Brands Hatch, UK – Race

Matt Bond, 10/04/09 – 13/04/09
British SuperBike Cup
Round 1

Friday – Free Practice

First time out on the bike in a much higher spec than anything else I’d ridden was a completely different experience. The speed and power of everything was remarkable. The engine was great! Fast acceleration, but smooth, and the top end was unbelievable!

The Ohlins suspension was also hugely impressive, giving great feedback and feel along with loads of confidence. But the most noticeable improvement was the brakes. After years on stock brakes, the Brembo’s were another world. So strong that every time I pulled the lever my eyes near flew out of their sockets! They were however very stable.

It didn’t take too long to get used to everything, including being back on the Indy circuit. I just focused on getting comfortable and getting a base set-up for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday – Free Practice

We were focusing on improving the bike and the lap-times throughout the day, a job made much easier with the adjustments we had made to the bike’s suspension.

The bike became a lot more stable on the brakes, turned a lot faster and still held the line really good. I could feel the surface of the circuit perfectly, which made planning and attacking the lap much more precise and effective. We also had good consistency.

I began to work on adapting my riding style to the Superbike in the afternoon as well, even though I have been on a 1000cc for the last two seasons. I was using more of the track and taking a much wider, sweeping line into the turns, using the extra grip from the slicks and extra braking power from the monoblock callipers. It was something that I developed throughout the weekend.

We attempted race simulations, but to no avail as the weather was not on our side due to the rain interrupting the sessions.

Sunday – Free Practice

For qualifying day we were simply looking for some more out and out pace. A few more changes to the bike seemed to cure some of the problems from the start of the weekend.

I was still struggling to really get on the gas hard and early, while everyone around me seemed to be able to thanks to the combination of wheels and tyres they were on, while we were using the stock rims. Fortunately we found a good solution, and found a better balance in the bike, which helped us get back to where I was happy with the handling and grip.

Sunday – Qualifying

During qualifying I’d got into a good rhythm and felt happy and confident on the bike. The softer tyre compound was working well, and gave so much feedback it was amazing. I began to push really hard, braking later, turning harder and faster and get on the gas much sooner and it was all feeling really good. Then the gear lever snapped off, and completely broke my rhythm.

The team did a great job getting me back out for the last few minutes but by the time I’d got my head back down the session was over.

Monday – Race One

Race day started good in warm up. We were well on the pace and I was feeling really good. We had a good set-up on the bike and were happy that the tyres would be more than capable of completing the race distance.
Sitting on the start line I was prepared for the race, even though I was extremely nervous! As soon as we were away from the line for the warm up lap, the apprehensions I’d felt drifted away.

I made a good start away from the line, only to get a little boxed in around the opening turn. I made a good exit and got back a few places at Druids, only for the work to be lost after someone decided to make a bit of a do or die move two corners later, forcing me very wide through Surtees. Then we got to Clearways and all just somehow went very wrong!

As I started coming out I pinned the throttle, hooked fourth gear, tucked in and then bang! There was just a bike upright and rider-less right in front of me. I had no where to go and no time to react, I just hit it full on. I can remember just seeing the fuel filler cap before sliding down the road on my backside.

Instantly my foot and groin were hurting and I just simply couldn’t move, maybe it was shock, but it certainly hurt!

All the medics and marshals did a great job, and I was quickly whisked away to the medical centre, where the doctors patched me up really well. I was lucky to get away with just a small fracture in my right foot and some bruising and grazing around my groin, but it was down to the great protection from all my kit.

I was gutted for the team and sponsors and everyone involved with us this year, we’d all put in so much hard work and effort only for this to happen, but it’s not the end by any means.

We’re going to come back, faster and stronger than before, plus we’ll have more bits on the bike which will make a massive difference. So for now I’m going to relax and recover and get back training as soon as I can put weight on my foot. Then at Oulton Park, we’ll show what we can do!

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