Round 2 – Donington Park
After a difficult and luckless first round at Brands Hatch, we headed into the second round at Donington Park full of optimism and eager to get a good set of results. I really like the circuit and got some solid results last year, so I was confident of the same feat this time around. For practice on the Friday I went into it with the same set up I had used in Calafat, Spain. With this in mind I was looking forward to getting out there and showing the true potential that I know we have. The conditions were sunny and dry, but very cold, meaning that everyone’s lap times were way down on what they had been the previous year, albeit in warmer conditions. I struggled all day with the setup, especially with drive out of the corners. We all worked tirelessly all day trying to get the best set up possible, before we got the breakthrough we needed in the last session where I went 2 seconds quicker. I was really pleased, although it was more relief than anything! We were really struggling up until that point, so to get that break through was superb.
Qualifying For qualifying we used the same setting we had found for the last practice the previous day. I was putting in consistent times, lapping at a good pace. The only issue was I couldn’t get the bike to go quicker; I again struggled with set up now I had increased my pace. 18th on the grid is where we qualified, something that I wasn’t satisfied with although we had come on in leaps and bounds from the
previous day. Nonetheless, I was ready to mix it up and get a good result!
Race 1 I got a shocking start, something I had uncharacteristically struggled with this year. I lost around 10 places on the first lap, unable to recover the ground I had lost. The race was declared on the penultimate lap after the red flag was forced to be brought out. The riders involved were thankfully fine! I finished 22nd, which I found immensely frustrating after all the hard work everyone had put in. That night after discussions with everyone, I decided to radically change the set up for the following day. This was a risk, but in my eyes a risk that needed to be taken. I went out with a fresh head the following day for the morning warm up and I instantly felt much more comfortable with the bike. I was able to brake later and exit the corner quicker, something that I’d struggled with the previous day. I was 5th quickest in the warm up, so I was feeling good for the two races to come later that day, even though I was to line up in a lowly 22nd on the grid
Race 2 I yet again got a terrible start, this time worse than the first! That resulted in being knocked onto the grass at the first corner and dropping to 32nd! Despite this I did not give up and I battled hard, eventually finishing 15th (6th in class), in what was a long hard race. I was quite chuffed with that result, because to come from nearly stone cold last, to finish in the points in 15th was a really good achievement.
Race 3 For the final race of the weekend I was aiming to exercise a few demons by getting off to a good start and battling for a good result. The race was red flagged in the warm up after a nasty looking crash down Craner Curves between two riders, thankfully both are alright. This however brought a lengthy stoppage to proceedings and when we finally got back out, I at last got a better start! It wasn’t amazing, but it meant I got up to 14th position and I was pushing hard in the early laps. Unfortunately a rider ahead of me had a mechanical issue going up Schwantz Curve, which is one of the fastest parts of the course, meaning I lost all momentum on the rider I was chasing down ahead. After an 8 man battle for 14th place, I eventually finished 16th and once again 6th in class. This was a good result because we turned it all around on the Sunday after struggling so much in the two days prior to it.
Overall I was satisfied because it was a really challenging weekend so to come out with the results I did I thought wasn’t too bad! A massive thanks to Craig, my Mum & Dad, Ste, Clare, Ian and Jack for all their efforts over the weekend, they worked their socks off all weekend! I’ve had a good taste of what the Elite 600’s is all about in the last two rounds, it’s now time for me to pull my finger out and bag some mint results at the next round; Snetterton.