What a weekend to come back to, not only one of the toughest tracks on the calendar but to come back to Oulton Park with a shoulder injury probably wasn’t the best idea of mine! In all honesty I thought it was going to be horrendous but it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it was going to be, not even bad enough to use as an excuse for how slow I was going all weekend.
FP1 on Friday evening was nerve wrecking to say the least, 1st time back on track properly since I snapped my ACJ ligament, 4wks post op and I was firing a superbike round Oulton Park and trying to compete with boys that have been up to speed all season. I got loads of laps in and felt fairly comfortable, my pace was nothing to scream about but I was getting there with every exit of pitlane after changes by my Hawk Racing Buildbase Suzuki team made for me. I ended the session 17th and was fairly happy with that.
Saturday was going to be a busy day for me, we had FP2 at 9:15, Qualifying at 12:15 and race 1 at 16:15. I had an idea that I was going to be in agony after all this but got surprised that I was still able to feel my shoulder. FP2 was pretty much the same as FP1, getting loads of laps and trying to smooth my throttle and braking traces out as after a long sit down with Leon Jeacock Friday night, my bad habits was not helping the reactions of my bike. We finished FP2 19th, even thou we went quite a bit quicker, problem being so did everyone else, haha. Qualifying was more of the same, fine tuning myself and trying to sort engine braking maps and decide what was best to go with for the race. We Qualified 18th which isn’t ideal but I wasn’t short of big names around me as a few people had been struggling like Bridewell/ Mackenzie (race winners this year) that was just in front of me.
Race 1 was up and to put it bluntly, I was shitting myself. The first race I was going into in over 15 months, nervous was and under statement. I got a reasonable start and slotted into position just to get through the race, I felt fairly comfortable and thought to myself this is easy, little did I know I was only going into turn 4 and it weren’t that easy. With a full fuel load (which I hadn’t used since my last race 15month ago) and new tyres I really struggled to get the bike stopped into the turns, which kept pushing me wide and loosing the tow to the pack. After 5 or 6 laps after the fuel load went down, I started to feel more comfortable and started to make headway with my pace, we ended the race in p15 and even got a point in our first race return, YESSS!!!
Race 2 I was a lot less nervous going into it but still a little worked up. We started the race same as race 1 with getting pushed into the turns even thou we had made more changes to compensate for this, better but not fixed. Then we had a massive head shake across the start finish line and as I went to brake into turn 1, I had hardly a brake as the head shake had shook the pads back in the callipers and for a second I genuinely thought I was going straight on into the tyre wall at turn 1. Thankfully I did get stopped but realised something wasn’t right and I had to retire from the race. It turned out that the steering damper snapped, so every time I opened throttle hard I could not stop the bike from shaking, that’s how vital a steering damper is!
All fixed and ready for race 3, with a few more changes to the bike and trying to be smoother yet again we were ready to go. Same kind of start and settled into position and even managed to get past a few riders and into 15th in the first few turns. I tried really hard to stay with the group that I was behind but I was slowly loosing touch with running wide with full fuel load. I ended up making a little mistake heading into Hizzy’s chicane which sent me down the long lap penalty slip road costing me 5 seconds. I was back to 20th, I got past two into 18th and slowly made progress into the group that I was with, but with only catching them by tenths a lap, I could not make inroads into this fast enough, 18th was where I finished. All in all I got my races finished bar one with a fault, but this is progress and I have now 2 weeks to get stronger before Donington Park where I aim for 3 finishes in the points.
Thank you to absolutely everybody who has helped with my recovery from Professor Funk doing the op, Ian Dixon with laser treatment, Gemma from Absolute Physio, Ryan Williams from RW Nutrition for helping me eat super foods to help the healing process, my partner Sam for keeping me doing all of these and for her support and to anybody else who I have forgot.
Thank you all for the support through tough times and too all my sponsors for sticking by me, massive thank you.