I’m not in shape. Or flexible. Physically that’s it. It’s the first thing that comes to mind when I get on the GT Cup bike. The driving position is a bit too extreme for me. The clips are too low and the footrests too high! I moaned with a cramp before I even started the bike.
After treating my thigh for a few minutes, I finally venture outside. The good news is that turns three, four and five have not changed from Kari’s old layout. So I can focus on getting to know GT better instead of worrying about where the track is going.
Now the GT may have lost almost 25 kg, but it’s still not a light bike. It still rolls with 18-inch wheels. And, he always has his weight centered in the front. Thus, it still requires gradual but firm inputs to rock it from side to side. But, the suspension changes—not to mention the grippy tires—make the race bike less supple, more precise, and more predictable. And as a result, it feels friendly and inviting; at least at my driving pace.
Soon we are on the back straight. And it’s almost unsettling how fast the GT Cup race bike spins now. I press the rev limiter in all gears. I don’t want to, but the vibration or engine note doesn’t change significantly as one approaches the redline to act as a pointer for gear changes. And I can’t keep one eye on the rev counter and the other on the track to keep myself from going.
It’s especially tough coming out of second and third gear corners. I hit the throttle at the top, and before I can even pick up the bike properly, I hit the limiter. It’s annoying. And a bit demanding.
So I pick a higher than ideal speed in the next set of corners. For the pace at which I run, it works like a charm. That’s the joy of having a torquey motorcycle; just roll on the throttle and it seamlessly pulls you through as you nail the turns! Sure, I lose a few tenths (more like a full second) per turn, but at least I’m not in a rush.
And then things start to flow.
Going down the main straight, I shorten to reach sixth before my braking marker. Braking done, a firm nudge on the left clip, and I’m through the C1 super tight. Another push on the right bar, and once I’m clear of the tire wall, I pin the throttle. The GT feels planted, sounds fantastic and is very nice.
After negotiating the next set of corners, I look down the back straight again. I brake hard into the tight left into an opening on the right, and the GT continues to impress. The tires are brilliant, brimming with feel and grip. So much so that it allows me to scratch the exhaust pipe a few times. Not because I’m riding at a crazy pace, but to compensate for my small mistakes by correcting my trajectory in the middle of the turn.