Portimao, Portugal – Race

Matt Bond, 31/10/08 – 02/11/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 10

Friday – First Practice

The track surface was still nearly brand new, and still very dirty, thus making it extremely slippery, and very much a one line affair, plus, to top it all off, it was raining!

The first plan of action was to learn the circuit and figure out which lines were the best to take and also which parts of the track had more or less grip than the other sections. It was pretty apparent that the whole place was very slippery, due to the new surface, and much of the track was holding standing water, especially in the braking zones, making things very treacherous.

After about half the session I had a decent idea as to where I was going and begun to string a few faster laps together. I wasn’t really pushing due to conditions, but still attempted to put together a smooth and consistent lap.

Friday – First Qualifying

Slightly better conditions greeted us in the afternoon, and it filled me with a bit more confidence than in the morning. I wanted to get a feel for the track to begin with, an then push harder later on as the track improved further.

I got in some good early laps, and found out where the grip was and how hard I could push in certain places. The track was by no means completely dry, but it was the best we’d had so times were improving throughout the session.

I made a few adjustments in the pits to try and help the bike hold the line better mid-turn, which was proving hard on the faster parts of the track. The bike was also very light at the front end tended to wheelie easily. A few clicks solved the problems.

I managed to get a handful of good laps, but none were perfect and I knew I could have done better if I’d have clamed down and relaxed a little more, but overall I was happy, and knew what needed to be done for the following day.

Saturday – Second Practice

The track conditions were no better than the day before, which was a bit disappointing really as we’d all hoped for it to be dry so we could get in some decent fast lap times and find a good set-up.
I got into a decent rhythm early on and was just focusing on stringing together laps, relaxing and smoothing out any problems I had with the wet conditions. I was still feeling pretty anxious in the rain, and I had to focus really hard just to keep myself steady and stable.

The times weren’t too bad, and I began to feel more confident, so we gained a lot of positives from the session, mainly with the bike.

Saturday – Second Qualifying

It was lovely and sunny up until about half an hour before our session and then the heavens decided to open. Pants! I was looking forward to a dry session, and had a really good idea of what was needed from me and he bike to go quick in the good conditions.

Anyways, we set about the task at hand and decided that the same idea of consistent and constant laps was the best way to go, and would ultimately result in better lap times.

Needless to say they did improve, all be it in small chunks, but it was again a positive outcome, and everything had headed in the right direction once more.

Sunday – Race

Well it was the driest it had been all weekend come race day, and although the track wasn’t 100% it was as good as it would get, so we slung in the intermediates and just went for it.

I got a good start, only to be boxed out at turn one, leaving me further back then I had hoped to be.

This meant charging through for the next few laps, getting by people wherever I could, whilst trying to avoid hitting the wet patches and risking a fall. I had to make a few risky manoeuvres, but they all seemed t work ok, and nothing really too scary apart from a few slides occurred.

Once I’d managed to get through a few guys I focused on the group ahead, and tried to chase them down, but to no avail. The gap stayed constant no matter how hard I tried. I just stayed in my rhythm and kept pushing as hard as I could, and with two laps to go I could feel the pressure of being closed in on.

On the last lap I just held my line as best I could and then a small mistake let the rider through. To my surprise it was Gareth, and I tried my best to get back by him but there just wasn’t enough time or room, and we crossed the line side by side. And that was the end of the season!

I spent the cooling down lap reflecting back and just playing on the bike, it would have been rude not to! A few wheelies and skids for the people in the stands and then it was back to the pits and to the end of the race year!

It wasn’t that bad a way to end the season. I fought to the end of the final turn of the final lap, and gave it 100% all weekend, and we came away with our heads held high really. I’m pleased with the season overall and I’ve been able to see how I improved as a rider. Now I just can’t wait for the new season and the new bikes! Watch this space!

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