Matt Bond, 07/09/07 – 09/09/07
FIM European Superstock 1000 Cup
Friday – First Practice
The first session was really just a shakedown for myself, having not ridden for nearly 5 weeks I was a little apprehensive, and not even close in terms of speed and confidence, as to where I should be and previously was.
Either way a few laps in and I was starting to get my head round things and just focused on going forward bit by bit and finding out what the bike was doing and how the track was, the latter being incredibly inconsistent and very slippery.
The lack of grip did play a few games with my head, but I just got on with it, and felt much improved by the end of the session.
Friday – First Qualifying
Just going as fast as possible in this session was going to be key as it looked like the next day’s qualifying would be wet, and therefore a lot slower.
I really put in all my effort throughout the session, and used as many people as possible to help get the best time possible, even if I only managed to stay on them for a few turns. It helped just showing me where I should be on track on some of the more complex sections of track, and helped speed up the process of getting used to going fast after the lay-off I endured.
My lap times really improved and we worked on the settings of the bike, especially with the suspension, which needed a lot of softening, just to try and get some grip and feedback from the front end of the bike. It defiantly helped, but a small interruption and red flag didn’t. I was on my fastest first two sections and then had to pull into the pits as someone decided to jump off.
Saturday – Second Practice
As we predicted the heavens opened and the track became exceptionally slippery, with many people falling foul to the conditions, fortunately I wasn’t one of them, and spent the session getting an ideal set-up from the bike as we hadn’t enjoyed much time to test in the wet.
It was a really progressive session and the bike was getting set up better each time we made adjustments. I still didn’t have as much confidence in the front end as I would have liked but we were getting there and I was beginning to feel more comfortable riding in the wet than I ever have before on the big bike. A few adjustments to the back of the bike helped stop some of the wheel-spin and helped keep the bike a lot more stable mid turn and on the exits of the tighter turns.
I was a lot higher up in the time sheets than in the dry conditions the previous day, so I was cheered up by that fact and began to hope we’d be having a wet race on Sunday!
Saturday – Second Qualifying
I went faster than the mornings session and was really chuffed with actually being inside the top 20 for a change. I managed to get in a fair few laps and the bike was really feeling good, but still a bit too hard on the rear end so we decided to chance it and put in a new rear spring, slightly softer than what we had in, for the following day.
Even so I still used the time to get myself sorted with different lines and using different reference points, just in case I ended up somewhere on track that I hadn’t been before! It was useful to see how it affected the speed at which you could turn and corner in the wet, and lead to further improvements.
Sunday – Race
It was a bit hit or miss as to what the weather was going to do, but finally it made its mind up and stayed dry for our race, somewhat of a pain in the backside for me as I knew a wet race could see me well unto the points, but for the dry all I wanted to do was improve.
Despite one of the Alfa pace cars dropping its entire internal fluids over the track right on the final complex, and the very clever marshals using water to wash it away making it exceptionally challenging, we were under way in dry and overcast conditions!
I made a decent start, despite getting forced wide at the opening turn, and just tagged onto the back of an R1 and used him as my marker. Straight away I felt a lot more settled and back to riding at a decent pace. I did my best to hang onto the back of the bike in front but he just gapped me after we passed a couple of guys and I had no answer for him.
I just got my head down and rode just like I was learning a new circuit and made small improvements lap after lap, then Greg Gildenhuys (Sorry if spelled it wrong mate), the South African on the second of the Pedercini Ducatis caught me.
I was determined not to let him past and I instantly went a second a lap faster, thanks to Greg’s pressure, which was kind of a motivational technique for me! I could hear the big thunderous sound through the first half of the lap as he closed in, but id manage to stretch away from him in the latter half.
I was relieved to see the last lap flag come out and I just dug really deep and managed to keep enough distance between me and Greg to come out on top in our little battle, even if we were near the back half of the mid pack I was still jubilant! I’d managed to match the lap times of the guys in the points so I was pleased with the effort of myself and also all the work the team had done.
Next up we have Vallelunga in Italy, a completely new track to many of the riders, including myself, hopefully we can build on this meeting and keep moving forward over these final rounds!