Race 1 recording from CTAS Live
Race 2 recording from CTAS Live
Race 3 recording from CTAS Live
Timing and race results
FOUR POINTS! Four measly points separate Zayne Agate, Regan Phibbs and I battling for 2nd place behind Blayes on the BSP Moto3 machine. Four! Man, talk about a roller coaster ride of a round of racing. On one hand I'm super disappointed I picked up a DNF in race 1 and lost an opportunity to take a lead over the others, but on the other hand I'm over the moon with a 3rd then a 2nd place in the New Zealand TT race!
Records were set
Jason Hearn set the Hampton Downs International Circuit 125GP lap record time at 1:47.267 in race 2. I set the second fastest 125GP time of the weekend at 1:47.889 and I think there's still definitely scope to run into the 46s or even the 45s on a 125GP machine. Time will tell. Blayes Heaven on the BSP Moto3 machine set the 250 mono/Moto3 record at a blistering 1:45.891.
Tripping on the first hurdle
Half of the field including me had never ridden the international Hampton Downs circuit ever before so the entire weekend was full of learning for everyone. I only got to do about 15 laps on Friday practice before a VHM pin circlip snapped on me and wrote off a cylinder, piston, head and plug. After this I was in a pretty crap place lacking the enthusiasm to deal with the engine while missing practice and just bummed out with a backwards start to a crucial weekend. Never the less the amazing crew of 125 racers we have in our class pushed me along and with the help of my old boy Simon and great spanner man Rick Ford we got it back together. With such little practice on Saturday I took a safe qualifying approach and just tailed a few of the faster riders. 5 of us ended up within half a second of each other and unfortunately I ended up down in 7th.
Plan your race
So what do you do when you're way back in the field? You focus on your starts like crazy. I spent a lot of time watching my GoPro footage and analysing how fast I can ride through turn one off the grid. It payed off big time for me and I found myself up in 3rd and 4th out of the first corner. The video below shows the start of race 3 where I was able to make the most ground. For someone who isn't usually very good at starts, I'm pretty proud of this one!
Great racing though!
If you watch the CTAS Live footage of race 3 you can see a bunch of us head into turn 2 on the first lap and pile into a late braking competition. Damn that was close! I'm just lucky Zayne ran wide and let me through so I could chase down Regan. When I got up to Regan I slip streamed him down the chute and he showed a wheel twice into the swampy sweeper. The second time he got through and we leaned on each other the whole way through. I returned to the pits with a nice long tyre mark down my tail from where he had to pick it up. Campbell Grayling, Jason Hearn and Dan Jenkins also had a few knife fights in the field. The race footage is worth watching.
My take aways
There were a tonne of unknowns and surprises at this round: the track, the bumps, passing opportunities, bike setup, the weather, mechanical issues. I wouldn't say I'm usually the fastest rider in the field this year but I was able to put together some reasonable results by focusing on the bits I didn't know and working out a plan. Changing my gearing in response to having to run my slower B cylinder helped me hugely and allowed me to refocus on slow corner exit speed. Understanding that the track allows for lots of time to be made up into turn 1 and using it to my advantage ultimately made my results. Keeping my head down in the most important parts of the race allowed me breathing room I needed to get through the long laps. And using my GPS lap timer to confirm the experiments in lines, braking points and bike setup gave me the confidence I needed I was going in the right direction. As always, being directly conscious of what I was doing saved my ass.
Lastly, I race for the personal challenge of progression but more importantly for FUN! and good times. Who would have thought! A massive shout out then to dad and to Rick for bringing some extra good times to the pits when I was being far too serious. It's amazing what a few good laughs can do to your racing.