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Oulton Park - Round 10 2017

Well, this is it, this is where pardon my French shit gets real lol!! It’s obviously only been a few days since the disaster that was Silverstone happened but i’m feeling far better and far more positive now than ever, i’ve trained very day since Silverstone and i’m feeling a a pretty good place, really looking forward to racing this weekend and generally I can’t wait to get at it!!

I travelled up with my mate Wag and we even managed to get away at a semi sensible time despite me locking myself out of my house and having to call my wife back from one of her runs to let me in to get the rest of my stuff that I needed to take, as you can imagine she was well impressed…not!!!

We had a really good round here at Oulton park earlier this year, last year I managed a best finish of 5th on the Ducati but earlier this year I had a 2nd a 1st so fingers crossed we’d get a dry weekend and be able to get right amongst it.

Typically Oulton the first session was wet, when I say wet though it was wet but drying, albeit slowly, knowing from experience that weather changes here at Oulton in an instant I decided to head to on wets for a look at the track and it’s incredible how different this wet track felt to the track a week ago, the bike felt pretty good and whilst I only did 5 laps I felt very comfortable and went to P1 but with the track getting drier I figured this was purely a session where whoever sticks their neck out the furthest will be fastest and with a title to defend and absolutely nothing to gain from FP1 I decided that person wasn’t going to be me lol, to show how sketchy the conditions must have been Christian Iddon ended up 3 seconds a lap faster than everyone and that’s no slur on Christian but if it was worth having a push i’m sure that gap would have been far smaller!!!!!

FP2 was a massive relief, I almost forgot what it was like to ride my bike with the sun shining on a dry track lol, we went out and went reasonably fast straight away, in fact I went P1 but I didn’t feel overly comfortable on the bike and after 4 or 5 laps I pulled in to see if we could work on the problems I was having. We made some setting changes and semi made progress but at the same time the bike developed a little problem which affected us throughout the rest of the session, In fact when we put a new tyre in at the end of the session and I went slower on the new one than i’d been going on the used one so we had some work to do, the worst of it was I was a second off of the pace of the front guys but I really didn’t feel like I'd sone too much wrong on my last couple of laps, sure we had some problems shifting gears but I didn’t feel like they were costing me that much time and I felt like I'd actually ride ok so I was at a bit of a loss as to what exactly was wrong!!!

Overnight the team made some pretty big changes, offset, ride heights, springs etc and with the track temperature down at just 16 degrees when we went out plus the fact that turn one especially was really quite wet we opted to do some more work with the hard rear tyre that we’d used for the first time the week previous in Silverstone and i’m very happy to say things felt much, much better, in fact I went pretty much as fast with a wet turn one on the hard rear tyre as i’d gone the day before on the soft ones which are generally loads fosters I was well happy, I improved my time slightly at the end of the session but got unlucky on both of my flying laps with traffic so my time wasn’t as good as I thought I could go, in fact far from it but I ended up P5 and in a much happier frame of mind than the previous day!!

Going into qualifying we never bothered changing too much, the bike had felt good at the end of FP3 and I knew i’d hit traffic and made some small mistakes so my first flying lap in Q1 was my fastest of the weekend so far with my first sub 1.35 a 1.34.7 putting me 5th.

For Q2 we made another good step, it was quite funny because I was talking to Wag before heading out and he said we need 33 this time, bearing in mind i’d just done my best lap of a 34.7 I was like yeah Wag, easy right lol, as it turned out I was fastest in Q2 lowering my best time right the way down to a 1.34.0!!!!

I have to admit I felt fairly confident of pulling off a 1.33 in Q3 and let me tell you now it was on, in fact it was nothing other than my mistakes that prevented it because I pushed a bit too hard and I 3 of the 5 laps I did in Q3 I was actually under my time from Q2, anyway, it wasn't to be and I ended up 2nd on a 1.34.1 so on the front row which after the previous days feeling was like a win in itself lol!!

Having looked like you do at the weather apps on late Saturday night it looked like Sunday should be a dry day however mother nature had other ideas and dumped aloud of rain about 15 minutes or so before morning warm up, the session went so so to be fair, the conditions were almost like Silverstone the other week where parts of the track were soaking wet and other parts bone dry which made things pretty tricky, I got a couple of little warnings in the session so decided to pretty much just cruise around as with warm up being at 12pm and race one 13:30 the last thing we needed was to tip off, I ended the session feeling fairly comfortable and happy with the way the bike was working but hoped it would continue to rain as tyre choice in an hour or so’s time would be tricky otherwise!!!

Well, the first race was wet, that’s for sure, tyre choice wasn’t a concern and after having practised in the wet on Friday and had a wet/damp warm up I felt very calm and pretty confident on the line of a good race!! I got a great start and settled in straight away right near the front, I felt real good with the bike and following Josh and watching Dan Linfoot starting to pull away I thought about making a move in order to go with Dan but after 2-3 laps I started having some vision issues, as the laps wore on the vision started getting worse and worse to the point I physically couldn’t see, I was in a really difficult situation as obviously being the first race of the showdown I had to finish the race but I was pretty much a danger to myself and even those around me, at one point I managed to make out my pltboard and I saw that I still had 10 laps remaining and honestly when I saw that my heart sunk, I thought how on earth am I going to be able to do 10 more laps, I was opening and closing vents, lifting the visor trying to clear it and nothing I did helped, I was getting passed left right and centre in fact when the race got red flagged I nearly pulled into the wrong garage in pit lane as I simply couldn’t see, I was absolutely furious when I got back but the one thing that has since made me chuckle is how people perceived the way I threw my helmet after the race, what the camera didn't show was Wag stood there ready to catch it and take it straight to the Shoei truck so they could look at it literally the second I got in to work out what had gone wrong, they sorted the problem almost instantly and that was it, problem solved!!

Race two then.. well, race two started pretty much full dry, the first turn was wet, well, it had plenty of wet patches anyway, I knew that nothing other than a good start and getting my head down immediately was going to get me anywhere near the front but at the same time we hadn’t done much dry running on the track and going with the softer rear tyre option in slightly too cold track temperature i really needed to take it semi steady for a lap or two to not get the tyre too hot too quick as we’ve found that can cause us problems with tyre life. I managed to get a half decent start and settled in around 7th or 8th, I managed to start making a bit of progress and got up to 5th but as soon as I got there I made a mistake running into turn one too hot causing me to run straight over all the wet bits on the track costing me about a second, luckily I stayed on and never got passed but having to push on hard again to try to catch back up I pretty much finished my rear tyre, towards the end of the race Josh passed me into turn one but at the same time Peter Hickman passed Josh but inn doing so I think he had to run across the damp patches on the inside of the track causing him to sit up which in turn sat up Josh which in turn sat me up and pushed me right back out through all the wet patches i’d been on a few laps before, after that I was pretty much done, i’d given everything for too long and finished the rear tyre so I ended up having to just ride it home. Gutted.

I don’t really want to bang on about luck or how badly things have been going for me lately as it seems every single time I put thought to bad news or results they bloody follow me to the next round, i’ve dropped to third in the championship but it’s still all very much to play for, i’ve got ta couple of chill out days in Barcelona planned then training in preparation for Assen, I know what I have to do and intend to give it absolutely everything I have, we’ve seen all too many times this year that absolutely anything can happen, I need a double at Assen and that’s what I intend to try to achieve, hang in there!!! Take it easy guys and girls, Shakey #67


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