Vallelunga, Italy – Race

Matt Bond, 28/09/07 – 30/09/07
FIM European Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 10

Friday – First Practice

First thing about the track is that its fast, very fast in-fact, with some high speed sweepers but also some dead slow technical, twisty bits, and also the surface was fairly new, so still a little bit slippery. The track was covered in dirt n muck form where the circuit vehicles had been finishing off the track preparation, and on certain parts of the track mid turn grip was close to non-existent.

We worked on getting a good base setting and getting the gearing right ready for the first qualifying later in the day. A few tweaks to the front of the bike to help it enter the turns faster and maintain corner speed, something that was made harder by the track conditions. I was having a few problems with the bike cutting out coming out of a few of the turns. A problem we later fixed after a few hours of fiddling with various wires by Mike and my old man!

Friday – First Qualifying

We started the session on a new front and old rear tyre, which we were planning to change mid session, just to try and get some faster times. I stuck in a few laps that were much improved on the morning session, thanks to grabbing a few tows from some of the quicker guys that were ahead of me.

We put the new tyre in for the last half of the session but it lasted all of two laps before it started to spin up and break traction in places where it really shouldn’t have been spinning up. I was getting thrown out of the seat all over the place and it was a little bit scary to say the least. I did improve my time but it was very marginal and didn’t put me any further up the grid, despite my best efforts.

Saturday – Second Practice

With the problems from the previous day sorted, and the bike remapped and run on the dyno, the team and I were happy and hopeful of a further improvement was to come on the second day. The bike was feeling much more responsive now than on the previous day, and it made the bike easier to ride also. The fact that it wouldn’t try to chuck you over the bars mid-turn was a big relief to, the team had done their job well!

Instant improvements in lap time helped boost my confidence, and a few more minor adjustments helped improve the bike, and make the spin from the rear end more controllable, consistent and predictable. This again helped inspire more confidence inside me. The gap to the top guys was closing down once again, and the entire field was bunching up by now, making a one tenth improvement in lap time an equal to two or three places on the time sheets!

Saturday – Second Qualifying

With the session being so short I stuck another new front and old rear combination onto the bike, but planned to do only two or three laps to get up to speed before going for a few fast laps.

The plan went well and to plan and I was able to get some good tows from some of the fast guys in the few laps that I got to push hard. Again I took a big chunk of time out from my previous best, as did most of my competitors, so although I didn’t move up the grid much, I closed in on the top of the field. A second covering 18 riders! I was a little gutted not to be higher up, but at least I was getting closer!

Sunday – Race

Despite the relatively low grid position I was pretty certain that I could make in-roads towards the front half of the field and was confident that I would make big improvements throughout the race.

I got off the line really well and forced my way into the first turn, making a fair few places in the process. I kept tucked behind a row of riders down the back straight and as we hit the brakes I went round the outside of them as it was the only space I could find, but it played into my hands as I managed to get by another three entering the following hairpin.

I then latched onto the back of Greg Guildenhuys on the Pedercini Ducati, and followed him through the end of the lap, narrowly avoiding a cruising Barry Burrell on the home straight entering the flat out first turn. I got a better run than Greg on the exit but couldn’t make the most of it, and for the next few laps we began closing in on the group of riders in front of us. I was beginning to get a bit frustrated behind Greg and then just as I was about to make a and move on him he suffered a big high-side right in front of me and took a big hit as he fell. I narrowly avoided his spinning body and sliding 1098, but made it through.

Unfortunately the time it cost let the group ahead get away, and my brakes began to fade, making it harder and harder for me to keep pace and also slow enough entering some of the slower turns. I hung on as much as I could but struggling to stop I lost a few places on the final laps, a bitter disappointment but I was still pleased to come home just outside the top 20, enjoying one of my better rides in the process.

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