REECE BANCELL SCHOLARSHIP/RICK OLSEN:
FRIDAY PRACTICE and QUALIFIER 1:
With Friday’s three practice sessions, we set out to try to get some good rhythm to enable a good consistent pace for the races. I felt good on the bike and it was working well. After the three practices my times were 1.38 to 1.39 so I needed to find a second and a half to get on the front runners pace. Qualifier one was late in the afternoon and we had on a new set of tyres and knew that to be on the front row we would need to get in the 1.37 mark. On my fifth lap I did a time of 1.37.008, just edging out Cru Halliday by 0.040 for pole for this session – we were pretty happy.
Saturday’s qualifier was at midday, so the track was a bit warmer than Friday afternoon’s session so we were thinking the times might be quicker. We waited in the pits watching the times to see if anyone would knock us of pole, and also to save our tyres. I went out with five minutes left to get a feel of what the track was like knowing we had our first race in the afternoon. After returning to the pits at the end of the qualifier I checked the times and our time from Friday gave us pole…and we saved tyres, so we were very happy!! RACE 1 – The race in the afternoon saw us get a bad start and I was fourth in the first turn. We made our way to second by turn four but the race was red flagged due to six riders crashing in turn one. Because it was so late in the afternoon it was decided the race would be abandoned.
SUNDAY RACE DAY: We arrived Sunday to find out that race one was going to be re-run as the first race of the day. Again, we got a bad start and fifth into turn one, I managed to get two riders around the outside coming out of turn one and moved up to third into turn two. With Halliday and Zach in front, I didn’t want them getting away, so coming into turn three; I pushed just a little too hard and tucked the front. As I got up I noticed that Cru had done the same thing!! Then the race was red flagged and we had some work to do to get out for race two. Working furiously, we managed to get our bike together looking as good as new for race two, thanks to Marty Dowd and his crew from Yamaha.
Race 2 – we got yet another bad start which left us fourth into turn one!! Got to get these starts sorted out!! With a good run on Zach coming out of turn three, I managed to get him under brakes into four. Mitch was leading and Cru in second and as the race was only five laps, I knew getting in front early was crucial – going into turn nine on the first lap I went under Halliday but ran a little wide which allowed him to come back at me again. Going down the straight I managed to get in his slipstream and made a move into one. Mitch was now just ahead I closed a little at the next group of corners to 5, and saw a small gap on the inside going into nine and made my move. I managed to hold the lead until the end and was really pumped to get the win after my crash in race one.
Race 3 – Finally, I got a good start and was second for the first lap, and as we tipped into turn one for the start of the 2nd lap, I made a move on the inside of Cru and grabbed the lead which I was able to hold until the third lap, when I ran a little wide into turn one and Cru slipped up the inside. I managed to close in and tried to go up the inside again, but had to pull out and just clipped his back wheel with a big puff of smoke coming up from the contact, also getting a bit of a head shake but managed to stay close. On the last lap, I knew I had to make a move soon so I had a look at him in turn nine, but Cru braked very late so the only thing I could now do was try to slip stream him down the straight to the finish. We both got good drive of the last turn and I tucked in tight and put my head down closing in the slip stream but just finishing behind Cru by half a bike length, good race!!
The second place in that race still gave us enough points to win the round by half a point, and to maintain the Championship lead. ONLY One point separated first to third showing just how important that pole position point can be. Once again I would like to give a big thanks to my sponsors THE REECE BANCELL SCHOLARSHIP and all the supporters from the Scholarship including AGV, Alpinestars, Andersons bike stands, Bike-photos, Champions Ride Days, Goodridge brake lines, Joe Rocket leathers, JTS sprockets, Motul Oils, Racers Edge, RK chains, Sportsbike and YRD YAMAHA. Also a huge thanks to Marty Dowd and his team for helping to get my bike back together and for preparing it for each meeting. To Frank Pons for his support and advice in the pits and suspension on the bike, my Dad, Plumby and Tungate for their help also fixing the bike and my family and friends for their support…..without all of you, it would be so much harder..thank you.