Magny Cours, France – Race

Gareth Jones, 03/10/08 – 05/10/08
FIM Superstock 1000 Cup
Round 9

The end of the season is fast approaching and we are already at the penultimate round of the 2008 championship. It’s been a challenging season, and with the terrible weekend we had in the last round at Donington Park, we hoped for more success at Magny Cours.

The start of the weekend turned out to be rather eventful, and in actual fact we were lucky to be at this round at all. Mike, our team owner, who drives the truck to the meetings, had had some recent surgery and complications necessitated him being unfortunately admitted to hospital when he was due to leave for France. So in order to compete we needed to come up with another plan.

Communications were backwards and forwards with Mike in hospital, and we devised a plan at the final hour and got underway. My cousin Jay and good friend and mechanic Lloyd stepped in with an hour’s notice, and left from the North West of England and drove through the night to London to pick the truck up and caught the ferry across to France and continued down to the track, a few hours drive south of Paris.

With only a short nap on the ferry, they arrived at 2.p.m. ready for us to set up. My uncle and aunt, Baz and Lynda, also flew over from England to assist with the task of running the team for the weekend. By late evening we had the awning up, floor down, truck unloaded, and it was time to get the swags out for some well earned sleep. Thanks heaps guys!

Friday – First Practice

It was freezing at the track, falling to 0 degrees overnight and for the first session at 9 a.m. on Friday morning it was raining with an air temp of 4 degrees and track temp of 3 degrees. The weather remained this way for most of the day, so our afternoon session was much the same. We were limited to 3 sets of wet tyres for the weekend so we were careful not to waste them. Although wet tyres are unlimited, Pirelli only have sufficient room to carry 3 sets per rider. We used the sessions to get what we could from the bike on the slippery French track and made changes accordingly.

Saturday – Second Practice

The Saturday morning practice session was on a drying line and in a bid to save tyres we opted to only do a few laps. I did one flying lap mid session which was good enough for 9th at the time, however dropped to 17th by session end. Just enough to find some confidence to make a charge in final qualifying Saturday afternoon, should the weather again be rainy.

Saturday – Second Qualifying

Saturday afternoon qualifying was dry and with the forecast for a dry race on Sunday, we were back to being able to use 3 sets of dry tyres. We decided it was best to use 2 rears and doing as many laps as possible to get a decent time. Unfortunately I left it too late to go out with a new tyre and only had 8 minutes to put a time in.

Sure, not usually a problem unless you hit traffic on your fast lap, which of course is exactly what happened! I was only able to better my time by a few tenths which deprived me of a much better starting position. I was really disappointed with what had happened as I had felt good on the bike during the early parts of the session. So, a frustrating 23rd is where I would start the race.

Sunday – Race

Morning warm up was dry and the weather was clear but so cold for the race. For those of you that aren’t familiar with the Magny Cours circuit, the start finish straight is quite short and the grid is fairly closely spaced.

A good start and good position into turn 1 is important. I got off the line well and made a space for myself into turn 1. I got straight into it and managed to make a few places on the brakes at the end of the back straight.

I knew a point’s finish was possible if I didn’t get too caught up in the early laps. I was pushing hard and got myself to the front of the pack I was in, just inside the points. Shortly after the 2nd lap the bike felt really flat and I had to go back to 1st gear to get enough drive to get out of the hairpin after the back straight. The dash showed a fault code flashing, which explained the lack of pull off the turns and reduced top end.

I tried to ride smoothly with as much corner speed as I could manage for the remaining 12 laps. I battled with quite a few different riders over the race distance and eventually finished 17th, disappointingly just outside the points, but fortunately this result didn’t affect my championship standing and I remained in the same position.

So off to the last round in a couple of weeks, in what we hope will be a sunny Portimao. This will not only be the finale of the season, but a brand new race circuit and one where the majority of riders will not have tested at prior to this meeting. I have every intention of pulling off a good result at this round!!!

Huge thanks to my family for all their hard work on the weekend.

About Gareth

D.O.B: 24/02/87 Height: 187m (6'1") Weight: 74kg (11.9 stone) Gareth Jones embarked on his official racing career in 2003 aged 16. Despite being the youngest rider in the class, he placed 2nd in the Australian 250cc Production Championship. Gareth finished runner up in the 2004 National Superstock Cup in Australia. In 2005, at the age of 18, Gareth was awarded the inaugural Reece Bancell Scholarship and became the first superstock rider to place in the Top 10 of the Australian Supersport Championship in his first year. Gareth completed three successful seasons as a privateer in the Australian Supersport Championship culminating in 7th place overall in 2007, in a field dominated by factory teams. In January 2008 Gareth earned his first works sponsored ride with the Brian Bernard Yamaha Team in the New Zealand Superbike Championship. Gareth placed 3rd overall in the five race New Zealand Superbike series and in addition won the “King of the Streets” title, winning all three Superbike races at the Paeroa street circuit, setting a new lap record in the process. In addition he finished 2nd at the famous Wanganui Cemetery Circuit (the southern hemisphere’s Isle of Man). This was particularly remarkable because Gareth was riding a 600cc Supersport bike against his opponents 1000cc Superbikes. Gareth arrives in Europe off the back of a successful winter’s racing in New Zealand and looks forward to the challenge of mastering the major European tracks, on his MIST Suzuki GSXR1000, in the FIM European Superstock Championships, as part of the World Superbike tour.
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