Pirelli National Superstock 1000 - 27th
Brands Hatch Indy - New PR - 48.525 secs
After our difficult start to the season at Silverstone and Oulton Park, I was keen to make some proper progress and come home with a solid result at Brands Hatch.
Although I had tested here in the past, and raced on the 600cc bikes, I hadn't yet competed at Superstock 1000 on the short Indy circuit at Brands Hatch. However, I was well versed on the GP track, so it was only a couple of extra corners to learn!
With such a short lap, I managed to get a massive 32 laps under my belt in the Free Practice session, and already we had made good progress. The weather held for first Qualifying and by the end of the day, having made good progress with the setup throughout each session, I was down to a 49.1 second lap - my PR for the short Indy circuit.
We had a spring change in the front forks Saturday morning, to give me a bit more feel in the heavy braking area up to Druids, but other than a couple of techniques to try through the last corner, we were set for second Qualifying.
Once again, I got a good number of laps on track, and made good progress. By the end of the session I was down to a 48.9 second lap, and the combined results from the 2 sessions put me 32nd on the grid! One of my best qualifying performances so far, and I couldn't wait for the race on Sunday.
The weather was still being very kind, and Sunday was looking good. Some delays in other races meant we were a little late to line up, but no matter. I took up my position on the grid and was raring to go.
I got a good start, although a few tussles in the pack ahead made me back off a little, and so I couldn't really gain many places into the first corner. I was sticking with the pack though, and it was all very close over the first 3 laps. On the final corner of the 3rd lap, a rider 3 bikes ahead highsided it as he tried to get the power down. We all reacted, and although the bike immediately behind him couldn't quite avoid it, the rest of us got passed without too much incident.
I emerged from the incident behind a rider with whom I had set an identical qualifying time (48.912) and so I knew that I would have a good chance of getting by if I could just find a little pace. I worked hard to close the gap down and managed to do so in around 7 laps - I got a good drive off the last corner, found a gap into Paddock Hill bend, and the move was done. I was very aware that he would probably be able to stay with me as we had been so close all weekend, but the pit board showed I had pulled a small gap, so I just had to maintain it. With the earlier incident slowing us a bit at the time, the next pack was a little way up the road, so I had only clear track in front of me and had to work hard to keep the pace up and make sure I held that position.
As I approached Druids, I went wide to let through what I assumed would be a furious gaggle of leaders all vying for position. As I looked back, I saw just Taylor Mackenzie - who I later found out had a 4 second lead - and following him through, not the rider I had been dicing with, but another who had been behind me! "I'm not having that", I thought (slightly less politely, I must admit) and I chased him down to regain my position. Again, I got a good drive off the last corner and I went for a fairly long lunge into Paddock Hill - as I braked the rear wheel kicked up over the little crest there, something that normally is wise to avoid, and I headed toward the corner on just the front wheel. Luckily, he saw me coming, and gave me the space I needed so we didn't make contact; I recovered it all, and made the move stick.
I was back ahead, but once again the Blue Flags were out. This time I was not being so kind, I gave just a bikes width at Druids, but it worked, and the previously expected gaggle all slipped through, and I kept my competition behind me!
I held the position for the remainder of that lap, and crossed the line 27th. A fantastic result, with a faster lap time again in the race of 48.525, and with massive grins from all involved and hands shaken in Parc Ferme, all in all it was a brilliant weekend.
My next meeting is Knockhill - a first for me - and I can't wait. It is not until June 25th, however, so in the meantime I will be out pounding the streets looking for new sponsors so that I may be able to continue and complete the 2016 season. So, if you're in the market for some brand exposure through the pinnacle of British motorcycle racing or know someone who is, please get in touch!