Donington Park, UK – Race

Gareth Jones, 05/09/08 – 07/09/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 8

Round 8 of the FIM Superstock 1000 Championship at Donington in the UK finally came around after a month long break. The weather forecast was for drizzle, fog, rain, wind and thunderstorms, and that’s exactly what we got. The only relief we had was a brief moment on Thursday during setup, and intermittent parts of Sunday afternoon. I was confident of a good result, not deterred at all by a full wet weekend.

Friday – First Practice

Unfortunately the start of my weekend didn’t go as planned. In the early laps of first practice, on Friday morning’s rain soaked track, I highsided coming onto the straight out of the final hairpin. Not only was I then missing a lot of track time, but I also sustained an injury, in the form of a fractured scaphoid to my left hand.

Friday – First Qualifying

I headed into the afternoon qualifying session feeling worse for wear, however I was determined to put it out of my mind and start afresh. The pace was getting faster and I was still learning the track, so becoming familiar with the conditions was the most important thing. There were parts of the track that were very grippy and others, such as the final hairpin, that were catching riders out all day. 77 riders actually crashed on Friday alone.

Saturday – Second Practice

With the data we had gathered from the Friday afternoon session, I was feeling more confident with the conditions. This reflected in Saturday morning’s session, where I found quite a lot of time and more feel with the bike.

The weather conditions remained much the same all day, so at the very least the track was fairly consistent going into the final qualifying session, but with a glimmer of the rain easing, Saturday afternoon was the best the track had been all weekend.

Saturday – Second Qualifying

By this time my left wrist and hand were quite stiff. We are extremely fortunate in the WSB paddock, to have the services of Clinica Mobile, a tremendous group of very professional medical staff, who do an amazing job with the riders (and paddock crew) attending to all injuries, aches, pains and complaints. They operate, suture, x-ray, bandage, massage and whatever else is needed to keep the riders safely on track. On each occasion, prior to riding, they injected the area with several doses of anesthetic to numb the majority of the pain.

I went into the final session feeling cautious.. The rain had stopped but the track was still completely soaked. I felt my way around for most of the session before putting my best time in on the last lap. I qualified 19th. I wasn’t concerned at this stage as we were working on my pace through the last sector of the track, where I was losing most of my time. I had a lack of feel from the rear end of the bike when opening the throttle hard off slow turns, however my first 2 sectors were reasonably on pace.

Sunday – Race

I was 14th in Sunday morning warm up. By the time we were taking our grid positions the rain had stopped and there was much less water sitting on the track, and a couple of riders gambled for intermediates. We opted for full wets. The first lap of the race was carnage, a few riders went down right in front of me and I had to brake heavily to avoid them on more than one occasion.

By the time I came over the start finish line I had lost a lot of time and the race had spread out quickly. I crossed in 16th and the riders immediately in front of me were holding me up so I pushed hard to make a pass out of the old hairpin at the bottom of craner curves. Disappointingly, I pushed just a little too hard too soon and highsided out of the race.

It was a very frustrating moment and although I tried to rejoin the race, the brake lever had lost pressure so continuing was impossible. It was my first DNF this year. Over to Magny Cours in France in a couple of weeks for next round. I look forward to speaking 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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