Last weekend’s visit to Cadwell Park was already at the 8th Round of the season. The signs were quite ominous from the start as bad weather had been predicted for the whole meeting. Although the weather wasn’t quite as gloomy as was expected, the rest of the event certainly did not go quite as planned.
The free practice session started dry but from the very beginning of the session there were some raindrops on the track. I started by concentrating mainly on getting used to the circuit and finding the best lines. After I pitted the mid-session I came back out again to much harder rain on the out-lap, so like the majority of riders I decided not to risk things and pit again. The session was a bit of a non-event all round and as I had not really pushed my times the end position was far from where I wanted to be.
The first practice session was similarly affected by the weather, even though the forecast indicated that it would remain dry until the evening, the track was spotted with rain throughout. I was reasonably up to speed and was steadily improving when the rain stared to increase. I decided to try and squeeze in another lap but then it all went wrong at the first corner. I lost the back end while in 6th gear and suddenly found myself flying through the air at 190 km/h. I was massively disappointed as this was my second fall in the last three races and as the bike had sustained a substantial amount of damage as it cartwheeled off the track. Luckily with lots of hard work we were able to make all the necessary repairs and by 9pm that night we were ready for the next day.
Sunday mornings’ second qualification session was underway at 9.20am on a largely dry track, although a few damp patches remained in the more wooded sections. The conditions overall were much better and I improved on my Saturday times by 1.5 seconds or more. However, in spite of this I finished the session in a disappointing 18th place, far from where I wanted to be and a full 2 seconds a lap down on my times from last year. To address this we decided to make some changes as the front end of the bike had not felt right under braking into the bends all weekend. Additionally I was feeling the after effects of the crash somewhat with pain in my ankle hindering me on the left hand turns and through the chicanes. To try and address this I visited the physio who massaged the ankle to reduce the swelling and improve mobility. They also taped it up to give more support which immediately felt better when I was on the bike.
In race one I made a good start and was able to make up some places right from the off. I settled into an enjoyable four way scrap. I was confident that I could get in front of our pack but decided not to go too flat out, instead hanging back and looking at where I had the advantage over the other riders. With two laps to go I put in a charge and managed to get ahead of the group. I then got my head down and concentrated as much as possible as pulling out a gap and securing a 14th place finish. As the fastest lap of race one would decide the starting position in race two, I was pleased to make a quick finish to the race, -meaning that I would start from 15th on the grid. Despite still being a second a lap down from my 2015 times my confidence was growing and my feeling for the track was coming back.
The warm up for race two ended in confusion as the session was red-flagged after just two laps. We had made some changes to the front forks to combat the handling issues but I was unable to really get a feel for these before we were stopped. However, we decided to take a gamble on these settings and leave them in place for the race.
I managed to get away from the line well but unfortunately as I changed up to second gear the bike jumped back into first, resulting in my dropping a number of places. I was determined not to miss out and put in two very hard opening laps and managed to recoup a good few positions. For the rest of the race I was pushed hard by the pursuing Joel Marklund, meaning I was able to put in consistently fast times of around 1:38 mark. Around four laps before the end I managed to open up a gap on the pursuing riders, eventually pulling out a lead of more than 5 seconds on the next rider behind me. I then rode a controlled race coming home with in tenth place! I was delighted to finally end up in the top ten, especially after all the challenges that we had over the weekend.
Unfortunately enought we won't be able to race the next race at Oulton Park. Several issues coming together made us decide that it is the best not to come to Oulton next weekend but we will be back at Donnington Park and ready to fight!