Pirelli National Superstock 1000 - 27th
The inclusion of the Pirelli National Superstock 1000 class as a support class for the World Superbikes, meant a welcome return to Donington Park.
On Friday, we had only the Free Practice session, so we spent the time making sure the newly upgraded forks were setup and working. It seemed they were, and they were providing much more feel and control; the only issue being that it had completely destabilised the rear! No matter, we worked to alleviate the issues and I set my best time in a Free Practice session so far this year.
With a few more changes for first qualifying Saturday morning, I went out and again we tried different settings, inching towards an improved setup. Again, a faster time was set, so the progress was heading in the right direction.
During second qualifying I made a change that was quite quickly identified as not improving things, so we changed back during the session and I managed to head out and put a hot lap in, to qualify 37th overall.
Sunday morning brought the race up early at 1015, although the weather was looming a little and it was drizzling as we went to the grid. I got a fairly good start, and as the pack settled down I was hot on the heels of the rider ahead. I got a good exit out of Redgate, and kept close through Craner Curves, and on the drive down the hill managed to get alongside and made the move through the Old Hairpin. I kept on pushing, and was pulling a gap from the rider I had just passed. I was slowly catching the rider ahead, and felt sure that I would soon reel him in. The drizzle began a little again over the second half of the lap, and then alongside the 'slight rain' flags, the Safety Car flags came out for an incident at the first corner, a scenario I have never before dealt with!
We caught the pack up, and almost immediately came to a near complete stop at Coppice as the leader was trying to back the pack up before he restarted - we went on again, and then once more bunched up to a stop. As we rounded the last couple of corners, the pack accelerated off; unfortunately I did not quite deal with the restart as well as I had hoped, and I was left with a gap to the rider ahead. Unknown to me though, and worse, was that the rider I had previously overtaken was now right on my tail.
He passed during the first lap after the restart, and frustrated I resolved myself to get the place back. I got a good drive out of Coppice, down the straight, and although I was probably not close enough I gave it a go up the inside into the chicane anyway - unfortunately it turned out I was not close enough and I had to bail out, and attempt not to make contact in the process! This left me with a bigger gap...! I worked very hard to close the gap again, which I did, and had a couple more goes to regain the place, but it was not to be.
So I crossed the line in 27th, having had a lot of fun during the race and set my fastest time of the weekend. A study of the timing sheets has also shown that whilst I was chasing and attempting to regain the place, the sector times I managed to set would have set an 'ideal' lap of a 1:34.7 - a fantastic lap time that would really put me right in the pack. This is a brilliant result of the hard racing and highlights the potential now I am getting the hang of this new bike!
I can also now announce that thanks to my generous sponsor HSBags (www.hsbags.co.uk) I will now be able to race at the next event, at Snetterton, on June 20th/21st, and I can't wait!