Rockingham is like Marmite. Most racers either love or hate it whereas I have no strong views either way. It is horrendously slippy and the walls are very close in places which test people’s nerves! I will also mention that Adam Shelton fell victim to a tyre wall and broke his leg which will see him miss one to two rounds having been leading the Superstock so my best wishes go out to him.
Testing was a wash out. We got one dry session first thing on Friday and that was the only one we were going to get before qualifying so setup was more of an educated guess than tried and tested. The rest of the day it rained, and rained and then rained some more and didn’t let up until the early hours of the Saturday morning but it did allow me to find a good wet setting with the bike and I felt confident whatever the weather was going to throw at us.
Qualifying went well. I was 3rd stock although I had no real idea of this until I came in after the session as you can’t see pit boards from anywhere on the circuit and the pit wall is so far from the track. You’re doing 150 mph on the straights and it all a bit hectic. Just half a second off pole was near enough for me as I felt I could do the business over race distance.
Race 1 was really good! I got away off the line perfectly and was second into turn one behind Adam Shelton. We both notched a stonking lap one crossing the line 1.4 seconds quicker than the next best rider, recently retired BSB rider and top 6 BSB Superstock 1000 rider Joe Burns. I plugged away but couldn’t hang on to Adam who has been running the SC1 qualifying tyres all year. They just offer the edge grip I don’t have on the harder SC2 but the reason I don’t run them is they’re illegal at BSB so I don’t want to give myself grip that I can’t have when I step up to the national class. I clung on as long as I could but Joe Burns eventually passed me and I finished 2.5 seconds behind him when the race was red flagged due to Adam’s crash at turn 2. In a nut shell, Adam’s crash aside, very pleased!
For race 2 the weather was a bloody nightmare. Simple weather makes for simple decisions. Wet is wet tyres and dry is dry tyres but the rain was due to land at 11.00 and we were out at 11.00! It started spitting just as we got to Parc Ferme. The organisers decided to postpone the start for 10 minutes so we could change to wets after declaring it a wet race. I decided to stick with the dry tyres but just wished the weather would hold out! We got to the grid and the spitting had eased off but rain was imminent. I wasn’t the only one to stick with dry tyres as most of the front 3 rows were on the drys so it was game on. I pushed as hard as I dare for 4 laps. I got a great start and was 1st in Stock with a good 1.5 second lead over 2nd Stock but the front went with no warning. No regrets though, there was just nothing I could do and I had to just run with what I had.
Race 3 happened in absolutely torrential rain, which incidentally is better than dryish because at least it makes tyre choice easy. I did however have a problem. The bike’s forks were bent from the crash in race 2 and I had no spares, so we just had to do our best to line them up and compromise as best we could. A poor start lead to a pretty uneventful race finishing 3rd Stock. The bike’s front end was really wooden and I had no feel at all but I was happy with a 3rd with a bent bike!
All in all a good few days at the office and a few pots to take home by way of a memory.