Click here for the full 2015 Grand Prix photo album
Every year the Bucket Grand Prix rolls around and you can actually sense the whole bucket community scrambling. Projects get finished, new tyres fitted, last minute modifications done and the KB forum comes alive. The Grand Prix is a 40 lap sprint that feels more like an grueling endurance race at Tokoroa with it's high elevation change, heavy braking and accelerating. Lets also not forget the worlds tightest downhill hairpin.
A year is an eternity in riding development time and it showed in my lap times. My PB at the GP last year was a 47.8 in the dry whilst after a day of riding on Saturday I had pegged that down to a 44.302. Same bike. Similar conditions. Clearly a year of back to back seat time has helped! I was feeling confident and ready for a fierce battle but this year wasn't quite like previous years. Mother nature wasn't kind to these fair weather racers. It was dry, warm, classic Tokoroa on the Saturday practice then the torrential downpours rolled in all night and the track was damp the rest of the weekend.
In short, I crashed three times across practice, qualifying and DNFing the Grand Prix. Not my finest race meeting. I had only ever ridden on wets in the rain once before at Mt Wellington where I also crashed twice in one race. The tyres are cracked and don't seem to have much life in them which doesn't help my inexperience. In my first crash, I fell into another riders bike when they binned it in front of me into a hairpin. My bike sprained my foot when it fell on me and rode the rest of the day on adrenaline to keep me going. I wasn't hanging off the bike as much as I normally do and it upset my rhythm. Regardless, Will Ford and I had a brilliant scrap in the GP for 4th place from 16 starters. He was riding super well and snuck past me early on. We seemed to do pretty much exactly the same lap times from then on, nose to tail. Unfortunately I binned it before being able to mount an assault but he certainly earned that placing.
I learnt a lot at this years Grand Prix, whether I wanted to or not. I'm already looking forward to next years race and hopefully I'll have a new bike before then. Maybe the hustle of an oncoming GP will kick me into a scramble to get there.