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BORIS

Posted On 15 May 2024
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This entry is part 25 of 25 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#31

RACE RELATIONS

Just in case you think Boris restricts his brand of insanity to the road, be disabused. He has been racing – in British, European and American Racing and Supporters Club (BEARS). We enter the story when he’s just rung Steve Brouggy, who runs Superbike schools, and asked for help.

“What are you racing?” Steve asked.

“A Yoshimura-kitted GSX in a Harris frame.”

A meaningful silence followed that disclosure. “What are you racing that in?”

“BEARS Formula Three.”

A more meaningful silence followed the second revelation. I broke it. “I’m going to die, aren’t I?”

“I hope not,” Steve said. “Look, you need to come down to the school and we’ll see what we can do.”

Boris is given one of the school’s Suzuki GSX-R600s.

“Despite the fact that I had almost three decades of riding behind me, and literally more than two million kilometres of motorcycle experience, I was a nappy-messing newborn when it came to racing and race craft. Of course, there was no hope of teaching me race craft in the time allotted – like road craft, it can only be learned on the job, so to speak. What Steve and [instructor] Big Al hoped was to teach me enough to avoid death or maiming and to at least finish the two five-lap races I had entered…

While the other students were learning the theoretical basics of corner entry and throttle control, Steve took me aside, told men to put on my helmet and [then] follow him around the track. “I’ll show you the race-line that seems ot work the best around here, then I’ll follow you and see how you go,” he said.

So I jammed the helmet on my head, zipped up my leathers and followed him out of the pit lane, my stomach doing back flips and bouncing off my squealing kidneys. I’d already done lots of laps around the track, both during the super bike school as well as a few track days I’d been to, so it was not unfamiliar to me. But when a former 125GP racer offers to take you by the hand and lead you around the circuit, it is a special and most revelatory experience.

As I did my best to keep Steve in sight, trying to mimic his lines and body, I realised how truly special these fast boys were.

Every movement is smooth and calculated; every corner entry is measured, sure and precise; every exit is hard and true and a set-up for the next corner. They all make it look so damned easy. And maybe it is, for the very best of them. But I am certainly not one of them and racing is not remotely easy for me.

Pretty much everything on a racetrack takes place at horrifying speeds that challenge the swiftness of human thought – never mind the casual, sauntering rubbish my middle-aged brain is usually occupied with. Just as I was happily congratulating myself for not dying in my own bloody poo after not crashing on Turn Three, I had to deal with not dying at Turn Four, setting up for Turn Five so as not to perish there, and so on, and all the time trying to go faster and faster, so as not to look like a total cock blanket when the race came.

Then, as I started my second lap in Steve’s wake, things started to come together. I stopped trying to think and just started to ride. I tried to remember to breathe. I remember coming out of Turn Twelve and onto the straight about sixty metres behind Steve, tucking in with my head down, my eyes up, and snicking the screaming Suzuki up through the gears as Turn One, coincidentally one of the fastest totally blind left hand corners in the world, began to loom ahead of me. You actually have to ‘know’ somehow just when to tip into that corner, because it is blind and because it is fast and because it very quickly sorts the stallions from the mares. You can’t look through it, you just have to ‘know’ it. It’s a Jedi mind-trick that happens at more than 200kms per hour, and no matter how many times you do Turn One (and I have now done it hundreds of times) the approach to it still fills my belly with bitter acid and terror.

Mr Mihailovic is unavailable, so we are running this extract from his book, At The Altar of The Road Gods, published by Hachette Australia, RRP$29.99. If you want to know how the racing tiurns out, buy the book…

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Australian Motorcyclist Magazine is Australia's leading motorcycle travel magazine.
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