WSB | Donington Park
Round 4 and we were all set at the British round of the World Superbikes championship. With good weather forecasted and all the big world stage teams being there I was hoping for a good weekend and I was aiming for a podium finish in the race.
Free Practice- after waiting all day until 6PM for my practice I was raring to go out and get some laps in. With the settings in the bike from Donington round 1 earlier in the year I could feel immediately the bike was handling well. With our practice being late in the day the track temperature was down therefore the lap times where a little way off. However, after my first 5 laps I was in the 1:35’s meaning I wasn’t far away and when I came in to the pits on lap 6 I was in 4th. After being in the bits for 1 minute we made no changes and I headed back out on track with 11 minutes left of the session. When I was in the pits I looked at the sector splits and it became apparent that I was losing a lot of time in sectors 1 and 2 therefore I was focusing on getting those sectors dialled in. With 6 minutes left of the session I had strung some low 1:35 minute laps together leaving me in 5th place. 2 minutes to go and my best lap time was a 1:35:3 so my last lap I aimed for a high 1:34, after sectors 1 and 2 it was looking g ood but then as charged through sector 3 I made a mistake and lost around 1 second so that put an end to that. In the last 30 seconds I got bumped in to 5th. This session felt good and after a post-practice debrief we made a few changes to the front end to make it steer better when trail braking.
Qualifying 1- this weekend I had both my qualifying sessions on the same day whereas at a British Superbike events they would be on separate days. This didn’t make too much difference so I was looking forward to both sessions. The aim was to be on the front two rows, so in the top 6. The session started and I headed out to scrub my new tyres in and then get straight in to it. Immediately the other riders where banging in quick laps so on lap 3 of the session I was straight into the 1:34’s and I was matching my personal best from earlier in the year of a 1:34:5. All was feeling good and on lap 5 I stuck in a 1:34:1 which put me 3 rd with around 10 minutes of the session left. After this lap I came in to the pits and had a look at the timin g screens. I had made good improvements in sector 1 but I was still losing a fair bit of time in sector 2. No changes made and I headed back out on track to try and break into the 1:33’s. As I came to the end of my out lap I came upon a group of riders which I had to get through quick as I didn’t have enough time to slow up and let them go, annoyingly I wasted about 2 laps getting through which left me another 2 laps to put in a faster lap. Unfortunately when the session ended I didn’t go any quicker and I think I was trying to hard which lead to me making too many mistakes and losing to much time, again sector 2 was my slowest part of the track so I had some thinking to do on that ready for Qualifying 2. However, I did suffer with brake fade in that session so we made a change of brake pads for the second qualifying session to hopefully help me anchor up for the corners.
Qualifying 2- This session was late in the day, like free practice, and the track temperature was down. After my out lap it was clear the new brake pads made a big difference so I was feeling confident of getting that 1:33 lap. My first flying lap and it felt like I was on for a good lap. As I crossed the line my lap timer on my bike flashed up 1:35, I had to take a double look at this as it was much slower than I was expecting. 3 laps later I was still doing 1:35’s and I couldn’t get my head round why I was going much slower. I came into the pits after 5 laps and I was still in 5th but not many people had gone quicker. So I knew I had to go much quicker and I tried to smooth things out as again I thought maybe I am trying too hard. This approach definitely improved my lap time from a 1:35 but it put me on a 1:34:2 which is 0.1 of a second slower than my qualifying 1 time. As the session ended I was 8th meaning a third row start for the race. I was disappointed with this result but I was looking forward to the race as it was set to be a close one.
Race- Starting from 8th and I knew my first lap was going to be crucial so making a good start was key. When the lights went out I made a good jump moving up into 7th for the first corner, with everyone shuffling around and it getting close I made a pass in sector 2, my worst sector, and moved up in to 5th. As I plunged down the back straight I knew I had made a good start which was what I needed if I was going to get that podium. With another good passing place coming up, the Melbourne Loop, I was looking to make another position up. As we all headed down in to the loop it all bunched up. Unfortunately I didn’t make it out of the loop as I was involved in an incident with three other riders. To say gutted would have been an understatement, but at the end of the day that’s racing and it’s going to happen unfortunately. In addition, I did break my little finger in two places and after a hospital appointment this week the doctors told me they want to operate on it but the final decision is up to me. With Snetterton fast approaching and me being in the hunt of my first podium I said I didn’t want it done as I feel it will not affect me on the bike. So full steam ahead to Snetterton on the 19th -21st of June.
I would like to say a massive thank you too all my sponsors for their support as without any of them I simply wouldn’t be on track so I hope I can repay you all with some more top results and some good weekends of racing.