Assen, Netherlands – Race

Matt Bond, 27/04/07 – 29/04/07
FIM European Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 3

Friday – First Practice

Just to get things sorted was really all the session was about. Checking that my wrist had repaired itself okay thanks to Brian Simpson, and to make sure the bike was all good and straight.

The track seemed a hell of a lot different on the big bike compared to the 600, and it was strange to find out just how much different all the lines and reference points were. Considering last year I was confident and settled with the bike, this first session seemed a bit un-nerving to say the least!It went well and towards the end of the session, I focused on just getting the bike turned faster and improving entry speed into the turns. Working on flicking from one side to the other in the final chicane was a key area, despite the pain it caused at times to my left hand.

Friday – First Qualifying

It was going to be hard to make up the amount of time I needed to work my way up the grid, but despite my improvements, it was not enough. I was struggling to get the power down on the long right-handers, and despite running more corner speed, I was still way down the grid. I was not last but I felt like I was.

The chicane was continually difficult, and despite working on it and getting more aggressive each lap, I was still failing to get through and out of it fast enough. A small run on at the middle chicane when trying to brake ridiculously late was unsettling and everyone I tried to follow either would sit it up or were far too fast for me to use them for more than a turn or two. It was frustrating, but improving lap times were the positive.

Saturday – Second Practice

Again, the focus was on getting into and through the corners faster and harder, which is exactly what I did. An adjustment on the body position was also being worked on, but it is definitely going to take a little bit of time to adjust myself on the bike, it is a hard task to tuck in when you a lanky little hooligan! I am sure I will get it sorted by Silverstone!

The session was progressive and it felt a lot better, right up until the final lap, when the bike started to judder badly, but I thought it was just me on the brakes. Then it done it repeatedly and I sat up, scared that I had broken something, which I had. Returning to the pits to find a load of oil leaking from the shock and all over the rear of the bike was not what any of us wanted to see. At least I stayed on it this time, one more lap and things could have been a whole lot worse.

Diagnosis was that the damage had been sustained in the Valencia crash and the main casing on the shock eventually just gave up and spilled its guts all over the place. Fortunately, the lovely people at Andreani built me a nice new shock and it saved my weekend. Cheers for buying it boss!

Saturday – Second Qualifying

Go fast, go hard and get further up the grid was the plan. New shock made a world of difference and the bike seemed like it wanted to go round the bends this time, which was nice.

Better lap times again proved we were heading in the right direction and I made a place up on the grid, but was still languishing near the back, so I was not too happy, but at least we were heading forwards. Again, it stayed rubber side down for the first time all season through qualifying, which was nice. Maybe I would be riding without any damaged bones for a change! The chicane was pretty much sorted now and even thought there was room for further improvement, I had been getting it through it much faster and it reflected in the lap times.

Sunday – Race

Getting through the first turn would be an improvement on last year, and then get with the group in front and see what happens, was all that was going through my mind before the start.

I got off the line well, but as soon as we hit the middle chicane, it began to go a little bit pear shaped. The bike was running wide all over the place, and I could not hold a line at all. Everyone was coming past me after two laps and I just could not keep pace. Consistencies was pitiful and try as hard as I could to get the bike turned, I just could not hold any mid turn speed, and it just went to pieces.

I was running the front into the turns hard, nearly hitting everyone up the arse, but then the bike would just run out wide and I could not get near them on the gas. It was frustrating and thought I got into a battle with Gianfordini I simply could not keep up a decent pace.

It was a positive race despite the somewhat disappointing result. I got the chicane 100%, I got my turning into bends sorted, I am running more corner speed and angle than before, and we are starting to get the new bike really well sorted. Fingers crossed its better at Monza! I like that place a lot.

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