Journal of a 600’s first Track Day

600's First TD
600's First TD

17 Jan 2020

Perhaps you’ve thought about signing up for a Track Day, but haven’t a clue what it involves. Well, here’s my account of the SBR Track Day in Nov 2019, to help blow off the smoke.

Setting off for the Nov SBR TD
Ready to set off for Track Day at Sepang International Circuit near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Of cost it matters 

Of course, you’ll be wondering about the cost. Here’s what you’ll need to pad your pocket for*:

  • SBR Track day registration fees – 165 SGD per session
  • Cost of petrol riding to and from the track, OR
  • Cost of towing your bike to and from Sepang International Circuit (300 SGD), plus cost to transport yourself there
  • Gear — Full face helmet, boots, gauntlet gloves, leather suit (we recommend RACECARBON’s bespoke suits)
  • Accommodation with safe parking for motorcycles – I stayed at Tune hotel for 40 SGD per night
  • Maintenance and performance parts for your motorcycle – tyres, servicing, brake pads, etc

*Accurate at time of posting. More information from SBR can be found here.

Aside from the gear that I already had, I spent an estimated 1000 SGD in total. I opted not to tow my bike and rode up to Sepang.

A typical day at the track

Find out more on SBR's site
Find out more on SBR‘s site.

I booked session 2 on day 1 and session 1 on day 2 (colloquially known as session 2 and 3).

The pit lane where bikes and riders alike rest in between track slots.
I arrive and park in the pit lane where bikes and riders alike rest in between track slots.

Brief briefing

1pm: Track Day kicked off with a registration and safety briefing.

Compulsory!
Regardless of how experienced you are on the track, this briefing is mandatory.

At the briefing, I was issued my track number and group sticker — without which, I wouldn’t be allowed on the track.

Definitively a group C rider
Definitively a group C rider.

Newbies at Track Day will be glad to know that there will be two guided laps led by track marshalls.

https://www.sbrtrackdays.com/calendar
Upcoming schedule of 2020 Track Days. More info here

Prep time

First on the list – check if your motorcycle is running the correct tyre pressures. Tyres maintain traction with the track through two tiny contact patches, so you don’t have much room for error.

Must check!
Check with your motorcycle’s user manual on the optimal tyre pressure to run.

What’s up with those red furry blankets? Some riders bring tyre warmers to the game – these help to make the rubber more pliable before they hit the track fast and furious. You’ll have more confidence going hard into a corner when you know your tyres are less likely to shred because they are too cold. Plus, they help to prolong the lifespan of those expensive tyres.

Looks very professional!
These guys can’t control track conditions, but they’ve got their rubbers in optimum temperatures.

Last thing to do before you hit the track – mount your camera to capture the action!

Smile!
Pics/vids, or it didn’t happen.

Track time

2:40 pm first slot

I spent the first 20 minutes getting to know the track and warming up both flesh and machine.

Nowhere near
Still some ways away from a knee-down!

Over a 40-minute break before the next riding slot, I re-hydrated and attempted a power nap. You’ll be surprised how much all that track-play can tire you out.

Around this time, rain clouds began to loom overhead. Even atheists started to pray!

Does not bode well
Grim tidings.

3:40 pm second slot

A friend kindly agreed to pace me on the track, and helped me to clock a personal best on the 600. But it is not without a good retrospective story. Read on…

Much room for improvement
Much room for improvement.

I should point out that I was running a GP shift on the 600. This meant that my gear shifter was working in the reverse order; instead of kicking one down and five up, I would have to kick one up and five down. The point of the GP shifter was to allow easier and faster gear shifts in aggressive track corners, while reducing unsettling movements at awkward angles.

REMINDER
A reminder-to-self that I thought would be hard to miss.

None of my other motorcycles have a GP shift.

It rained
Inevitably, it rained.

With the downpour, came another inevitability. 

In the final few minutes of the track slot, most riders had already peeled off for the pit lane. I was hellbent on chasing the tail lights of a friend who had agreed to pace me, and completely focused on clocking a better lap, when I had to shift gears. Naturally the GP shifter was the last thing on my mind, and so I kicked up instead of down on the rev metre’s red line…

Disaster immediately ensued. I hobbled the bike into the pit lane and my mechanic told me the most dread two words: “完了“. It means “finished”, in Mandarin. My engine was blown.

And with that, my weekend ground to an abrupt end, even before session 3.

Got nice shots
At least we clocked some decent photo moments before the engine blew.

No point crying over spilled milk. It was a lesson learnt and time to book an early flight home! 

After an engine fix and a sore hole in my pocket, I’ll be back at Sepang in no time! Next up, the Yamaha Champions Riding School in Jan 2020 — more on that in the next article!

More Stories
altitude motorcycling ladakh
High on Mountains