The designated driver, Cruiser specialist, project manager, mothering-like with a cutting wit - Mal. G
10-beers-acid-chest 20" euro specialist - Tuffy.
"Hawkeye" Scott Waterhouse
Lauren "first straight pull" Smith
Dan 'heads gone' Clifford
We got off the ferry in Dunkerque fresh as daisies and almost completely unaware to the monster drive that lay ahead, 7 hours through 4 countries, with some mishaps along the way saw us arrive at our destination after our practice and pretty much shattered. The tents went up to AC/DC and off we went to check out the track.
The track looked amazing, surrounded with the grand stand and hundreds of banners, it was built expecially for the European Championships. It looked pretty tech with a steep hill and a wide open first straight, low doubles to manual, over a long step a roller and a super long table into turn 1. The second staight had a roller out the turn a tabletop into 2 steepish doubles and a lippy step up into the second turn. Rail that into a super tech rhythm 3rd straight. Super deep, steep and I wasn't sure how to approach it at all. The fastest way was to double then jump on, jump off a table, then to jump onto a step up and off again into a roller. Oof. Tuffy did it 1st lap. No sweat. Bastard!
On Friday we had some practice and got 6 laps. I was happy with my first 2 straights but I was struggling to find any ryhthm on the 3rd. I could've done with a few more laps for sure!
Mal raced cruiser on the Friday and was flooring germans with total disregard. With some good snaps and strong cornering he made it out of the Motos with ease. Straight to quarters and Mal was faced with a gate full of Germans, still bitter over 1945 they came for him. He didn't stand a chance. He shrugged a few off but was elbowed into the pro-section and out of the race. A valiant effort from the 40+ big dog who soon cracked open another beer.
The Saturday elite racing was just insane. Those guys are balls to the wall WFO and its a total joy to watch. We had 3 Brits in elite men and after strong rides they went out in the 1/8ths. Its just insane how fast these guys go, Sifiso took the win and I cleaned up in the sweepstake. Bosh!
On Sunday we had Lauren in 17+ women, Tuffy and Scott locking it down in 17-24 and myself in 25-29. Scott rode strong to make it into the 16ths to crash whilst battling for a qualifying position. Tuffy rode fantastic to get all the way to the quarters in his jeans, he was feeling the strain though by now, and got dropped in the quarter, a little more recovery time between races and certainly could have made the main. He had the track, the gate and the first straight pull neccessary, lay off the fry ups yoof! Lauren pulled a super stacked moto and after some strong starts and good first straights it all went to pot, Lauren went out in the motos.
In 25-29 I wasn't feeling too great, I really wanted to be confident on the track, but after the 2nd turn I wasn't, I had an alright first straight and a smooth 2nd but that 3rd straight was nails. I was in 4th coming out of turn 1 and after a little manual bump on the table I put in half a crank (??!?!!) and took off with my wrong foot forward. No idea how I stayed on but it did me, I finished 7th. With 2 more legit but not great motos I finished 5 & 5. Well and truly moto'd, and absolutely gutted. Marco held it down and put a great main ride together to finish E4. I feel sick thinking about that 1st moto, I let it get to me and blew my other 2. What a n00b.
I loved the track and would love to have something close to it in the UK, we're well off the pace. I'm thinking of making a tech rhythm straight at Bolehills.. People would come far and wide to hit that.
I feel like I've had the wind knocked out of me and just before China and that's the last thing I needed. I just need to keep positive, hit the gates hard these next few weeks and keep my head on.