Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Mountain and The GP Circuit - Rd.8-10

I've had a tough last few weeks, hence the lack of updates and emails. My time has gone into testing and working with the team to make changes to better suit me all round, not just on track,and I'm pleased to say we've made improvements!

We've seen a return to Oulton Park for Rd.8, where we had a great race, but still lacked a little outright pace to get a good qualifying spot. All ended well with us taking home another near top 20.

After Oulton we had one of the most difficult circuits up next - Cadwell Park and it's famous Mountain section where Superbikes behave like motocross bikes! It's an incredibly technical track, so we arranged a practice day before the race weekend, which was unfortunately rained out from lunch time.

We arrived ready for a challenge and a challenge is what we got! Another bad qualifying session saw me start 31st, but fortunately our race pace again came through, taking a 21st place at the checkered flag, and catching some good moments over The Mountain!

This brings us to our most recent race, last weekend at my favourite track in the UK, where I took my first British win last year - Donington Park!

I had high expectations for this weekend as I know the track well, and the bike has been handling ever better. England presented us with a day of heavy rain on Friday, which saw practice and qualifying 1 take place in pouring rain! Weirdly, us South Africans, who have the least wet riding experience of anyone, seem to go fairly well in the slippery conditions - we finished practice in the top 5, and qualifying in the top 20!

Saturday was dry and sunny, leaving us to guess a setup, which was not far off, seeing us only 1.5sec off a top 3 spot, closest we've been all season! The competitiveness of our class kicked in, with the closest qualifying I've ever know, with under 2sec covering the top 32 riders!!! I had to settle for 31st place on the grid for the race, but still had improvements to make.

We made the adjustments over night and morning warm up went great for us. We were in a good position to start the race, and fortunately a good launch off the line got us up into the top 30, and my improved setup saw us quickly move up through the field into the top 25 and onwards steadily towards the top 20 after only 3 laps.

Our strong drive was ended prematurely when a freak situation befell us on lap 4 - the sound of a slipping clutch rang strong and loud out of my bike and our race charge was over...

I pulled into the pits and after the team hoarding my bike in desperation to try get me back out, the clutch was gone. It's a mystery for us as we replaced it only 2 races ago, and everything was fine with no signs before race day.
This was the team's first ever technical retirement from a race and a huge disappointment for all of us. As much as the odds for our best result seemed to be with us, they were in fact, not meant to be this weekend.

We're all back home and working hard towards our next race at the majestic Silverstone GP circuit, with some testing planned in our 3 week gap coming up.

Thanks to Mark and our whole MWR Kawasaki team for everything they've put behind me - Our result will come! Of course, thanks must be given to the main reason we're even here - My Mom & Dad, Rocket 88, The Leatt corporation, Jonny and the Moto Direct team of Arai and RST race suits, Clayton Francois of SA Racers, Jason & Donna and everyone who supports us for sticking behind us through our tough season!