Race Report CIV Supersport Round 1 Misano
Finally, after a long wait we have finally arrived at the first race of 2019!
As some of you may know, in February I broke my left collarbone for the second time in three months, it was in winter testing at the Cartagena circuit in Spain and although it was unfortunate, I have learnt a big lesson. I was worried I would not be strong enough for the first race and because I didn’t have surgery, and I knew the recovery process would take longer. I rested until the bone was connected again, after that I started swimming, and eventually was able to do some push ups and pull ups to get some strength back.
We arrived in Misano on Wednesday afternoon, the team were setting up the pit box and organising everything. the bikes were stripped down, checked and were ready to go for Thursday free practice. This year is completely different to the last, I’m apart of a much bigger, complicated and experienced team. There are a lot of differences of how the team work, it’s all very exciting and there is a lot of things happening at once. My crew chief Lolo is the guy I talk to about the sessions, setup, data and everything in between. The modifications to the bike get passed down to my mechanics who do a wonderful job of keeping the bike in top notch condition.
I hadn’t ridden a bike or hardly even a bicycle before the second test, so it was important to ease my way into it and try to understand everything. Thursday went well, we worked in a calm way and made steps forward in every session. I was happy with progress, I only worked on my riding style, as it’s something I have had to change, as this bike requires a different way of riding compared to the SS300 bike.
Friday rolled around and it was time for free practice one and qualifying one. I used FP1 to understand the condition of the track and the bike, while continuing to work on my riding. The forecast was set to be sunny with a top of 17 degrees during the weekend, but the track was quite cold, I could feel the tires sliding around more than usual. In qualifying one, my plan was to follow another rider so I could have someone to chase, as I still was adapting to the super-sport bike. I managed to provisionally qualify in 22nd position, 1.9 seconds off the fastest time, although I wasn’t too happy with the grid placing my main goal was to improve my feeling with the bike and my lap time.
The sun was shining on Saturday morning and I was ready for qualifying two at 10.15 am. I was able to improve my time to a 1.41 with a new rear SC0 tire which is mainly used for qualifying sessions because it is a softer compound, provides more grip but deteriorates more quickly. I had used it once before and I tried to adapt to the characteristic of the tire. After putting in my fastest lap I came through the first and second sector on a personal best time but then crashed. The conditions had changed from Friday and I hadn’t take the time to understand the grip, I pushed too hard without thinking enough, another important lesson, I ended up with p23 on the grid.
Going into this first race I knew I wasn’t as fit or strong as last year but I was as ready as I could be under the circumstances. I was excited but also a little nervous a feeling I used to experience when I raced in Australian flat track titles, the butterflies in the stomach, yawning when you’re not tired, it’s a little funny but I usually like the feeling because it makes you want to get out there and ride the bike as fast as you have ever done before.
Race one, I knew it was going to be difficult race with thirty-nine starters coming from p23, but I had a plan I made a good start and picked off many riders in the first sector, by lap four I was in 14th position. I felt comfortable but started to have strange feeling on the front tire, under braking it started to push and buck underneath me. I was determined and motivated to hunt the riders ahead but those thoughts got the better of me and on lap six I crashed losing the front under braking and threw away my first championship points in my debut race. I was okay but after the second fall of the day I felt battered and bruised. Despite the brief disappointment the team and I quickly found the positives of the race and we were in good spirits, we spoke about the day, we learnt from our mistakes and then put it behind us.
Sunday and I was ready to turn things around, we had a 15 minute warm up session in the morning then the race at 5pm. Race two I was able to make another great start from 23rd on the grid and make my way up to 16th position in the second lap. On lap five the race was red flagged due to a rider falling off and the debris on the track. We came back into the pits prepared for a quick restart routine for the now eleven lap race. During the first part of race before the stoppage I was again experiencing an uneasy feeling with the front tire, I spoke to the team and we made a change on the front suspension for the restart.
Because the race was reflagged when I was in 16th position, that’s where I would start on the grid. The race started and I made my way up to 11th position, I was learning so much racing with the other riders and put in my fasted lap time of the weekend, 1.40.8. I was trailing my team mate and a group of five riders, I felt comfortable on the bike and really relaxed. I was as close as I’d been all weekend, but I had to remind myself to be smart and finish the race. I was able to match their lap times and stay with them for a number of laps but I couldn’t keep the consistency of the lap times, may be due to my fitness because my lap times were good towards the end of the race. I was passed by two riders, I could stay on their tail and chase them down until the end of the race. The bike and tires were changing during the race, but I stayed with the two riders ahead of me and lined one of them up for a last corner pass, as I was braking the front started to push, I knew I was close to the limit so I thought better of it and back out, I crossed the finish line in a 13th place.
I would like to thank my team for continually helping me to find my feet with this new journey and of course none of this could be possible without my parents, my sponsors and my supporters. Thank You all for the opportunity.
Next round, Mugello 27th to 29th of April!