Saturday, 14 April 2012

Thruxton Round 2 - Race 1

We arrived at Thruxton on thursday monday with an open mind as we were at a circuit where I have had no experience besides driving around the track in a rental car. The weather was once again foul, but luckily our results weren't!

The sun was out and it was warm - we even took off our jackets! ...for about an hour. Then the rain came down for about 5 mins and wet everything, and then the sun came back out. This was what the weather was to be for the friday and today.

This is the fastest, and bumpiest circuit I have ever ridden - a combo that doesn't really go together! Potter's pass and Rifle in East London are South Africa's fastest corners. Thruxton made up of many Potter's Passes and Rifles, with two infield chicane sections, and no actual straights. So a very interesting track indeed! And a FAST one at that!

Friday morning we got the pit set up and the bike out ready for a dry practice, when all of a sudden...we had a dry practice! The rain held out long enough for us to ge out in the dry. We were 6th in the standings, with the experienced riders from other classes topping the boards. I still had lots to learn.

Practice 2 in the afternoon also saw a dry session after the sun dried rain from the previous hours. Struggling with a set up that worked on the bumpy and fast track, we ended 8th. Still happy under the circumstances. We fiddled tyre pressures and suspension and packed up.

We woke up this morning icey cold weather and rain. We made our way to the pit and as we arrived, it really bucketed down! We were on to qualify at midday, and the clouds were still coming in thick and fast - the weather looked set for the day.

A wet, rainy qualifying on this fast circuit was tricky, but we managed to slot into 3rd early and sit there for a while, every lap feeling the grip levels more and more. Problem was that everybody was too! I was bumped down to 6th at the end but the gap to 3rd was only 0.07sec.

The weather cleared as the afternoon drew in, bringing out a warm sun to dry up the circuit. In no time, we had a dry race on our hands! We headed off to pit lane for our race at 4:30pm, on dry tyres. I took up 6th on the grid and waited for the lights to go out. They went off and I got a good launch and tried to dive for the inside of turn one, but got the door shut on me by Finnish 125GP champion - Valter Patronen. I lost all my drive and a whole lot of positions. Luckily a few opportunities came up into the next set of chicanes and I caught up to 5th. There I had to chase and gain positions one by one.

I slotted into 3rd behind Valter and Rob Guiver (Veteran British 125GP racer) and tried to keep steady with lap times. I caught Valter and got in his slipstream down one of the long sweeps and got him on the brakes into the final chicane. I could now chase after Rob, who had pulled a 2 second gap on us. I set the fastest lap of the race and then a lap later, Rob answered back by going 0.04sec faster! Then Valter went down in a big way, causing a red flag and ending the race 2 laps early. We had secured 2nd place!

I came into the pits and got directed to the BSB podium box - what a feeling! Greeted by my dad in absolute joyous celebration, I parked the bike and made my way to the podium. We had got 1st place in the the premier class (for rookies to the BSB series) and 2nd overall! So I got stand on the top step of the podium, then the 2nd place for outright position - again, what a feeling! I sprayed the champagne and made off with our silverware!

This evening we had a braai at Phil Atkinson's pit, who took 3rd place, putting South Africans on two of the three podium spots!

We are on again at 12:45pm tomorrow for race 2, hopefully in the dry but you can't predict the weather here...

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Thanks and cheers!

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