S’pose I’d excellent cross within the immediate organization, then

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THE GSX-R rider nods within the course of the gleaming purple Virgin Cell R7 because it’s wheeled out of the again of a van in the midst of a bustling paddock.

Stunned that this kind of humble rent-a-van may comprise this kind of factor of attractiveness, it doesn’t take lengthy sooner than the motorbike’s mobbed by way of folks. A drunken Jennifer Lopez shouting ” I desire a guy ” would battle to get extra consideration in a paddock filled with petrol heads. Quickly they’re all clambering to get a take a look at one among the freshest race motorcycles, if now not on the planet then indisputably in Britain.

GSX-R guy seems yet again: ” Are you driving that? ” ” Yeah ” I reply with out a lot conviction. ” You’re an overly fortunate guy ” , he says again with a sly grin in go back. After which it dawns on me. Only a few quick months in the past I’d been at Manufacturers Hatch gazing Steve Hislop muscling this exact same motorbike across the circuit and environment the quickest quick circuit lap ever. These days, Hislop’s right here, his motorbike’s right here and I’m right here. However this time to not spectate. This time my lanky body goes to be wrapped across the Group Yamaha Virgin Cell R7’s carbon-fibre bodywork, gently exploring the curves of Manufacturers Hatch.

I’m going for my very own non-public lap report moderately than the quickest lap ever on an MCN observe day. And I’m papping myself.

GSX-R guy’s proper. I’m an overly fortunate guy. However do I think fortunate? Provided that that feeling comes to a specific amount of abdomen churning.

Hislop’s feeling just a little queasy, too, nevertheless it’s not anything to do with having to chaperone me on an R1 that’s giving him the jitters, or the reality I’m driving his motorbike. This guy may do this along with his eyes close and it’s now not just like the Hislop stickers at the display screen and his quantity 8 imply he in truth owns it.

As we get kitted-up he tells me he’s had a worm which had him up part the evening emptying the contents of his abdomen. The similar worm has hit part the BSB paddock – and his whole circle of relatives. ” Aye, I don’t thoughts being unwell if I’ve had a couple of beers, however that is simply taking the piss. I couldn’t even run to the pub these days. ”

The laughs from the mechanics and the accumulated crowd are silenced because the motorbike will get installed equipment and bump-started outdoor the storage, firing straight away with a rasp from the Akrapovic titanium exhaust.

The tyre-warmers are put again on and it’s gently introduced as much as temperature as Steve’s mechanic Mel and Steve himself run me via the whole thing I wish to know sooner than driving this hundred grand beast.

Cling your breath: It weighs 162kg, places out 170bhp on the crank, we’re working medium compound entrance and rear Dunlops with a 16.5in entrance and it revs to fourteen,300rpm. It’s were given a race shift, in order that’s one up and 5 down, you flip the quickshifter on or off with a transfer at the left handlebar and you’ll be able to alter the brake force at the fly. However Hizzy by no means has. I will be able to’t see myself wanting to.

With the bizarrely same old showroom factor temperature gauge appearing 70 levels and the usual Yamaha rev counter bouncing up and down, Mel hits the kill transfer and the engine dies in an instant like just a in reality smartly set-up motorbike does. A just right activity as a result of I don’t assume my stinging eyes may take any longer of the fumes now filling the world. Stick your head within the storage and you might assume it’s a in reality top octane gasoline. It’s in truth simply 98 octane however simply extra closely subtle and cleaner than the stuff we get on the pumps, therefore the intoxicating scent.

The R7 beverages it like no different highway motorbike, SP-1 incorporated. A brand new, larger gasoline injector and new gasoline injection map despatched from Japan after being proved on Noriyuki Haga’s WSB R7, lend a hand the motorbike use part a litre a lap on Manufacturers’ quick circuit.

