Lots of Positives to Take Away from Brands Hatch
Well I made it through my first weekend of Superbike action on the Brands Hatch GP circuit and although the results maybe don’t show it just yet, I really enjoyed every minute of it on the Tyco BMW, powered by Cool Milk of course!
Brands was only my second ever race meeting on the bike after my debut at Snetterton a couple of weeks ago, but the TAS Racing prepared BMW S1000RR is starting to feel like my own little baby, and did so as early as the opening free practice session at Brands.
There are lots of positives to take away and I’m just working through the plan set-out for me by my crew chief Stuart Johnstone, who is one of the most experience in the business. His game-plan is for me to learn the bike and understand what I have underneath me; then find the limits of the current set-up before we make significant changes. I’m doing that. I’m listening and learning. All the time!
The pace this year in BSB is ridiculously quick. I’ve scanned last year’s results at Brands and analysed the times and it’s impossible to compare one season against the next, but I’d have scored points last year and my best lap time would have put me ahead of some fairly decent names.
The goal in qualifying is to get within that 1.5 seconds of the pole time, but the way Shakey was riding [in the races] it’s more realistic to be taking that from P2, even though some of the boys in the team have said the bench mark is the top six time – or the top rookie – as above that will take a season to break into at least.
The feedback from the boys in the Tyco BMW team has been good, and if you’re not used to the usual Irish type abrasive but friendly banter, then at times you would need thick skin, but they are a top bunch and make you feel mega welcome. But no one gets put on a pedestal in this squad – I can tell you that for sure!
Of course there are so many things I need to work on and I’m still learning the bike and will be for a while; adapting my style and making sure not to make mistakes. My team-mate Christian Iddon scored a great podium in race two at Brands, but did complain of being a bit rusty not having raced since May. I hadn’t race since last October and have never really raced a Superbike competitively – so bear with me.
That’s not an excuse as I’m not one for making them, just a fact that I have to keep telling myself when I throw my leg over a 220bhp motorcycle, although I’m loving every minute of it.
When you break it all down, it’s really only down to a couple of tenths per sector, we are not a million miles away. But then again, it’s down to putting the racing jigsaw together and the quality of the field in BSB is second to none. Down with me fighting for single digit points in race two was former World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli.
I was able to make a few moves on him and apart from the consistency and learning to get the best of my tyre in the closing laps, I didn’t feel out of my depth and he’s no slouch. I’m hungry to get into the points, but you learn nothing upside down in the gravel traps, so I’m conscious not to be crashing all the time. It’s baby steps for me and I think personally that’s the best way to learn.
I just need to keep fit in between rounds, as I’m doing with my gym and cycling sessions and the more track time I get on the beautiful Tyco BMW, I know I will make progress. Judge me at the end of the season at Brands.
Keep the faith in #18 and keep popping into say hello as I love mixing with the BSB fans.
Big thanks to RST for my leathers, Alpinestars for hooking me up with some amazing boots and Red Torpedo for the casual clothes. Thanks also to Alan Finlay at RJs for sorting my trick new helmet design and of course my personal sponsors Cool Milk, IMR/Evolution Camping, Milwaukee Power Tools, Dave Kane Cycles and Blackwater Graphics.