After the long 5 hour journey to this beautiful 1.5mile circuit right on the coast I got set up in the garage on Thursday and went straight for a walk of the track with Ben as I had never had the opportunity to race this awesome track until this weekend, looking around at the scenery and impressive corkscrew section of track I can see why people have likened this place to a mini ‘Phillip island’ or ‘Laguna seca’! This track really did seem to have some character! The first thing I noticed is the smoothness of the tarmac and the inverse camber of most the corners. As when I rode the 125’s in the British championship going on a track walk to learn the track gave me a confidence boost as already I knew I could push a little bit harder in places than others.
The Friday test day was shared between me and Ben on his 600, Ben did the morning session and me the afternoon, I was hoping for the weather to stay dry for my sessions which it did so luckily I was able to get some valued track time in, the day had been organised by ‘NO LIMITS’ as a track day so there was no timing allowed and I was mixing it in with the fast boys on the 600’s and 1000’s, I felt quite confident and gradually learned the circuit through the afternoon, tyres felt surprisingly good considering this would now be my 3rd meeting on the same set. As with BSB I would look back to find a faster rider to tow me on, no other minitwin came past me so I had to try and follow a few 600’s as a gauge, either way though I didn’t really know where I was compared to the rest of the pack but I had a good feeling and enough confidence of the set up (which was very much unchanged from the previous round at Donnigton) to go into Saturdays Qualifying race.
Saturday felt like a bit of a setback for me, in practice we were 2nd quickest Minitwin which was ok. And the qualifying race didn’t go that bad, I got a great start and led the race outright for 3 laps but problems started to emerge with my rear tyre, the usual glut of a few Aprilia RRV450’s and Grand Prix 250’s came past which I was able to just about hang on to but I could not get on the gas early enough as I had a few slides so by the 4th lap I was passed by Minitwin rider Richard Goode (luckily not an N.G championship contender) the gap went up and down, he was faster round the first section of track and I could get on his tail around the last section including the corkscrew, I didn’t think it was worthwhile to do anything stupid in the qualifying race so I settled for a 2nd place finishing 2 secs behind him. The rear tyre looked ok but I was thinking that perhaps I may have made an error with the tyre pressures which was causing loss of grip, they were both 1-2 psi out, with this in mind I made sure they were set correctly every time.
For Saturdays championship race I would start on the 2nd row just behind Richard, in dry conditions I thought I had a good chance of running with him and perhaps beating him but by lap 2 any chance of this had gone out the window as I once again just tried to hang on to grip. I watched my pit board thereafter and on the last lap the gap had gone down from +2 to +1 so I knew the riders behind were closing, I could not get the bike to turn on the exits and every corner the bike would run a little wide, unfortunately I ran off the edge of the kerb out of the first hairpin which severely hindered my chances of good drive coming onto the back straight, I was then passed on the entry into rocket and then again on the exit of peel going down into the corkscrew eventually finishing 4th. I was a bit gutted considering I had a 2 second lead built up and I lost out to my championship rival and I also knew I had a problem with the bike which I would have to try and rectify.
Coming from a 125gp background I am used to changing lots of things on the bike every session, whether it be electronics, gearing,carburetion or suspension , I would say I have a good feel for something that might need changing but the difference with the Minitwin is that much of it can’t be changed and that sometimes it just boils down to riding around problems (which is not a bad thing!) or a new set of tyres! Unfortunately I do not have the money for a new set and maybe in hindsight I should have conserved them more on the Friday test day but coming so close to winning the championship means that every bit of track time is precious to me, it seemed a bit of a no win situation for me to be in! At this point in 125’s we would normally have a proper debrief looking at all the data and telemetry from the session including my positioning on track, line choice, where and when I was getting on the gas plus a breakdown of my sector times to try and ascertain the problems. All I really have on the Twin is a cable tie around the fork leg to show suspension travel and a funny looking bloke on pit wall (normally Ben) giving me strange hand gestures! After a very informative chat with Colin from 100% suspension I was able to get some set up advise and to change practically the only thing I can on the bike which was the rear shock settings.
Practice on the Sunday morning felt very much the same but this was largely because of the overnight weather system that had set in. It had been raining heavily and the track was very greasy causing quite a few crashes and me having a monster slide coming out of peel, unfortunately my team mate Ben had a big off which put him out and in hospital so I was not in the most confident of moods going into the qualifying race. We tried adding one turn of preload to the rear to stop the bike pitching so much on the gas exiting the corners as this was lifting the front and causing the bike to go wide. This made a big difference and although the bike still felt loose on the throttle at least I was able to keep to my desired line and not run wide on the exits. I again managed to get a good start for the race beating my rival off the line and into turn 1, it felt so much better! I was able to lap a bit quicker in Sunday’s qualifying race than Saturday’s championship race which really boosted my confidence I thought perhaps I was still in for a good result! I managed to keep my rival (Paul Wardell) at bay finishing the race in 2nd with Richard Goode taking pole, I was not bothered as I only wanted to finish in front of Paul for the championship lead.
The weather was changing all the time for the last race and with an hour to go it hammered it down with rain, like Cadwell Park earlier this year as soon as it rained the Sun was out drying the track! These conditions are the worst for a rider because it is a gamble on what tyres to run! At least on the 125 I had the option of running intermediate tyres or cut slicks, on the Minitwin its either dry’s or full wets. The track was drenched but it was drying quickly and with 5 minutes to go I chose to run with the dry tyres.
When I got to the grid most people had chosen dry’s including the GP250’s and my rival Wardell. With only a handful on wets this re-assured me I made the right choice. I didn’t get such a great start and I got passed on the first corner by Wardell so was 3rd going into the hairpin. I got great drive out and was able to re-take him going up the back straight into Church. I then had my sights set on one of the 450 RRV Aprilia’s which are not in our class but I thought if I could pass him then at least I would put some distance into my rival and he would have to do the same if he wanted to beat me. After a tense battle with the rider on the 450 and swapping places a dozen times I eventually got the better of him and managed to gap him, my plan seemed to work! I was reading my pit board and lap after lap it was going up from +2 to +5 seconds! I knew I had the result and even if I wasn’t in 1st it was good enough to bring home! I finished 2nd strengthening my championship lead.
Overall considering I had never been to Anglesey before, on tyres that were 3 meetings old and having to maintain my championship lead to come away with a 4th and 2nd still leading with a best lap of 1.15.71 is a great result and I am really happy!! I would like to say a massive thanks to Colin from 100% suspension, Ben, Ali, James and Harriet from Black & Blue racing and my family (mum, dad & girlfriend Michaela) for all the help so let’s roll on Pembrey for round 7 where I am looking to take the championship win!! #57