Tricky Season Opener at Silverstone

Pirelli National Superstock 1000 - 38th

Being only the 2nd time I had raced at the full Silverstone circuit, I knew it would be a difficult weekend, but we weren't helped any by the weather!

5 minutes before an already shortened Free Practice we had a rain shower in the paddock, so I decided to put a wet front tyre in, and head out to get some laps under my belt.  However, on the outlap I went through bone dry circuit, to fairly wet, up to absolutely drenched with puddles and standing water, and then back to bone dry again!  So I, and pretty much everyone else, sat the session out, as nothing was really to be learned on such a mixed track.

It was drying nicely before the first Qualifying session, but once again, with 5 minutes to go we had another rain shower! This time, I went for full wets, which was the right choice.  I was getting some good laps in, learning where the grip was, and with a couple of minutes to go was 34th.  On the last laps, however, a number of the riders (mostly those in garages!) managed to get dry tyres on and on the now swiftly drying track put in much faster times than those of us on wets.  I was relegated to 39th in what was a very topsy turvy session classification.

So, we readied ourselves for the second Qualification session on Saturday, at lunchtime.  The weather was kinder to us, and we had a good dry session - although it did only just dry in time.  With the circuit now dry, I was struggling a little more for pace.  I pushed hard through the session, but was struggling in the braking areas and with confidence in the front.  I finished the session in 40th, although when the final classification came out once again the improving track conditions meant I was pushed back, to 43rd, by only 5/100ths of a second!  My ideal lap, which was only around 0.8sec faster, would have put me 38th!

We decided to speak to Bitubo, the forks manufacturer, directly as I was still unsure of the front end feel.  They took them to give them a service and check them over. It turned out to be a very good decision, as they discovered that the internals were actually bent!  So, with a couple of replacement parts they were rebuilt and ready for the morning.

A damp warm up, and the sighting laps, told me that they felt a lot better, although needed a little adjustment.  I got it as I wanted for the start of the race, and immediately I could feel the difference.  However, although much improved, it did mean I spent most of the race re-learning my turn in and braking points!  I got a pretty good start, although made a mistake into the Luffield braking area that meant I lost a couple of places.  I worked hard and got them back, but had by then lost sight of the pack.

I aimed to settle back in to the groove to get to grips with the new feel, and by the end of the race my times were beginning to fall once more.

So, although not a stellar result by any means, it was a solid weekend in which we learnt a lot and have hopefully ironed out some issues!

3 weeks now until Oulton Park on 1st-2nd May, and I can't wait!


Posted on April 19, 2016 and filed under Race Reports 2016.