Friday, 31 May 2013

Donington Park Rd.4 - Constant Improvement Upping the Positions

We ended Rd.3 at Oulton Park on a positive note as we made big strides in improving the bikes handling to work with me, leaving me keen to get to Donington to carry on building on the setup. It was also a special event as we would be the support race to the World Super Bike championship, putting us in the paddock we're aiming to be in full time - the World Championship!

Fortunately Donington Park is theoretically my home track now, I just need to learn it well enough to be able to properly call it my home round. It's nice and close so Thursday I headed down the road with my caravan and got set up for the weekend. I then met up with the team and had an ogle at the giants of the world championship paddock - Italian hospitality trucks! Ducati must spend more on their hospitality truck, which unfolds into what looks like an ultra modern permanent building housing multiple Ducatis and artwork in a 5 star restaurant... Equalling them are teams like BMW, Aprillia and the other factory outfits. Very, very cool!

The rain came down on Thursday night, and did not relent for Friday, seeing us set out on track in honestly the worst conditions I've ever ridden or even driven in! Wind gusts of 47mph (65kmh), 4deg temp, pouring rain and occasional hail! Our wet weather setup was still good for 6th place on the time sheets, which we were very pleased with. The day ended well with us deciding to sit out qualifying 1 as it would not count if Saturday's qualifying 2 is dry, which was forecasted 100% dry and sunny. We made the decision to sit it out as did most teams.

Saturday was the stark opposite of Friday as predicted. Short and t-shirts all the way! This unfolded into a near perfect race weekend, weather wise. We got out for a dry qualifying, but as usual, had to guess a setup as we had no practice in the dry before then. Our gearing was way out and I just used what I could of hte motors immense power to get us round the track as fast as possible. It was going the best it has all year, with us sitting inside the top 15 comfortably in the first 20mins. 10mins to go, and everybody came in for new tyres to bang out a fast lap, we dropped to 26th, still a lot better than we have been doing. I came in, Scott whipped a new tyre in for me in no time, and I pulled back on track to get a flying lap in.

Our first lap out got us up to 20th, I then put my head down to get us a fast one with my bike working well as I want it to. We were on for a good lap, top 15 through all the sectors of the track, and even 3rd fastest through the Foggy Esses! Our predicted position was 12th by the time I reached the second last corner, where I came up to a slower rider. I pulled up next to him on the brakes into the hair pin, he turned tighter, seeming to block me for some reason, and I had to go really tight on the way in to avoid him. I got past, but was very off line, I got it to the apex, cracked the throttle, and just asked too much of the back tyre on that bad line. the bike let go mid corner and I went sliding along kissing my fast lap good bye, and nearly getting an Italian Pirelli in my face! (See photo) We ended up with 22nd place, still a big improvement over the previous race's 31st place!

I felt good for Sunday's race as our setup is coming along nicely now. We had morning warm up to try a few new settings which worked well and we then got ready for our race. I pulled up to the lights, with Hudson Kennaugh just a row infront of me, and I knew he would be fast off the line, so set my sights firmly on his back tyre. The lights went out, and we had a great first corner, which saw me gain a few places, by the first two laps the bike felt good and I pushed hard to keep up with Hudson as we made our up through the field. We managed to get into 12th place, such a great feeling after how hard we've been working!

It was great to be sitting in the top 15, but as the tyre wore out, I ran into a few suspension problems, but nothing as big as we've previously been having. I dropped back slowly and sat in 16th on the final lap, having a good little fight with Josh Elliot (former World Super Stock 600 rider). We passed eachother forwards and backwards, I got infront approaching the last corner, he made a lunge up my inside and I managed to just hold him and defend my line. I got on the throttle and the tyre let go giving a small highside out the seat, just enough for him to pip me by 0.02s over the finish line! We had 17th and our best result so far, ever improving!

The team were very happy with our performance now knocking on the door of the points and keeping our development going nicely.

I'm really happy with the momentum we're carrying now, as the team is really working hard with me to get me happy with the bike.

Unfortunately Donna and the girls couldn't join us over the weekend, but Jay made it out for our Friday practice before they set off on Saturday for Disney World in Florida, USA! They're over there right now and I'm sure having an absolute blast! Enjoy Davis'!

Thanks to our whole team for a great weekend improving yet again. Mark and all the guys making sure my bike is as good as it can be, Paula and the girls for keeping our tummy's full, Les Wood for the advice on track, and to everybody behind us giving us the great support we always need (Yes, looking at you Eeves),and our great sponsors Mom & Dad, Rocket88, Leatt Brace, RST, Arai, Clayton from SA Racers and Forcefield Body Armour.

It's Isle of Man TT week coming up, I'll be watching from home now as we have some more prep work to do before we go to a circuit I've never seen before, so have lots to learn about - Knockhill in Scotland. Hold thumbs for us and we'll do our best as usual!

Cheers for now!

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