BSB | Brands Hatch Indy
Brands Hatch, round 2 of the British Superstock 600 championship and it was set to be a good one with very close racing due to the Brands Hatch Indy circuit being very short. I was ready and raring to go for this and was prepared for it to be a tough meeting knowing one tenth could be the difference between being on the front and being on the fifth row.
Friday- As there was 52 riders entered in for this event they split the class in to group A and group B, I was in group A. 9:00 Friday morning and we were out for Free Practice, immediately I could feel how greasy the track was. I think it was a combination of it being cold and the track being clean as they washed it on Thursday. My first few opening laps were steady and just getting my head back up to speed. After lap 6 I pushed on and at this point I could feel the grip levels where very low. Until lap 16 I was doing consistent 50 second lap times which isnt very fast, but at this pace the bike felt very unstable. I could see from my pit board that everyone was going faster so I thought the grip must be there. Lap 16 I put in a 49.818 and this put 8th fastest in the Group A session. With a post free practice debrief we made a few changes to the front suspension so that it would soak the bumps through Surtees rather than skip other the top of them and make the bike unstable.
Qualifying 1- With some changes made and a new set of tyres I was feeling confident I could go faster. After my out lap I could the difference, the bike felt so much more stable and it did help that the track temperature was much higher. After a few flying laps I was straight into the 48’s, in the early stages of the qualifying session this put me 4th. As the session progressed I didn't go any faster as I kept making mistakes and getting caught in traffic at the wrong times. Every time I seen my pit board I was getting bumped down the order. With two and half minutes left I found some clear tack and pushed on and pulled out a late fast lap to put me 3rd in the session on a 48.080. I was pleased to get this lap as it would make a difference in the race. After my Qualifying, group B where out so I waited anxiously to see where I would end up overall. As there session finished I looked at the timing screens and worked out I was 8th overall. This was a good start to the weekend and with a further few tweaks to the suspension for Qualifying 2 I was confident I could go faster.
Saturday Qualifying 2- The sun was out, the track temperature was rising and we were all set to go out for Qualifying 2 at 1:25PM. As pitlane opened I was straight out on my outlap. Immediately I was straight in to the 48’s again and I was looking to break into the 47’s. Nine laps completed I was laping at consistent low 48’s, lap 10 I hit every apex right and got good drive out of all 6 corners and I put in a 47.937. After seeing this lap flash up on my lap timer which I have on my bike I came in to pit lane to see if we could make a few changes to just find another tenth. With a quick discussion we decided to make a small tweak to the rear suspension to give me more grip. I headed back out on track with 10 minutes of the session left. Two laps after my out lap and I hadn't gone quicker and I was having a few more out the seat moments which meant I had to much grip. This is because when I have slide ,which happens nearly every corner, the bike grips then it puts you out of the seat where as previously I would have a slide and it would come back gently rather than snapping back, so obviously I would go back the old setting for the race. The session ended and didn't go any faster after lap 10 so it put me 5th in the group A session, all I had to do now was wait and see how group B went. I went back to awning for a debrief whilst group B went out for their session. After what felt like an age their session came to a close and I ended up 13th overall. I was a bit disappointed with the place but I was happy with the lap time. Once the lap times were released I studied them and seen I was only one tenth off of a front row start, this proved the race was set to be a close one.
Sunday Warm Up- We were scheduled to go out at 9:00, it was a bit chilly and the track temperature wasn't that warm. I didn't want to throw any chances of a good race out the window by chucking the bike up the road so I took it easy. However, we did try some new gearing to give my more drive out of Graham Hill bend as thats where I was struggling. The gearing felt a lot better so it was decided to leave it on for the race.
Race- 13th on the grid, row 5. 2:15 and the lights went out for the race start. I made a good start getting up to around 10th. We all plunged down into Graham Hill bend and two riders crashed in front of me but I managed to miss them. As I came out clearways, the final turn, the red flags came out. As we waited in pit lane for a fair while it was obvious that two riders who had crashed behind me where seriously hurt. As the this past week has progressed news has been released that the two riders are both critical but stable conditions so I send all my thoughts and prayers to them and their families. After everything was sorted and cleared up the race was restarted. As the lights went out I made another good start getting up in to around 10th again. Straight away I made a pass in to 9th and was feeling like I could make a pass for 8th. On lap 3 I made the pass for 8th and was hunting down 7th. I followed 7th place for 3 laps and worked out where I was stronger than him and made the move on his weak section of the track. With 6 laps to go I was catching 6th place and was feeling really good on the bike, as I got right behind 6th place man I could see we were also catching 5th place so I decided to stick behind the rider in 6th as I knew for fact he would try and get me straight back meaning we would trip each other up and 5th place would pull away again. The last lap flag came out and I wasn't ready for it as I was really enjoying the race. I knew I had to make the move for 6th but I just couldn’t find anywhere to get by as he was riding defensive. As we entered the last turn t he rider behind me made a late move and surprised me, then it was a drag race the line where he pipped me by less than a tenth of a second. Overall I was really pleased with the race because I went forwards, I had a good battle and I felt my race craft was improving which is what im there for. In addition, I put in my best lap time of the weekend with a 47.758 which is only 0.3 off the new lap record.
In conclusion, the weekend went very well with another top 10 position and it now leaves me 5th in the championship. Roll on Oulton Park on the 2nd,3rd,4th of May.
A big thank you to all sponsors for their support, it is massively appreciated!
Big thank you to John Mushet and Ken Bailey for the photos!