Last weekend we headed back to Donington Park for the second time this season, although this time riding the GP circuit. Last year this was where Kurt broke his collarbone on the Melbourne Loop. He had to have it pinned together as the bones were too far separated to heal naturally. Kurt is now looking forward to having the pins removed after the completion of this season.
Unfortunately, Matthew was unable to attend this weekend due to a Coronavirus incident. This was also the case for one of our team mechanics. However, all parties are in good health and the remainder of the team did a fantastic job to cover any gaps.
Free Practice 1 provided a strong start to the weekend. We were graced with a dry track – the only dry session of the weekend – which gave Kurt the opportunity readjust to the track, regain his confidence on the Melbourne Loop and to put in a decent lap time, situating him within the top 10.
However, later in the afternoon the clouds drew in and conditions turned for the worst. The pouring rain meant a fully wet session, which we knew we needed based on the weather forecast for the coming weekend. Kurt however, was not fazed by this and was one of just three riders to spend the entire session on track. He ran the majority of the session in the top 5, and secured P8 by the closing stages as the chequered flag was drawn. On the final lap of the session Kurt’s lap was obstructed by a back marker losing him 1.4 seconds in one turn alone. Despite this, his final lap was still his fastest lap of the session, causing him to just miss out on the top 5.
On Saturday the circuit faced even worse conditions with Race Direction deciding to cut many of the sessions to avoid the heavy rain forecast on the afternoon. Qualifying was therefore cancelled for the Supersport class and Race 1 was moved into the time slot. Following a quick 10 minute Warm Up session on the Saturday morning, the team soon rolled into the first face of the weekend in torrential rain.
There was a lot of flooding on the track but it wasn’t quite enough to sway the official’s decision to postpone the race. The grid for Race 1 was based upon combined practice timings, putting Kurt on Row 4. He had a steady start to the race, maintaining his position for the first couple of laps. With the conditions many riders were falling, however Kurt rode tactically and kept it pinned, closing the race in 6th position!
Race 2 took place within a break in the weekend’s downpours, allowing the race to commence on dry tyres. Unfortunately for Kurt who had a solid P6 in Race 1, in doing so his consistent lap times did not spike, therefore he started Race 2 from 22nd on the grid. This was frustrating as there was a lot of ground to make up. Kurt had difficulty with his brakes in the opening laps, this is potentially due to being in an overcrowded part of the track resulting in excessive braking late on corner entry. The brakes rapidly began to deteriorate which is not a problem we have suffered with before. In a bid to overcome this, Kurt was forced to increase the distance from himself and the group in front, allowing him to carry more mid-corner speed. At the midway point of the race, Kurt’s remedial action had worked which allowed him to then push hard. He worked his way back through the pack, picking riders off one by one. Kurt gained 11 places from his grid position, and successfully managed to pass the entire group in front, allowing him to cross the line and secure a P9 in class.
We had many positives to take away from the weekend, including that Kurt’s race pace had the potential to compete with the top 5 had he been placed on track with them. However the Race 1 lap time added another obstacle to this objective.
The final round will be taking place a week on Friday at Brands Hatch. We’re hoping the weather holds off but looking forward to seeing where Kurt can close the championship this year. He is currently sitting in 10th.