Got to admit, I'm feeling a little hard drive by in more ways than one after last weekend at Thruxton, why you ask? Well, even I flew into Bristol last Thursday I went to the apple store and got a new replacement phone, typically having backed the phone up to icloud I figured easy, I'll restore the new one in store and jobs a gooden, I'll be good to go right.. wrong, the back up worked, all cool, turned on the new phone, tried to restore from the back up a few minutes previous, it sorted itself out then came up with an estimated time of 7 hours to restore, great, set up as new it was then.. now, why am I telling you all this, well, for once in my life I got semi organised and actually started typing this Blog as the weekend went on, cooling you guys in on all that was happening session by session right the way through to qualifying, And I here you say as you read this, and, when I got home after Thruxton last night I connected the new phone to my home wi-fi to restore the phone to Thursdays back up and I forgot to save the Blog beforehand so I lost the lot and now how to type it all over again lol, so in summary, new phone, lost Blog, £250 fine and two crap races, well chuffed I flew back off of holiday/training for that lol!!!
It's more than fair to say that after the last couple of rounds I've enjoyed my chart back at Knockhill stating I had a good run of tracks coming for me now was aimed firmly at Snetterton, Brands and most importantly Thruxton, I absolutely adore the place and last year we were so strong yet so cruelly robbed of our first Panigale double win that i really wanted to turn this around and try to track up another double, things definitely didn't go to plan though did they, as early as FP1 things weren't going quite to plan..
Over the last few rounds we've been working really hard to make good use of the new swingarm we received earlier this year and I think it's fair to say that we've done a pretty good job, the bike in theory should now be slightly better than the bike we raced last year so when my first flying lap this year was a whole second slower than the same lap last year and the bike felt way off I knew things were going to be tough, with the last few rounds all being stop start busy little tracks and the bike working really well at those it was immediately obvious that the set up we brought from Brands was completely wrong for Thruxton, we made some very big changes during the session and never got many laps because of that but ended the session 7th and almost three quarters of a second off lap time wise, far from the start I'd expected.
Things got slightly better throughout practice, by the end of FP3 we'd narrowed that gap to the front down to just 0.4 but the thing that was really concerning me wasn't so much the gap to the front but there effort it was taking to be anywhere near, sure we had decent ish race pace and tyre life but only with me busting my balls and having to be inch perfect for that to happen, last year I was almost a second a lap or just under faster for fun, it was very strange.
Qualifying was a bit of a disaster, throughout the two sessions ahead of the Super pole lap we were constantly changing the bike to find something that gave me the confidence and grip I seemed to be lacking and to be honest we weren't really making a great deal of progress, then came the end of Q2, I was only about 6th so I was the third guy out, just after the end of Q2 I had a bit of a brain wave regarding the set up and decided to change the hearing to go longer, Giovanni was happy to try it so we put it in and as soon as we got the 30 second board from the organisers we set off, I headed out for my lap, the longer swingarm length really affected the way the bike steered and I made a complete and utter shambles of my lap but got incredibly lucky that so did a few others so I ended up qualifying P5 for race one the following day and to add insult to injury the organisers dropped a £250 fine on me for supposedly being 19 seconds late arriving for the start of the lap, I was not impressed!!!!!
For morning warm up we went massive, we basically took out the new swingarm, put the old one back in and reverted pretty much completely back to my settings from last season, I topped the warm up session lap time wise but again things just weren't right, I knew for the race we’d to make yet more changes which meant racing something we weren't sure about, the worst case scenario..
I don't really know what to say about race one other than I got a decent start, made a mistake trying to get to the front then I just gradually faded back to finish a relatively distant 4th, I was neither happy nor impressed with the way things had gone but at the same time I was happy that at least the team had the chance to watch on the screens what I'd been telling them all weekend solo we could make another plan to try to make things better for race two which Giovanni went ahead and did by taking a link out of the chain in order to shorten the swingarm length to give the bike more grip, it was so obvious where we were struggling that there was pretty much nothing else left to try!!
I got the 2nd fastest lap in race one so obviously started P2 on the grid for race two, I got another good start and immediately it was obvious the bike felt much better, I did a 1.14.8 on lap two or three without even pushing hard, so convinced was I that we'd turned things around with the setting that I went straight for some moves to get to the front, I got there and felt so smooth and comfortable that like race 2 at Brands hatch I just thought right I'm going to try to check out here, I got to the front and lead a couple of laps or so but then had a bit of a battle with Peter then Jake and then literally out of nowhere the rear tyre just literally gave up, the bike started being really loose on corner entry with the rear trying is best to overtake the front at every right hander then it'd spin up on the first touch of the gas, then within a lap I started getting bad chatter from the rear tyre and I semi pulled out of the race to check the rear tyre, I couldn't see any chunks out of it even though it felt terrible so I had one more go but it was just too dangerous to continue so I had to pull in the pits, something I think I've only ever done a couple of times in my whole career, I was gutted.
I've really not got a lot of negative thoughts, I don't do negative, things for sure could have been far better for me but at the same time things could have been far worse, the team and I will continue pushing on as hard as we can, I'll train to the very best of my ability and I know the team will leave no stone unturned, it's onwards and upwards again now and let's be honest as the old saying goes “the bad times just help you enjoy the good times more” on that note it's onwards and upwards, see you all at Cadwell, take it wait