I think the last blog ended somewhere around the end of the Cartagena tests in Spain where we had some BIG engine brake problems and a pretty aggressive throttle connection going on, well, after we got back to the UK the team worked real hard to rectify the problems and pretty soon after we had a test up at Cadwell park, it was pretty amusing because everybody talks about how narrow Cadwell is but the night before Jason and i went on a bit of a training ride on the push bikes and i was saying to him "do you know what, this place doesn't seem half as narrow as i remember..." i soon changed my opinion the next morning however, the HM Plant Fireblade ate the straight up so fast that i arrived at Park corner and thought shit where's the rest of the track ;-)!!!
The Cadwell test went really well, we spent the whole time working on the new (old) engine braking system and more time working on general electronic stuff and also ran through a few different chassis settings which was pretty interesting, all in all it was a real good test and enabled us to breath a hugh sigh of relief going forward!!
A few days after the test however it all went wrong again, at the WSB round inPhillip Island the F.I.M decided on a rule change which meant we could no longer use the engine braking system that the team used in 2010 and at Cadwell so we'd have to revert back to something along the lines of what we used in Spain...This wasn't good news!!
A couple of weeks later was the BSB test at the new Snetterton 300 circuit and when i say we started from scratch i mean we started from scratch with a completely new electronics package but due to the time constraints the team only had enough stuff for one bike which ended up being mine so i had a whole rake of stuff to try to work through whilst trying to learn the new layout too, it made for a busy day but we made good progress, Kiyo rode my bike for a session in the afternoon and continued working in exactly the same direction i'd been going so when i got to ride my bike for the final session it was almost like 2 steps better, the step i'd asked for after my last ride plusthe step further in the correct direction that Kiyo had gone so good news!!!!
After Snetterton that was it in terms of testing before the race season finally got underway and we rocked up at Brands feeling in pretty good shape, sure there was going to be work to do because there always is but we at least had a good base plus we had the added benefit of a four day meeting so an extra couple of test sessions in effect..
Practice passed and went ok, as did qualifying, in fact you could probably say qualifying went pretty damn good, i got Pole for race 1 with the fastest ever 2 wheeled lap around the place!!!
I'd been pretty concerned about the starts of the races as i've practised a few times and my times haven't really been that good but i shouldn't have worried as when the lights went out for the 1st race i pulled off the big holeshot, i can't remember the last time i did that!! I lead the race for a few laps but tried to do so at a pretty steady pace, we'd done enough laps in practice to know that we'd be strong at the end of the races so i was feeling pretty confident, a few laps in Michael Laverty passed me but when i saw i could very comfortably run his pace behind i thought perfect i'll just sit here and wait for a good chunk of the 30 laps to pass then make my move, then following him out of Clearways i saw his bike lose grip and start to come around on him, it was almost like watching in slow motion, it went sideways compressed the rear shock and then fired him straight out of the front, i managed to avoid him but lost a bit of time doing so, i saw out of the corner of my eye Tommy Hill run off the track and clip Michael and hoped they'd both be ok and then as i got going Ratboy (Stuart Easton) came pass and literally just after the course car came out, i was checking behind during the course car to see who was where and knew i'd have to pull the pin immediately as soon as the car went in, that's exactly what i did,
i passed Ratboy and got my head down, i managed to pull a 3 second gap and from there on in i managed to just cruise home to take the 1st win of the year, happy days!!!
Race 2 was a similar affair, i got another fantastic start, got the holeshot, lead for a bout 10 laps or so,
Tommy Hill passed so i sat behind with exactly the same plan as race one sussing out where we were strong and then with about 3 laps to go i got a pretty good drive off Clearways and an opportunity to pass came up running into Paddock, i dived to the inside thinking yessss, perfect, but as i ran in i thought noooo not perfect, not perfect at all, i ran in a little hot on the front and drifted wide, as soon as i got back on track Kiyo came past and i lost a bit of momentum due to my mistake, i got back on the back of the guys but had to settle for third, hardly a disaster i know but not as good as two wins ;-)!!!!!
We had a big long debrief straight after the races and talked through some bits and pieces and I left Brands in a real good mood and well excited about getting out at Oulton park, I couldn’t wait!!! One last thing I’ll quickly mention is an apology from me to all of the fans that queued up to see me at Pitlane walkabout, I had to be taken away real early to do a quick PR job for the team then rush down to get ready for race 1 so if you were one of the people queuing like I said I apologise!! Thank you all so much for all the cheers and support throughout the weekend, long may it continue!!! More to come very soon… Take it easy, Shakey #67