Pirelli National Superstock 1000 - 23rd
After a successful trip the the Brands Hatch Indy circuit earlier in the season, I was really looking forward to returning to tackle the full GP circuit. A fast, flowing, yet very technical circuit, the GP track is a real treat.
Free Practice on Friday morning was a good start, with some solid times on which to build for the weekend. We made some changes for first qualifying and I finished that session in 31st position. We also discovered that the rear shock had sprung an oil leak from one of the controls, which went someway to explain some of the inconsistency I had been experiencing from the handling. We got the shock off the bike and over to KTech to be serviced and back ready for the next day.
A little bit of homework on Friday evening, and a few changes to my lines, plus some more changes to the bike, and I was ready for second qualifying. I had a good session, and managed to just beat my PB, a time set in last year's race. It put me in 29th position in that session, a great result, but I was to line up 31st on the grid for the race - still a good solid start position!
We made some more tweaks overnight, and went for a good track walk to work a few more lines out, and then race day was upon us! Morning warmup went well, with me able to match my qualifying times - a good indication that the changes had worked.
I got a good start, and managed to avoid a first corner crash which occurred a few rows up the field!. The first few laps were quick, and I was right behind Ryan Gibson on the Yamaha R1. I kept close, and on lap 3 had a look into Paddock Hill, but decided I was not quite close enough. I kept close through the next lap, and really closed the gap into the last corner. I got good drive out the last corner and tucked right up behind his rear wheel as we approached the line at 150mph. I was close enough, this time, and got him on the brakes into Paddock Hill. After defending into Druids, I worked hard to pull a gap on him, and also was managing to keep the next 2 riders, James White and Scott Pitchers, in touch. I wasn't able to really reel them in, but I was keeping them in check and planning for later in the race. A crash through Druids brought out not only the yellow flags but also the oil flag - I was obviously a little more circumspect at the prospect of oil on the track and after that corner they had pulled out the gap a little more.
At this stage I was becoming aware of the fact that the bike was proving quite demanding to get it turn whilst still on the brakes - something that was causing me issues for at least 5 corners around Brands Hatch GP circuit. I decided that I was going to have to think about the long game a bit more, and with the force required from me to pull the bike into the turns I was going to have to pace myself a bit more in order to finish the race. I decided to concentrate on keeping the gap to Ryan Gibson behind me, and consolidate that position.
So, with a close eye on my pit board each lap I aimed to keep the good 2.5- 3 second gap I had created. This worked well, and although he had a big push over the last couple of laps, the gap was enough and I held the position across the line!
I had brought it home in 23rd position - my highest ever result in the British Superbike Superstock 1000 class. Early in the race I had also knocked another 0.5 sec off my PB, keeping the progress I have been building this year going - its all going in the right direction!
Next race is Cadwell Park, which will be a challenge as will be my first race there on a 1000cc bike, and is a very challenging circuit - but I cannot wait and am looking forward to getting out there on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
Before that, we have another Quiz Night to fund raise for the rest of the season - it will be held in Uffculme in Devon on Saturday 20th August, at 7.30pm. Full details on the site at www.mattpearceracing.co.uk - Be great to see you there!