Bahrain Superbike Championship
Round 1 - 21st October 2016

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My outing in the Bahrain Superbike Championship (BSBK) came about after deciding I wanted to have a go at something different, outside the UK and potentially open up some new opportunities for the future.

The series is in its second year of running and is going from strength to strength.

 

A one make series using Ducati 899 machines running in stock specification with the exception of rear sets, slick tyres and race bodywork, all the machines are supplied by the Bahrain Ducati importer and are hired out to competitors, fuelled up ready to go - a real 'turn up and ride' event.

I hadn't ridden in the Middle East before and initially I was unsure of how I would get on with the heat, culture and the machines so looking at the calendar I noticed there was a DRE (Ducati Riding Experience) event the week before the official test day for the series, doing this would give me a opportunity to see if I liked the whole thing before committing to the series. So we flew out and did the trackday with DRE, what an eye opener, really hot and a completely different mentality to riding/racing than I was used to. The trackday was on the GP circuit at Bahrain (BIC) and the race series uses the Oasis short circuit, so at least I could check out the two tracks. The 899 was more or less as I expected it would be, easy to ride, stopped and turned OK however I was surprised just how hard you had to keep the motor spinning like a 600 multi cylinder machine and the track was very grippy but the tyres, due mainly to the heats started to slide around after 3 or 4 laps.

Action and paddock shots: BSBK

After a meeting with the series organiser Hussain he said he would like me to do the Championship but I would have to sign up for the series to do the test day on the short circuit, I had sort of made up my mind anyway but explained that I would need to source some more sponsorship to do the whole Championship.

We stayed out for the week and did the test day the following Friday. Although expensive to stay out, it was actually cheaper than flying home and back out again.

 

The test day went well, I got into the circuit quite quickly and after some adjustments with the suspension and the electronics I posted the second quickest time.

It was clear I still had some way to go time wise but felt confident I could improve.

A few weeks later we flew back to do round one of the BSBK, arriving at the circuit on Thursday afternoon to check over the bike, make sure I had everything in place for the race on Friday.

The mechanics had been busy putting the race rear sets on the bikes, new tyres and setting the pit garages up with carpets, tables power leads etc.

 

Fridays schedule was practice starting at 14:30 then qualifying later in the afternoon with the two races in the early evening under the flood lights which created a great atmosphere.

The front wheel was out of balance during the practice session but the tyre service soon rebalanced it and the mechanics quickly had it back in the bike for qualifying which went well with me posting the second quickest time and a front row position for both races which being in the evening would be much cooler than the roasting heat of the afternoon.

Race one and I got a great start right on the heels of Mashel Al Naimi out in front however he slowed right down coming to the end of the lap and I was totally confused as to what he was doing. I thought there must be something wrong and slowed down looking around for any reason to why, then Aaron Moris who was doing a one off race passed me as we exited the last corner, Mashel came by again flat out chasing Aaron and I too picked up the pace again.

It was a odd way to go about things but apparently Mashel likes to see what the competition rides like. Anyway we charged round for a few laps but I was struggling to get the bike to turn in to the corner and it would run wide at the exit.

Eventually I made an unforced error running wide and off the track at the last corner and the leading pair pulled a big gap. I then ended up in a battle with Mashel's team mate Fahad Al Sowaidi which lasted the rest of the race but I pushed on in the last couple of laps to cross the line in third place with a small gap to Fahad.

 

Race two soon came around and another good start and I was in third place going up the hill after turn one behind Aaron with Mashel leading.

 

Mashel was pushing hard and made a mistake just before the end of the first lap running off the track and dropped to fifth place over the line for the first time.

It didn't take him long to reel everyone back in passing me and chasing down Aaron who had opened up a small gap after a few laps.

I had made a alteration to the front suspension which improved the turn in, however under braking the forks where bottoming out causing the front wheel to hop into the corners so I had ease back or it was going to end up in tears.

Once again Fahad and I had a great scrap for third place and we both pushed each other right to the flag with me grabbing another third place.

 

Mashel won both races with Aaron taking two well deserved second places then me two thirds.

I was pleased that I had made the rostrum twice but a little disappointed I couldn't quite keep with the front two riders, even though my times had come down, I still need to find a better setting for the bike to help me maintain grip until the end of both races and work out which setting the traction and engine braking will best.

 

Round two is the first week in December and I hope to by then how for some data that can help me move forward, plus the fact I have started a new diet so I can get down, closer to the weight of the leading riders.

 

Wish me luck

To take part in the other races I'm going to need to source further support or financial assistance to help with travel and accommodation.

So, if you'd like to be part of my team for my Bahrain Superbike Championship campaign you can sponsor me easily by clicking the logo below:

 


Okay, okay James, so now I know what a 1st place pot looks like!

 Race 1:
 

Race 2: