Gareth Jones, 27/06/08 – 29/06/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Friday – First Practice
Two weeks after a chilly Round 4 at the Nurburgring in Germany, we headed to The Misano Adriatica in San Marino. San Marino is a Principality of Italy on the East Coast. I was told the atmosphere there was always exciting and the weather scorching hot, and we were not disappointed. We arrived on Wednesday night in preparation for setup and Thursday’s usual scrutineering. We don’t have a rider’s brief, as the schedule remains the same for the whole series and the rider’s brief was conducted at the first round in Valencia.
All prepared and ready to go for Friday morning, I was keen to get onto the track and get in as many laps as possible to learn the layout, as again this was a new circuit to me. Unfortunately and quite frustratingly, only a few corners after heading out on track I had an immediate brake problem; the lever was coming further in towards the bar with every squeeze.
The lever has a remote adjustor on the left bar and I wound it in further and further to no effect. I pitted immediately and tried to resolve the problem. The adjustor appeared to be unwinding the lever, after a number of unscheduled pit stops, it was finally revealed that the cable that winds the position in or out had split and was just spinning. Finally a quick fix in pit lane and I managed to get in 4 flying laps before time ran out.
Friday – First Qualifying
Onto qualifying and I was hoping to learn the track properly and make the right changes with suspension to allow me to at least get a decent time on the board. For this round we had another revised shock setting which definitely helped grip a lot from the rear but immediately proved to have a tendency to push the front. We made what changes we could in pit lane but I could only manage 25th. I was 8/10ths outside a top 10 at this stage. There was so much more left in it, so it was now a matter of trying to get a feel out of the front end of the Suzuki.
Saturday – Second Practice
For Saturday morning’s free practice we made the decision to try a substantial change to the geometry of the bike and also a gearing change, which unfortunately didn’t give us the desired result, but nevertheless, we made use of the time on old tyres to try something new. This gave us some idea of which direction to head for Saturday afternoon’s brief qualifying session, which was a lot more productive in finding more time, but not positions, as everybody else also moved up the order.
Saturday – Second Qualifying
Unfortunately with no prior testing at these circuits, time is very limited to get a decent set up. We also had an incident in this qualifier, resulting in my quick release fuel cap flying off on my out lap, in the fast sweeper, so I got covered in fuel and had to pit immediately. Luckily because of the very hot conditions, we had a couple of large bottles of water on pit lane and my crew was able to immediately douse me with that to get rid of the fuel! Looked like 24th was to be our starting point, again 8/10ths of a second behind a top 10 and 1.6 seconds from pole. Although the position was far from ideal, we have been really trying to get the feel from the bike and we are making some progress, albeit slow.
Sunday – Race
Sunday morning’s brief warm up was again another chance to try a subtle change which felt to be a slight improvement. I was hoping to get off the line quickly and make up positions in the early laps and also hoped to avoid any first corner pile up’s that have plagued the Superstock 1000 class this year. The lights went out and I got absolutely swamped in turn one. I needed to make time up fast, the group ahead of me quickly cleared the first lap car park so to speak, and I knew it was going to be very difficult to catch up.
My race was then about staying on, and trying to move up the order. I managed to make a lot of time up in Sector 2, which is a little more open and flowing than the rest of the circuit and I crossed the line in 16th. Although not the finishing position where I’d like to be at the end of a race, I know if I can get in some better qualifying laps, I can make improvements in my race position at the next round at Brno in the Czech Republic.