Matt Bond, 25/05/07 – 27/05/07
FIM European Superstock 1000 Cup
Friday – First Practice
Despite living in the same country as this round, I had not actually tested at the track since racing here the previous year in the 600 class, so it took a few laps to get everything back in place, the lines, braking markers, apexes, etc.
After a few laps I was feeling kind of settled, despite having a few problems through the fast chicane section just after Becketts. I would struggle to get through it fast enough but my exit speed was spot on. A few adjustments to the entry seemed to improve things, although I still felt exceptionally poor through this section.
The positive was that I felt really good and strong in the final section of the track, despite suffering form a lack of rear end grip, but that would be easily sorted with a few tweaks to the suspension.
Friday – First Qualifying
Getting a good lap time was going to be very important in the opening session as it looked as though the rest of the weekend could be decidedly dodgy in terms of weather and track conditions.
I got away well and started putting in a few laps while trying to tail some of the fast boys, even if it was for only a few turns at a time! I began to improve and the improved grip from the rear of the bike was a lot more confidence inspiring, I was also able to run the bike faster, making the fast chicanes smoother and a lot faster, time wise.
I kept pushing bit by bit into each turn, and tried to force the bike to go faster, but in certain corners, I was still struggling, despite improving the lap times significantly. I was a little bit disappointed in myself really, I knew I could have gone faster, but the focus on improving was not at every turn each lap it seemed. At least it was still good enough to qualify and I wasn’t last!
Saturday – Second Practice
Improvements must be made all round, was what was going through my head, and I did just that and went faster than in the opening qualifying, and it was easier to. I had a play with the gearing and the suspension set-up overnight, after following the advice of suspension guru, Steve Jordan, and it felt a lot more consistent and progressive. The changes even managed to level out the wheelies, which was nice.
I focused on the areas of track where I was struggling and improved there, which reflected in the lap times. I spent the end of the session following some of the faster guys and seeing where and how they were faster. A few more adjustments to my lines seemed to help things a bit, although I was losing chunks of time out of the final chicane, I just couldn’t get as much drive as those guys ahead. Again, a quick change of approach made a small improvement.
Saturday – Second Qualifying
With such a short session I had to go from the off and that is what I did. I improved straight away and felt a lot more confident and comfortable on the bike, which made going even harder and faster a lot easier. I really gave it some and all was going well until my right knee slider decided to jump ship, and nearly pull me off the bike. I thought id just clipped the kerb but then when the same happened a turn or two later it just took my confidence down the track with the plastic oval, and I had to pull into the pits and get some duck tape put on the left side as I swapped that over to the right.
It didn’t work however, and I was really pissed off to say the least as I could have gone much faster and the silly mistake of putting my knee to far over the kerb cost me big. I was gutted for the team mainly as I was on for a much better grid, but once again we ended near the back.
I was however looking forward to race day as I had been informed it was going to rain, and I feel quite confident when it nice and slippery, suppose that’s good when you’re British!
Sunday – Race
Well my sources were correct, and my god it rained hard! I felt like a fish more than a racer, it even got to the point where most of us thought a canoe would be able to lap faster than anyone would on a bike! Warm up was just a steady ride round to check the bike, but it just wasn’t soft enough a set-up for what I liked so I had a few scares, but thankfully switching down the engine map seemed to cure most of the spin exiting the turns, even if it did make the back straight a slow section for me.
On the start I just thought get through the first few turns then work on going forwards. Exiting turn one I sighed a small cheer of relief and was then met by a great big white wall in front of me, I like most others, couldn’t see a damn thing! It really was a “well I know there’s a corner around here somewhere” moment.
I pulled through a few people and avoided any major incidents on the opening lap, and then just latched onto the back of a few people, used them for a tow, then went past and grabbed onto the back of the next guy. I did this till the mid way stage and then caught Frank Millet on the factory MV, but could I pass him? No. Fortunately he began to pull us both forward and I thought id stay behind him and then try and get through on the last lap. We caught and passed almost everyone in the group in front including fellow Brit Barry Burrell, which was cool. With a lap left we started to really pull in the next group who were on the edge of the points but try as we might it was just too little, too late, despite we should have had four more laps, which would have seen me in the top 20 for the first time.
Either way I was chuffed with the result, despite being soaked through and as wet as an Eskimo, it was well worth it! Again a good race off the back of a not so good qualifying, this is starting to get a bit too repetitive for me! I need to start higher up, otherwise I’m making far too much work for myself! See you all at the new Misano!
A big thanks has to go out to the following people:
- MIST Suzuki
- Mike “The Boss” Edwards
- Steve Jordan
- Andreani Suspension
- Arrow Exhausts
- Jeff @ GPR Stabilizers
- Teng Tools
- S & B Commercials
- Mick & Sue Bramsby
- Chloe, Nick, Cliff & Chell
- Ricky Morais for some inspirational words!
- Everyone else who turned up to show their support
A special mention and wishes of speedy recovery to Sheridan “Shez Show” Morais after what must have been a massive crash. Hope to see you back in action soon buddy!