Bahrain Superbike Championship
Round 6 - 21st April 2017

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Well it had all come down to the last round to decide who was going to take second place in the Championship.

Mashel had already won at the last round by winning all but one race, helped by the fact I had two DNF due to mechanical failure or I might have been able to push him until the last race to decide the Championship.

It was a three way battle for second place, I had a 11 point cushion over of Fahad and Ahmed who were one point apart. Nothing is a given and still with 50 points available I knew I had to keep pushing right to the end to secure the place.

We had done loads of calculations working out almost every possible points/position each of the three of us could or would achieve but basically all I had to do was follow both riders home to take the 2nd placed title as long as Mashel won both races.

The only thing was Mashel was also riding in the 600 race for extra practice and I was unsure if he would drop back and mix it up with the three of us, this could have a huge effect on the proceedings, only time would tell. F1 had been at the circuit the week before, with some testing during the week so there was still a huge amount of F1 infrastructure around the paddock, due to some of these workings our free practice was set back an hour so it was 16:00 before we rolled down the pit lane for the first time.

As this was the last round and the time of year the weather was warming up so it was decided to have a night race, but also around this time of the year there can be some winds coming from the South that can bring what they call 'sand rising'. It's like a fog almost but it's simply a mild sand storm in reality, and when we went out on track it was very surreal following bikes with what looked like water spraying off the wheels like in the wet, but it was sand. This combined with the rubber left by the F1 cars made the track quite slippy until we cleared a line in the sand.

There was a bigger grid than normal being the last round a few extra riders came out to play, including a UK rider Carl Stevens who does a bit for Fast Bikes and rides in the Tri Options Cup. Being British he was put the garage with Wes and me.

I wanted to save my tyres for the races so I deliberately only did 4 or 5 laps of free practice to clear the cob webs before returning to the garage. The times were surprisingly good despite the track conditions and I was second quickest on a 1:8.55 behind Mashel so it looked like business as usual.

Because of the later start the schedule was compressed and before we knew it we were out again for our qualifying session. I wanted to push early on once again to save my tyres for the race and just as I crossed the line to end my session Mashel came passed, I couldn't miss the opportunity to follow him round, something that I had been doing all year, but this time just to experiment, try and replicate some of his lines etc.

His style is very 'Moto GP' and in some sections there was no way I was going to repeat what he was doing because my style is so 'old school' however I had the time to observe with no pressure what he was getting up to and he gave me a mater class in turn one, a corner I still struggle with and need to work on. My line and style work well but I thought if I could combine what he was doing with what I was doing I could improve, sounds easy, but it ain't.

Anyhow I finished P2 right in the middle of the grid behind Mashel with Ahmed to the left of me in third, Fahad was forth so it was lining up to be an interesting final couple of races.

I was now well clear of both Ahmed and Fahad but experience has shown me it isn't over until you have crossed the line for the final time so I wasn't counting my chickens just yet.

By now however it was starting to get late in the evening and the temperature was falling fast, tyre pressure was going to play a part to get the best grip in the final race, went up a couple of PSI in the rear and hoped I'd made the right decision.

Lights out and I made another fabulous start and ended up following Mashel up the hill with little Ahmed right on my tail. This time although I tried to open a gap over Ahmed I wasn't so committed thus he was able to stay with me for the opening few laps. We both pulled away from the pack and I was thinking all I had to do was follow him home but it's not the way I really wanted to finish the year. Ahmed however was throwing everything into it, he really wanted to beat Fahad overall and needed the 2nd place and after a good tow down the home straight and up the hill in to turn 4 he played his hand and lunged under me into the corner.

I fought back, had it been earlier in the season I would have re passed him again but I wasn't too bothered for the place.

 

Fahad was almost in striking distance behind in 4th place so I couldn't mess about too much but even if he passed me I had still done enough.

Head down for a few more laps and I crossed the line to take the flag in third place 3 second behind Ahmed but 3 seconds in front of Fahad.

I had finished in second place in the Championship and Ahmed had jumped up to 3rd snatching it from Fahad.

The following day the organisers laid on a gala presentation dinner at the Sofitel hotel nearby, all the Championship sponsors were there along with all or most of the competitors, with lots of trophies given out, best novice, best new comer, most improved rider etc and we all feasted on delicious food.

 

I was very relieved, pleased and proud of what I had done; thanks to all the generous people that made it possible, not just with financial sponsorship, which is always welcome, but with info, advice and support along the way - I have made some great new friends, made new contacts and had a great time in this fabulous country, the Kingdom of Bahrain.