ThundersportGB Formula 600
Race 1 - 6th
Race 2 - 10th
Race 3 - 9th
Championship Position - 5th
Following on from the engine failure at Donington Park, the race was on to get the engine rebuilt for Snetterton, to try to ensure the points loss from the failure was kept to a minimum.
All was going well, until further damage was found to my cylinder head whilst off for repair. Whilst not insurmountable, it meant it would not be returned in time for Snetterton. However, some last minute help was very kindly offered in the shape of the loan of a stock cylinder head; whilst this would not be as quick as my tuned one, it would at least get us out on circuit and racing!
So after a whole lot of work, the bike fired in to life on Wednesday evening, just in time to get packed up and head over to Snetterton for the weekend.
Qualifying was the first session of the weekend, and it quickly became apparent that this motor had some very different, and slower, power characteristics! I was working to learn my way round them, and didn't really get a great time under my belt in the time available. However, I had qualified, and was on the grid for the race.
First race was really busy. Starting 32nd on the grid, I got a good start and then worked to keep taking the places. It all settled down towards the last quarter of the race, and I crossed the line in 21st and 6th Formula 600. A great start to the weekend and solid points, and a lot of fun too.
I had improved my time by over a second in the race, which moved me up a couple of rows for the Sunday races.
I made a couple of suspension tweaks for morning warmup, to try and even out the bumps round the long right hander of Corams. The start of the first race was OK, but nothing spectacular, so I didn't gain as many places. Having made some places over the first few laps I became entrenched behind an R6 who, although slower through the fast corners, seemed to be exactly matched on braking and power. This made it exceptionally difficult to make a move stick. I kept trying, and trying, but to no avail. I crossed the line right behind him, in 22nd place and this time 10th Formula 600. The lower Formula placing confused me, and after investigation turns out to be down, once again, to other riders changing classes mid-weekend.
For the last race of the weekend, I was determined to get a good start and get past that R6 off the line. However, after a Lorenzo style jump start from another rider, the initial start was aborted, and then quickly reset. I succeeded in avoiding another non-spectacular start, but it was spectacular for all the wrong reasons as I started a huge wheelie/loop which I had to shut off to control. This sent me way back down the grid as the other riders all shot past. I entered the first corner what felt like pretty much dead last. This, I was not having, so I fought hard and quickly to get back up through pack where I should have been.
After around 5 laps I found myself, once again, behind the R6. Again, I tried hard to get past, but nothing was working. I decided to try to use the advantage I had through the fast corners, and so went for an inside pass into the very fast 5th gear Riches corner - I made it up the inside and although very interesting dealing with actually getting round the corner at the higher speed and different line, I did make it stick. It was short lived though, the next lap round he got me back on the brakes into the hairpin. I was determined to get back past, but my next move didn't pay off. I caught him all the way through Corams, and went to go for the inside into the last corner. I hit the brakes, but missed the gear change, so didn't slow it down in time. I went through the 2nd gear corner in 4th, way off line, and as I was recovering everything the 3 other riders who were very close behind shot past. At this point I only had 4 laps left, but I managed to make it back past up to the R6, and crossed the line right on his tail once again.
Considering we were very close to not actually making Snetterton, 3 good points finishes is great. My times over the weekend improved greatly, knocking nearly 3 seconds off my previous PB. The great racing was brilliant fun, although it came at a slight cost to positions - my lap times should have put me about 4 places ahead in the main field.
However, the improvements to my pace are continuing, and we now have a couple of weekends of hard work to get the engine back to its proper state again, ready for Cadwell Park on 25th/26th May!
Coverage of the Snetterton races will be broadcast on MotorsTV on Thursday 15th May at 7.30pm