Weekend ride to Phillip Island with a rare chance to ride on the GP circuit
Two weeks ago I had the chance to ride my road bike on Phillip Island GP circuit, thanks to the annual ‘Fun Day’ organised by the Ducati Owners Club Victoria. Although I’m not a speed-freak, I signed up for it, hoping for a chance to better get to know the limits of my bike, and also to learn from other, more experienced riders.
Since Phillip Island is roughly a 3-4h ride away from where I live, and since the track would open at 7.30am, I thought it would be best to ride down the day before, and stay overnight. Fortunately it was a beautiful day and by the time I arrived at my hotel, it was still enough time to check out Cowes and enjoy the good weather with a walk on the beach.
The next morning I checked out in time to be at the circuit at 7.30am, only to find a long queue of cars and trailers already waiting at the entrance. Clearly there were a lot of regulars who attended the event every year and came well prepared with trailers full of race bikes, tyre warmers and equipment. Not exactly an event for beginners, it seemed.
Sessions were divided into slow, medium and fast rider groups. I had signed up for ‘slow’, but due to a lack of slow riders, some faster ones were moved into the slow group and so I had to keep watching out for faster riders speeding past me at ridiculous pace while I did my first laps.
Before the first session though, there was a sighting lap for first-timers, and also an explanation of the different flags waved by track marshalls. As someone who has followed motorcycle racing for decades, I knew all the flags and was vaguely familiar with the track layout too, but then once you ride on the track yourself for the first time, it’s quite a difference.
During the day I think I participated in 4 or 5 sessions, one of which was interrupted by light rain. The fastest I managed to ride was around 160km/h down the main straight, but given how windy it was on that day I found it hard to ride any faster on a naked bike without a wind screen.
Slowly I tried to improve my cornering and acceleration, and my tyres showed some serious wear at the end of the day, but still I was about the 3rd slowest rider from 60 participants. Others were doing better, with some approaching 300km/h on their race bikes. Fascinating to watch.
Overall it was a great experience, but I’m not sure if I will feel the need to sign up for the event again next year. Phillip Island is one of the greatest circuits in the calendar, and racing down the main straight, always towards the ocean, is a fantastic feeling. But as mentioned I’m not a speed-freak, and riding at high speeds on a Streetfighter bike isn’t much fun due to wind.
More photos in the album Ducati Club Track Day Phillip Island.