125GP has got to be the most rewarding but also one of the most challenging classes out there. Man, I had a shocker at round two. Punished by an unknown mistake (air leak, not run in properly, jetting) and the steep mechanical learning curve required to both spanner and ride a 125GP bike. Lap one of qualifying, new piston, seized it solid in the bore into turn one but managed to get on the clutch and roll off before being thrown off. My 2 stroke senses are definitely getting stronger. I ended up missing the rest of qualifying so I start at the back of the grid for the full weekend's racing. I was pretty bloody disappointed to say the least, particularly because we had been to an open practice day earlier in the week where I had shown good pace, ready to tackle the races with momentum. My recently re-plated cylinder was now useless and a fresh top end junk. Sigh. On goes the spare (thanks Chris Malcolm) with a run in piston to get me going again.
There's no doubt, I learnt a tonne from this weekend of racing and it forced me to focus bloody hard in the races. Getting a good start is always crucial but when you're 3 rows back in a short sprint race, a good result hinges on it. I worked my way through the field to place third in race one with Ashley and Rogan gapping the rest of us. Being a bit frantic before the race sorting my bike meant my lap times weren't quite where they needed to be. Race 2 was much better, running the same pace as the front. I got through the field and reeled Ashley in. I sat behind him for a few laps watching where he was faster and waiting for the right moment. Unfortunately I stuffed up my timing and that was that. Ashley once again showed how important race craft is and I ran over the line 0.2s behind him. Race 3 was a replay of race 2 with improved times again but running over the line in third by 0.6s to Ashley when I ran a shallow line into the final corner and lost the crucial drive I needed for the line.
A bit disappointed with my results given the early pace and confidence I had but if I look at it now, some of the biggest lessons of the whole nationals series for me were taken from this round. I pitted next to Toby Summers and Lincoln Shaw over the weekend which really helped me. Lincoln saw me dealing with my mechanical and schooled me pretty hard about 2 stroke set up. I took a lot away from those discussions and even picked up some valuable top end speed from it. Massive thanks to Lincoln for the help mate!