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Brands Hatch blast on a 950SM

If you’re thinking about doing a track day on your 950SM, I did and this is what happened.

It starts on a Monday and I’m in the office, I have been thinking for some time about doing a track day on the 950SM but something has always gotten in the way, but this time its gona happen. I do a quick search on Club MSV and Focused Events to see what’s available and see that Focused have an evening session on the Wednesday for £79. Perfect I think, skive off work early on the day, head down to Brands Hatch, soak up the atmosphere for a while and then bang adrenaline city here we come! I had already registered with focus some time before so logged in and made my booking; they were showing 4 places left. The web site told me to wait for the confirmation email with the full details so with that I returned to my boring day and dreamed about Brands Hatch.

The following day I had still not received the confirmation email so I called Focused and asked when it would be sent, but they now told me that the event was full and that my booking had not gone through, needless to say I was pretty pi**ed about this as I had been working my self up with excitement. After a long telephone conversation it was clear that the evening session was out and I had no where to ride. There was a full day’s event on the same day but that was £150 I tried to haggle but no luck. As a last ditch attempt I scrolled through the Focused web site looking for as many names as possible and sent a mass email complaining about the poor booking system and how it had failed me. About 1 hour later I got a call from Phillipe from Focused offering me the full day at £100, was I interested? You bet!

It’s now Wednesday morning at 5am and I’m up getting my kit ready fore my first track day, I’m unsure how I will perform as I have only been riding for 2 years and the SM is only the 2nd bike I have had. I know that it’s going to be mainly sports bikes there so I will be in a minority.



I live in Ongar, Essex so I take the A12 and M25 to the Dartford tunnel. I hate motorways on the bike, no fun at all but at this stage have no choice. I make pretty good time and get to the circuit at 7am, half an hour before you are supposed to be there but to my amazement almost every pit garage has been taken already with a mixture of some really professional looking guys with full on race prepped bikes, vans, Snap-On toolboxes, tyre warmers the lot. At the other end of the scale there are a few guys who like me have ridden to the track, I slowly look through and pick a garage where there was only 1 bike so far, a Ducati, and a friendly looking guy. I pulled up and asked if he minded me plotting up with him, he was cool with that so I settled in. (well basically took off my ruck sack and helmet). A short while latter we were joined by a BMW 1300, Aprillia Turno, and Suzuki SV. Whilst I imagined the place to be full of nutters with R1’s and Fireblades everybody who I came across was incredible friendly.




Once we had all signed in we had the safety briefing on the pit lane, there must have been about 75 blokes in all listening as the boss dude told us about a guy who crashed about 3 weeks previous, he broke his leg, pelvis and both ankles through using dodgy tires from eBay. This was not exactly want I wanted to hear just as I was about to wiz round for the first time.

After the briefing all those first timers had to wear a yellow bib for safety, ok but it does make the photos look crap. I got a special mention during the briefing as the only supermoto rider to not to stick my leg out and keep it on the pegs. Apparently it confuses the other riders???

So here we go lid on and on to the pit lane along with about 25 other bikes in the novice group, first off we do a couple of sighting laps following an instructor at about 60mph, I feeling calm but excited at the same time, we go through the first couple of bends Paddock Hill and Druids and all good, then we come to the third one Graham Hill, by this point my confidence has risen and I get caught out slightly as there is a subtle left hander just before the actual bend and I almost have one of those heart in mouth moments as I hit the bend slightly to fast and just don’t get enough lean on, (please bear in mind I am a first timer!). Following on the rest of the sighting laps go ok and we come back into the pit lane and line up again. After quick thumbs up check from the organisers we are out again but reminded to do 3 laps to warm our tyre before really opening up.



Ok were of again and I take notice of the warm up lap advice and start to ease myself around the track. I recon on these first few laps I probably hit about 80mph tops on the Brabham straight (where the pits are). During the safety briefing we were told that you could over take on either side but you must leave 6 foot gap, clearly some of my fellow track dayers did not hear this because as soon as we were out of the warm up laps I started to get overtaken by sports bikes that seemed like they were more like 6 inches rather than 6 feet away from me, first few times it happened it scared the sh*t out of me. Shortly after this the chequered flag comes out and the end of the first session is over, I make my way back to the pit garage with a very large grin across my face and slowly dismount. Wow that was great, now 40 minute wait for the other 2 groups to go out and then my turn again.

So session 2 starts and I am feeling quite confident I am now starting to open it up and fell the power of the v-twin and the howl from the Quill exhausts, is just awesome. I’m starting to get a bit of lean on now through the bends, with no traffic around like on the Queens Highway I feeling much more confident to push the bike over, already only on session 2 I am getting my knee down better than ever on the road. This session goes quickly (only 20 minutes), and we onto number 3. By now I am starting to get the bike over nicely or at least it feels like it to me. I am starting to scrap my toe on the ground going around Druids which feels great, I’m not getting the knee down and probably won’t for some time.




