Pirelli National Superstock 1000 Result - 29th
Oulton Park is a circuit I have loved since the beginning of my racing career, even though I have rarely had an incident free weekend there; and this weekend was no exception!
The weather played a key role during the weekend, with Free Practice being a 'dry' session, yet hampered by drizzle over half of the track - a scenario which always makes it difficult to know just how hard you can push.
The weather made its mind up for first qualifying, though, and it was a definite wet session. Despite the fact this was the first time I had ridden the ZX10 in the wet, and the first time for nearly 2 years I had done a competitive wet session, I was doing well and by about mid way through the session was in 30th place. I came in to the pits to see if we could get a bit more rear grip, as it had provided a couple of interesting moments, and hoped to gain even more. On my outlap, however, despite having been mindful of getting heat back into the brakes, I locked the front on the approach to Lodge Corner, the last of the circuit. The bike and I had a long slide to the gravel trap, and that was the end of my Qauli 1 session! The damage was not too bad though, and my Büse leathers performed exceptionally well as I slid down the tarmac!Qualifying 2 was late Sunday afternoon, and although the threat of rain had been around all day, it held off and it was a dry session. With this being effectively my first dry session at Oulton Park on the ZX10 I had to work hard to learn fast and set a good time to ensure I secured a slot on the grid for the race. I made the grade, though, and qualified 37th, improving my times all session.
I got a good start in the race on Monday afternoon, and managed to avoid a messy first corner incident. For the race, we had made some suspension changes to try and improve the front end feel under braking, but they didn't seem to have worked and I was still unable to fight in the braking areas. I was holding my position though, and was working to keep improving the pace. I made a mistake heading down to the Hislop Chicane, though, and had to run through the escape road. Frustratingly, I lost a place, and so fought to close the gap. I told myself I did not need to rush the overtake, as we had plenty of laps left, and as I knew I wouldn't be able to take the place under braking (although I did have a couple of goes!) I worked out where else I could regain the position. I was faster up over Clay Hill and through the fast right hander of Druids than the rider ahead, so I got myself into position and was just starting to overtake using the drive out of the corner when Yellow Flags came out! I had to abort the overtake, and was just thinking about lining up for the next corner when the Red Flags came out for a separate incident elsewhere on the circuit, but no matter, that was the end of our race.
I crossed the line in 29th position, another good Superstock 1000 finish, although I would have liked to have had the time to regain that place...I know I would have got him!! Also, I believe we have already reached the end of the ability of the standard front forks of the ZX10, so we have plans afoot to upgrade the front suspension for the next round, which is at the World Superbikes at Donington Park on 23rd/24th May!!!