I am not fit. Or flexible. Physically that is. That’s the first thing that crosses my mind as I get on the GT Cup bike. The riding position is a bit too extreme for me. The clip-ons are too low and the footpegs, too high! I am whimpering with a cramp even before I have fired up the motorcycle.
Having nursed my thigh for a couple of minutes, I finally venture out. The good news is, corners three, four and five have been left unchanged from the old layout at Kari. So, I can concentrate on getting to know the GT better instead of worrying about which way the track is headed.
Now, the GT might have lost nearly 25kg, but it’s still not a light bike. It still runs 18-inch wheels. And, it still has its weight centred upfront. So, it still requires progressive but firm inputs to get it to flip-flop from side to side. But, the changes in suspension - not to mention the grippy tyres - make the race bike less bendy, more accurate, and more predictable. And therefore, it feels friendly and inviting; at least at my riding pace.
Soon we are on the back straight. And it’s almost unsettling how quickly the GT Cup race bike revs now. I am hitting the rev limiter in every gear. I don’t want to, but the vibrations or engine note don’t change significantly as one nears the redline to act as a pointer for upshifts. And I can’t possibly keep one eye on the rev counter and the other on the track to keep me from going off.
It is especially challenging when exiting second- and third-gear corners. I get on the throttle at the apex, and even before I can pick up the bike properly, I am hitting the limiter. It is unnerving. And a bit demanding.
So, I pick a gear higher than ideal through the next set of corners. For the pace I am running, it works out beautifully. That’s the joy of having a torquey motorcycle; you just roll on the throttle and it pulls you along seamlessly as if you were nailing the corners! Sure, I am losing a few tenths (more like a couple of full seconds) per corner, but at least I am not rushed.
And then things begin to flow.
Coming down the main straight, I short-shift to hit sixth before my braking marker. Braking done, a firm nudge on the left clip-on, and I am through the super tight C1. Another push on the right hand bar, and once I am clear of the tyre wall, I pin the throttle. The GT feels planted, sounds fantastic, and is thoroughly enjoyable.
Having negotiated the next set of corners I am now staring down the back straight once again. I brake hard into the tight left into an opening right, and the GT continues to impress. The tyres are brilliant, brimming with feel and grip. So much so that it allows me to scrape the exhaust pipe on a couple of occassions. Not because I am riding at an insane pace, but to compensate for my tiny mistakes as I correct my line mid-corner.