Just got back from a fantastic 3 days on track, first time with the French Eybis company.
Wasn’t planning on this one as very busy with the business but coerced into it whilst at Le Mans in July and the wife gave me the go-ahead and took time oiff work to look after kids and the dog for me, happy days.
from Jersey it’s 50 mins by boat to Saint Malo, then 560km to Magny Cours which we did in about 5 hours 30 mins, including a bio and food stop. We arrive into the Circuit a bit early in fact and are made to wait outside with about 30 other vans for about an hour, then we are allowed in, to find my Swiss Dealer already there in the next garage with the most impressive trackday van I have seen so far ! a full artic which can take 30 bikes plus spares, a massive awning and kitchen equipment, chairs, the trailer raises up to provide sleeping on an upper level and it even had a rooftop viewing platform, this is a couple of crap picture of it as I was in a hurry to get a decent space in the pits and forgot to take more later.
So bikes unloaded and pit garage setup
Troy Corser was in attendance and held the briefing, which was brief, there were also loads of S1000RR’s you could take out to test ride with a €2000 deposit, I was booked into Group E as that was the only availability when I booked (and the most likely place for me to hang out as I am slow anyway and new to the track) it did mean 5 groups so only 5 sessions a day though. Transponders on so if I managed to go fast enough I could get moved. Group E was the last group to go out, by the time we went out there had been about 10 accidents, something that would be a sign for the weekend !
First out I used the R6 for the first day, it’s a fantastic circuit for a little 600, a short 3/4 gear main straight going into a double left hander and a long flowing right hander that goes on and on until you hit the uphill back straight and the two right kinks and by the time you hit the bridge in 6th and get off the throttle and down to first you are pulling some nice speeds.
Out of the hairpin and off you go, front wheel lifting over the first and second rise, through the left kink still hard on the throttle before dropping through the right, left chicane and round the 180 degree left hander, through the right as you exit and power up the straight clipping the left kink before dropping a gear or two into the uphill right, left chicane and into the tight right hander that on the last day would fuck up my whole day, powering out of the haripin front wheel is lifting and you are heading downhill into the left kink before the first gear right hander where you grab a few people on the throttle and late brake, hole the corner out to the kerb and then into the tight and nadgery right, left chicane (can’t believe formula one cars went through there!) and onto the main straight and the next 17 mins of mayhem.
You go out under waved yellows for 1 laps then off you go, (although they said 2 but no one seemed to listed or care) no instructors to show you the lines like on No Limits days. Slight issues with R6 misfiring at low RPM and the odd stutter under hard acceleration.
So first day done, went from 2:35 on my first lap round to a best of 2:21 only a second behind guys with more track experience, I still have a way to go with my riding position as you can see from the pictures, and also with the R6 still having some slight issues pulling out of the corners with a slight misfire, maybe a plug on it’s way out.
Next morning it pissed with rain, so open pitlane, I had wets but only the A & B guys seemed to be going out and doing times sub 2:19 some in the mid to high 2:00’s so took the decision to wait for the weather to improve which it did as forecast after lunch and so went out on the R6 and improved by 3 seconds to a 2:18.
The worst moment of the weekend was whilst putting my gloves on, no idea what happened both me and a mate had checked the stand was down before taking the warmers off and drropping off the paddock stands, and it was standing fine turned around and then back to find this. No Damage done. I think it had fainted at the thought of taking my lardy arse out again for another 20 minutes 😆
Then got on the Crossplane R1 and although not feeling as confident in the corners (or getting out of them) I improved to 2:16 by the last session, 3 seconds quicker than my mate Eddie who was now my yardstick.
Even on the R6 I was getting held up by way slower riders and struggling to get a good clean lap in, essential to getting moved up to a faster group and progress, and on the R1 it was even worse, on one occasion I approached the bridge on the back straight, the point I was closing the throttle before beginning the breaking into the hairpin, probably hitting around 160mph on the R1 and there was 15 bikes all across the track with absolutely no room to blast through, so I had to back off way early before picking my way through on braking past a few at the rear, go round the hairpin at 3mph and then pass about 10 of them over the wheelie bumps and outbrake a few more into the chicane, get held up all around the 180 left before dispensing with the rest on the next straight. It was very frustrating knowing that you could get into the next group up if only you could get a clear lap in and then be with people capable of similar laptimes and cornering speeds. In fact my dealer in the next garage was consistently slower than me on his Aprilia Tuono than I was on the R6, I know as I followed him around, passed him and left him for dead, but I managed to get moved up to the next group, when we checked the transponder times from that session he had gone 2/10th’s quicker than me on the last lap and got moved up.
Last day and went out, and lost all the confidence I had been building up, all my own fault as I was flying , well relatively speaking for me, and the Qstarz GPS was showing I was 3.5 seconds up on my PB as I came out of the 180 degree left hander and I went in too hot into the last right hairpin leaving the braking too late to pass another rider, with still a little brake still on to scrub off the last of the speed I had carried in (instead of just trusting the tyres and leaning over further) the front let go and snapped back and I managed to catch it and run onto the rumble strip, but it ruined the rest of the day as I was way too cautious after that on the approach to that corner every lap, especially if there was anyone to pass, and I went backwards to a best time of 2:21 that day. The GPS says my best theoretical time on the R1 would have been a 2:12.5 sadly it doesn’t count as that would have moved me up to group D or even C where I would not have been held up by slower riders and probably improved from there.
Very well run, however the tracks are rammed, we roughly counted up 250 riders split over the 5 groups, with more arriving for the Saturday/Sunday.
Transponders are great but with 10th of a second separating you from the next group up or down you cannot afford to have a bad session.
I think because of the above there were LOTS of crashes, especially in the A B C groups as the pressure was on not to get dropped down.
Every evening Troy Corser sat on his bike and gave tips to the crowd on riding techniques, urging people to try them and slow down and stop crashing
Limited free bear each night and the chance for a speed limited lap around the track with pillion and kids on pitbikes.
We actually did less sessions in 3 days than we typically do on a 2 day No Limits Le Mans, partly through the rain, partly do to the number of groups to get through.
Magny Cours F1 Circuit
Very nice circuit, the tarmac was in pretty good conditions and apart from one morning of rain the weather was just about prefect
Great pit garages, camping on site in the paddock available and a lot of riders parked their bikes down there with their campers and tents and rode up to the pits each session.
Clean and well kept toilets
Have to pay €190 per day per pit box, we managed to squeeze 9 in one and 6 well spaced out in another and split the costs between the 15 riders. Still waiting for the €600 deposit to be refunded to my credit card.
It’s well worth adding to the tracks to visit, for the UK guys I guess it’s as long a way for you as it is from us, but it is definitely worth it if you can.