Pirelli National Superstock 1000 - 28th
After all the trials and tribulations of 2017, the race weekend at Brands Hatch delivered just what we hoped for - fantastic racing, and a new PB!
Friday was made up of 2 free practice sessions, and we used the time to tweak the setup on the bike. We made good progress, and I had quickly slipped back under my lap times from the equivalent sessions last year - very pleasing considering it was only my 2nd race weekend of the year.
Saturday brought qualifying - and I went out to get a banker lap in before I came in for a new rear tyre. My 2nd flying lap was the fastest of the weekend, and the fastest lap I had ever done round Brands GP, a 1:31.8. I was very pleased, and I came in to change over the rear wheel for a nice new sticky rear tyre.
This was done in super quick time, thanks to Colin Groom from CR Motor Engineers who had come along for the weekend to provide help and support along side my usual pit crew of Mum and Dad! I was back out on track in no time, and getting my new tyre ready for a flying lap. However, just as I started my flying lap, the red flags were out. Damn!
Into the pits, and only a few minutes later we were out again. I was concerned, though, that I had already taken the best of tyre (nonsense, I am sure; but such thoughts were persistent!) so I went out to get it done straight away. I came across traffic, though - a rider who I knew was of very similar pace, but he was holding me up. I eventually decided to drop back to get some space, and go for it. It would seem, that I was a little too eager though, and try as I might and very aware of the very few laps I had left, I could not string a good lap together. Trying too hard, and making mistakes. I ended the session with no faster a lap - although my ideal lap (made up of my best sectors from the session) was a fantastic 1:31.1 - a whole 0.7 sec faster again. This would have made a massive difference to my qualifying position, but alas it was not to be. It had felt scrappy, and the time sheets proved it. The pace was there, I just hadn't put it together into one lap. Frustrating, but it did mean I should have a good race on the Sunday!
Sunday warmup was a little damp, which surprised us, but all was well and the bike felt good. I couldn't wait to get out for the race!
I got a fantastic start, jumping a whole row, and headed into the Paddock Hill melee in a good spot. We came down from Druids, into Graham Hill bend and I just caught a glimpse of trouble ahead - Mason Law and Ben Godfrey had come off, it now seems in seperate incidents, but as I exited the corner I saw Ben on the track, laid out, right in front of me! A very large handful of brake, and a quick turn and I missed him - missed his leg by only a few inches. Phew! For both our sakes!
The race was on, though, and I was determined not to lose out too much. There were more crashes in the first lap, and although no more near misses as far as I was concerned, I had lost a couple of places in the chaos. The safety car was out, and I had Chris Green ahead.
At the restart, I quickly realised I had more pace than Chris. However, he was very strong on the brakes in all the places I didn't want him to be, and I could not get past. Trying to find a way through, I then succumbed to Liam Shellcock, who got past me. He couldn't get past either, and as more riders joined, we had a little train going - all trying but no one succeeding in getting by!
So, as it was, with lots of place swapping, after a little last lap elbowing I got a place back into the train on to the last lap, but slightly frustrated I hadn't been able to get by as I know I would have pulled away.
However, it was a great, close, fun race - and as my only proper BSB race this year, I was very pleased. To top it all, I had also acheived another PB early on in the race when I had had some space, a 1:31.6.
So that just leaves me to say Thank You. Thank You to everyone who has supported me, helped me, encouraged me. To all my sponsors who have stood by me through this year, and to all the fine folk who signed up to Club67 (your photos will be with me shortly!). I would not be able to do it without you all! I am not sure on what the plans for next year are, yet, but I will be out on track somewhere, and I will be in touch! :-)