With the motorbike as much as temperature, me on top of things on methods to journey it and which manner the gears cross, the purple consultation board is named and we’re off. Steve will get the important thing to the R1 and in spite of everything tells me how even supposing I’m a couple of stone heavier than him it will have to be all proper as 15-stone crew boss Rob McElnea took the motorbike out a couple of weeks in the past and used to be going smartly. That’s high-quality, however McElnea used to race in 500 GPs.

I snap my visor close, flick the kill transfer to on, be mindful to snick the gearbox up into first equipment and get a push out of the storage. The grasp is out temporarily and it fires the primary time and scares me by way of how utterly, totally and stupidly responsive it’s to each slight motion of my proper wrist.

We collect within the queue amongst the whole thing from a BMW R1100GS, a Buell X1, a few previous two-stroke race motorcycles and an terrible lot of GSX-Rs, ZX-Rs, Blades, R1s and CBRs. It feels just a little strange to not be on one thing equivalent. With a watch at the swiftly expanding temperature gauge we creep as much as the entrance, the ZZ-Best copy marshal exams mine and Hislop’s wristbands and we in spite of everything head out on course.

I short-shift up the pit lane then tentatively tip it into Paddock Hill bend and straightforwardness at the energy because the outdoor kerb approaches and the dip pushes the motorbike out. I’ve watched at Paddock Hill heaps of instances and at all times idea it appeared as regardless that they have been being sling-shot out of the dip and now I’m beginning to perceive why. The R7 revs in opposition to 12,000rpm and I shift sooner than easing at the brakes after which down one into the Druids hairpin. Already I’m at the again of a few Blades however they’re simply handled at the manner out, even supposing I’m slightly the use of part of what the engine has to supply.

Into Graham Hill bend I simply brush the brakes, bang it down one and pull it in to the kerb then nearly run into the again of an R1 because the Virgin motorbike lays down its energy. And that’s simply warming up.

I trickle throughout the Surtees chicane repeatedly conscious I’m driving a £100,000 race motorbike with Hislop respiring down my neck, then set it up for Clearways. To be utterly frank, at this degree I’ve infrequently were given an concept of what the tyres are doing because the suspension’s so stiff and chilly it’s slightly transferring but. The slicks are as much as temperature, because of the tyre-warmers and it’s a boiling-hot day, however God is aware of how guys like Hislop can cross immediately off the grid right into a warm-up lap and know precisely what’s going down between them and the Tarmac.

At the present time I haven’t were given a clue. At this type of velocity, a highway motorbike begins transferring round and the tyres’ treads begin to vibrate, however the R7 is infrequently transferring, let on my own striking any gyp throughout the slicks. I’ll inform any onlookers that I’m running-in.

Looking ahead to the utmost footprint of the rear tyre and maintaining my breath, I feed in just a little of energy and short-shift once more down the start-finish immediately as much as round 12,000rpm. I shift up as immediate as I will be able to throughout the gears and there’s nonetheless extra there, with the engine throwing itself throughout the revs quicker than any tuned highway motorbike I’ve ever had the risk to be close to.

As we head into Paddock Hill bend, I close off so early that I slightly wish to use the Brembo four-piston calipers. Hislop presentations me his entrance wheel, a manoeuvre I’ve observed him do loads of instances however generally on blokes like Haga or Chris Walker. Then he slips again to his following place. That is the person who’s 5th on this yr’s British superbike championship. His CV reads like a corridor of reputation: 4 quickest laps this yr, former TT lap report holder, a lot of wins and podiums at international staying power stage and lots of wins at British superbike rounds.

5 sluggish laps later the consultation’s referred to as to a halt by way of a CBR600 enjoying disguise and search with the gravel. I pull in to be greeted by way of a wonderful blonde, similar to an actual racer. Sadly, she’s in our storage by way of mistake…

I kill the engine, the mechanics put at the heaters and put the motorbike again at the paddock stand and I hook up a Marlboro Gentle. I swear I used to be so frightened that my closing time at Manufacturers Hatch on my SP-1 would had been quicker. But it surely used to be by no means this a lot a laugh and I do know there’s so a lot more to return.

