all over the place and I've clearly got lots to learn in order to get the best out of the bike, improve my riding style and unlearn many years of road riding. I'll definitely take advantage of tuition at further track days or I'll take a California Superbike School when time and budget allows.

For 2015 I plan to get to Donnington, Cadwell and Brands Hatch. But first I need to replace the front discs on the VFR400 as they were slightly warped before the track day and even worse after ;-)

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