The 26-year old race ace appeared in his role as Carole Nash ambassador and spent the day chatting to riders and offering them tips on how to handle the Derbyshire circuit – and translate their experiences to the road.
Speaking to insidebikes before they took to the track he explained that the experience and getting expert instruction would help them hone their riding technique. “The biggest thing is awareness, the focus you have to put into riding a race track is comparable to hazard perception on the road, you have to treat it with respect. To be fast on a race track you have to pinpoint exact braking markers, exact apex points, where you run out to, how to use the space you have efficiently. There’s a lot you can then take out on the road.”
But the Irishman appeared most keen that the people had a good day out. “They can actually enjoy riding a sports bike, whether it’s on a 600 or 1000cc, to their best level, so I think they’ll have a tremendous experience.”
His forecast proved correct as after they’d completed their classroom instruction and three sessions on the track, riders who took the course enthused about their day. Among those who’d taken advantage of a special 25 discount negotiated by Carole Nash to attend was 32 year-old Paul Hancock of Stoke-on-Trent. “It was my first time on the track and it was fantastic, I was buzzing throughout,” he commented “The instruction seemed very good, very confident and there were lots of big names about,” he added pointing to how Rea had been joined by Rocket Ron and son Leon.
Having been bought the course for her birthday by boyfriend Alan – “the bedwarmer” – SV650 owner Michaela Lawson, 44, of Kirk Merrington, Durham, was keen to learn more about lining, cornering and in particular the right way to move her weight over on the bike. The structure of the courses, which sees instructors working with just two riders at a time, enabled her to have invaluable one-on-one tuition with Howard Whitby. “He got the bike, sat on it and showed us the way he does it. He confirmed that what I’m doing is right,” she reported. “It was fantastic day and I will be back for another trackday in the near future.
Ray Davies, 64, from Bedworth, found his time in Donington confounded his previous trackday cynicism. “I’ve had a bad experience and always baulked at coming but I actually really enjoyed it, I went for it. It was a great day. Excellent organisation, very efficiently run and I felt safe all day. It’s to be recommended as an introduction to track days – and thanks Carole Nash for the discount!”
But it wasn’t just the amateurs who enjoyed the day. Rea took the opportunity to do a few circuits of the track where he triumphed last year whilst the Rocket and Leon gleefully took Carole Nash’s Lisa Buckley and Rebecca Gaskarth out as pillions – giving them quite an adrenaline fuelled surprise by wheelying down the straight!