Friday, June 8, 2012
For the second year KATV team of four riders – Chris Keitch, Ami Price-Draper, Jack Price-Draper and James Bevan – were invited to attend the 24-hour quad race in France.
After a siting lap at 3pm on Saturday, the race itself was due to start at 5pm.
Jack Price-Draper, the first rider out, sprinted to his quad at the drop of the flag. He flew off the grid reaching fifth place going into the first corner.
J P-D rode an hour- long session in a staggering 33 degrees heat. He kept up an incredibly fast pace, competing well with the top runners. Jack was pitted at the end of the first hour, having reached fourth position. The team’s second rider, James Bevan went out onto the track.
After five minutes Bevan had not been past to complete his first lap, so A P-D got herself kitted up and waited anxiously in the pits and 25 minutes later Bevan came sprinting down the pit lane, transponder in hand – his A-Arm guard had bent and locked up his front wheel, right on the far side of the track. Pit crew, Mick Bevan and Roy Draper secured the transponder to Ami’s quad and she went out onto the track in 19th place and at least five laps down on the top four teams.
Keeping calm and settling into a quick but sensible pace, she returned to the pits at the end of her session with the team in 11th and closing.
In the meantime Bevan had to make a quick track-side repair, enabling him to return it to the pits ready to go out again for the next session. He was followed by Keitch for his first hour.
By late evening, as J P-D went out for his second session, the team realised that they were seventh position and two or more laps behind the fastest teams - there was a lot more hard work to come.
Through the night the riders battled on, having to overtake the teams in front of them not just once but twice and in some cases three times whilst consistently achieving the fastest lap times on the track. As dawn broke they were in fourth again but still three laps down on third place.
Then the rain started, just as Keitch came into the pits. J P-D set out for a very wet and cold session and he also aggravated a long-standing shoulder injury but he completed the hour and Ami went out.
The track conditions had changed to mud! The pit crew were washing quads and trying to keep kit wearable for each rider as they went out, as well as trying to keep up team morale. At 9am it hit the team that they still had the equivalent of the Great 8 quad race to go.
J P-D was struggling with his injury and the rest of the team were facing the possibility of finishing the race with only three riders. The team decided that he needed to rest and covered his session in the hope that he would be fit to ride again later in the race.
The three of them determinedly chipped away at the laps between them and the third-placed team until Keitch, amazingly pulling some extra energy from somewhere, managed to get past their rider and finally, they were in third position - but only just.
Ami went out just in time to see her rival for third place pass her before she left the pit lane. She held it together and came in after another hour, only half a lap behind him.
Team tactics worked and, fully rested, J P-D was able then to go out and complete a fantastic session, pulling the team back into third. Bevan went out and increased this lead.
In the last two hours and Draper decided that 30 minute sessions would mean the riders were fresher and they would be able to keep the pressure on the, still fighting, fourth placed team.
It worked, after three riders increased the lead, Bevan went into the last half hour session with a lap-and-a-half lead. Finally the flag was out and he came through in third place, two whole laps ahead of the fourth position. KATV quad race team were on the podium.
After all the trophies had been given and speeches had been made, the organiser presented Team KATV with another trophy.
It was awarded by the organisers and the French Motorcycle Licensing body for the Best Overall Team. A translator explained they were being given it because of their presentation, good conduct around the pit area, their respectfulness both on the track and in the pits and their team spirit. The team were delighted and more so when they were given an invitation to compete in next year’s event.