Hislop resists the urge to have a jibe, even if brought about. He merely says: ” You’ll get into it later. ” He’s proper. I’ve popped my authentic superbike cherry and I badly need some extra. Much more so after driving it, it’s laborious to take your eyes off the motorbike.

OK, so there are some really nice motorcycles within the paddock, starting from a supermoto which wouldn’t glance misplaced on the Guidon d’Or, to an RGV250 which might glance extra at house parked up in a box at a customized motorbike display. However the R7 eclipses the whole thing.

Out of the crate they give the impression of being just right, however not anything like this. The fats, anodised gold Ohlins forks lead your eye to the black entrance wheel and directly to the Brembo four-piston brake calipers and fully-floating discs. Even sat at the stand, the motorbike issues to the bottom in an competitive manner with the again finally end up top. Hislop tells me that when some recommendation from Anders Andersson at Ohlins they’ve in truth dropped the motorbike by way of 10mm and prolonged the manufacturing unit swingarm on the pivot level by way of 2mm. You’d assume it could make the motorbike flip sluggish, however it seems that the R7’s centre of gravity is of course top so you’ll be able to escape with this whilst nonetheless making it out-turn Ducatis.

Run your eye over the carbon-fibre bodywork and it finally ends up at the footrests. They’re top and stubby however adjustable for just about each manner imaginable to permit riders to get their perfect set-up. I’ll depart them the place they’re for now, except they begin grinding out. Ahem!

After what turns out like an age of re-topping up fluid ranges with Evian and increasingly more cigarettes I am getting the risk of every other consultation and this time I’m now not going to waste it.

I am getting on board the motorbike losing my shoulders right down to the quite vast handlebars and start the beginning process. Hislop’s popping out once more at the R1 however he’s going to vanish after a couple of laps so I don’t really feel so harassed.

Out directly to the observe a TL1000S flies previous as I boost up down the immediately sooner than peeling into Paddock Hill. The motorbike is lighter than any 600 I’ve ever ridden and it turns like a rather well set-up 250 race motorbike with the facility of a ZX-12R. It’s a surprising mixture and in no way laborious to tip it in, hitting the apex, then wind it directly to out force the TL – even at the out-lap.

With extra self assurance within the slicks after the primary consultation, I put it into Druids laborious up the interior of an R1. On a highway motorbike I’d have by no means made it, however this factor simply takes large liberties with lean angles. My line’s higher, too, as I’m now not so scared and I am getting at the energy laborious whilst nonetheless cranked over. This time I will be able to really feel the suspension doing its paintings because the again finish squats a fragment and the fats rear slick bites laborious riding me down the hill. I keep in 2d, winding it as much as the shift mild. Then it’s a slight pull at the brake lever, let cross and bang it directly to its aspect. As I ease the facility on, I’m all at once on about 3 different riders – and blast previous them like they’re infrequently running their motorcycles.

And I’m simplest popping out of the bend at 8000rpm. Unusually, it’s were given an overly driveable engine. All of it begins going down at 8000rpm and is going on to fourteen,300pm. If you get previous 12,000rpm there’s much more of a height, however the rev counter strikes so immediate and also you’re throughout the manufacturing unit short-ratio gears so temporarily it’s laborious to stay observe of.

But it surely’s now not some more or less bucking bronco looking to wheelie via each equipment. It might in the event you sat again, however you’ll be able to nail the facility on laborious and the entrance wheel simply hovers off the bottom as your mind tries to soak up the acceleration and the way temporarily the following bend is drawing near.

