ROUND 1 – BRANDS HATCH INDY CIRCUIT – FRESHMAN 500
Friday – Practice – 29.03.19
We arrived at Brands Hatch around midday on Friday 29th March. Unfortunately, I had been feeling a little under the weather. But I was determined to make the most of the weekend ahead – especially due to the lovely sunshine that was out.
I did the first practice session at 14.00 to start getting a feel for the bike and tyres. By the end of the second session, I was feeling confident. I decided not to go out for the last practice session as I wanted to ensure I was feeling better by qualifying on Saturday.
Saturday – 9 am Qualifying – 30.03.19
The Freshman 500 were the first out to qualify at 9 am. It was still early and a little cold, so I took it easy but quickly got into the swing of things and pushed for a few fast laps by the end. By the end of the 15-minute qualifying session, I felt I had done a good time, but was utterly surprised to find I had qualified first in class. This boosted my confidence quite a bit
Saturday - Race 8/20 – 30.03.19
The first race of the season and I was starting second on the grid due to the class structure – could I have asked for a better start?!
I got off the line nice and quickly and managed to get in front by the second corner, Druids. I led the race for the rest, giving myself time towards the last few laps to ensure I preserved my tyres for the weekend and I didn’t come off right before the finish. I finished first.
Saturday – Race 18/20
I got off to another blinding start and managed to secure first place a little later on than the first race, however, still within the first lap. The bike felt good and tyre feedback was great so I continued to press on. I finished in another first place.
Sunday – Race 8/20 – 31.03.19
I had made a few changes to the bike's rear suspension settings as I felt it was rather soft, so had stiffened it up a notch.
I began in second place on the grid again and once again managed to launch it well off the line and took first by the second corner. I felt the suspension being a lot more responsive and providing positive feedback so I continued to push harder than before. Despite my lap time not being the quickest out of the race, I still managed to take another first position.
Sunday – Race 18/20 – Last Race
Due to the positive response that I'd received from the changes I had made to the rear shock, I decided to increase the stiffness of the rear shock once more. It made all the difference.
As it was the final race of the weekend, everyone was going to be pushing hard. But as I had taken 3 wins and was starting to feel maybe a little overly confident, I reigned it back a bit.
I launched it well again, but by the second lap found four others diving down the inside of me at Druids – I made a mistake by braking way too early. That didn’t stop me though. In fact, it just gave me somebody to chase. So I got back on the throttle and started chipping away. By lap five or six (can’t quite remember as it all goes so quickly…!) I had regained my first place and managed to pull it through till the end.
As it was my first ever race meeting, I was elated! The night before Saturday, I had been awake thinking of how good it would be if I could walk away with 4 podiums. But I talked myself out of it as it seemed unobtainable. Well, how wrong was I!
None of this would have been possible without the help of Paul, Romain and John at Wemoto, who have been supporting me right from the start and always push me to do well. My partner has been a huge help in this, being as supportive as possible and listening to all my bike blurb for months on end – (at least now I can say it’s paid off!!). Also thanks to the Wemoto team – particularly those who came to support me, and Jeff La Cram for his photography skills as well as continued support.
Thanks must also go to all the marshals and photographers who spend their weekends sat in a field on the corners of race tracks snapping away and picking us up when we suddenly decide to do a bit of off-roading!
A namely mention must go out to Colin Hill from Hairy Beast Pix and Colin Port from Colin Port Images for another load of cracking photos. And of course Bernadette, Syd and the rest of the Thundersport team for making all this happen and letting us amateur racers have a go.
Next race will be at Snetterton on the last weekend of April. Hope to see you there!
12/04/19: Excellent series better than a track day
12/04/19: Good work fella, I knew it would all come good for you.🏁
12/04/19: He rode well..
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