ThundersportGB Formula 600:
Race 1 - 7th
Race 2 - 6th
Race 3 - 4th
Final Championship Position - 6th
Race 1 - 19th
Race 2 - 17th
Race 3 - 17th
Although it seems incredible that the year has shot by already, Donington Park was the last round of the 2013 ThundersportGB Championships.
Once again I had elected to run 2 classes, the Elite 600 and the GP1, in order to maximise the track time and it is a tactic that paid off.
Saturday qualifying was a tricky session for both classes. The track was still damp in places from some overnight rain, and within a couple of laps there were a number of fallers. One of these required a little medical attention and so the session was red flagged. When it was restarted, we only had time for about 4 laps. I put in a reasonable time but not one I was happy with.
A similar story unfolded in the GP1, although that red flag was towards the end of the session and so it was shortened - frustratingly during my fastest lap of the session, which was cut short; still it was an improvement on the first quali lap.
We had the great opportunity of a new set of tyres from Continental to try out for the Saturday races - which I was looking forward to and planning on improving my lap time in order to help my Sunday grid positions. Unfortunately, a miscalculation from us regarding temperature/pressure meant we had put the front too hard. 2 laps in and the front was giving no grip and even less feedback. When I did push it, it just skipped across the Tarmac. Unfortunately this meant I couldn't hold the position I had gained from a great start, or improve my lap time as much as I had hoped. On the now dry track though, many others improved more than me, which meant instead of improving my Sunday grid position, I had gone back 3 places. Not what I had planned!
We rectified the error for the GP1 race and the bike felt much better with the tyres working really well. However, I didn't get a good start as for some reason the bike just kept wheelying off the line, and then a rider high-sided just ahead of me in the first corner, and (as usual!) I ended up having to virtually stop to avoid hitting the resulting carnage! This meant I was near as makes no difference at the back, but the bike felt good and I had a brilliant race with some great battles all the way through working my way back up. Although great fun, however, fairing to elbow racing is not particularly conducive to setting good lap times. So once again, although I did improve on the time it was not enough to improve the grid for Sunday.
So, a dramatic qualifying day, with lots of incidents and good racing, but not brilliant from an actual qualifying point of view.
This meant that Sunday was going to be interesting if nothing else - starting much further back than I should have been; it was frustrating but at least I'd have lots of overtaking to do!
We made some suspension changes on Saturday evening after taking some advice, and prepared the bike for the day ahead.
The first race of the day was the Elite 600. I got a pretty good start, and the bike felt good from the changes we had made. It was all a bit dicey on the first lap again, but once it settled down I felt happy to push. There were still a few damp patches around from the over night rain but the majority of racing line was dry. I found, as expected, that I was quicker than those I had qualified around and so I was able to have a lot of fun chasing and overtaking! I finished 20th on the track, up from my 27th grid slot and 6th in the class.
The first GP1 race was very soon after. It was trying to rain as the race started, so the first few laps with us all on dry tyres were a bit of an adventure; coming over the blind crest into Coppice where it seemed to be raining suddenly every lap was interesting! The rain soon stopped though and I was able to push hard. The harder I rode the better the bike felt, and again I had some great overtaking fun, catching the big 1000cc bikes through Craner and all the way up to Coppice, and then trying valiantly to keep with them down the straights so I could find a way past. In the end I finished 17th, having started 25th, so was pleased!
The last 2 races of the day, and of the season, were up next. In both races, with the confidence gained in the morning, I felt even quicker amongst the grid slot I had ended up with. I got a brilliant start in the 600 race, and found myself within range of my nearest championship rival - a target I had been working towards beating all year. I kept with him as we both overtook a few riders, and then I found myself right on his tail. I went for a few moves to get by, with us both on the limit and fighting hard - in the end I made it stick through the Melbourne Loop, and I was away. A couple more passes by the end of the race and I had got my best finishing position of the year, 16th Sportsman Elite and a fantastic 4th Formula 600.
The GP1 race played through in much the same way - overtaking all the race and making moves on good riders on faster bikes - again, 17th position in the premium GP1 class.
It was, in all, a brilliant way to end the season. A fantastic high and a culmination of the progress I have been making all year. If we compare positions, lap times and difference to the leaders through the year we have made leaps and bounds up the field in 2013.
The progress and consistent points finishes all year have allowed me to come away with an amazing Championship Result, of 6th ThundersportGB Formula 600.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all my sponsors and supporters through 2013, and those before. I really hope that we may continue the partnerships into 2014, and get bigger and better all the while! Next stop - podium!
I will be in touch soon!! :-)