ThundersportGB Formula 600
Race 1 - 11th
Race 2 - 10th
Race 3 - 11th
Championship Position - 5th
Race 1 - 19th
Race 2 - 21st
Race 3 - 17th
I have always found Cadwell Park a challenging circuit, so I was determined to make progress and really get on the pace for the weekend.
Qualifying turned out to contain the usual dramas! A brake issue in 600 qualifying meant I only got 4 laps in, and without consistent brakes - although I still managed to secure 26th on the grid. With the problem fixed for the GP1 qualifying, I gained nearly 3 seconds a lap and found 19th place amongst the big 1000cc bikes!
The first 600 race started pretty well, I had a few battles over the first few laps, of which I came out on top. This left me with a large gap to the next rider, and although I did start to reel them in towards the end, I was not close enough to challenge. It did, however, highlight that my old foe, Hall Bends, was still causing me problems. I was finding it extremely physically tiring to manhandle the bike through there, especially over a race distance, and I was completely drained by the end of the race.
This was not ideal as almost immediately, with only one race between, I was out again for the GP1 race. I realised that this had to be something to do with the setup of the bike, as although Hall Bends is renowned for being tough, it shouldn't be THAT tough! Luckily for us, the race in between was slightly delayed which meant I could try and recover a little and also we could try dropping the front of the bike a little further to make it turn faster, an extension of a change we had made earlier in the day.
The difference in the GP1 race was immediately noticeable and my times improved too. More importantly, though, was that even the faster times were easier, and I was actually able to stand up at the end of the race - always a bonus, I think!
We were sure, though, that it still could be better. Although the times were improving, we were a long way off where I really should have been. A familiar story for me at Cadwell, which is not a track I have ever excelled at. Determined to rectify this, we made some bigger changes to the geometry of the bike overnight and also worked on my riding position.
The gains were immediately noticeable, and I noticed first thing Sunday morning that the bike turned much faster.
I was still getting used to the changes for the first 600 race so I deliberately built up to full speed over the first few laps of the race. Once comfortable and used to the new characteristics, I began consistently lapping very close to and slightly faster than my previous PB, the difference being I felt could keep this pace up for the race! I began to chase down and catch the rider ahead, but again, ran out of laps before quite being close enough to attack.
The improvements continued during the GP1 race, where I caught and overtook 2 1000cc bikes; always a good way to put a smile on my face!
The 2nd 600 race of the day and I attacked from the off. A crash caused the red flags to come out on the first lap, and at the restart I tacked on to the back of the rider I had been chasing earlier. I was now right on his tail already, though, and we had a great fight over the race. I finally made a move stick and was then in clear space. With the track my own I managed to put in 2 laps before the end that were new PBs! Finishing 19th in the Sportsman Elite and 11th in the now huge Formula 600 class - a great finish to the 600cc racing for the weekend.
The last GP1 race was more of the same, racing and dicing with the bigger bikes and coming out on top! 17th place in the GP1 field was enough to finish my weekend with a big grin!
There is still more pace to find at Cadwell Park for me, but we have made great gains this weekend, and hugely improved the setup of the bike. I can't wait for Oulton Park on 20th-21st June, and then our little visit to my local track Castle Combe on the way home on the 22nd June!
Coverage of the Cadwell Park races will be on MotorsTV on at 8pm on Thursday 5th June.