Positive steps for MIST Suzuki at Magny-Cours
7 October 2008
The weekend started out wet, much to the team’s dismay, although it does seem to be the norm at Magny-Cours and can change quickly.
Being first out for free practice session wasn’t helpful although things have been delayed by fog in previous years so maybe 4 degrees and raining wasn’t all that bad.
Due to the absence of Team Manager Mike Edwards who had been admitted to hospital at the last minute the suspension duties fell back on the Andreani Group who didn’t have time to fit softer springs before the riders were due on track.
Despite this Gareth managed to get up to 19th in the first session, with Matt back in 32nd place after only managing 4 laps as he persevered with suspension set-up.
The weather didn’t improve much for the first qualifying session. Although the temperature was up, well I guess 12 degrees counts as up, gusty winds and a wet track proved to be challenging for the riders. Both riders struggled for set-up and the session ended with Gareth in 28th place and Matt 32nd after just a handful of clear laps.
Only a few laps were completed in the second free practice session as there is a limit of three sets of wet tyres per round and the team wanted to save the all important second set for qualifying in the afternoon. Nevertheless, with an improved set-up using softer springs, Matt was already in 36th place after 2 laps (out of 41 riders) and Gareth finished in 23rd having done just 8 laps.
The second qualifying session was finally dry and the team focused on working on dry settings for the first time. Both Gareth and Matt were building confidence, which was reflected in their final standings – after 8 timed laps, Gareth climbed to 23rd and Matt to 26th. Front-running regulars sat between them in 24th and 25th – BSB SuperStock and former SuperBike rider Peter Hickman and series regular, and podium finisher, Andrea Antonelli.
With a dry race, Gareth and Matt were able to achieve strong results, with 17th and 23rd respectively at the flag. Gareth battled with Davide Guiliano to lead the third pack for the majority of the race. At half the race distance, Gareth’s bike developed an electrical fault causing the electronics to go in to a reduced power ‘limp home’ mode, but he rode hard to maintain his position.
After being held up for several laps by Ronald Ten Napel letting the pack in front get away, Matt pulled out 0.5 seconds a lap, reeling them in over the next few laps. A couple of mistakes allowed Peter Hickman to catch up and a close fought battle ensued with Matt, Hicky and Pauli Pekkanen on the factory KTM. All three swapped places several times a lap for the remainder of the race. Still in with a chance he overtook both riders on the brakes at the end of the last lap, only to run wide, and was beaten to the line by a narrow margin.
Mike Edwards, Team Manager
“The team did a fantastic job, despite the weather conditions and my absence due to illness. The finishing positions didn’t reflect their pace or the close battles with those around them. Overall, it was a really positive weekend with much-needed improvements in the suspension set-up. The final round at Portimao is up next, where no team has tested. I am confident that both riders will score points next time out.”
“Magny-Cours was a hard but good race. I made a couple of mistakes, which allowed Hicky and Pekkanen to catch up. They managed to get by, but I passed them on the final lap, only to run wide at the end, losing my position. A positive and enjoyable race overall.”
“This was one of the hardest races of the year. I almost got caught out by Guiliano a couple of times, but had a great battle with him, Schouten and Antonelli. Everyone’s results were all over the place, but I’m pretty happy considering the conditions throughout the weekend.”