Points, podiums and trophies at Rockingham!
ThundersportGB Formula 600
Race 1 - 4th
Race 2 - 5th
Race 3 - 4th
Race 1 - 2nd
Race 2 - DNF
Race 3 - 3rd
After the disappointment of Oulton Park, Rockingham turned out the be just the tonic, with points scored in every class entered, including both the Formula 600 and the Sportsman Elite, and 2 podiums in the GP1!
In order to bed the engine back in and check all was well, I had elected to do the afternoon test session on Friday. We arrived at a very hot Rockingham, and almost immediately got out on track. The bike was working well, and I worked to learn the circuit, having only ever visited for the first time last year, where I only managed 2 test sessions before a gearbox failure.
I finished the afternoon happy with the bike, faster than last year and ready for qualifying in the morning.
Both the Sportsman Elite 600 and GP1 qualifying came and went without issue, and I finished the sessions with good positions for the grids. 7th Formula 600, and 18th in the whole Sportsman Elite field. In the GP1 I was 4th in class and 12th on the grid.
As part of the engine rebuild we had replaced the clutch, and it became apparent at the warm-up lap start of the first 600 race that it wasn't yet bedded in. At the race start, it really snatched and I did a huge wheelie - not conducive to a good getaway and I lost a lot of places. However, I really pushed from the first corner and worked hard to get back up into contention. I made many overtakes during the race, and it was hard work in the scorching weather (running around 30 degrees!) but great fun. I crossed the line 4th Formula 600, and 12th overall! Very hot but happy.
It wasn't long until the GP1 race so I had to get some fluid back on board while the bike was prepared and hopefully cooled down, too. I had a slightly better GP1 start (no wheelies!) but it was still not great, but I worked again to get back to my rightful place. I was quickly aware that the bike was getting too hot, though, and so I had to attempt to ride in a way that would allow as much cooling as possible. Even so, as the race progressed I was starting to get issues with the bike at full throttle and although I wasn't sure at the time, it turned out the fuel had got so hot in the tank that it was evaporating in the lines. I managed to nurse it over the line, though, and then found to my delight that I had secured 2nd place in the GP1 class. This was my first podium at Thundersport and as a 2nd place, it was fantastic.
Buoyed by the success of Saturday, Sunday morning couldn't come quick enough. The first 600 race was red flagged no less than 4 times, before we finally got going! Oil at Tarzan (the hairpin) caused many riders to tumble, and after an early lunch and clean up operation, and a final red flag(!) we had a short 5 lap dash. My start was better, although I still lost a few places (see video below!). I chased one final rider for the last few laps, but although I was catching, I just ran out of laps. I was still 5th in class, and 12th overall. Plus I posted my fastest lap of the weekend, a 1:28.6.
Next up was GP1, again, and I found myself in space so was thinking on how to improve the lap times further. I was pushing quite hard, and trailed the brakes too late into the chicane on the 2nd lap - the front tucked and I was off. Not quite the result I was hoping for but I still had confidence in the bike and what I could do; just needed not to do that again!
The damage was relatively slight, so we had the bike up and ready for the last 600 race. My start was much improved, and I got up with the pack. I was pushing hard through the race to catch and chase the next riders, but the extreme heat got to the fuel once more, and I found myself losing power at full throttle. I had to give up chasing and just work on holding position, which still meant a fantastic 5th Formula 600 and 10th Sportsman Elite!
The last race of the weekend was the GP1. I got a good start, and realised that only the rider ahead stood between me and another podium! I found him a good opponent at the start of the race, but as we settled into the race I learnt where I had the extra pace on him. I worked hard to get in range at an appropriate overtaking point, and managed to seal the deal by lining myself up for the best drive out of the hairpin. It worked, and with some added elbows I got the move done. The last few laps I rode hard to make sure I got a good gap over him, to ensure I didn't lose the place again. I crossed the line nearly 7 seconds ahead of him, though, so the hard work paid off!
I was rewarded with my 2nd ThundersportGB podium, and my 2nd podium of the weekend. An amazing 3rd place, taking home 2 trophies I am very proud of.
Can't wait for the next one to keep up the momentum!
Don't forgot you can watch all the action from Sunday, and me on the podium, on MotorsTV and online at 7.30pm on Thursday 4th of August