Cartagena Test

FlexNet Cartagena Test

Following two successful seasons of 600cc endurance racing Andy decided to further his career and move up to the litre class, with Colin staying in the 600’s. Colin and Andy both had a good year solo racing in 2011 but missed the tactics and teamwork element of the endurance. Despite lengthy conversations and several schemes they could not come up with a competitive formula for the 2012 season. Eventually Colin teamed up with Fergus Dalgarno of for the 600 National Endurance. Andy providing sponsorship and technical support under the FlexNet banner as the AIM data logging importer whilst racing in the Michelin Power Cup 1000 himself.

The winter was spent preparing bikes for the coming season, full engine and suspension re-fresh for all the bikes and fitting a full AIM data logging system and dash to Fergus’s CBR 600. Following a few panics, especially the late delivery of Andy’s new gearbox it was time for a pre-season shakedown at the Spanish circuit of Cartagena.

Although it was snowing when the bikes were being loaded onto the lorry, the weather in Spain was perfect, blue skies and 15-20 degC for the 3 days we were on track. With this being Colin and Andy’s second trip to Cartagena on these bikes we already had valuable data to work with and were anticipating a productive test. Fergus was new to the world of data logging and has much to learn and understand to gain full benefit from the data.

The FlexNet party consisted of our 3 riders (Andy Rouse, Colin Norris & Fergus Dalgarno) and also Adrian Laird who will be pit crew during the 2012 season. Also on the same test were the 2011 Michelin Power Cup podium finishers with their mentor Steve Plater and technical assistance from Michelin man and fellow endurance racer Chris Mason.

Day one was spent blowing away the winter cobwebs, remembering the twists and turns of the very technical Spanish circuit and formulating a plan for the following days.

Day two was about improving upon last year’s times. Colin and Andy happily discussed lines and analysed the AIM data as they had done many times before. Progress was good, Colin improved his on his 2011 PB by 1 second and Andy by 1.5 seconds. Fergus however was struggling as he only managed to improve a further 2 seconds on his best time from day 1 and was still off the pace. Much of the evening was spent analysing the AIM data and on board video footage, looking for reasons and showing Fergus where he could find some time.

Day three, the final day already, and although tyres were an issue (lack of them) all riders were determined to improve their times. The team bonding and data analysis, combined with instruction and encouragement from Colin and Andy (not to mention stiff on track competition from Adrian) Fergus made the biggest improvements and knocked 6 seconds off his best lap time from day 2 putting him at a respectable 1:54.5. Both Colin and Andy had suffered serious tyre wear issues from day one and despite discussions with Michelin and messing with pressures and suspension settings there were no significant improvements. Following a final analysis of the data both Colin and Andy went out to make good use of the last of the good rubber and put in a quick time. Colin came back with a 1:45.6 (3.5secs better than his 2011 PB) and Andy managed a 1:43.7 (2.3secs better).

The test had given us invaluable pre-season track time, all riders were happy with their progress and a strong bond of friendship and respect had developed throughout the team.

With Round 1 at Brands Hatch approaching rapidly (9th, 10th 11th March), the whole team is looking forward to some good results.