I had a great weekend racing at Knockhill race circuit for the BSB Hel Motostar Moto3 Standard Championship as it is my home track and it meant lots of friend and family could come and watch me. I really like the track, it’s short but technical so it is difficult but I also got my race licence and had my first geared bike race here and I am the 2017 F125 Champion so it has lots of good memories for me. Just like all the BSB rounds we arrived on the Thursday to help get everything set up for Friday practice the only difference was that we only had an hour’s drive! At the last round of the BSB I had got a 7th position and since then I’ve had top ten finishes at the British talent Cup so I was hoping I could get good results.
The weather was great for free practice and was going to be the same all weekend. Although I knew the track I’ve never been here on a Moto3 before so I wasn’t sure of the gearing or braking markers for each corner, so I was just concentrating on learning these during the first practice session. I was really surprised then to see that I was running in the top six for the full session and finished it in 5th position. The tyres we had on the bike were quite old so we decided to put on some newer used tyres for FP2 in the afternoon. It was really sunning and warm but I like that as I had got used to it last year racing in Spain. Right from the first lap I knew something wasn’t quite right as the bike was handling terribly compared to the morning session. So I came into the pits and spoke to Gary Wilson to see if there was something he could change to make it handle and turn better. Gary tried a couple of changes but it didn’t feel any better so I just tried my best and finished the session in 10th position. After the session Gary couldn’t understand why the handling on the bike had got so bad when all we had done was change the tyres, but when he then checked the pressures they were MUCH higher than they should be and it turned out my dad had forgot to change the pressures after getting Dunlop to change the tyres!
As we knew the problem from FP2 was fixed I was feeling really confident that I could do well in qualifying so I planned on getting out with the main group from the start to try and get a good lap in early. The problem with Knockhill being so short and there being 38 riders on the track was that there was no group as such and I just spent the first 15 mins trying to get a clear lap in. Every lap I either caught a slower rider in the wrong place or got pushed offline by one of the open bikes. I came into the pits hoping that when I went back out on track it would be a bit clearer. This did work ok and while I was still catching slower riders I managed to set some ok lap times. The only problem was that I didn’t get into a good rhythm so wasn’t able to set that really good time and finished in 10th position and that was a bit disappointing.
Saturday – Race 1
I was confident for the first race that I would be able to go quicker than my qualifying time so hoped I could make up a few positions. I got an ok start and managed to hold my position into the first corner, unfortunately though I found myself right behind one of the open class riders. The problem with that is they are really fast on the straight and you find when you get past going into the corner they get back past on the straight. This happened in the first couple of laps until I finally managed to make my overtake stick. There was then a group of 4 riders in front of me challenging for 6th position and I just tried to make up the gap to them. I managed to do this after about ten laps but as the pace was really quick and as the track is so tight I never managed to get close enough to try and overtake and finished the race in a frustrating 10th position.
Sunday – Race 2
In the morning warmup I was just concentrating on my technique as there is only eight minutes but I still manged to go really quick and was on my pace from race 1 and was in 8th position. I tried really hard to get a good start and managed to hold my position but more importantly was on the back of the group of Standard bikes challenging for 1st position. The pace was really quick though and we were pretty much all together for first five laps until Rhys crashed and this causes a small gap to appear. The front pack then pulled away a bit but I was still in a group of five riders. Unfortunately due to the pace being so fast I wasn’t able to make any overtakes and finished in 9th position. I was still really happy with that though as my race pace was much faster and was much closer to the winner than I have ever been and I could see Thomas not far in front of me.
I have to give huge thank Gary and Nikita of Wilson Racing and the whole Wilson Racing family who make it all happen. It was also great meeting up with a lot of my sponsors who are supporting me and the team this year so a huge thanks to them as we couldn’t do this without them.
Thanks for all your support.
Photo Credit to Jennifer Charlton and Kerry Rawson Photography for any images used.