Big Learning Curve For MIST Suzuki At Oulton Park
After taking the double win at Thruxton MIST Suzuki were looking forward to seeing the podium once more at Oulton Park. Having been stuck in the UK since the last round due to the Volcanic Ash situation rider Dave Anthony spent his time rebuilding the race engine in the bike and relaxing ready for learning his way around another new track on the SuperBike.
Reluctant to make any changes on the bike for the first session Dave spent the whole session out on track to get a feel for the place and came away 17th overall and fastest Evo bike by 1.27 seconds. Second practice had him in 20th place and second Evo after experimenting with tyre pressures although normal service was resumed in the third session in 18th and over 0.6 seconds faster than any of the Evo runners.
Some minor changes for qualifying and Dave easily made it in to the second session, improving his best time once again, to line up first Evo rider in 19th on the grid. Things were looking good for race day although the weather forecast was not quite so optimistic. For an Australian who is now settled in California the opportunity to ride in the rain is fairly rare so plenty of fingers were crossed the weather would remain dry.
A poor start in race one saw Dave drop to 25th at the end of the first lap with plenty of work to do. He soon found his feet and fought his way through the pack. Despite a significant power deficit he was running some 1.2 seconds a lap faster than the BMW in second place and soon caught him. A momentary lapse of concentration causing him to briefly run off the track but he collected himself and made short work of the new five second gap. With his rhythm now broken it was a struggle to make a pass that would stick and he crossed the line as the 3rd Evo bike, and 16th place overall, just 0.1 seconds adrift having set the fastest Evo lap of the race.
Things looked good for the second race until the clouds opened 20 minutes before we were due on track. The rain stopped as abruptly as it started only to restart a short while later. We were given a seven minute practice to get used to the wet conditions only for the team to discover one of the front discs was causing braking problems. With no time to change it, and reduced time on the grid due to the delays, Dave was going to have to ride around the problems in the race.
With no experience on how hard to push off the start Dave struggled and was was soon relegated to 26th place (out of 27 remaining runners) over the first couple of laps. Aware that he already had a 27 second deficit over the BMW that was running in 12th place at that point Dave gradually picked up the pace as he got the hang of the conditions and chased down some well established SuperBike riders as he moved forward.
As a number of riders struggled they were soon passed by the Suzuki that just got faster as the race went on. Dave was soon racing over four seconds a lap faster than Brogan on the BMW but just ran out of laps at the end finishing just three seconds behind at the flag and posting a faster lap time than overall race winner Michael Laverty’s final lap. Finishing 16th overall once again and 4th Evo was a testament to just how quickly Dave got to grips with the conditions, especially as he was getting faster as the race went on.
Team Manager Mike Edwards was still positive despite only making one visit to the podium, “We have to be pleased with our performance despite not being able to repeat the race winning form from Thruxton. We led for most of practice and qualifying only to be punished for a solitary mistake in race one when Dave ran off the track and then problems due to the weather in race two. Our tyres lasted so well in the wet that had the race run for the full eighteen laps instead of fifteen I am confident we could have made up several more places which would have assured us a place on the podium.”
He added “We are still waiting for some parts for the bike that should help improve the handling and we have to find some sponsorship if we are to make Cadwell Park in three weeks time. We have shown what we are capable of and are even more convinced we can win this championship with the right backing.”