Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Solid Race Result & Awarded Rider Of The Day After A Bumpy Start - Oulton Park Rd.2

Rd.1 was a disappointing weekend, fortunately we countered the disappointment with a decent result and awesome race this past long weekend at the beautiful Oulton Park circuit!

The season opener was a massive disappointment for us, knowing what we our setup was capable of made me furious at not getting to use it's full potential. We had a very successful test day at Oulton Park the following Friday which set us up nicely for this race weekend just gone. It started with a few questions over bike settings as usual and we made bad choices with regards to timing the changes, but fortunately got it right in time for final Qualifying!

My previous fastest time was in qualifying last year at 1:40.7, but the test day saw me lap nearly a full 1sec faster getting a 1:39.8! The setup we had was feeling good and put us 5th fastest Superstock 1000 there. Free Practice and Qualifying 1 was where we tried settings different to what we ran at the test day, this proved a bad decision as I couldn't go faster than a 1:40.3 putting us in a provisional 34th place on the grid! Not good!

I hated that we had wasted both Free Practice and Quali.1 on trying settings that never worked and now I would have to try put in a fast lap time with only one shot at it in Quali.2. We reverted back to the exact settings we ran at the test day as we knew I had my fastest lap of 1:39.8 in that setup which should at least salvage a top 30 start. I headed out on track for final qualifying after storming home the night before to just chill out and take my mind off the bike, which worked wonders as I just set myself riding with the old mindset I've always adopted of 'just ride the thing!'

I was aiming to at least match my testing time of 1:39.8 but knew I had more left in my riding to come if I could get comfortable. I got some clear track and set my head down and the bike felt great as I wrestled it round the bumpy circuit in a 1:39.4! I was real happy with the time but knew I had a little left and pushed on again but couldn't better it as I encountered arm pump for the first time in my life!(Arm Pump is a racers worst nightmare during a race as your forearm muscles pump up and your hand starts to cease up, losing control of your brakes and throttle - scary stuff on a 200hp bike at 250kmh!)  I had to accept my time which put us in a much better, but still not where I wanted to be, 27th.
We clocked off for the day without touching any settings, prepped it for warm up and we had a nice team meal before bed.

Race day was upon us and I was really looking forward to riding my bike, just how a rider should be! Morning warm up came and went, and after my pre race massage to prevent the onset of any more arm pump, we headed to start the main race. I pulled up to my team on the start line and got ready to stare the lights down before planning my line into the first corner.

The lights went out and I got a great launch, taking a couple positions from 27th by turn 1 and a few more gaps opened up over the lap and we were sitting in a strong 18th place! We got to the Hislop Chicane where two riders collided right infront of me, both going down in the middle of the track, making me hit the brakes and swerve hard to avoid the tumbling Ducati and its disgruntled rider in the track, setting myself and a few others involved back to 25th. I now had to start my hard work all over again!

The bike really came to me during the race and I felt confident in it's handling so I could push harder to make up positions. I really enjoyed getting to ride hard and stick some good hard passes throughout the race, taking us up a few places each lap before I get to the front of the pack fighting for 17th and started my chase on top top 12 group with 16th place in sight. I put my head down and tried my hardest to close down the gap with 4 laps to go, but this was to be cut short as the red flag came out with 2 laps to go, meaning a crash has stopped the race early - heal up quick Victor Cox who ran off and took a bit of a knock to the tyre wall!

The race was run and we came home with a 17th place and by far the fastest lap I've done around Oulton Park at 1:39.1! I was pleased and the team were very happy with how we closed the weekend! I was disappointed the race ended early as I wanted to try push for the group infornt of me as we had the pace to do it, but maybe it's best it got shortened because little did I know I had a freight train of 4 riders glued to the back of me as I was making my way through the field, of them was superbike rider Marshal Neil, no doubt waiting to pounce on me!

This was by far our best result to date, not position wise, as there are more world level riders in the class than any other year, but overall it was a success considering the incident on lap 1.

I'm delighted to say the BSB Organiser thought so too when I was awarded Fred Clarke's Merit Award of rider of the day in Superstock! SO CHUFFED! It's a great achievement to take away from the weekend in 17th place!

Thank you so much for the support from everybody, it really means a lot, but especially to Mom & Dad, Rocket 88, Leatt, SA Racers Abroad fund and all of our supporters! My whole MWR Kawasaki team - thank you and I can't wait to get to the next one guys!

We have a 5 week break now so I'm glad we could go into this period on a high note and even an award to our name, not that it will make it go by any faster, but it will certainly make it more pleasant. I look forward to more hard training coming up before we head to Snetterton on 15 June.

Cheers for now!