Valencia, Spain – Race

Gareth Jones, 03/04/08 – 06/04/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 1

I’ve been over in England now for a month, and the weather here has been rather brisk with peak temps during the day around 9 degrees. So I was looking forward to heading back to Spain ready to start fresh after my not so successful test. I couldn’t wait to get on the bike. This was my first round at a world event and I knew the pace would be hot straight off the bat and with limited track time I was hoping that with the help of Mike and the team that we could get the bike sorted.

Friday – First Practice

Friday practice was upon us very quickly after the tedious job of scrutinizing the bikes and getting the pits setup and ready to go. There was a lot to take in but with all of Thursday up our sleeves I got to know how things worked, my new team mate Matt was very happy to help and im looking forward to working with him this season.

We headed out with a new suspension combination in the first practice session which I immediately had trouble with, so I was in and out of the pits frequently making adjustments, even though it was only first practice it was an anxious time as I was trying to make use of every minute. With 40 bikes on the track there were a lot of people to contend for a line with! Before I knew it the checkers were out and it was time to pit and debrief with the team what information we had gathered and make changes accordingly.

Friday – First Qualifying

We had a lengthy discussion about where to head however for the second practice/qualifier that afternoon the changes we made didn’t really give us what we were looking for. Once again I can’t stress how hard the team was working to try and get it sorted for me. It’s great to be surrounded by people that want to achieve the best possible result we can come up with. It was a challenging day and used as more of a test session, but sometimes in racing this is how it is and getting things right doesn’t always happen first go.

Saturday – Second Practice & Second Qualifying

Saturdays schedule was somewhat as per Friday. With the first session of the day being practice and the second session the final qualifier. By this time I was getting to know how the team was working and we were all becoming a much tighter group. Getting to know the team is just as important as getting to know the bike really. As we hadn’t made a lot of progress with the bike on Friday I was hoping we could turn that around with some better results with the bikes setup. I realized time was getting slim and we were still having trouble getting everything working as I wanted too. Unfortunately time got the better of us and I ended up in 25th on the grid, less than desirable that’s for sure but Mikes outlook was very positive and the team was still trying everything to find a setting for race day.

Sunday – Race

For me race day came far to early, but nevertheless it was time to do my best with the settings we had come up with. I knew that finishing the race was of absolute importance here. Before the race I was quite stressed and I hadn’t been stressed at a race track for a long time, I wanted like any ride would to have had more time to get everything right but this is the way it is. Mike was very supportive and even 5 minutes before the race we were still discussing settings.

I lined up on the grid hoping that I could get a way to a good start. That way I could at least try and make up some positions before turn 1. I got away well and was 21st at the end of lap 1. My plan was to ride the bike as smoothly as I could and finish the race with making up as many positions as I could. But plans don’t always go the way you hope.

Before the completion or lap 2 I was on the outside of another rider when he ran wide pushing me out with him. I had no choice but to run it straight on into the gravel. I was lucky to keep it up right! The field was still very closely packed at this stage and I rejoined absolutely dead last with the next rider nearly a straight length ahead.

The day was really not going to well for me by this time. I had no choice other than to push on and finish the race and make up what positions I could. I finished a disappointing 31st. It goes to show that racing is not always fun and games and tough weekends happen. Mike and the team gave their best to me and I worked with them getting to know how they operate along the way. I cant thank them enough for giving me their best and I look forward to Assen where I really hope to turn things around and start fresh. I have a great bike that has lot of potential and a great bunch of people trying to achieve the best result along side me.

Thanks as well to Matt, my new team mate who showed me the ropes and got me up to speed with how the European meetings operate. I look forward to reporting back with some good results form Assen!

About Gareth

D.O.B: 24/02/87 Height: 187m (6'1") Weight: 74kg (11.9 stone) Gareth Jones embarked on his official racing career in 2003 aged 16. Despite being the youngest rider in the class, he placed 2nd in the Australian 250cc Production Championship. Gareth finished runner up in the 2004 National Superstock Cup in Australia. In 2005, at the age of 18, Gareth was awarded the inaugural Reece Bancell Scholarship and became the first superstock rider to place in the Top 10 of the Australian Supersport Championship in his first year. Gareth completed three successful seasons as a privateer in the Australian Supersport Championship culminating in 7th place overall in 2007, in a field dominated by factory teams. In January 2008 Gareth earned his first works sponsored ride with the Brian Bernard Yamaha Team in the New Zealand Superbike Championship. Gareth placed 3rd overall in the five race New Zealand Superbike series and in addition won the “King of the Streets” title, winning all three Superbike races at the Paeroa street circuit, setting a new lap record in the process. In addition he finished 2nd at the famous Wanganui Cemetery Circuit (the southern hemisphere’s Isle of Man). This was particularly remarkable because Gareth was riding a 600cc Supersport bike against his opponents 1000cc Superbikes. Gareth arrives in Europe off the back of a successful winter’s racing in New Zealand and looks forward to the challenge of mastering the major European tracks, on his MIST Suzuki GSXR1000, in the FIM European Superstock Championships, as part of the World Superbike tour.
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