Oulton Park Race Report
After having not such a successful test at Oulton previous to round 2 I was feeling a little bit nervous coming into the meeting, but we could only try to improve throughout the free practice sessions before it mattered. With a cold damp start to the bank holiday weekend, it did not seem to affect the crowds as the place was absolutely full to the rafters with caravans, motorhomes and all the teams etc. FP1 was very cold, so it was a case of going out finding our feet and finding the grip levels. There was red flag after red flag with crashes as the grip levels were just not there. We were going out for me to try and change my riding style as at the test I was riding far to aggressively so I had to try and smooth myself out and not try too hard. Easier said than done when trying to go fast! FP2 was a step forward with myself in the way I was riding and the bike, just little changes but we were starting to feel comfortable and ended day one in P10. FP3 on day 2 was completely soaked so we had tried a completely wet setup in the bike as I had never ridden the bike previously in the wet so it was something we needed to test. We got out of the pit lane on the out lap to Shell hairpin when we lost all throttle, a sensor went down and wouldn’t let the throttle open, we lost the full session but we didn’t miss much as qualifying later that day was dry. We had to try a couple of new things going into qualifying which seemed to work well but with a little fine tuning, we were going in the right direction. We went straight through Q1 into Q2 with being in 13th (the top 18 going through to Q2), I knew it was going to be difficult going into Q2 to get through into Q3 but we had to have a go. We went straight out behind Christian but with us both having sloppy laps that lap we would need to do more, so I came in for a little change and then went back out on my own to have a go. I ended up 9th so just scraping into Q3 as I was the last one through. I was so pleased to get into Q3 as I genuinely didn’t think I was able to with the way I was feeling. Q3 was again go out, have a go and see what we could do. At worst I was going to be 9th, however, we ended up P8 on the grid which I was pleased with, as my quickest ever lap round Oulton Park on our virtually stock BMW 1000 RR.
Race day is always a mega feeling but the nerves get me wound up a little. Race one came with not such a great start but after getting past Ryan Vickers in 8th, I was trying to bridge the gap back to Peter Hickman but found myself trying too hard and going backwards from him. Once I started to relax I ended up matching his times and staying the same distance from that group, unfortunately for my teammate Christian, his bike started to drop dramatically in horsepower and was falling down the field which left me collecting 7th were I finished, absolutely stoked to get a top ten in round 2 on this virtually stock bike with it being my first time back on a superbike in 4 years.
Race 2 I was 11th on the grid as I had the 11th fastest time from the first race (something I need to improve on) I got a good start and slotted straight into 9th behind Vickers, again it took a couple of laps to get past the kid as he is learning this game fast and well (I’m impressed), I had lost the toe on the group in front, the same thing again, I could not bridge the gap to the ones in front. Again it was a bit of a lonely race for me but what kept me focused and determined to keep going forward was a slowing Jason O’Halloran, with two laps to go I had caught and passed him and tried to gap him but little did I know that he was up the inside of me going into the last corner and that was it. I tried to square him off and out drive him to the line but with a stock engine, this could not be done. We lost 7th place by 0.029 of a second, gutted but overall I am pleased with my steps forwards with riding a superbike and the team has been doing a mega job again driving us forward to 10th in Championship.
Massive thank you to all those who came across to support me from family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, fans and sponsors who I couldn’t do this without. Roll on round 3 and let the momentum continue.