In the points twice at Donnington!
In the points twice at Donnington!
It is was already time for round 10 of this 12 race series. Unfortunately due to a number of circumstances I was unable to attend the Oulton round so was keen to make amends. Last year Donnington was the opening race of the season, so it had been some time since I been there. Also the engine last time out was little more than standard, so there was not a great deal to compare against.
The conditions for the weekend started quite wet, it having rained heavily the whole previous day and evening. However, the forecast for the rest of the meeting was for dry weather so I did not want to risk too much and took things easy. I managed a few steady laps on a drying track but my main focus was on getting settled and bringing the bike home in one piece. Everything was working fine so it was a case of focusing on the session proper.
The first qualification did actually start in dry conditions which meant that I could push on pace from the very start, however this was hampered by some very strong winds around certain points of the course making riding the bike difficult. I also struggled to get the first sector right which cost me quite a lot of time and had additional problems getting the right line out of the last corner, so was losing a lot of speed along the start-finish straight. I ended the session in 25th place with 16th in my class. I was far from satisfied with this so we decided to make some changes to the set up to improve things. At Brands Hatch we made some changes to the ride height so we decided to put these back to the original settinga and see how it went.
The second qualification session commenced at 9.30am and track conditions were still dry but very cold. The expectation was that most of us would not improve a great deal on the previous days times, however as the session got under way the pace picked up and almost everybody improved on their times. I managed to better my times somewhat but then ended up lapping alone for a while as the field spaced out, meaning that the pace slackened a little with no tow. In the closing stages of the session I did actually end up behind Eliot and was pleased to keep pace with him through the opening section that I struggled with before. I also managed to slipstream Max on the final straight and by the end of the session had improved my time by 2.2 seconds on the first qualification. This meant that I would be starting in 15th place which I was pleased with. I also felt better with the changes to the set-up we had made so was feeling pretty satisfied going in to the race.
I managed to make a good solid start and picked up a couple of places but did struggle to keep pace with the leading pack. I kept up for a couple of laps before dropping back slightly but things started to go wrong after Mike Brouwers fell right in front of me. This resulted in the safety car coming out and when racing restarted I struggled to get into a rhythm, meaning that I lost some pace and dropped a few places. I did manage to improve in the last two laps and actually got my second fastest lap time of the whole weekend, coming home in 12th place in my class. I would also be starting race two from 22nd on the grid, meaning that there was a lot of work to do.
Things went well enough in the warm up, although the session was cut to just five minutes. However the changes to the preload meant that the bike was tending to drift on the corners somewhat so in the end we decided to leave things as they were for the race itself.
I did not make the start I was hoping for as I hit the wrong gear into the first corner and subsequently lost a number of places. This meant effectively starting over and when I did manage to get settled most of the leading riders had already disappeared. I set myself the target of catching the two riders who were immediately in front of me. I managed to slowly reel them in over the next few laps and then take both positions in the two successive corners. This gave me the impetus I needed to push on and I was able to open up a gap straight away, eventually pulling out two seconds on my pursuers. I crossed the line in 8th position in my class, which I was quite pleased about but felt that the result could have been a lot better if I had not had the those problems at the first bend.
The next round is at my home track here in the Netherlands, the famous TT Circuit in Assen! This one of the biggest motorcycle events of the year so please come along and watch! I will be a little nervous as this is without doubt the most important race of the year for me and will have all my sponsors in attendance. However I will be giving it my very best shot to try and show them what all the hard work this year has been for!