Bahrain Superbike Championship
Round 4 - 11th February 2017

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Round 4 of the BSBK was to prove difficult in a few ways, the weather would play a part and the organisers playing hard ball, again.

 

The schedule was a two race format as normal this time starting early with scruteneering at 7:30, there wasn't anything to do with the bikes other than run over them with a spanner and double check the suspension setting etc. With clothing and the bike done all we had to do is wait for free practice, however the weather was very cold for this time of year and it had rained over night so the track was damp.

Hussain and the organisers asked me to I run round for a couple of laps to assess conditions, because most of the field of riders had never ridden in the rain or damp conditions before. It wasn't too bad really but with the cool temperature and inexperienced riders I suggested to wait another half an hour before letting everyone go out on slicks.The supersport 600 riders went out some twenty minutes later for their session and with treaded tyres and slightly better conditions all went well, so we looked forward to our qualifying session.

But the weather wasn't done with us yet and another small shower while the cars had their turn, meant Hussain asked me to do another couple of laps just to check before qualifying.

While I was out it was OK but rolling down the pit lane to the garage it started to rain once again. It was decided to wait half an hour then we all went out for our timed session.

Clearly everyone was a little tentative for a few laps but by the end of the session it was business as usual with Mashel on pole, me second and Ahmed Almuyini in third with Fahad on the second row for the first race.

 

Another twist then happened, the organisers came down to the garage and said that four riders had gone through the chequered flag more than once, some twice and one rider three times!

 

I couldn't believe it however we were dragged upstairs in front of the clerk of the course and it was explained to us.

Another 50BD fine, well I was a little more than unhappy at this point and went down to review my onboard footage.

 I did in fact miss the flag for the first time as I was right up behind Fahad slipstreaming him onto the start/finish straight, I was concentrating on him and didn't focus on the flag. In my defence I would have assumed Fahad would have seen it and slowed down but I guess in the heat of the moment  he failed to see it as him being fined also would suggest…By the time the race came the track was completely dry and as the red lights went out we all roared off down to turn one. I am on a diet and have lost between 7 and 8kg and this really helped on the sprint into turn one, Mashel normally gaps me well before the braking area, however this time we were neck and neck up to the braking point.

Then he pulled a small gap but coming into the last right hairpin turn he ran on and off the track, he later said the bike felt funny on the brakes, but I was happy enough to inherit the lead now and made hay while the sun, in this case didn't, shine.

Fahad was all over me in second place and we had a great battle for a few laps before he too out braked himself into the last corner.

This allowed me to pull a decent gap on the pack but Mashel who had now regrouped was on the charge. It took him a few more laps, one of them breaking the lap record, to catch me but catch me he did.

I was up for it and we had a proper dogfight for another couple of laps before exiting turn one the gear selector jammed in third gear. I wrestled with the lever for a while but it was stuck pointing right down towards the ground.

There was nothing I could do other than limp round screaming the poor 899 into the ground.

I dropped back through the field but thought I could at least grab a few points if I could manage to get home.

But just before starting the last lap the gear lever ground out on a corner and knocked the bike into second gear then into neutral, I tried pulling and pushing the lever by hand desperate to get any gear then the bike jumped into first.

I tried desperately again to get maybe second or third so I could finish the race but first was the only gear available. It would have been way too dangerous to attempt a full lap in first so I had to retire, very frustrated to say the least.

Back in the garage the mechanics pulled things apart and found the gear selector fork had jumped off the selector jamming things up, they replaced it and got the bike ready for the second race.

I enjoy a good battle with the boys and it seems they do too as my garage filled up with riders coming down to ask me was I OK and what went wrong.

Another DNF was the last thing I needed to be honest as I had just managed to get back up to second place in the Championship after the last round and had now lost another bagful of points.

There was more rain, and this time really hard and the track was completely drenched with only 40 minutes to go before race two, but the sun had come out so it was going to be 'challenging' for the early part of the race if they were going to run it.

Hussain came running round the garages saying to do our out lap and when we reformed on the grid we would do a show of hands to see if we wanted to run or wait, well that was the plan anyway.Forming back up on the grid, sighting lap done, all but a few riders wanted to wait however the organisers said the race had to go ahead now and within a few second we were off on our warm up lap. To be honest with care in places it was OK to race, but the painted sections and white lines were still quite slippy and the last corner was proper wet but with the inexperience of some of the riders in the wet I expected a crash fest.

Lights out and we all blasted down into turn one, this time I had to start at the back of the grid because of not finishing race one, but I did some Uber late braking then pushed hard for a few laps and quickly made my way to the front of the field.

Mashel was leading and clearly wasn't suited with the conditions, but he is a quality rider and was using his brain just keep a decent pace waiting for the track to dry up, which it was lap by lap getting better and better.By now I had passed him and put my head down and tried to pull away but he wasn't going to let that happen and we had a terrific scrap for the rest of the race. Then he slipstreamed me along the start/finish straight passing me into turn one for the penultimate time. He is a great rider and slowly pulled a small gap to the finish line, I was relieved just to get to the end of the race so getting on the rostrum was a great damage limitation race for me.

There are still two events to go, there's no catching Mashel, who is leading the Championship on 195 points, even if I could, but I have to beat Fahad, who is in second place on 124 points, in the next three races and preferably get someone in between us both to regain my second place in the Championship, with me now on 113 points.

We will have to see how it goes but as they say in Bahrain 'inshallah'.

 

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