Brno, Czech Republic – Race

Gareth Jones, 18/07/08 – 20/07/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 6

Friday – First Practice

Three weeks after Misano we were back at Brno. We did a test at Brno before the Misano meeting, so it was the first circuit since Valencia, that I had ridden at before the round. I was really glad that at least we could go there for the race, with a basic idea of a setup to start with. I really liked the track as well, it was one of the longest, widest and one of the most challenging circuits I’d ridden at before.

In first practice the track was very dirty and slippery. Lap times were way off and it was only a matter of a few laps before the tyres were absolutely torn to bits. I was 17th in this session, however with the bad track conditions, most riders put in their fastest lap within the first 4 laps, so the positions were sure to change and times would drop considerably in the first qualifying session.

Friday – First Qualifying

After watching the time sheets from the other classes, times were dropping and the track was obviously getting quicker so I was keen to get back on track for the afternoon 45 minute qualifier. With a few adjustments, I tried to use the session constructively, as tyre ware, particularly front, was going to be a factor, and I needed to get in some good laps while the tyres were good. A lap time of 2.06.0 put me in 16th. I wasn’t too disappointed with this as I knew there were a few key changes we could make to assist with set up, I just hoped it wouldn’t rain for the next qualifier, as the weather was overcast and trying to rain.

Saturday – Second Practice

Superstock is out first up on Saturday morning and we were using old tyres in this session. Times would depend a lot on how well I could push on these tyres and more importantly how long they would last. We made a fork spring change and it certainly helped hold the front up more on corner entry where the front had been pushing. We made several changes during the session and I managed 13th fastest. Nevertheless, this was only free practice but we were moving in the right direction and this gave us a good base for some minor changes for the final qualifying at 4:45 that afternoon.

Saturday – Second Qualifying

The clouds had threatened rain throughout the day but luckily it held off giving everyone the chance to better their starting position. I was confident with new tyres that I could improve my first qualifying. I waited until I could find a clear patch of track and put in a few hard laps with the new tyres. I moved up to 13th on the grid from 16th, before pitting to make further changes. However in the closing minutes of qualifying I couldn’t get a lap together clear of traffic to improve further, but 13th has been my best starting position to date so I was happy that with a good start and consistent laps I could be much further toward the sharp end of the field.

Sunday – Race

Sunday morning and clear weather was sure to mean a dry race and 9th in the 10 minute warm up was a good start to the day. An hour later we gridded up to race. I got a solid start and was 11th across the line on lap 1. The immediate pace was quick so I pushed hard early on the stay with it and moved up into 9th before long.

The front group of 6 riders pulled a lead, then Seato was in a very lonely 7th, then trailing him was the group I was in, consisting of riders from position 8 to 15th, which was a freight train of hargy bargy, where we were constantly changing positions, banging fairings and elbows. I didn’t want to destroy my tyres early on, however my pit board said +0 every lap so I tried really hard to make a break from the group. About mid race distance I managed to move into 8th to lead the pack, nevertheless it was a real dog fight for every inch of track.

The 12 laps of the 5.5km Brno circuit went so fast, and before I knew it, the old last lap desperates were coming into play. I changed positions 3 times on the last lap and after some very close tussles I crossed the line 11th. It would have been nice to have finished in 9th where I was for most of the race, but it was definitely a hard fought race, lots of fun and quite frankly, with the way we pushing for positions, it was a big possibility that any one of us could have come down!!

We only have 4 rounds left in the Championship so I’m hoping to get a few solid finishes under the belt. Next weekend is Brands Hatch which is about 4 hours from where I’m living in England. I have ridden the short circuit there but not the actual long track that we will be racing. Who’s betting on a wet race???

Talk to you all soon.

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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