A good weekend at Snetterton 300 (UK)
For this round of the Hel Motostar British Championship visited the Snetterton 300 circuit in Norfolk. This is a quite a fast, flat track with no real hills or swooping bends, so would be a lot different to last week’s races up at Knockhill. The round held here in 2015 was an enjoyable event with the sun shining for the entire weekend.
Unfortunately the conditions were not so good this year, as we awoke on Friday to some rain and gusty conditions. Fortunately the weather gradually cleared and by the time the first practice session commenced the track was drying well. However just to stay on the side of caution we decided to start on full wets just in case and to avoid any chance of accidents. After just three laps I realized that that this was not necessary so headed in to the pits to switch on to full slicks. On these I made steady progress in the session, feeling under no particular and keeping in mind that there were still wet patches on some parts of the circuit. With this in mind I rode a steady session, finishing a relatively relaxed session in 12th position.
The first qualification session was held in completely dry conditions but with a strong wind blowing, -making slipstream maneuverings difficult on the straights. The strong gusts resulted in it being very hard to catch any tow, meaning that it was hard to find someone to pace set with and causing me some difficulties for a few laps. Frustratingly enough I found that I was a full second down on my 2015 lap times, finishing 20th place overall and 15th within my group. I finished qualification feeling fairly dissatisfied with my performance but eager to make up for this in the next morning’s session.
Unfortunately, the second qualifying was wet and no one could therefore improve their times, meaning I would have to start from the twentieth place on the grid for the first race. The tire I was out in the session was quite old and I struggled a bit for grip. In spite of this, overall the bike felt good and while not wanting to take too many risks in tricky conditions I was happy with my pace. Unfortunately at the very end of the session I had a bit of a hiccup as coming out of the second hairpin the chain came off the sprocket and jammed the back wheel. I very nearly lost it but just about managed to hang on after a very big moment.
In race one I got off to a decent start from a lowly 20th on the grid but got caught up in a bit of traffic in the first bend and slipped back a little. On the second corner I decided to made amends and dived up the up the inside, holding a tight line and managed to sneak back a few places. As the opening laps progressed I made up few more positions before settling into an exciting six rider battle for thirteenth. I struggled to pass Eugene McManus’ very quick KTM machine throughout the race an on the very last corner of the last lap I tried my hardest to make a move to pass Storm Stacey. Unfortunately in the process of the move I collided with McManus’ rear wheel and had to back off. I was pleased to finish in a hard fought 15th place, -certainly a big improvement on qualifying.
Sunday’s morning warm up was only eight minutes long, meaning that everyone was keen to get on the course as soon as possible. This meant that there was a lot of elbow jostling and I was boxed in with a close pack. This made it difficult to get any really quick laps in but I felt good and was confident going into the race itself.
I started from 17th position for Race two and just as in race one a good start was hampered by being in the middle of the pack in the first corner and again lost some places. In the initial laps I gained a few positions but a strong wind was blowing again, -but this time from a completely different direction as it had the rest of the weekend! This meant that both the lines and riding positions were different to previous time on the track. In the end the strength of the wind caused some real problems and riders struggled to stay on the bike at all in the back part of the circuit. As the field spread out and I was running a second behind Storm Stacey and I did all I could to try to make sure the gap did not increase any further, however at the same time was not able to reel him in any closer. After a very tough race I finished in a satisfying 13th place, ending the weekend on a positive note.
The next round is at Thruxton in 2 weeks’ time. This meeting was a bit of a disaster last year due to the engine seizing after just 6 minutes, resulting in my being out of action for the entire weekend. However it is a great track and I cannot wait to make amends this year!