Round 6 of the Hottrax ACU National Endurance championship takes us to the underestimated circuit of Pembrey in South Wales
The Sorrymate pairing of Colin Norris and Warren Verwey have already spent a great weekend there under the guidance of race coach and great friend Mike Dickinson. The team is currently 24 points ahead in the championship but with 75 points still up for grabs and arch rivals Pitstop Racing on form and steadily closing the gap, nothing can be left to chance.
Thursday night and after loading the vans and a cool 3 hour drive in the pouring rain Colin and Warren set up camp in the allocated spot and get some sleep. Friday morning and the rain has stopped, track is drying nicely. Slicks on and ready for action the boys set about mastering the circuit and building lap times. Warren’s Kawasaki ZXR600 is prepped for the Manx Grand Prix and Warren understandably does not want to ride it so close to leaving. The set up for the Manx is totally different to short circuit racing. To help out (even more) sponsor Fergus Dalgarno from SorryMate.com has lent his personal bike for the Pembrey round.
All is going well until just after lunch, Warren, who has been very pleased with his borrowed steed comes back complaining of gearbox issues. As a favour to race organisers Hottrax Colin has been instructing in another group along with practising himself so takes the ailing Kawasaki for a spin. The gearbox will not select 4th, but then, all of a sudden it does. Very scary and clearly not a viable race option. After a serious team discussion Warren decides to go home (3 hours each way) and fetch his own bike. The rest of the day passes without incident. Fergus arrives in time for Dinner and is devastated to hear the bad news about his bike. Meanwhile back at home Warren is working with his mate Vince, who has managed to borrow a part from a spare engine and fixed the gearbox. Warren calls, he will be back in the morning, with both bikes………
Saturday morning, Warren returns bright and early and after a quick trip through scrutineering all is ready. Our ever helpful Clerk of the Course allows Warren a few laps in an early session to test the gearbox. All good and we are ready for our qualifying session. Warren is out first and soon posting good lap times. Meanwhile in the garage more drama unfolds, Colin’s bike will not start. The battery is flatter than a flat thing. Assuming the bike has somehow been left on all night there is a dash to the van and out with the jump leads. The bike fires up straight away but dies as soon as the jump leads are removes. Warren is back and Colin must go out to complete his compulsory 3 laps or risk a penalty. Quick decisions are needed so Colin jumps on Warren’s bike (that’s the one he has borrowed from Fergus then…..)and completes 3 laps just before the session ends.
Back to the garage and what is wrong with the normally bullet proof R6? With the help of a loan battery from track support company Parkitt Racing we prove that the bike is not charging. The rectifier proves to be at fault, fortunately Colin carries a spare in the van. Just as we are fitting this and things are looking up there is a call on the P.A.. “Will Colin Norris please come to Race Control immediately”. Colin has been spotted on Warren’s bike in qualifying but, with an honest explanation, and with no advantage gained he manages to get away with an official caution from the Clerk of the Course and no penalty.
After a light lunch it is time for the Endurance race. Competition is fierce as always. The Sorrymate.com team have qualified 10th overall and 4th in class, very creditable with TT winner Gary Johnson leading the way. Colin’s battery is still not fully charged so it is Warren to line up for the traditional Le Mans Start
Warren pushes hard and clings on to the 4th place. Meanwhile rivals Pitstop have crept up from 3rd to 2nd. It is vital for the championship that we are as close to them as possible. Colin’s bike fires without a hitch and he is on a mission. Several P.B. laps follow and by the end of his stint Sorrymate.com have overhauled Power Projects racing and moved up into 3rd place by a respectable margin. Warren and Colin continue to push hard but cannot close the gap on 2nd. All is looking good for a safe 3rd when, with only 6 minutes remaining Warren comes past shaking his head, the bike is misfiring badly. Colin dashes to get his helmet back on, the great pit crew have his bike out there waiting. Everyone is praying that Warren will make it round with the all important transponder. After what seems like forever he comes spluttering down pit lane. Transponder changed and Colin is out again. Coming round at the end of his first lap Colin looks desperately for a pit board, have we lost that all important 3rd place??? Nothing ! Next lap there it is, great news from the pit wall, we are still in 3rd with a small gap.
So after 3 hours of racing, and enough drama to last a whole season the guys finish with their 5th podium from 6 races and still lead the championship by 20 points. We really could not have done it without the fantastic support of all our families, friends, and sponsors. Thank you
After all that the greatest thrill was to stand on the podium and be heartily congratulated by Gary Johnson, TT winner and thoroughly nice bloke
Come and join us at the next round at Brands Hatch on the 7th September