BSB | Outlon park
Round 10 of the Superstock 600 championship set in Cheshire at my favourite track, Oulton Park. With there being a bit of everything in track, positive camber, negative camber, tight chicanes and fast flowing corners I was looking forward to it as always.
Free Practice- 9:00AM Friday morning my practice session commenced. With a very good round here earlier in the year I was aiming for another good weekend. The practice session was very mixed conditions with overnight rain causing one half of the track to be dry and the other half wet leaving us torn to decide
whether to run wets or dry’s. I started the session on a set of wet tyres which are very good and provide lots of grip. However, after doing 4 laps it became clear the track was too dry for the wet tyres therefore I came into the pits. After waiting in pit lane for 10 minutes we made a final decision to use a dry rear tyre with a wet front tyre which would give me confidence through the damp sections. After my out lap I was confident we had made a good choice and I became more confident each lap which saw me move up the timing sheets every lap. My last lap of the session put me in 12th but as the session ended I got bumped down 14th. This session didn’t prove anything so our first proper dry session was going to be Qualifying 1 later on that day.
Qualifying 1- with the settings in the bike from earlier on in the year I was looking forward to a good qualifying session, the sun had come out and the track conditions where perfect. As the session began I headed out with some clear track and got my head down. After 3 laps I was lying in the top 10 and I was aiming to stay inside that top 10. On lap 5 I had done my fastest lap at that stage of the session with a 1:41:872. This was good but quite a way off my personal best of a 1:40:2 so I knew I was capable.
I could feel the rear end of the bike was squatting down to much every time I put the power down and it was reducing my rear end grip. With 9 minutes of the session remaining I came in to pit lane for a few minor adjustments on the rear end to try and improve the grip. With just enough time to do 4 quick laps I improved my time by a few thousandths of a second with a 1:41:802 which put me 13th position at the end of the session. I wasn’t satisfied with this result however with some adjustments I felt I was capable to go forward. After a debrief we decided to try and stiffer rear spring on the rear to prevent the back end squatting down to much which in turn would provide me with more grip.
Qualifying 2- overnight rain made the conditions very similar to free practice therefore times where not going to be improved. I exited the pits with a new dry front tyre and scrubbed dry rear tyre, I came in to the pits immediately as the track was to damp in places. I wanted to do a few laps towards the end of the session when it dried out more just to see if the changes we had made where going to be beneficial. 8 minutes left and left the pits. As I entered turn 1, old hall, I hit a wet patch and lost the front end. In addition, as the front tucked the rear gripped and threw me over the top leaving me hitting my head on the deck and the bike doing many barrel rolls. The bike had a fair bit of damage and I had sustained an injury to my thumb. X-rays later showed a broken thumb, my first question was ‘’can I ride tomorrow?’’ and they said ‘’if you pass our fitness test, then yes’’. After a couple hours rest and getting the bike rebuilt I went back for the fitness tests, which I passed…just! Not how qualifying needed to end up as it was going to make the race much harder but it’s a mistake I have definitely learnt from.
Race- with a sore thumb and starting from 13th the race was going to be very challenging as always. As the lights went out I made a good start putting myself up in the mix. After the first lap I could feel the pain in my thumb but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. As the race progressed I found myself in a battle for 8th which was good considering the state of my thumb. However, the changes we made to the bike had improved the rear but unsettled the front end on the fast corners. Every lap I was swapping positions and paint so I was enjoying the race. I got down to a 1:41:2 which isn’t near what I have done which disappointed me. With 3 laps to go I was starting to feel my thumb pulling under braking but I tried to put that out of my mind and make some moves, the last lap came I was staring down the back of a top 10 which I tried everything to get but I couldn’t quite find my way through which left me in 11th. If you had said to me after my crash in Q2 I would finish 11th and stay in 8th in the championship I would of bit your hand off so all in all it wasn’t a total disaster. However I was hoping for another top 5 like last time at Oulton Park.
When I got home from Oulton Park I headed down to the hospital to get my thumb checked. After more X-rays I was told an operation was needed next week. After telling the doctor I had two more rounds left and I would do everything in
my will to be there he compromised and has allowed me to have it done at the end of the season which now allows me to go and keep my top 10 in the championship. At the moment my thumb feels relatively strong and I am having laser treatment to get it stronger so it doesn’t hamper me for the final two rounds.
Up next is Silverstone on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of October so as always I am aiming for a solid 10 and to keep my 8th in championship and hopefully improve on that. Thank you to all my sponsors, especially to Southern Van Services and Kerry Rawson Photography for making the trip up and I hope to see you at the next two rounds if you are available.