BSB | Outlon park
Bank holiday weekend, we were all set and ready for round 3 of the BSB Superstock 600 championship where I went into the weekend 5th in the championship. My aim for this event was to finish in the top 10 and go faster than I did last year with a laptime of a 1:42.2.
Free Practice: With light drizzling during the night we woke up to a damp but drying track, we were scheduled to go out at 9:00AM and at that time the track was 95% dry. With no changes, apart from gearing, from Brands Hatch, I went out just to get a feel for it.
Once I had completed 6 laps I came in and every lap the track was improving. Whilst in the pits I had a quick glance at the timing screens to see I was 4th and 0.7 off of 1st. As I left the pits and done my outlap I found myself with clear track so I could concentrate more on my lines and braking points. Within 3 laps I went a second quicker which put me in to the low 1:43’s which was good enough to keep me in 4th with around 8 minutes left of the session. 4 laps from the end and I came across a group of riders which I picked off one by one again leaving me with clear track for last 3 minutes of the session. My final lap and it felt much quicker, I hit every braking point and every apex throughout the whole lap which gave me a 1:42.9. This lap time retained my 4th position leaving me with lots of confidence for Qualifying 1. After a post practice debrief I felt it was unnecessary to make any changes as the bike was handling very well and the bike was pulling every gear perfectly so we decided to leave the bike for Q1 later on that day.
Qualifying 1: At this stage in the weekend the weather forecast for the next day and qualifying 2 was set to be torrential so Qualifying 1 was looking like it would determine our grid positions for the race on Monday. 15 minutes before the session and the track was dry but then drizzle set in leaving half of the track dry and the other half damp, everyone opted for the dry tyres. With the first 4 laps being very steady and finding the grip levels I decided to push on a bit harder from lap 5 onwards, lap by lap I was dropping seconds off my time until I found pace in which I could lap consistently. Lap 6 and I crossed the line to see P2 on my pitboard, this was great to see and I knew I had some left to give. As I got to turn 8 on lap 7 the rain really started coming down so all 49 riders came in to the pits with 8 minutes of the session left. It was great to see my name in 2nd, I waited 8 minutes anxiously to see if the rain would ease up and if anyone would go back out. Fortunately the rain got harder and I kept my 2nd position. I was over the moon with this result but I wasn't celebrating to much as I knew the weather forecast can change rapidly so I had to wait to the following day.
Monday, Warm up: With sun beating down on the track the conditions were the best they had been all weekend. Generally warm up for me is just a quick session to check everything is all good for the race. But this weekend I went half a second quicker than I did in qualifying so I was feeling very conf ident. Knowing I could do a 1:41:2 in warm up I was aiming for a 1:40 in the race.
The Race: With a hard 14 laps ahead of me I aimed to keep clean and stay out of trouble in the first few laps. Once I settled down after the first lap I found myself in 4th chasing down the leading trio. On lap 5 I was into the 1:40’s which was very pleasing. Early on in the race tworiders in front of me crashed leaving me running in 3rd and in the leading pack which was great and was good tv coverage. I battled for 3rd all race long and kept dropping my times down to a 1:40:2. This was a massive positive as I was a second quicker than warm up and only 0.2 of a second off of the lap record. In the closing stages of the race I was challenging for 3rd spot as the front two had pulled a few seconds gap. Going in to the last lap I felt much quicker than the man in 3rd but it was just finding a way past. As we plunged down to knickerbrook chicane I out braked myself and had to run on to the grass which left me to cross the line in 5th. Initially I was gutted but after reflecting on the race I was very happy as my lap times where very good, the bike was amazing, I was feeling confident and showed great pace.
Qualifying 2:Sunday, we were scheduled to go out at 2:15. After checking the weather forecast regularly it was apparent the weather was going to be good and there was no chance of rain, plus waking up to blue skies showed the weather was going to be great. So I had to do it all other again and qualifying 1 would be irrelevant as the conditions where much better for Q2. With track temperatures about 10 degrees warmer than Q1 I knew times would tumble so I had to be on the pace. As the pitlane opened everyone raced out, I held back to keep out of any battles. After my outlap I was feeling good, within the first 3 laps I was straight in to the 1:42’s. The bike was feeling good and so was I. On lap 5 I was seeing 4th place on my pitboard. This was looking great but I hoped to improve on this. Laps 6 and 7 were very congested so I came in to the pits with 10 minutes to go. I was told that I was losing 0.4 of a second in sector 2, so I knew I had lots of time to be made. Knowing this I concentrated on sector 2, within a few laps I was in the 1:41’s. This laptime bumped me back up to 4th after dropping to around 6th. With 5 minutes to go I tried get a fast lap in but I came across lots of traffic, the session ended and I got pushed back to 7th which was still a good result but I was disappointed as I knew I had some left to give. Again the bike was handl ing very well, I was 0.9 off of pole and I was certain the time to be found was just in myself and my riding as I was happy with the bikes performance.
Overall another good weekend and I am now 4th in the championship and looking forward to round 4 at Donington Park on the 22nd-24th of May at the World Superbikes event where our championship has its 4th round. It will be great to see some of you there and I would like to say a massive thank you to all my sponsors for their support.