FP3 Dutch Classic at TT Circuit Assen

FP3 went exactly how I was hoping, another 0.7s off my PB and so close to a 2.18s lap. First out the gate and straight into it, head down, knowing I’ll be chased down by the faster riders. My first flying lap I went faster than my best yesterday. 2nd lap tried something that didn’t work for me. 3rd lap faster again. Unfortunately we only got 5 laps in but it was enough for me to feel comfortable and get into a rhythm. Very happy with that time and happy to nail my lines and markers into my head. I can’t exaggerate enough just how much time a fast bike is worth at Assen, so I’ve already achieved a time I’m really satisfied with. My GPS says I have another 0.3s in what I’m doing if I piece it together but I’m unsure I’ll get the clear track needed in the races. Regardless, you never stop trying to go faster so I’m looking forward to the races/blood bath tomorrow.

I’ve included the second page of the timing sheet which shows just how many racers are on the grid. Yup, FORTY ONE RACERS. Pretty. Freaking. Impressive. The sounds, the smell, the vibration in your chest when they’re all around you warming up on the dummy grid is so classic. It’s exactly what I expected a 2 stroke race at Assen to be. A rare experience on this planet these days. These Dutchies are apeshit for smokers!

1/2 second covers 4 on the line

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Today I taste tested 4th place and man it felt good! Another 0.8s out of my best time in race 2 and ultimately coming over the line by 0.28s in 5th place. That’s easily the best race so far and pretty high in my favourite ever races list. Half a second covered 4 of us at the line with any one of us being able to take it. I think 4th is possibly the highest I can hope to finish on this machine so for me that felt like a 2nd place. Stoked!

I had a rocket of a first lap with my head down ready to push. A good start but unable to climb the hill as fast as the others. I went around the outside of a group instead to claim some spots and then again down the hill to put me into 4th place. I hung about 15m or so back from Rienk for about a lap before he upped his pace and crawled away leaving me riding without any wind cover. I put in consistent and fast laps for a while and it was nice to try a few different lines again to find time without others around me.

I had a solid lead to the next group but a mistake timed with lapping a slow classic closed the gap to them and they swamped me. Geert, Henri, Roland and I went toe to toe for the rest of the race and I saw pretty clearly were all our strengths were. I was 8th, the back of the group, into the last lap and I had to pull something out my ass. I shoved my way through Henri and Roland in one move through the first chicane corner and got good drive to chase down Geert. I went around the outside of him for a block pass into the late braking but very slow left hand corner at the back of the circuit. I’m really strong exiting that corner but Geert’s speed was too much so I had to sacrifice it and hold him up. He still got better drive than me out of it and Henri came up the inside of me to block me out of the last chicane. They ran shallow to block each other and I rode around the outside. My drive was again sacrificed but I held them up enough so that we were all slow up the hill. Geert gapped me to the line and I held 5th.

Epic, epic battle. I’m still grinning. I love being pushed that hard and I can’t remember being so happy to finish a race 5th. More importantly it shows what’s possible and it shows if I ride hard and get my timing right I can get better results on the twisty circuits. As always I learnt a lot this weekend and clearly I’m pretty stoked about it. A massive thanks to the Wobben family for letting me ride their bike in this class. It’s a blast.

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