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Wet, Wet, Wet! Round Four. Knockhill Scotland.

We always enjoy the trek up to Knockhill. We’ve been spoiled with beautiful weather for the past couple of years, but in keeping with the disappointing summer weather all over the country, the forecast looked iffy, at best.


Max usually goes well in the wet but Jason, still new to his Completely Motorbikes Kawasaki ZX-10RR, had yet to have a run with us in wet conditions.

Whatever the weather, Jason and Max were both on a high after their results at Donington Park and were aiming to build on the momentum.


With a lap distance of just one and a quarter miles and a record time of 47.1, the racing was sure to be close.


Free Practice


Two 50 minute sessions on Friday afternoon. Two sets of tyres available and the first priority is settling into the circuit and making initial adjustments with five or six lap runs. It didn’t quite work out like that. Ten minutes into FP1 and the heavens opened, leading to a red flag period before a final 15 minutes in the wet at the end of the allotted time. With qualifying runs determined by free practice times, those ten minutes determined the shape of the weekend. Jason had posted a top 12 time for a place in Q2 but Max hadn’t got going and was all the way back in P23. With FP2 also run in the wet there was no opportunity to improve so Max would have to go in Q1, chasing one of the three places that would promote him to a Q2 run.


Good news was that Jason soon settled into a wet weather setting and was actually fastest in FP2 with a lap time of 52.3, just five seconds from the lap record. Max P13, 0.8 slower but going well in the conditions.


Qualifying


An addition to the schedule is the return of a 10-minute FP3 session as a warm-up for qualifying. A dry track meant there was a final opportunity to build up to full speed. On scrubbed tyres, Jason had a steady run for P10. Max was pushing to find his form but as the flag came out for the end of the session he crashed at the downhill turn two and slid off onto the muddy grass. Rider okay but not enough time to fix his bike meaning he had to miss qualifying altogether and start from the back of the grid.


Meanwhile, Jason got his head down in Q2. P2 after the initial runs before a red flag halted proceedings. With another set of new tyres fitted for the resumption, the 12 riders were on full attack. Times fell with every lap that passed and after dropping to P8, with a couple of minutes to run, Jason had a final push which netted a lap time of 47.6, good enough for P2 alongside Bridewell on pole. Our first front row starts of the year.


After Max’s bad luck, at least things were looking more positive for Jason going into race one later in the afternoon.

Race One


More torrential rain prevented any track action for over an hour. After the delay, the supersport class ran in bright sunshine with a dry line appearing on the track. By the time the superbikes were on the grid the big question was which tyres to use. In the end the whole grid opted for dry weather slick tyres. They work over damp patches provided they retain heat, but the riders would have to be very careful about any off-line overtaking moves throughout the 25 lap race. 


After making up three places on lap one, Max picked up a couple more places to P22 before getting stuck in a group of slower riders and deciding not to take any silly risks in the conditions. To prove his and our luck was out, Max stopped with a technical issue at two-thirds distance. P19.

Jason got away with Bridewell and they soon opened up a gap over the chasing pack, taking advantage of being able to manage their track position. Bridewell opened up a dominant 6 second gap as Jason was joined by the second group at half distance. Dropping back to P5, Jason was compromised when Irwin’s Ducati started to smoke intermittently. Jason dropped back, worried in case the Ducati was dropping oil as Irwin ignored signals to retire which would result in a penalty. The dramas allowed Ryde to close in and as Irwin finally retired, he managed to pass Jason who crossed the line P5.


Stuck in traffic, Max’s best lap would mean a P19 grid position for race two. Despite running at the front in clear air, Jason’s fastest lap was only 13th fastest. Vickers withdrawing due to illness and Irwin starting from the back due to the penalty for his race one infringement, promoted Jason to P11 on the race two grid. A lap 0.3 faster would have put him safely onto the second row.


Race Two


More rain overnight and through the morning meant the 10-minute warm up was run in full wet conditions. Jason P2 having led fastest man Haslam round for the whole session. Max P14.


20 lap sprint race on a steaming wet track. Visibility was going to be a major issue so Jason and Max’s grid positions were going to be a major handicap.


Jason made up places off the grid but in the blinding spray he lost out in the turn one melee and came round still P11. An incident at the hairpin with Jackson let Max through and pushed Jason further back. With a bit of clear track onto lap three, Jason started to push but lost the front at turn two and like Max the day before, end up in the mud. Clearly it wasn’t shaping up to be our weekend.


Max got a decent start and came round P15 before moving up a couple more places when Jackson took Jason wide at the hairpin. P11 on lap six before a big moment after touching a white line put him back two places. Max stuck to his task as others suffered, he hung on for a creditable P10 in horrible conditions.  


Race Three


Final 25 lap race of the weekend. Wet again. More pain for Jason. His early crash in race two meant he hadn’t posted a competitive lap time, so he’d be starting from the back of the grid. Max P15.


Then our luck really did run away with the Scottish rain. Up eight places on lap one, Jason had made it to P14 as the pack went on to lap seven. That was as far as he got. Into the hairpin and pushing to make up time, the front wheel folded and down he went. Max made up five places on lap one and came round P10. A lap later he was sat on his bike at the side of the track – something electrical – probably water related…..


Couldn’t make it up. At least the good news is that Jason was as fast as anyone in dry and in wet conditions. But the weather and circumstances meant he ended up with just one P5 result. Max caught out by the weather at the start of FP1 had been on the back foot. Two technical DNFs were out of his control but a spirited ride in the wet in race two proved he hasn’t lost it.


Our worst weekend for a very long time. Sorry folks! After our highlights at Donington Park, it had been a perfect demonstration of the highs and lows of racing🤷‍♂️.

Championship Standings


Jason still P7 on 81 points just behind Haslam but now a bit back from the top five. Just needs a couple of strong rounds now he’s fully at home on his Kawasaki. Max has slipped a few places to P13 but he’s right in the chasing pack and more than capable of making up places.


Next Time


Snetterton 300 next. Super highspeed straights and fast corners. Our ZX-10RRs go well there and so do Jason and Max. Let’s hope we get some decent weather and a clear run at the competition.


Hope to see you there.


Regards, Nigel Team Principal.



 

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