Race Report: CIV Italian Championship, Round 2, Mugello
On May the 4th the JDS Moto team and myself headed two hours west towards the hills of Tuscany where among the massive mountains there is a grand prix track hidden in a valley. The weather was looking unpredictable throughout the weekend, although sunny on Thursday it looked like rain for free practice one on Friday.
The track was like nothing I have ever ridden before with lots of elevation which you can never really see when watching races on video. The track was very tricky to figure out with positive and negative cambers, to find a good setup we worked hard and made use of the limited time. The Italians know these tracks very well, having been racing them for years they are a great reference to learn the track. Thursday went well we made good progress with the bike and I was learning more and more each session. The last session I had small crash out of the first corner while finding the limits, we knew why and we had a few things we had to change for the next day.
Friday morning FP1 was a wet session, I hadn’t rode in the wet for a while so I was excited to get out there and make some good progress because at the time the races looked like they could be wet. The session was good and bad, for the first ten minutes I was fouth fastest, I came into the pits and we made some changes to the bike to experiment, unfortunatly it did not work out as a lap later I lost the rear end of the bike and crashed into the gravel trap. I wasn’t angry but I was more curious to work out why I crashed.
Qualifying one, I was off to a good start and made some good laps by myself but knew if I wanted a fast lap I needed to find a slipstream, this is so important on our types of bikes especially at a track like this, big fast corners and a long straight. After the sunny thirty minute session was over, surprisingly I was in pole position, but my elation was short lived as after every qualifying and races the bike go to technical checks and my bike weighed in one kg under the weight limit, another litre of fuel in the tank and we would have been good….
Quailifying two Saturday morning, I was pushing very hard and overall I felt good on the bike but I wasn’t able to find a fast group and slipstream, so it was difficult to make a good lap time because on average you go twenty kilometres slower on the straight! I qaulified in position seventeen on the grid so I knew I was in for a challenge to get to the front, anyway those problems aside I felt great on the bike and we were still working hard to find a better setup. After waiting most of the day for my race, I lined up on the grid and with all these riders in front of me I wasnt so nervous because its a long thirteen laps and I knew if I could hook myself onto the back of the front group I would be able to stay with them.
Race one – the lights went out and I made a lightning start I had made three places before the first corner. Turn one was difficult, everyone wants to dive-bomb each other so I went around the outside and made another two places I contined to take every passing opportunity throughout the first lap. After making it out of the crazy first lap I was now with the first group, throughout each corner we constantly changed positions, then on the fourth lap I was up to second place fighting hard to stay at the front. On the second last lap I came into the fifth gear flat out arrabatta one corner when the rider in front of me made a mistake, I had to pick the bike up to avoid hitting him and change my line, this stressed the front tire so much that it let go. After the big tumble I was in shock, I had no serious injury apart from some brusing around my shoulders, the bike was in a lot worse shape! It was a great race, forty eight riders and eight bikes abreast into one corner it was hectic but also great fun and I was happy to fight at the front.
After a long night, with the team up to 4:00am rebuilding the bike from the chassis up and now had warm up to check everything over and make sure it was ready to race. The skys were looking angry and dark but thankfully they were holding up! Race two we decided to make some changes to setup of the bike as I was still having an issue with the front end of the bike diving into corners and we had been battling it all weekend. Once again I lined up seventeenth on the grid after my sighting lap, I realised my front brake wasn’t performing well, with the lever coming all the way into the bar. We had five minutes on the media grid to make it better, so the team bled the brakes and checked eveything over but no improvements were able to be made.
It was time to race and I put the brake problem to the back of my mind, I knew thinking about it wasnt going to help. I made an average start and again picked off a few places, I came into turn one and tried to pass as many people as I could but the brake seemed to be holding me back a lot. I had to be careful were I chose to put my bike on the track, because it’s hard to avoid collisions with weak brakes. I kept chipping away and found myself in tenth position, because I was not able to make as many postions up on the first lap, I was out of range of the front group and found myself battling in the second group. It was hard to keep a good pace, I was making passes and getting passed at nearly every corner which slows the pace.
The group I was in had about ten riders fighting for eleventh place and it was easy to get swallowed up or make mistake. I kept fighting as hard as I could but I soon found that the brake wasn’t my only problem, my shoulder started giving me greif and I was getting tired quickly, then when moving from side to side on the bike the handle bar would move. I was at the limit, with the bars moving, my shoulder hurting, the tires sliding and the brake wasn’t working but I kept pushing and on the last lap got to the front of my group. I then went all out to make a gap and I was leading the group coming out of the last corner but I was slip streamed and lost two places just as I crossed the finish line, if I had an extra one metre gap I would not have got passed, thats how close it was!
Overall I did have a valuble and of course enjoyable weekend, mistakes were made and we were a little unlucky, but the team and I pushed through, I’m gaining more and more experience as each session goes by.
A massive thanks to you guys for helping to make this happen, bring on Imola!!! June 24th.