What I am now starting to see is that the 950 SM actually does very well as a track day bike, it has plenty of power and the cornering is fantastic. After session 4 only 3 bikes are getting past me which I think is pretty respectable. I have enough grunt to keep up with most of the others out of every corner, its only when we hit the long straight that the 600cc super sports are getting past, at this point I am hitting 110mph but my bottle is starting to go and Druids corner is fast approaching, (very fast).

We break for lunch and I am feeling very hot and damp inside my leathers, the guys who have arrived with vans and trailers have changed into shorts but I just have to put up with it. Whilst strolling through the pits I see what I can only describe as one of the best looking bike ever, it’s a Suzuki Worx bike and the very proud owner is none other than Keith Flint, front man form the Prodigy.



After lunch I returned to the pits and continue to ride a further 2 of the 3 sessions as fatigue was setting in and I had an hours journey home on the M25, I wanted to quite whilst I was ahead.

In summary if you are thinking about track days then the KTM 950 SM is an awesome weapon to use, its got enough power to make it very exhilarating and to get you in to a lot of trouble but the brakes and very good and are definitely needed with 24 other bikes all steaming into the corners and jostling for position. I am a novice and was getting my toe scrapping on the floor which feels great. Brands Hatch is a brilliant circuit with good facilities and easy to get to. As far as Focused Events go they cocked things up at first but came good in the end, and to their credit did put on a very well organised day with hire bikes (Ducati’s and ZX6R’s), instructors and photographer available.

If you got a 950 SM get it on a track, you won’t be disappointed.:)

BigDaddyAdz.
 

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...........oh dear sounds like you are hooked............thats how it starts..........., great write up
 

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That is how to post.
 

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In fairness to focussed you tried to book a track day 2 days in advance ! ! most people get booked up ages in advance.

Sounds like you enjoyed it though, looks like you'll be in inters next time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Jody

I must say that after the booking issues were sorted out, and yes it was short notice, Focused did put on a very well organised event. I have no problem with recommending them as an organiser, or indeed booking with them again.
 

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Sounds like you had yourself a fantastic day on your 950! Great write up and welcome to the forum...I'll have a frothy coffee. Cheers Crispy
 

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I had a similar experiance (the on track bit) to you when I took my SMT on my first track day a little over a year ago!! Good memories (and bad news - makes me want to go spending money and booking another track day!! Damn you!!)
 

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Great report and makes me want to try it. A good bit of morale help for newbies

I'm out on my first ever MX track on Friday (on the Yam) as 20ish Kent TRF guys have booked Golding Barn for the day so we can have a low profile and low numbers bimble.
Hopefully I will see the same improvement (but not 110mph or my knee down :eek: ).
 

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Adz
Great write up and a real good read!! Having never been on a track day, I am seriously considering giving it a go now as it sounds like great fun. Many mates have often said I must do it, but have just never gotten round to giving it a go.
Good on ya !
 

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exellent write up mate, good to hear you enjoyed it. now start putting the pennies away, coz it rips the hell outa your finances
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Go for it Shaun, you'll love it it's an excellent chance to give your bike a good blast without cars or old bill round the corner.
 

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Ah you look cool man. I thought about wearing my motocross lid as a full face one like I had on looks shit, but above about 80mph for any length of time gets uncomfortable.
 

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I'm thinking of taking my 950SM on a track day sometime in the next two weeks but i too have to ride to the track. Only problem is I live in Devon and the nearest track day seems to be Mallory Park (360 mile round trip!), does anyone know of any decent tracks nearer to the southwest/south coast?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm thinking of taking my 950SM on a track day sometime in the next two weeks but i too have to ride to the track. Only problem is I live in Devon and the nearest track day seems to be Mallory Park (360 mile round trip!), does anyone know of any decent tracks nearer to the southwest/south coast?
If you look at www.clubmsv.com.
www.focusedevents.com.
www.tackdays.co.uk.

you will see most of the tracks around the country. I'm sure that there are quite a few closer than Mallory Park to you.
 

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I'm thinking of taking my 950SM on a track day sometime in the next two weeks but i too have to ride to the track. Only problem is I live in Devon and the nearest track day seems to be Mallory Park (360 mile round trip!), does anyone know of any decent tracks nearer to the southwest/south coast?

I have the same problem

Llandow near Cardiff ....good atmosphere and a eaiser track to learn ('Fast Bikes' use it as their test track) or Castle Combe (close but an aquired taste).....or just go for it and go to Brands Hatch (GP circuit of course).......or just work your way round:rolleyes::D;)
 
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