Matt Bond, 13/06/08 – 15/06/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Friday – First Practice
The track was pretty much 50/50 in the morning, with a bit of laying water and damp patches all the way round the circuit, but we chose to go out on a full dry set-up and go form there.
The first couple of flying laps were fairly uneventful and I was feeling happy and comfortable on the bike, then it started raining enough for me to have a few big moments, at which point I just chose to ride back to the pits rather than risk dropping it in first practice!
We waited in the pits for a few moments and just watched the screens to see if anyone was starting to improve their lap times, and after about 10 minutes it became apparent that the track was dry enough to go back out and try a few new things.
I completed another handful of laps and was improving each section lap by lap, but really enjoying my time out on the undulating circuit, the banked turns round the back of the track were different to anything else we’d ridden all season.
I was pretty happy to come in 21st after the session, even though it was obvious there was room for major improvements, but we were heading in the right direction.
Friday – First Qualifying
Thankfully, it stayed dry for the first qualifying session, making set-up our primary concern for the afternoon. We changed the rear shock between sessions, to a newly built Ohlins from Andreani, it the search for more grip and we also made a small adjustment to the preload and compression on the forks.
I got a good few laps in to begin with and then returned to the pits just to make a few more clicks of adjustment to the back of the bike to help get grip and drive out of the bends and took some preload off the forks to help turn-in on the brakes at the first turn and last section of the course.
The rear was starting to deteriorate and was spinning and sliding all over the place, making the bike go in some interesting shapes! It got to a point about 20 minutes form the end of the session where it was not doing us and favours, so I entered pit lane and let the team put a new rear in the bike.
With the new tyre the bike was a lot easier to drive out of the bends, and made edge grip mid turn, a lot more usable, allowing me to get onto the gas a lot earlier. I was having some problems on corner entry, and carrying my speed was very difficult due to the front end problems, which I was trying to compensate with by sliding and steering with the rear of the bike.
I got some good tows but had a few big slides and scary moments and really didn’t get the best lap I could have behind the faster guys, but 27th wasn’t a bad end to the day, all things considered!
Saturday – Second Practice
I wanted to try a few things in second practice, just to again try and improve lap times and consistency, which were the two key areas that we were somewhat lacking in.
A few more tweaks o the suspension seemed to make the bike a lot firmer mid turn and on the exit, keeping optimum grip whilst allowing me to push the bike and slide to a comfortable extent. It was a very good positive feeling, and was inspiring me with confidence with each lap I was completing.
I still struggled with the final sector of the lap, finding it hard to carry speed up the hill and turn on the gas, but after a few brief words from the boss I changed my line and approach and again it felt like it improved things, helping us reach our goals before the second qualifying.
Saturday – Second Qualifying
All was good and set on the bike ready for qualifying two and as we exited the pits and entered turn one, all the hard work the team and I had done went to pot, as the heavens opened and we suffered a major rain downpour that made the track extremely slippery.
It took ages to get back to the pits but when there the guys got the tyres changed over and we just waited for the rain to cease so we could get out and test in the wet for the first time all season.
The track was really strange, half wet, and half dry and I just focused on progressing throughout the session, trying to find a good set-up and was pleased to end the session in a decent tenth place, although I wouldn’t be any higher on the grid for it.
Sunday – Race
After the damp conditions in second qualifying I was kind of hoping for the race to be in the wet or similar conditions, but it was dry, but I was still happy as at least the track would be predictable!
I got a good jump off the start and after avoiding the chaos of the first turn crash, I slipped up the inside of a few guys and made a few more places around the first half a lap and then began to settle into a rhythm. I got into a good sized pack with Gareth just ahead and was tailing them for a couple of laps and making good time until a big high-side threw me right out of the seat on the exit of the chicane. I somehow managed to save it but had to take to the grass and three or four guys got by underneath me.
I worked my way back past a couple of them, but then the group ahead had got away and I was having to work really hard just to get back in touch and at the head of the guys I was battling with. The bike was feeling okay, but I’d lost confidence in the rear end after the high-side a few laps previous.
Towards the end of the race I was simply just tucking in as much as I could and really battling for my place on track. It was getting really close between Sachetti, Sach and me, with us each making moves on the others at almost every turn. It was good fun but I was gutted when Sach beat me to the line. At least I still managed to beat the factory Ducati of Colucci!