Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Not An Ideal Start To The Season - Brands Hatch Rd.1

After a testing program which saw us smash our previous best laps everywhere we went, I was really looking forward to starting our season off well, but as is the nature of our sport, luck counts somewhat as well! The forecast was mixed with some dry and some wet sessions over the weekend. Qualifying sessions were the main timed outings in jeopardy, and unfortunately would end up costing us the race.

With over 60 riders, and most of the top 20 being title or race win contenders, the class is more competitive than ever, and still by country miles, the most ridiculously competitive championship in the world. This was evident in how close the times were all through practice and qualifying 1 where we were only 1sec off the fastest and that put us outside the top 30!!!

The rain came down for quali.2 and this saw us catapult up to 11th overall! The best position I've been in qualifying - unfortunately we would not be able to retain this position for the main race... During the rain soaked qualifying race, I was up to 8th place, and looking to pass for 7th. The track had a narrow dry line in one corner, only a little wider than a bike tyre, for all of us to get through. I was glued to the back of 7th as I was moving through the field when we entered that corner, but to my detriment, he braked a little early that lap meaning I had to go around him to avoid crashing into the back of him. This put me onto the wet part of the track meaning my grip levels instantly went from ok to slippery, sending me running off the track, and out of my qualifying place for the main race.

I was fuming when I got back to the pits, knowing what a disaster we had on our hands. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do about it, besides make the most of the time we had on race day by tweaking and fiddling all the bits on my bike we hadn't had a chance to before the race weekend.

My head wasn't in a good place last weekend, as I felt rushed and pressured building up to Rd.1 - not good for a rider! I must say I'm relieved that it's over, and disappointed we never got the result we should have, but as they say - THAT'S RACING!

We had a very successful test at Oulton Park on friday, which saw us outpace my fastest time from last year by nearly 1sec, which is massive! Our ideal lap time, which is made up by adding together my fastest individual track sectors to make my 'perfect lap' was surprisingly good, and I look forward to this coming weekend - Oulton Park Rd.2 is just a few sleeps away now!

Thank you to all of our supporters and sponsors behind us this season - roll on Rd.2!

Cheers for now!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Pre-season Testing Complete - Ready for Rd.1 In A Few Days

We have had a successful testing program this season, which saw us set high goals, and exceed them each time we hit the track! I'm very happy with how the team is working so far and I look forward to the first race which is coming up this weekend. The bike feels really good but I know there is still more to come out of it!

After our mixed week of fast lap times and big crash in Spain, I was eager to get to Snetterton for our first UK test. Bike was freshly rebuilt by my incredibly hard working team, and loaded into our new truck - the big daddy in the paddock! 

We arrived two days early to set up as this was our first outing as the full team and first time we would use the new truck so it took some organising to get it race ready. Now that it's getting layed out and we're getting some systems in place, we're starting to feel more and more professional each time we use it!

The weather played its part with sunshine and warmth on the first day, much different to getting snowed out here last year this time! We set out just to get basic adjustments done and trouble shoot my newly rebuilt bike, and do some basic setup. Which is exactly what we did, much to my frustration as I'm sure any rider will experience. I was so eager to just put my head down go for some fast times, but that would not be possible until we get the bike right for me first. I went to bed that night irritated that I even looked at a timesheet, which I shouldn't have, but had a good idea of the changes in my bike and how to go about approaching the second day to reach our goal lap time when we throw the new tyres in. Off to bed I went with my mind lapping as faster than my bike!

The next morning was another sunny day and we hit the track with the old tyres, but new changes in suspension and they were great! We fine tuned them a bit over the next session, then decided to go with new tyres for the final session of the day. My fastest lap time at last years race was 1:54.3. Our goal was to break into the 1:53s laptimes, so it was quite a high bar to meet!

I set off and scrubbed the new tyres for a lap and started going to build to a fast lap, when to my surprise, I came past the finish line after that lap to see I did a 1:52.9 on my first building fast lap! Half way round that next lap when I was going to go a bit harder to try dip into the mid 1:52s, another had a massive crash right infront of me so I had to avoid him and would have to try again the next lap. The same happened that next lap when somebody crashed and left debris in the track so I only managed a 1:53.0 that lap. With my crash in Spain looming with all the other riders going down around me, I decided to call it a day as we had smashed through our goal time we wanted to achieve and there was not much point risking a lot more so close to the first race.

I came into the pits and the boys were very happy! We pulled the bike into the pit and took straight to analyzing our fast lap time before starting to pack up in high spirits. A great way to end the test!

On the whole it was a great success and one that Mark and my guys had to work very hard with me to make happen after our big crash in Spain. For that, I'd like to say thanks to everyone who helped us out, but especially Mark Webster and Mark Linton for putting in the overtime to make it as much of a success as it was!

As I write this, the team are busy setting up with the new truck at Brands Hatch and will be joining them in a matter of hours to start our first race weekend of the season. 
A big thank you to everyone who's supported me to make this year possible:
-Mom & Dad, the backbone of my career, financially and everyother aspect too!
-Leatt, the Leatt Corporation has supported me over the years and I'm very grateful to ride the with my Leatt Brace protecting me from neck/spine injury,and to be a Leatt athlete under their brand in 2014. 
-SA Racers Abroad, Clayton Francois has put so much effort in to finding us bits of sponsorship essential to making this possible and I look forward to continuing working with you this season!
-To all of our supporters who give me that great feeling when we share success.
Here's to a successful 2014 season!