June 2012 - Jon Railton Newsletter
|Published: 7th June 2012 17:30|
Having raced at the Hottrax Motorsport race meeting at the Snetterton 300 circuit a few weeks ago we had a base setting that would work straight away. There were a few changes I wanted to try, to make the bike more stable under braking. The weather was forecast to be dry and hot all weekend.
I used free practice to get up to speed and evaluate the new settings. It was a longer session than usual so it gave me time to experiment and understand if the new settings had made an improvement. The bike definitely felt better and I was happy with my pace at that stage of the weekend.
First qualifying was held in the afternoon on Friday and the conditions were similar to free practice in the morning. The new tyres made the improvement we expected and my lap times were improving every lap. Once the tyres had pasted their best I continued to post consistent times to understand the tyre life over race duration. The tyre lasted well but my pace would have to improve if I wanted to qualify on the first two rows. Provisionally I had qualified 13th, which would put me on the outside of row 4.
Unfortunately a rider entering the pits underestimated the speed at which I was closing in on him and I was bulked into and out of the final corner. This cost me a lot of time and prevented me from improving my time on the new tyre. This put me in 19th on the grid for the race on Sunday. I was disappointed and I knew that the start was really important if I was going to work my way through the pack.
I was keen, in warm-up, to prove to myself that I had the pace to run inside the top ten. I had a good run of laps and I posted a time 0.5 seconds faster than my qualifying time and my ideal time was significantly faster than that. I was 5th quickest and feeling confident for the race but knew it would be difficult from 19th.
I got a good start and made a few moves on the first lap. At the end of the first lap I had moved into 17th and I was determined to work my way through past the group of riders in front before those ahead got away. I passed 3 more riders and on lap 5 I was in 14th and chasing the group in front. Unfortunately I began to experience brake fade due to the high temperatures and slipstreaming. This forced me to adjust the brake lever but it knocked my confidence into the heavy braking areas. At the end of the back straight I was finding it hard to slow the bike down and had to rush the gear changes into the right hander. I changed down to 1st gear which nearly threw me over the bars but I hung on and recovered but lost three places in the process. This affected my rhythm and I was again battling with the riders I had passed earlier in the race. I managed to move up to 14th position on the penultimate lap. I was riding hard to maintain that position and there was no possibility of challenging the riders in front. Struggling with the brakes I was passed at the end of the back straight and was unable to make a move before the finish and crossed the line in 15th position to score a single point.
Big thanks to the team again for all their efforts over the weekend.
We decided to use the same rear tyre for the first part of Q2 and then go for a quick lap on a new rear in the second part of the session. I equalled my best time from the first session on the old tyre, which left me feeling confident that I could improve my time on the new tyre. Due to the long lap length I was left with four laps to post a time. Frustratingly I was stuck in traffic for a couple of laps and I only managed to find some clear track on my last lap.