Monza, Italy – Race

Matt Bond, 09/05/08 – 11/05/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 3

Friday – First Practice

This was to be the first test for my shoulder following treatment from Brian Simpson, and I was hoping it would be good and stable throughout the weekend.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to even see if it was okay on the brakes entering the first chicane as the motor when bang at the end of the very first lap! I was gutted to say the least, but I made it back to the pits, so I didn’t have to walk too far back to the truck!

Friday – First Qualifying

The first qualifying was my first chance to get a decent set-up and test myself, so I just took the session steady, gradually building my pace and just feeling what the bike was doing and what needed adjusting.

I did the simple three lap routine of out lap, fast lap and in lap. It worked well as it really helped me focus on what was going on and what reference points I was using. It helped me re-learn the track a lot faster also, even if I was struggling to get a few parts sorted.

I changed my lines and markers pretty much each time I went out on track, and really only started to find some consistency towards the end of the session, but I was pleased with the times and how the bike was behaving, and only needed a small gearing and suspension adjustment ready for Saturday.

Saturday – Second Practice

The changes we made to the bike really improved things, making the bike a lot easier to ride, via less gear changes through the tight and twisty sections and also improved handling through the faster sections.

A few more tweaks through the session managed to resolve the chatter problems I was having in the fast sections, which gave me a lot more confidence in the front end of the bike, enabling me to fell more in control and smoother with my riding. The bike was feeling good, and seemed to be doing what I wanted it to, without too many problems.

I began to push to see how late I could brake and how hard I could turn, and although I ran on a few times, it was beginning to come together a lot better. I caught a few tows around the track and it helped me gauge where I needed to improve and also showed me how. I made a few adjustments in terms of line at a couple of turns but otherwise it was good.

Saturday – Second Qualifying

I was going to have to push it to get further up the grid, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy, especially with my shoulder starting to become more and more painful, but once again the team got the bike even better than before and I felt much better straight away.

The plan was just to get out there and follow everyone and get a tow throughout the session, there was no way it would be easy but I knew I had to just push it as much as I could.

Halfway through the session and id knocked a fair wedge of time off my previous best, but the rear tyre was starting to go off and after a few scary moments I decided to get the new tyre fitted for the last third of the session, in the hope it would give us the time we needed to move forward on the grid.

I didn’t get a good tow from here on and had to work extra hard on my own, and I made another improvement in time but not as much as any of us had hoped, and I kept making silly errors trying to push it harder and harder. I saved front end slides at the Ascari chicane and Parabolica curve, but only through trying too hard, not through being on the edge, and I was fairly deflated by the qualifying result. But, having less track time than all the other guys was the main reason I was struggling, coupled with a completely standard bike, it wasn’t a million miles away from where I wanted to be come raceday.

Sunday – Race

I got my shoulder heavily strapped in preparation for the race, as it had by now become a hindrance, but despite all the problems I was just focusing on going forward in the race.

I got a decent start and was heading forwards until I saw a big cloud of smoke and backed right off, just as the carnage occurred entering the first chicane. I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t think it would be that hectic! I just picked my way through the debris and fallen riders and then set about getting back the places I’d lost in the mêlée.

By the end of the first lap I’d got into a group of guys I remember being a fair bit higher up the grid than I was so I knew I’d gone forward in terms of places, and tried to make a few more on the brakes at the first chicane, but noticed the waving yellow flags, so backed off, with a plan to make the places at the next chicane.

It didn’t happen, but what did at least got me some TV coverage! I can’t really remember what happened, but I just remember suddenly speeding up while braking and not being able to avoid Danny De Boer. Next thing I can recall is trying to get my breath back and wondering where I was!

Apparently I’d been hit from behind and had no-where to go but into De Boer. I felt really bad about it, but as it wasn’t my fault I was told not to worry. I was really gutted to have crashed out of 17th at the time, I’m certain we’d have been well in the points and I was feeling great before the incident. At least I know we’ve got the bike almost all the way there, and my riding is getting back up to standard, so I’m pretty confident for Nurburgring in a few weeks, as long as my body has repaired by then! Back to Brian’s again for some magical body fixing!

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