After a really tough start to the 2015 BSB season the decision was made to make the switch of teams to Gearlink Kawasaki for round 9 of the 12 round season. Oulton park, a track I’ve done minimal laps at was the scene for my debut with the Gearlink team. A team that has had amazing success in the Supersport class in recent years and now on a mission to find success in the superbike class.
Friday was a day of learning, I had to learn the team, bike and track, so lap times were only improving in little bits. We did how ever make some decent steps forward with bike set up. When I originally sat with Gearlink team owner Michael we agreed that this round would be primarily a test weekend due to the nature of our new partnership.
Saturday morning’s first session was exactly what we didn’t need, a half wet dry session where progression came to a halt. It was a bit of fun to get out on the damp track but the dry patches randomly placed around the track caused the tyre to tear and only last 15 minutes before it was rather second hand (I did have a lot of fun running around side ways though). Next session was Qualifying, We decided to stay on the SC1 compound (medium) compound rear tyre as we had made some major geometry changes and needed to compare the results with the same tyre as we had previously been on to be sure if the change was positive or not. I did improve my fastest lap time of the weekend, but it was only good enough for 26th position on the grid and I would not progress to the second superpole session.
R1 Next session was the start of the triple header round, where we would do three races instead of the standard two a weekend that the BSB normally run. We made some major changes to the front of the bike before race one in order to gain some stability during acceleration, which we managed to achieve although it did make the bike a little more physical to change direction. I was able to move past a handful of riders, but spent the majority of the race alone, finishing in 17th position and also improving my lap time by over half a second.
Race 2 of Sunday morning brought some much needed sun light to the track. I managed to get one of my best starts of the season moving up to 17th position in 2 corners. I started to feel confidence in the front of the bike again which helped me to improve my lap time lap by lap until the last lap of the race. I was now in the lap time bracket to get into the points but made a slight mistake and ran wide at the bumpy turn 1. I re-joined immediately after and finished in 18th position.
Race 3 we opted for the softer option of the rear tyres as it was the preferred tyre to be on in the previous two races. I again got off to a great start and made up several positions until Tarran son of Neil Makenzie got a little excited and pushed myself and two other riders out at shell hairpin, leaving me back in almost last position. I started to get my head down but quickly realised that the grip level in the colder conditions in fact caused the SC0 option tyre to produce less grip than the harder SC1 option I had been on all weekend. Not improving in position or lap time in the last race was extremely disappointing and hard for me to swallow to be honest bit was more of a test for myself and the Gearlink, team who have been incredibly solid and professional while handling my transition to the team.