Pole position by 0.113 seconds, 3rd place, crash, 3rd place
Practice and preparation, always. Down to Invercargill for a practice day on Wednesday before round 2 and 5 evening practice sessions in the calm and dry. Pretty stoked to get that time on the bike and get my head around the track without having to worry about anyone else. I posted some really good times and got pretty close to my PB from last year. Gotta be happy with that. Everything's going well, it'll be a weekend to make up some of that points deficit from my round 1 crash.
Practice on Friday was surprisingly dry but bloody windy. I struggled to run the lines and pace I was on Wednesday and my times suffered for it. Teretonga is fast, flowing and there's no room for error. With far less corners that Ruapuna, there's not many area's you can recover from a poor lap. I had my head down but just couldn't pull it together in the challenging conditions.
The track was windy and soggy all Saturday morning, right up to the beginning of our qualifying session. The whole group had wets on and were standing around in their gear waiting for the session to start when Chris Wally and I made a bold move to swap to slicks. Wally got the jump first and had the full session out there on slicks. I pulled the pin later and had to change my front disk over on my wheel. Alex Phillis and Mike Chandler gave me a hand for a rapid pit stop. First 2 laps to bed in the new carbon brake pads (ahhh! no brakes!) then one flier. Determined as hell I got it. Pole position! by 0.113 seconds to Chris Wally. Fizzing.
Race one was windy! Windy enough not to be able to pull top gear. Chris Wally got the jump on us with his wicked starts and pissed off into the distance. I got through the pack and up to Matt Hoogy to play chicken into the stupidly fast turn one for 2 laps in a row. I edged him out and was in the lead when he showed me his front wheel into turn 2 Castrol. I late braked, couldn't get it turned enough and had to run out onto the grass. Somehow I kept it upright over the lumps, eager to get back onto the track the back stepped out on me before Matt R passed me. I got through him and ran a few laps in 4th place before seeing Chris Wally pulling off the track with a mechanical. Bummed out for you man, that was your race! So I got a 3rd which wasn't too bad considering I ran off the track I suppose. Congrats to Jon Medlin for his first podium, a 2nd place!
The 3 lap scrub in on Sunday morning was dry and calm. I put my head down and found some much needed enthusiasm to post my best time of the weekend. Boom! Just what I needed! Stoked. Then it rained! Race two was windy AND rainy. Yuuuuck. I don't have much wet or windy experience so it was going to be tough. This wasn't my race either. Chris Wally and Hoogy got through and left me to circulate in 3rd by myself. I hit a white line getting on the gas out of the final elbow turn, kicked the back out, head butt the screen and ran onto the grass. Sigh. Mowing the lawn again! I kept it upright and peeled down the straight before crashing into turn one. Double sigh. Another DNF. That's pretty much me out of the championship bar a miracle.
Race three was dry but windy as heellll and it really sucked to be out there. I circulated in 3rd and took the points, I just needed to finish a race without any problems to regain some momentum. A massive congrats to Chris Wally for his first 125GP win. You were flying mate! Looking back on it, I was probably defeated before I even got on the track. I had so much confidence, mental momentum and enthusiasm first thing in the morning but by the end of the day I was done. Tired as hell and really over racing in poor conditions. It was good learning but I had just thrown away any hope of a title and the conditions had gotten to me. Racing motorcycles has got to be 75% mental so when you get in this space, you've got no chance.
So that was the South Island nationals. 2 rounds of 125GP dog fights, 8 days of riding, 2x DNFs, 3x 3rds, 2x pole positions, 1x 2nd and 1x 1st place. I learnt a lot! It's hard not too! The racing was awesome and I think I'm mostly in a good position for the North Island rounds, particularly Taupo, I love that track. Cheers for reading and following along and thanks a butt load for all the encouragement I've been getting from home!