After an interesting period where I was forced to learn a new bike, track and team in the one weekend it was a massive relief to finally arrive at my home away from home Assen, the Netherlands. I was greeted by my local supporters and the kind of weather that you would normally have to travel to multiple time zones all at once to experience!
Track time is incredibly vital to myself and the team at this point as we are a couple of steps behind in development to the other teams. Unfortunately mother nature is wasn’t very interested in our plans as she intermediately sprinkled us for all three days on track.
Fridays first session was exciting as I got to showcase my new Gearlink coloured Scott Leathers. Then on lap two I almost put them down the road, when hitting oil that had been laid down by John Hopkins bike exploding. I hit the oil on the brakes in an up right position. luckily only losing grip for a short time resulting in a small off track excursion. It was amazing to finally be on a track where I have some experience at in order to more clearly diagnose the issues with our ZX10. We ended the session in 21st, with some valuable data to take into the second session.
The second session saw a slight improvement but was again affected by rain reducing our dry track time to the last 15 minutes of the session. We were able to try a few set up changes but we were still not able to find a comfortable setting finishing the session in 20th position.
Saturday mornings final free practise was as the previous morning with a down pour an hour before the session was due to start. We did how ever get some valuable wet set up laps done in preparation for a wet race on Sunday. Qualifying was to every bodies surprise actually bone dry, I got out of pit lane with the first main group but ran into traffic on two of my three flying laps. We then got our first opportunity to test the grip of the SC0 rear tyre that most riders prefer, I was able to find just over a one second in lap time which placed me 19th on the grid for Sunday race 1. We did learn some valuable lesions in the superpole which will help us move forward in Silverstone in the next round.
Race one started off really well as I moved myself from 19th to 16th off the line. I felt comfortable on the bike until the rear grip started to become an issue on lap 5. I could see that everyone around me was in the same boat so I pushed on having a handful of moments, until an unfortunate mechanical problem caused me to retire.
Race two was interesting to say the least! The delay prior to the start was caused by rain showers that were appearing on half the circuit making it unsafe for race direction to make a wet or dry race decision. The situation came down to a decision needing to be made, so the race was declared wet and the riders and teams had to make a decision on tyre choice. With dark clouds looming I decided to go with the intermediate options tyres front and rear, which tend to hold more heat in the slightly damp area’s of the track. I again got a cracking start but only moved up a couple of positions as everyone bottled necked into turn 1. I pushed on during lap one feeling out the grip managing to start passing rider after rider, thinking our tyre decision had paid off! By lap 6 I went from 20th to 9th and felt strong as I started catching the leading group. On lap 8 the troubles with rear grip began, the track had completely dried and my tyres where starting to overheat! I could see on my lap board that a rider was only one second behind me but before I got round to see my updated pit board three riders who were on full slicks had passed me and managed to get away fairly easy. I was then passed by another handful of riders as I managed the mass amounts of wheel spin and lack of front stability. 18th was a disappointing result as the promise in the beginning was great to see.
All in all I must say I had a fun second race running with some of the factory riders. Silver stone is another track I have raced at in the past so I’m looking forward to pushing for points there in two weeks time!