Matt Bond, 15/06/07 – 17/06/07
FIM European Superstock 1000 Cup
Friday – First Practice
Thanks to the Italians doing there usual trick of leaving things to the last minute, and not finishing the resurfacing of the track until late on Thursday night, I did not even get to do a lap around the new configuration of the circuit, until the opening session of the weekend.
Going onto the circuit via the opposite end of pit lane and going clockwise did feel a bit weird at first and the new sections of track they’d added over the winter months really has changed the character of the place, for the better I reckon! The new surface was really greasy and dirty and made the whole session difficult when combined with learning the new circuit.
Despite this the front boys, who had already tested at the track went instantly fastest, even with Claudio Corti finding the ejector seat button right in front of me. At least I was not slowest, and I was ahead of one of thee guys who’d already been on the new circuit!
Friday – First Qualifying
The track was much better for qualifying, and it showed as everyone went lots faster, especially myself, who, thanks to a newly fitted Yoshimura ECU, went an amazing 6.4seconds faster! Half was down to the way the bike was working really well and the other half was me finally getting confidence in throwing the bike into the turns.
I finally felt confident to run the front hard into the turns, trail the brakes and the newly smoothed power curve made getting on the gas a much more controllable and easier task, compared to when I last rode the bike. It made the whole session more enjoyable than pretty much the entire season has been.
It was pleasing to close the gap on a lot of the “faster” guys ahead of me, who were usually a lot further ahead than in this session. I was a little gutted that Baz (Burrell) got the better of me at the end of the session. But I was confident there was much more to come.
Saturday – Second Practice
Once again the track improved and the times got that fraction faster, especially towards the middle of the grid, where everything closed up to the smallest of gaps between riders.
I made a small improvement, but was mainly focusing on lines, markers and combining corners into a flowing movement. I also tried many variations on lines through the complex to try to improve on the entire section, as that was my major dud area of track. Still the improvement took my closer to the top guys, so it was all heading in the right direction!
Saturday – Second Qualifying
I had to go from the off in this session, with it being so short, and instantly I dropped another second off my previous best lap time, mainly thanks to a balls out approach to the final section, where I felt particularly strong.
I then focused on really nailing each corner and just going forward in small bits to make up the time. A tenth here and there and it all started to pull me closer time wise to the leaders. Position on the grid was improving too.
The final 7 minutes of the session was when I was meant to get a tow, but I couldn’t find anyone so I just thought “stuff it, if I bin it trying, it happens!” and I really put my head down. I knew the lap was good as it just went together so easily and I got the last three turns absolutely spot on, and when I got back to the pits and saw 28th I was chuffed. It was my best qualifying by a long way and I was only 2.5 seconds off pole, which is much better than before. That’s was the main thing we focused on, that and only being 0.9secs off of Brendan Roberts! (Ever get the idea that beating him is my main aim this season?)
Sunday – Race
A nice steady warm up got me settled into things, and a few more minor adjustments on the suspension following the advice from Andreani and we were ready to roll.
I got a good initial start, but got boxed out going through the opening turns, and really had to fight to get a line through the turns safely. I tagged onto the back of Marko Rothlaan and closed into the back of the next group by the end of the lap. From here he got passed Marko Jerman, who I then got stuck with for the next two laps, and eventually I just made a dive for it and got through, and then proceeded to pull away instantly and onto the back of the few riders ahead only for the red flags to be bought out.
Well, I started in the same spot on the grid for the restart, but this time got away a lot better, began moving forward a lot more rapidly, and was passing and battling with people I have not been against before. However, two laps in the rear really began to slide and was getting worse lap after lap, making it a real struggle to get on the gas. I think it must have been a dodgy tyre as the suspension had been spot on throughout warm-up. I just tried as hard as I could for the final laps, and was really chuffed to cross the line in 22nd, which became 24th on aggregate time, but it equalled my best result of the year, and this time I done it in the dry, on equal terms with everyone else.
I’m really chuffed with how the weekend went, and at last I feel like we’re going forward with everything. Myself as a rider confidence wise, and the bike in terms of development and competitiveness. I can’t wait for Brno, it’s going to be awesome!