The Brands Hatch Final!
Well this was the final race of the season, it has been a great year with some wonderful moments but also its fair share of setbacks. However that is the nature of racing and we have certainly learned a great deal as a team.
First and foremost I would thank all my sponsors for this year, -without you we would not be able to do what we do and we are very grateful for all your much valued support! I would also like to say a how much I appreciate all the help given by my parents, they do all they can to assist and so a massive thank you to them also. Finally I would just like to say a heartfelt thanks to everybody else who has supported me in any way this season, it is very much appreciated.
This was the third visit of the year to the Brands Hatch circuit after one round held on the indy circuit and one on the full GP circuit. This time we were back on the exciting full circuit but the weather forecast was not looking great for the weekend. However, we arrived at the track in decent weather and wasted no time in setting up the team tent and prepping the bike. Once everything was in place I took the opportunity to take a walk around the track with Hessel. Following our previous outings there he had been looking at the data and we used this to finalize the best possible set up for the bike before Friday’s practice.
The session got underway in dry conditions but a cool track temperature meant that there was not a great deal of grip. The significant differences in the requirements between Brands and the last round at Assen soon became apparent, as the engine timing was way off meaning that combined with the lack of traction I could not really push as I would have liked. We made some small adjustments to the front end which improved things a little but overall I did not feel that comfortable on board. As a consequence of these issues we decided to change the engine settings and the suspension to try and improve stability.
The track temperature had increased as qualifying one commenced and I was able to push things a little more but struggled to get on the pace as I would have liked. However the engine did feel much better and after a couple more laps I fell in with Tom Booth-Amos and managed to get a few much quicker laps in a as a result. This helped but towards the end of the session I was slowed somewhat by getting caught up in the back-markers and by the time I was able to get clear unfortunately the red flags were out, so that was the end of the session. I finished in 18th place and despite managing a 0.6 improvement on my best time I was far from satisfied.
The second qualifying session got underway early on Saturday morning and I was one of the first out on the track. Things were progressing well for a few laps until coming turn two I managed to bump my knee on the rumble strip and knock off my knee slider. Whilst not the most important piece of kit, the loss of the slider undoubtedly affected things and made it difficult to gauge just how deep into the corner the bike was. I stuck it out for four more laps but decided to head back into the pits and replace it in order to get in some decent laps. Unfortunately I could not find a spare until TJ Toms came to the rescue and loaned me one for the rest of the session! For the final two laps I was in the company of Sam Burnham on his very quick KTM machine so was managing some good slipstreaming moves. On the penultimate lap I was getting set to make a big push for the finish when unfortunately Sam ran wide at turn four and I only just avoided a collision. However I managed to get back on the racing line and although I just clipped her back wheel I was able to get a great slipstream on the final straight. As a consequence I finished the session in 15th place, a mere 0.6 seconds quicker than I was in qualifying one.
Racing got underway in difficult circumstances as I felt there were problems with the clutch slipping as soon as I left the line. This resulted in the loss of a lot of top-end speed but after a few laps I managed to get some focus and decided to concentrate on cornering as quickly as possible to compensate for the clutch issue on the straights. This tactic seemed to work well and I managed to close the gap on the group in front of me, eventually coming home in 13th place in my class. Another bonus was my closing laps were 0.4 seconds down on qualifying, ensuring that I would have a decent spot on the grid for race two! That evening we were busy with replacing the clutch and making some changes to the front end to improve handling performance yet further in the corners.
Unfortunately towards the end of the day some very heavy rain resulted in the cancellation of Saturday’s last two races, meaning that as they were to be moved to the following day at the expense of our morning warm up session, so it would be straight into race two.
Without the benefit of any practice we lined up for race two with the new clutch and front end settings untested. However I made a good start and things were going well until Edmund Best in front of me caught his glove in the brake lever and fell off, sliding across the width of the track. I had to take avoiding action and brake heavily as a consequence, unfortunately losing touch with the leading bunch. I then settled into a good scrap with another group of riders, regularly swapping places. Sam was also in this group and I was all too aware that she was the only one who could prevent me from sealing 15th spot in the championship placings. Unfortunately the untried settings came back to haunt me and I lost a lot of speed in the fast bends due to the instability of the bike. I managed to focus and made a huge effort to get past Sam on the final lap and come home in 11th place to confirm the 15th place championship finish.
So that is the end of the season already. We are already busy with preparations for 2017 with the Moto 3 bike up for sale prior to a move into the 600 class. Once I know more of what is happening I will let you know!
Before signing off I would just like to that Hessel for all his help this weekend, it was a great pleasure to work with you and I look forward to doing it again regularly next season!
Thanks again to everyone who helped this year and I can’t wait for the next season to begin!