Brno, Czech Republic – Race

Mike Edwards, 21/07/06 – 22/07/06
European SuperStock 600 Championship
Round 5


The thousand mile outward journey was always going to be a trial but not as much as the thirty eight degree heat once we had got there. Managed to arrive fairly early in the van with one bike but had to wait another six hours for the truck with to arrive before I could go to bed. Shame they had to park outside as security wouldn’t let them in to the circuit in the middle of the night.

Brno proved to be a fantastic circuit, rather like Cadwell Park meets Brands Hatch GP circuit but with even bigger descents and steep climbs. Just walking around it was hard work yet alone having to learn how to ride it whilst trying to keep up with all the guys who had raced here the year before. Having discussed the necessary reference points and suggested lines on the walk round there was nothing to do but wait for free practice to see if it would all come together.

Gearing was going to be pure guesswork so we opted to stick with what we had on for Misano and see if the riders could get a tow from someone who knew the place to help put the theory in to practice. Both riders struggled with gearing and were losing a lot of time in the first sector of the circuit due to it’s complex nature. Matt ended the session in 32nd position with a best of 2’19.743 with Chris back in 36th with 2’23.990, almost 1.914 seconds behind the next rider. Pole man, Xavier Simeon, managed to put in a 2’13.569 lap suggesting that he had been here a few times before.

A couple of extra teeth on the rear sprocket sorted the gearing and after some analysis of the sector time breakdown and discussion about lines for a couple of the more unusual turns left both riders feeling more confident. The sudden downpour of rain unsettled everyone although it felt just like home to us Brits! As usual we split the first qualifying session in to two after giving each rider specific tasks to concentrate on for each outing. Matt and Chris made some good progress, with particular improvements in the first sector of the track, despite there being some very wet sections left on the final up hill sector of the track. Matt completed the first qualifying session in 30th place with 2’18.590 and Chris in 33rd with 2’21.026, a good improvement all round, especially as the pole time was now 2’14.389.

Another opportunity to walk the five kilometre track allowed for further discussion on braking and turning points and some valuable reference points to help with track position in a number of the tight left/right kinks. The pace was obviously going to be quicker with a totally dry track so it was time to make the most of the limited knowledge that Matt and Chris had built up and concentrate on making the most from getting towed round by faster riders. The plan worked with Matt up in 28th place and a 2’17.236 lap and Chris improving to a 2’19.152 despite being in 35th place.

The start went almost to plan with Chris running in 23rd with Matt all the way up in 17th hounding the group ahead who had qualified much higher up the grid. After two laps having knocked another second of their fastest qualifying times the race was red flagged and a full ten lap restart ordered. At this point the whole team got nervous as we only had measured enough fuel for 14 laps thinking that would be more than enough for a decent safety margin. A sighting lap plus a warm up, two race laps, a slowing down lap and now another sighting and warm up lap followed by a ten lap race really was pushing things a bit far so both riders went out with instructions to go as slowly as possible on the warm up lap to conserve fuel.

Back on the grid for the restart and Matt made another good start and was up to 22nd by the end of the first lap. Shame he had to restart from his original qualifying position of 28th though! Another lap and he was in 20th being held up by another rider in the corners. Chris meanwhile was caught up in a great battle with seven riders and was gradually picking his way through each one getting faster and faster all the time. Fortunately the track was quite wide and he had been practicing different lines through some of the corners to improve his options when overtaking.

Just as Matt was looking like he could make a move on the next rider we were informed that he had apparently jumped the start to the first race which, despite us thinking the full re-run made it null and void, meant he had to undergo a pit lane ride through penalty. Obviously we were somewhat less than amused, particularly as we had watched the original start and were convinced everything was okay. Rather than ignore the penalty, like at least one other rider which would have resulted in a black flag and exclusion from the race, Matt diligently came through the pits and set about reeling in the guys that had overtaken him.

Chris had made it through to the front of the pack he was running with and was soon catching one of the usual front runners who had qualified a full 3.5 seconds a lap quicker than him. Despite some valiant efforts the final turn had yellow flags out due to another incident and his over eagerness to get on the throttle led to a slide which cost him any chance of passing before the line. He missed out on 18th place by just 0.071 seconds but was elated to finish 19th with a best of 2’16.358 – Almost 2.75 seconds quicker than qualifying. Amazing what having a target to chase can do!

Matt meanwhile had made his way up to 27th place and a best of 2’16.190, a further improvement of 1.1 seconds a lap. The disappointment was made even worse when the rider he had been held up by earlier in the race finished in 13th place. To miss out on more points after being run off the track at Misano was almost too much to bear.

After all the concern about not having enough fuel in the bike to cope with the full length race restart Matt’s bike eventually died on the way back from Parc Ferme, less than 500m from where we were parked. A bit close for comfort!

If only the guys didn’t have to learn a totally new track each time I really think they could shine in this class. Every time we run through a set of tasks to help them learn the circuit and they are managing to learn each new circuit faster than before but even the places where they should have a home advantage, such as Silverstone, have proved frustrating as only British SuperBikes run with that circuit configuration so they had no more idea where half the circuit went than many of the competition.

After another thousand mile drive home everyone is really looking forwards to the next round at Brands Hatch GP, both because this is the one track on the calendar they know and also because it is a 40 minute drive rather than a 16.5 hour one! Fingers crossed for a good results in front of our friends and sponsors.

Mike Edwards
Team Manager – MIST Suzuki

Would like to thank main sponsors and Steve Jordan Motorcycles for their never ending support and the help given to the team from B & C Express, Dyna Pro, Pipercross,, S&B Commercials and Silkolene.

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