Bahrain Superbike Championship
Round 3 - 13th January 2017

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The third round of the BSBK was the first event of 2017 for me, this was a special think as it was the start of my 35th consecutive year of racing.

 

However it didn't start off so well with an email from British Airways 30 minutes before we left home for the airport telling me the flight was cancelled due to weather conditions.

We had been awakened a few times through the night with debris blowing around in the street and the house seemed to be moving, so we thought there could be an 'issue' with the flight in the morning.

After a conversation with a BA rep he offered me an alternative Manchester/Heathrow/Bahrain but getting to Manchester was too tight to work so we elected to wait for the following days flights.

 

All was well with the flight to Heathrow but after we flew out from there flights were cancelled so I recon we only just made it in the end.

This delay put us 24 hours behind on our schedule meaning the flight landed midnight Thursday and to rub salt in it was a early start at the circuit with scruteneering starting at 7:30. Thankfully the bikes this time hadnít been swapped around so most of the initial set up was in place and the graphics didn't need re-applying.

The schedule for this event was going to be very tight as the organisers were holding a drag race event from 18:00 so all our racing including the car racing was to be done in the day.

This time I was sharing a garage with Ruben a rider form Mauritius with Wes and Ian in the next garage, it was good as it automatically get you interacting with different people and getting to know them better as a result.

 

I went over the bike to make sure I had the settings in from the last round so I had a good starting point for practice, the bike was working well for round two so I hoped I could build on it from here. However it was a lot cooler than round two so tyre temperature and pressures were going to play a part this time.

Free practice went well and I was fastest for most of the session before Mashel popped in a hot one right at the end but my time was quickest than I had gone so far.

The bike seemed really good and in qualifying I only wanted to do as little as possible to save the tyres for the race.

I felt good and pulled in after five laps to see what sort of times I was doing, I was really pleased to see 1:08.36 which was the fastest I had ever done so decided to park it and save myself for race one.

Mashel had gone into the 07s so was on pole with Fahad a second behind me completing the front row.

I had also tried using more traction on the bike to save the tyre, it seemed to give me more stability exiting the corners strangely where I thought it would hold me back, maybe this was the way to go?

Race one soon came around but as I lined up after the sighting lap there was no Mashel or Fahad, apparently they had missed the pit exit time window and had been held in the pit lane.

Unfortunately for Mashel he ignored the red light at the pit exit and not only had to start form the back of the grid but was given a 10 second penalty.

 

None of this I knew at the time but I realised I had a good advantage at the start.

Lights out and off we roared into turn one, I popped a wheelie as the clutch grabbed a little so didn't make as good a start as I could but I was still leading as we rounded turn one. I could hear the pack behind but didn't look back until we came back round onto the start/finish straight for the first time.

Mashel had made a mega start and was already right up behind me, being the racing snake he is he slipstreamed me and out braked me into the first turn to start lap two.

I was determined to hang on to him and rode as hard as I could, or wanted to, to stay with him but he's very quick and slowly inexorably he pulled away opening up the gap lap by lap.

 I knew I wasn't going to stay with him and after six or seven laps looking back we were miles in front of the following group, with little to achieve I settled for where I was and finished about 7 seconds behind Mashel at the end.

Pleased with how things had gone I was celebrating with a cup of coffee in the garage when Hussain came in to tell me I had won the race due to Mashel getting a time penalty, I didn't like it as to me he had won the race fair and square, but the decision was made so it meant I had made up several points on Fahad after missing out in the round when my gear lever broke.

 

I went to Mashel  to say I wasn't happy but he was very gracious and congratulated me with the win.

The second race was more representative of things.

 

Lights out and Mashel and I arrived at turn one together side by side, there's no point leaning on him or attempting to hold him back so I started to follow him round and exiting turn one.

 

However Fahad was up for it and attempted to get underneath me as we roared up the hill to turn two, I could see him under my left arm and out the side of my vision but held him off.

Mashel did his normal thing and crept away lap on lap but Fahad wasn't going to give up that easy.

I quickly opened up a couple of second gap but he got second wind a slowly started to eat into my lead, I didn't panic as I felt confident even if he caught me I could hold him back so just kept a consistent pace.

Thankfully we caught a slower rider on the penultimate lap and I made the most of it passing him as we arrived at the top of the hill into turn two.

It's fairly tight and technical over the next few corners and Fahad was held up for a short while, enough for me to open a gap up again allowing me to finish a comfortable second.

 

A great couple of results after my DNF in the last round, it helped me move up from 4th to 2nd in the Championship.

Next round 11th February.

 

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