Matt Bond, 21/07/06 – 22/07/06
European SuperStock 600 Championship
Friday – Free Practice
A few weeks on from the very disappointing round at Misano where I took an inadvertent grass tracking experience, no thanks to a fellow competitor who shall remain nameless, I was in good spirit as we rolled into a lovely sunny and chuffing warm Brno.
After walking the track with Mike “The Fountain of Racing Knowledge” Edwards, also known as Boss, we had found a few decent reference points, which were to be put to good use in the first few minutes of the opening session. It was all going to help us get through the very undulating circuit very quickly; well that was the plan anyway.
The opening few laps were just spent riding round, trying to make sure all the bike was set up fine and see what the lines were and how they came into play with the reference points we’d noted down the previous night. Within a few laps I’d got into the swing of things and began to up the pace slightly, despite many of the top guys already going balls out, I was content to speed up little by little.
A few scary moments lead to me pitting in just to discuss with the team what the bike was doing, gearing and a quick update on place, time, etc. A few words of encouragement and advice form Mike saw me get back on track on go slightly faster, although not much and I was still languishing down at the bottom of the time sheets, which was really disappointing.
Friday – First Qualifying
The plan for qualifying was really quite simple; get a few laps done on my own then get a tow and do not let them getaway. Sounds simple right? Wrong! I completely stuffed it all up. As soon as a tow came along they were either far too fast or I was trying to follow from too far back or I made a mistake. It just all seemed to be going wrong.
I flew back into the pits just to try and sort my head out mainly, and try and get some advice from Mike. I just couldn’t get it right it seemed and it was being reflected in the times, they were, to put it bluntly, crap.
I’m guessing the words worked as straight back onto circuit and the times began to improve once again and it all became a little bit faster and a little bit smoother everywhere. I began to hold onto the tows a little bit better and was able to stick to them long enough to see and try some new lines. A little bit more work on the bars and counter-steering seemed to work a treat, although there was still more to come. Despite this though the times did improve form the morning session, and despite not many changes in the place I was running in, the pace itself had got a second and a bit faster, so we were heading in the right direction.
Saturday – Second Qualifying
With a relatively poor first session I was determined to improve, and with a few more laps of walking round the track and with more reference points in the forms of crash and tyre marks, I was sure I could go forward rapidly, and hopefully be close to the top 15 or 20 by the end of the session.
But once again nothing went right, even though I did make a marginal improvement in my lap time. The only problem being so did everyone else around me, and some of them made big leaps, thus making my improvement negligible. The efforts were seemingly going to waste and as the temperature was rising it began to take its toll.
Loss of concentration at points left me making mistakes for a few laps but then I again improved in time, but when the flag came out I was really no higher up the grid than where I started, even a local wildcard had got a better time than me, which was really frustrating.
Looking at the sector times it was clear that I was losing lots of little bits of time and would really have to push come the race.
Saturday – Race
It was hot sitting on that grid, really hot, but it didn’t seem to be on my mind. All I was focusing on was the start and getting into the first turn fast, hard and in a better position than where I was sitting at the very moment in time.
I flew off the line, perhaps a little too well, and made an excellent first lap, ending it inside the top 20, and I managed to avoid all the carnage at the second turn, which looked like it hurt! Then the red flags came out. Doh! I was well away and into my stride and rhythm. Never mind, I’d been in this situation before, so I wasn’t too worried or bothered. I just knew I had to do it again.
Now the second start was good, better than the first, and the first lap was really good to, only problem was a great big yellow board with my number on it. I’d jumped the first start! I stayed out for all three of my allotted laps, whilst battling for 16th, and then shot off into the pits for my ride through. I was gutted and annoyed and really pushed hard as soon as I got back on circuit, but I began over riding and pushed just too hard. It knackered not only myself, but the tyres too, and the times just slipped away.
End of the race and I was gutted and really disappointed. I knew I’d have had a good result, as the guys I was battling with ended 13th, so I’d have easily grabbed some points! It was an awful weekend really and I was just so disheartened by it all, worst thing was, I’m sure I didn’t jump that start! But you can’t argue, so I got to accept it, I’ll be right next time though!
Well next round is Brands, the homecoming so to speak. This time I got no excuses! I know the track and like it, the bikes are working great and I’m gonna clear my mind before we get there. Fingers crossed it’s a good one. Top 10 here I come (although I really want a top 5!)
Wish me luck; I need it after these last two rounds!