I brake like I do know I shouldn’t into the Surtees chicane and Hislop sweeps previous, wearing no less than 10mph extra cornering velocity than me. I sit down at the back of him and I’ve were given the massive merit as I blip the throttle, down one then peel in to Clearways. He’s working a rather wider line than me and I organize to stick with him throughout the nook. However I’m on it and he looks as if he may do that smoking a fag. As I wind at the energy out of Clearways, the motorbike begins to transport round over the bump because the immediately opens out and I think like a correct hero. If it’s beginning to weave just a little down the immediately no less than various folks will see it. No less than it presentations I’m attempting.

I boost up out of Paddock and my head nearly hits the display screen because the shift mild flashes its caution and I stab it into fourth, infrequently even having to take into accounts the opposite shift now. There are 4 sports activities motorcycles and MCN editor Rob McDonnell’s XJR1300SP in entrance of me. And in the event you assume I’m going to ” let the boss win ” …

I stay the facility on later than I’d have ever dared on the rest sooner than spherical Manufacturers, pin the entrance finish down with the Brembos and the again wheel begins to boost as I modify down into 2d. All of it sounds frantic however feels superbly managed. I run just a little wider than supposed then bang it up the interior.

McDonnell instructed me later he idea I wouldn’t make it spherical. But it surely submit with being put proper on its aspect. I hate to assume what velocity Hislop should be capable of get spherical right here.

My non-public leanometer already thinks it’s misguided. The chassis means that you can modify your strains and pull it into the apex and know precisely what the entrance and rear ends are doing like not anything else I’ve skilled.

I’m looking to keep in sight of Hislop. However I see him lights up the R1’s rear finish at the manner out of the downhill Graham Hill bend and make a decision it will not be sensible to chase him.

After what turns out simply 5 mins, however used to be in truth extra like 20, the flag’s out and we’re again in once more. My head hurts from concentrating so laborious. I couldn’t let you know what number of laps I’ve accomplished. I’ve been in a zone I’ve by no means skilled sooner than, a zone the place your mind switches off all beside the point minutiae – and that incorporates counting laps. All has been inquisitive about making the whole thing easy, putting on and clipping apexes.

My mouth’s dry and it’s all I will be able to do to mention because of the mechanics as they take the motorbike from me. I’m smiling since the slicks in truth appear to be they’ve observed some motion, and I’m happy.

That is without equal observe day motorbike nevertheless it’s wasted right here. I would like it on a observe all to myself. It’s frightening how succesful the motorbike is and the way temporarily it catches up and outbrakes, out-turns, out-corners and out-accelerates the fiercest highway motorcycles. As a result of that you need to grasp it again when it in reality desires to head.

My SP-1 is rarely going to really feel the similar once more, however I don’t let that fear me. I’ve were given every other consultation and a date with a bloke on a GSX-R750 race motorbike. Purple mist? Who, me?


Value: £100,000 (est)


Energy and torque :170bhp, 75ftlb

Weight, energy to weight ratio: 162kg (356lb), 1.05bhp/kg

Best velocity (est): 199mph

Acceleration Status 1/4-mile time, terminal velocity (est): 9.8s, 154mph

Geometry Rake, path, wheelbase: 22.8°, 9.5cm, 138cm to 141cm


Engine: Liquid-cooled, 749cc (72mm x 46mm) 20v dohc four-stroke in-line 4. Mitsubishi programmable gasoline injection machine with WSB-spec ignition map and 50mm throttle our bodies, package radiator, lightened and balanced crank, 6 gears.

Chassis: Aluminium twin-spar from race package with works aluminium swingarm and adjustable wheelbase

Entrance suspension: 43mm Ohlins inverted forks, changes for pre-load, compression and rebound damping

Rear suspension: Ohlins unmarried surprise with emerging fee linkage, changes for pre-load, compression and rebound damping and journey top

Tyres: Dunlop 787 slicks; 120/70 x 16.5 entrance, 190/50 x 17 rear

Brakes: Brembo; 2 x 298mm entrance discs with 4-piston calipers, 245mm rear disc with 4-piston caliper

Supply By way of https://www.motorcyclenews.com/information/2000/july/spose-id-best-go-in-the-fast-group-then/

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