September 16, 2002
By sheer luck, I got an email two days before this event from a friend, Tom Tracey, letting me know that there was a last minute opening for a "testing" day at Gingerman Raceway put on by the NITRO group. If there are less than 6 bikes on the track at a time, the insurance is cheaper as it's not considered racing. After thinking about it for about 2 seconds, I told him I'd be there.
I increased the rear ride height of the FOX shock and raised the forks in the triples before heading to Gingerman, hoping that this would eliminate some of the hard parts (header, shift and brake lever, sidestand) from scraping as much as they did up at Grattan. It worked like a charm. I was still touching down the pegs here and there, but I don't think I did any more damage to the other parts. The bike felt great, although the rear BT010 did get a little slippery as it continued to wear out. It was shot at the end of the day - 3 days on the track and it's done.
Gingerman is a really fun track, with good, but not great, pavement. There are no concrete patches, but there are a few easily avoidable bumps, and an asphalt seam here or there to watch out for. There's some minor elevation change, and 11 fun corners.
Tom's wife Teri took a few pictures of me with their digital camera. Thanks so much Teri!!
Tad through turn 1
Another shot of Tad through turn 1
Tad following a 954 and R1 into turn 2
Tad trying desperately to keep up with Danny on the R1 through turn 2
Here's my account of a lap around Gingerman on the 400:
Running wide out of 11, grab 3rd before that little needle gets too far into the red, and then 4th at the start-finish line. At the number 2 braking marker, sit up from behind the fairing, grab a handful of brakes and blip down two gears. Try not to let all the black streaks from car tyres intimidate you heading into turn 1, an 80 degree left hander. Start trailing off the brakes as you lean her in, put your knee down before the apex and get back on the throttle, holding a tight line to set yourself up for turn 2. Easy on the brakes heading into two (just enough brakes to help turn the bike), and then neutral throttle through the mini-carousel like corner, spot your exit point, and roll on the throttle (careful - this corner has bitten many people before on the exit, and I had the rear tyre slide on me repeatedly here) grabbing an upshift on the exit and continuing towards the downhill entrance of turn 3. Hard brakes at the second brake marker, grab a downshift, and take a late entry into the right hand uphill exit corner, grabbing the throttle a little before the late apex to help your drive out, and grabbing a gear as soon as you can on the exit. Pin the throttle through the left-hand kink turn 4 and run the exit wide. At the last braking marker before the upcoming double-left turns, grab some brakes and then a downshift (you were just bouncing off the rev limiter, so be careful to let the clutch out easy) while leaning her left and rolling the throttle back on way before the apex of 5. Pick up the bike for just a second, and then throw her down to the left again for the tight turn 6, picking up your knee as to not hit the curb (that hurts) and then throttle to the stop as you run wide, grab a gear and drift back to the left side of the track for the entry into 7, which connects with 8. Turn 7/8 is either two right hand corners, or 1 with a double-apex. Start trail braking towards the first apex at the second braking marker, getting back to neutral throttle at the apex holding a wide exit line to about 2/3 across the track. Find your next apex and start rolling on the throttle as soon as you can (a wider line helps you with this), avoiding the dip in the pavement either to the inside or outside, depending on whether you're passing someone at the time. The throttle is to the stop and you're continuing to lean over when you let off the throttle a bit, pick yourself up off the right footpeg, throw the bike over onto the left side (making the R1 guys jealous of how quickly the 400 will flick over), and roll the throttle back to the stop through turn 9, holding a tight line on exit to both set you up for 10, and to avoid the tank-slapper dips on the exit if you run wide. However, the wide line can be used to slingshot past someone and beat them to the turn in point for 10, a right hander with a late apex. Grab some brakes, kick her down a gear, and go in late, throttle to the stop on exit, while ignoring the rear tyre's desire to step out on you (phew!). Grab 2 upshifts down the Phoenix flat short straight (while waiting for that R1 that you just passed going into 10 to re-pass you under power). Here comes turn 11, a 90 degree right hander with a big dip in the pavement at the tight apex. Find the second braking marker, two downshifts, trail brake to the apex and through the dip, rolling on the throttle past the dip, getting a good drive down the front straight (as that same R1 that you closed in on through braking into 11 loses you down the front straight like you were dragging an anchor). Repeat!!