Round 2 – Oulton Park Race Report

The second round of the British Superbike season took the Racing team to the North West circuit of Oulton Park where the Silverstone summer weather was long gone. This weekend we had a full house as Josh Hiatt joined us for the opening round of his season in the Motostar class.

FP1 looked to be positive however, the damp conditions left us uncertain of what tyres or setup to run with. Kurt made it to the top 10 as the Supersport class took to the track following some major changes to the geometry of the bike following round 1. Josh followed suit securing an 8th position on his Moto3 as he continued to improve up to the final stages of the session. Matt spent FP1 piecing together a good base setting for the weekend ahead.

Saturday afternoon saw a dry FP2 as Matt put the hammer down knocking 3 seconds off his fastest lap of FP1. Many changes were made to the suspension setup during the session in a bid to obtain greater edge grip from the rear tyre. Kurt took a different approach to the session as he focused more on personal changes in the way he rode. The circuit proved to be a challenge in the manner that the harder you try, the worse the lap time. Kurt had a steady couple of laps leading to the closing stages of the session in order to collect his thoughts and arrive at a plan which paid off as he set his fastest lap of the session on the final lap securing himself P7 only 0.1 of a second from his personal best. Josh began with a progressive start as his class took to the track continuously bringing down his lap time as he tested out a change of gearing following the FP1 debrief with the team’s chief mechanic. Josh was happy with the progress made as he continued to battle it out in the top 10.

Due to a local Church being a stone throw from the circuit, Qualifying wasn’t until the afternoon of Sunday giving the team plenty of time to make any changes required to the bikes and give them a nice clean down ready. For Kurt, the qualifying session was similar to that of FP2, he made a conscious effort of securing a strong lap time early on before pushing forward. After a quick pitstop to collect his thoughts, Kurt entered the final stages in a bid to better his previous time. Once again, the final lap saw him put down a flying lap a second faster than practice launching him into a respectable P6. Matt had difficulties in qualifying as he struggled to put his ideal lap together, it was a risk but during the final handful of laps, Matt opted to ride through the pits in a bid to get some clear track. Fortunately, this paid off as he found himself alone on track to find a strong time. This came on the final lap as he also knocked a second off his time putting him in P14. Josh headed out for the Motostar qualifying on wet tyres which at the time was the best way forward. However, the rapid drying circuit soon saw him forced to take a pit stop for a change of tyres. He headed back out on track to secure an impressive P7.

Race 1 through a curve ball at Kurt as during the opening stages of the race following an excellent start, he clipped his knee on the back of the kerb at the turn 1 apex ripping off his knee slider and almost dragging him off the side of the bike. This resulted in him losing a couple of positions and the worst part being having to quickly figure out how he was going to tackle the race without putting his knee on the floor which for those who have raced bikes or rode on track will know it is not all that easy. After a few failed attempts, Kurt began to get to grips with the change of style in a bid to not let it ruin his race. He closed the gap to the competitors who took advantage of his misfortune and battled it out down to the last corner where he regained previous losses and crossed the finish line to take a fantastic 5th place finish. Matt didn’t have the best start to the race putting him on a very busy part of track. This posed many challenges as it didn’t allow him to settle into a rhythm as he chopped and changed with fellow competitors. However, despite this, he managed to set his fastest lap time of the weekend and bagged a P16 finish. This is not where he wanted to be but following post-race debriefs and a track walk, many changes to the bike’s geometry have been made. Josh had a great start to his opening race of the weekend as he battled it out in the top 10, however, following a mistake entering the chicane, Josh out braked himself causing him to run on through the long lap section of the lap. He lost a three second advantage along with 5 places as a result giving him plenty of work to do. Josh managed to pull back a couple of places in the short sprint race bringing home a 10th place finish.

Monday’s main race brought high spirits after the progression of all three riders along with some fantastic results already in the bag. Following a track walk on the night before and a fresh mindset, Josh was determined to keep pushing forward and battle it out for a top 10 spot. As the lights went out Josh got stuck in trading paint with several other riders as they chopped and changed positions. As he reached the later stages of the race, with two laps remaining he broke through to the front of the group he was battling with. It was a tough race but after keeping the fellow competitors at bay for the final stretch, Josh crossed the line to take an impressive 7th position.

As the lights went out for the final Supersport race of the event, Kurt once again got off to a great start. Matt had a much better performance in the opening stages as he battled it out for the points and after taking a substantial gamble on bike setup, managed to obtain a lap time 0.6 of a second faster than his best that weekend. Mid way through the race, Kurt had a moment where he lost rear traction exiting Druids pitching him out of the seat which resulted in a loss of 3 positions dropping him back into P8. Once he settled back into a rhythm, Kurt began to make up lost time and regained 7th position before catching and setting up an overtaking manoeuvre for the next. Unfortunately, his race took a turn for the worse when the competitors bike he was slip streaming over Clay Hill seemed to immediately stop accelerating down the straight. At 140mph and a couple of feet apart, Kurt crashed into the back of the bike he was pursuing which dragged him off the side. This left the bike to ghost at full speed across the grass with no pilot for 100 yards or so before barrel rolling end to end as it crossed back over the other side of the track. The red flag was brought out and the result was called, Matt picked up a respectable 13th position as Kurt was heartbroken as the sight of his bike spread over the track.

Following the race, we were informed that the incident was caused as a result of a gearbox failure of some sort from the bike in front, as they went to hit 6th gear, the bike stopped driving and began to roll. It was unfortunate to have such a big crash that wasn’t ours to be had, but in circumstances like this, racing is racing as they say and we very much appreciate the rider coming to check if Kurt was okay following the incident, which thanks to his excellent safety gear Kurt was soon to his feet. An incident like this so early in the year puts great financial strain on the team but we will do everything possible to ensure we can the bike rebuilt for the next round at Donington Park.