Team Ixion Race Report

Rider: Roger Ford
Bike: Aprilia 1000 Mille

Lord of Lydden
Date: 6th/7th October 2001

(c) DDS Photographic
Round the Elbow - seems you can lean these things!
Lydden is the first circuit I ever raced at, and the place I scored my first ever win. Last year - on my TZ - I came second in the Premier Lord of Lydden event and got close to the lap record.

So I figured that if I wasn't able to get a decent result here on the Aprilia, it was time to pack it in.

MRO Qualifying

I was pretty disappointed with my MRO qualifying time - a 55.29. The top guys were doing high 53's - pretty damned impressive given they probably didn't know the circuit at all.

Looking in the "racer's book of excuses" I came up with number 27 - I'm always crap in qualifying. Hopefully I'll be able to do better in the race.

MRO Aprilias - Qualified 10th, 50.29

Lord of Lydden Qualifying

The rules for the Lord of Lydden were pretty complicated. The contenders were divided into three groups. Each group would do qualifying and two races on the Saturday. Qualifying time decided the grid for the first race, the first race decided the grid for the second race, then the best race time from the two races would be used to rank the three groups together into A final, B final and C final. Got that? No, took us a while too.

From now on it's going to be LoL rather than Lord of Lydden, to save bandwidth if nothing else.

We'd quickly fitted slicks - allowed in LoL but not Aprilias - in the time between the two qualifying sessions. Unfortunately that meant they'd had no times in the warmers, so I had to spend the first few laps warming them up. Then, just as I was getting going, the session got stopped, and by the time we got out for our last five minutes the tyres were cold again. So I ended up doing almost exactly the same time as the Aprilias, which would give me tenth place on that grid too.

Lord of Lydden Heat One

This was a fun race. I was scrapping with old adverseries Lee Finney and Alex Symon on 250's, as well as John Rhodes on another Aprilia.

In the end, I couldn't quite keep ahead of the 250's, but I did manage to beat John Rhodes for the top Aprilia finish.

I finished in eighth place - not stunning, but all the bikes ahead of me were 250's except the extremely rapid Ducati SPS of Tom Knight.

Position: 8th Best Lap: 44.22

MRO Aprilias Non Championship Race

I was up for this one. I got the world's worst start - as usual - and everyone disappeared off without me as I pogoed down the track. But this was my track, and I was going to do well, whatever it took (most likely a visit to Kent and Canterbury, but I digress).

I picked a fair few bikes off early, then the rain started. What is it with Aprilias? Every time we go out it waits until we're out there on dry tyres THEN starts to rain. Still, it was only light, and I figured it couldn't make much difference. I couple of big slides soon put me right on that one.

My big break - at other people's expense - came when Jarrod Frost (I think) highsided at the elbow, taking out Wozza and Neil Simpson into the bargain. I thought I spied a clean way through the debris, but was almost taken out by a spinning bike.

This put me into fourth place, behind Marshall Neil, Brian Greenfield and Scott Roper. I was starting to catch Scott, but the rain was getting heavier and the bike was getting very loose. I backed off a bit, and was overtaken late in the race by John Rhodes, dropping me down to fifth.

Position: 5th Best Lap: 45.02

Lord of Lydden Heat Two

It was raining quite hard for this one, so everyone was on full wets. There was no need to go out in this, as it was clear that the lap times wouldn't be faster than the earlier dry session, so the time from that one would be used to decide the final LoL grid. But I've never yet ridden the Aprilia on wets (as against "in the wet", which I've done lots of!), so I was keen to get the practice.

And what fun it was! The Aprilias are superb on wets. You don't need the careful throttle finesse needed on a 250, you just stick it in a high gear and r-o-l-l it on through the corner.

Scared of spinning the rear wheel, I went backwards from my second-row start, and ended up about 20th. By the end of the first lap, I was in eighth. A couple of laps later, I was up to sixth, and tagging close behind Dave McCue on a 250. He could hear me behind him, and lost the front trying to break late into the hairpin to avoid an overtake.

That put me in fourth, until wet-weather supremo Andy Denyer highsided at Chessons. That left me in third, to take my first ever trophy on the Aprilia.

Position: 3rd Best Lap: 51.43

Sunday MRO Championship Race

I couldn't believe it. As we sat there in the collecting area, with a dry track and on dry tyres, it started to spit with rain. WHY ALWAYS US? And sure enough, as we got onto the grid, it started to come down more heavily.

I was gutted. This was the race I'd really wanted to do well in, and here we were in my least favourite conditions - a damp track on dry tyres. I pootled round for the full 18 laps, and finished a desultory tenth.

Position: 10th Best Lap: not recorded

Sunday Lord of Lydden Final

We had only a single race between the Aprilias and the LoL final. I was so fed up after the last race that I nearly didn't bother with the final. "Stick the wets on" I said to Duncan "and we'll hope it pisses down. If it doesn't I won't bother to go out".

But after a couple of minutes - and little rain - we decided to stick with the treaded drys. Rik Ballerini - and others - gambled on full slicks, John Rhodes on an Aprilia went for full wets.

Ironically, if Rik hadn't gone for the slicks, then John Rhodes might well have won. Rik was going really well, leading the race for several laps, but then the rain got heavier and the track more slippery. Chris Bishop took the lead from Rik, who then highsided trying to get it back, and got the race red flagged.

This took away Johns advantage, as everyone else was able to go off and fit wets before it was restarted as a split race.

I'd been bimbling around mid-field, but now the wets were on it was a different matter. NOW I'd have some fun! Or not, as my bike decided to overheat on the start line and pour boiling water all down my leg.

So I had to sit out the race on the tyre wall, watching Chris Bishop ride a stunning race to finish the second part narrowly ahead of Rob Frost, after a couple of amazing saves.

Sadly for Chris once the times for the two parts of the race had been added together, Rob Frost beat him by a fraction of a second.

Position: DNF

Final Races for 2001: Brands Hatch - Bemsee Saturday 28th, MRO Sunday 29th October.