Silverstone - Round 1, 2016
Silverstone - Round 1, 2016
The start on the 2016 British Superbike season was finally upon us. It's been a long wait for me to be back racing at such a high level, after breaking 2 vertebrae and lacerating my liver in July, 2015. I was given the all clear to get back on a bike in late December, and was fortunate enough to do some riding back in Australia and a race meeting in NZ before heading back to the UK in early March.
In 2015, I was competing in the British Supersport Evo Championship. This was for lower spec Supersport bikes (cheaper to run, lower engine spec etc) but ran in the same race as the main Supersport class. We were coming 2nd in that championship up until my accident, which is something I'm very proud of. For 2016 however, they have discontinued the Evo class, and everyone in the race is all in the main Supersport class. There is a huge depth of great riders in the class, along with some top level bikes, with factory support. We have struggled to find the financial support to get our bike to as higher a spec as is possible, but we have made some good improvements from last season, which I'm confident can bring us some great results throughout the season.
Round 1, was held over the weekend (8-10 April) at the amazing Silverstone Circuit. This track is like no other in England, so wide and fast, it's a very different style of track to many of the others on the British Calendar. I missed the race here in 2015 due to my accident, but I've enjoyed some great races on the circuit in 2013 and 2014 in Superstock 600. Friday we had two practice sessions. The first session was wet, and I posted the 6th fastest time. The bike was feeling good in the wet, and I've done a lot of work to improve myself in wet conditions, an area I've struggled in for the last few seasons. The session was cut short due to a bike dropping oil on the circuit, which took some time to clean up. Session 2 it was a damp track in some areas, while dry on others. We went out on wets, to only decide to change later in the session. People ran a mix of dry, wet and intermediate tires. Our combination didn't work to bad and I finished the session in 12th.
Saturday was qualifying and a 10 lap sprint race. Qualifying was very similar conditions to our 2nd practice session, with wet sections on the track. It was drying all through out the session and I got up to as high as 7th. Unfortunately I got held up on my final flying lap and didn't manage to string a good lap together. I ended the qualifying session in 18th. The track dried out for our 10 lap sprint race, and I got off to a decent start. I was on the tail end of the faster group in front of me, but felt I had the confidence to battle with them. It then started spitting with rain, so the race was red flagged. It was then re-started, with all of us on wet tires. A few people went down early on in the race, causing yet another red flag. They tried to re-start it a third time, but there were people crashing on the warm up lap, so race direction decided it was only safe to cancel the race.
Sunday was the day for our 12 lap race. It was looking dry and I just wanted a race from start to finish! Whether that be in wet or dry, I felt good for both. Fortunately it did stay dry for our whole race! I got a reasonable start and my first few corners were strong, moving me up a couple of positions. I wasn't aggressive enough on the first lap however, and I dropped back a few places again and lost some time, that I shouldn't have. I re-grouped and found some much better pace. I got in a battle for 10th and found my self at the front of the group a number of times. I was struggling in the final sector of the track, which wasn't looking good for a last lap battle! I pushed hard to try and build a good gap on the first half of the lap, but I wasn't able to defend on the final part of the lap. I crossed the line in 12th.
I am really happy with the way the race went. I have been fortunate to have ridden a lot back in Australia in Jan and Feb, but I have only been doing track days. It was great to be back in the mix competing with the top 600 racers in the UK. I certainly feel like I had some areas I could improve on, as there always are, but I'm pleased to take this result for the start of the season.
Thank you to the boys at CPE Motosport for all their hard work before and at the race meeting. All my personal sponsors who help make this possible. I'm still very much in the hunt for financial support to help make this season as competitive as possible. Competing against some big teams with big sponsors is a huge task, but I feel like we can punch above our weight and show them what we are capable of, like we were doing in 2015!
Thank you to everyone for the support,
Levi Day #57