ThundersportGB Formula 600
Race 1 - 9th
Race 2 - 10th
Race 3 - DNF
Championship Position - 8th
I couldn't wait to get to Mallory Park, having worked on the bike to overcome the technical difficulties we had experienced, and visiting a track I know very well, I was really looking forward to the weekend.
Some very interesting weather overnight into Saturday had left a very wet track, and although I was not out until nearly midday and the rain had long gone, it didn't seem to be drying up so we were unsure as far as setup and tyre choice. At the last minute, though, we were clear that the track was 'dry enough' for dry tyres for qualifying - although there were still some very interestingly placed wet patches; the second half of the long fast right hander of Gerrards being my particular 'favourite'. This made for quite a tricky and treacherous qualifying session. Coupled with the fact we had also clearly not got the suspension settings right for the conditions, I struggled to get the pace up and qualified in 9th place, 21st overall.
We made a couple of changes for the race, mainly to the front for braking, but as the track was by then properly dry we needn't change much from the morning. I got a fairly good start, and was well in the battle at the first visit to the chicane at Edwina's - however, I and about 6 other riders all missed our braking point and so had to take to the escape road! We all rejoined pretty much where we had left, so no huge loss, but it was a bit frustrating. Once the first couple of laps had settled down, I found myself in a lot of space, and although I was slowly catching the riders ahead, it wasn't enough and I was still struggling with the feel from the front end. I finished the race in 9th, however, and 18th overall which was a solid result but I really felt I had more to give.
We decided we needed to make some quite hefty setup changes for the morning, and so set about implementing them that evening.
We had more rain overnight, but this time the sun had helped to dry it all out so all was well for the first race of the day. I got off the line and immediately the changes had made an improvement. I was able to take a couple places in the first couple of laps and then saw my next target up ahead. We seemed to be evenly matched for pace, so I pushed hard and slowly caught him up. I found I was faster through the chicane and up to the hairpin, but as there really is only one line there it wasn't much help to get past. I was having a couple of issues with getting the rear to grip on drive out of Gerrards and Devil's Elbow, so I decided to give myself a gap to him through Edwina's so I could use the extra pace up to the hairpin without catching him too soon and having to roll off the throttle. I had a couple of practice goes, and then on the last lap went for it. I made it work, and outbraked him into the hairpin. I accelerated off the apex but having had to take the tight line in, I had to be wide on the way out. He had obviously pre-empted this, and as I came up to the Bus Stop chicane I found he had undercut me and he stuffed it up into the chicane, effectively blocking my entry and took the place back. Good fun, but not quite how I had hoped it would play out! Still, I finished in 10th place in class, 17th overall, and it had been a good race where even though I had improved the laptime by 0.5sec I knew I had more to come, if I had got past that rider.
I was really looking forward to the last race, and so we made some changes to the rear to help with the grip on drive, and I headed out to the grid. I wheelied a bit off the line, which was a shame, but as I exited the first corner I suddenly had nothing from the bike - at all. The whole thing had cut out and I was forced to retire down the escape road at Edwina's.
Obviously, not the end to the weekend, or the season, that we wanted. However, it did secure 8th place in the Formula 600, which considering the rounds we have had to miss or failed to score points in due to technical issues, I am really quite happy with.
I would not have been able to do it, however, without the support of all my fantastic sponsors. So, thank you once again to you all.
Although nothing is finalised yet, there are some big plans afoot for 2015, and however I manage it, my aim is to compete next year in the BSB Superstock 1000 championship, on a ZX10.
This will obviously involve a much larger funding requirement, but equally much more exposure and kudos; so have no fear, I will be in touch directly very soon regarding just that
Until then, don't forget you can watch the action, from at least the first race, on MotorsTV (Sky & Freeview) on Thursday 30th October at 7.30pm!