Round 2 of the 2017 British Championship - Ducati Tri Options Cup. Brands Hatch Indy

Round 2 of the 2017 British Championship - Ducati Tri Options Cup. Brands Hatch Indy

Brands Hatch Indy was where round 2 of the Ducati Tri Options Cup was held over the Easter weekend. This track is the shortest on the British calendar, consisting of only 5 corners. Its simple layout is deceiving, proving difficult to find time and overtaking places.

The Ducati Tri Options allows Ducati 899 and 959 Panigales to enter. At round 1 we were on the 899, but managed to get hold of a 959 for round 2, and the remainder of the year. The difference in engine power is minor but certainly noticeable, with increased punch out of the turns the biggest difference. The chassis also has some changes which we need to adjust too.

With it being a 4 day meeting, we only had 1 session per day. 1 practice, 1 qualifying and 2 races. We started the weekend with our suspension from the 899 in the 959. We soon realised that with the chassis changes, the rear suspension needed a lot of work done to it. For qualifying we were able to make these changes and it felt much better. Our progress was hindered from an electrical issue, which was cutting the bikes power. We only managed a handful of laps where the bike ran the entire lap, so our times weren’t where we had hoped. The team did great and completely got the bike apart to find the issue and rectify it. My lap time placed me 10th on the grid for race 1.

I got a good start from 10th in race 1 but lost some time at the first turn from being pushed wide, a risk that you take running around the outside. This was the first session out on the bike with it running properly, and with the suspension somewhere in the ball park of where we needed it. I was able to learn a lot from this session to understand the bike, and I crossed the line in 8th place.

Richard from Maxton suspension helped me a great deal over the weekend and we came up with a direction to go forward with for race 2. The team put the changes in place and Mondays race was at 10:30am. I was again starting from 10th, as they grid you off your lap time from race 1. I got another good start and was into 5th at the first turn. There was a group from 5th to 8th place, and we traded places a number of times through out the race. I managed to stay toward the front of the group, never dropping lower than 6th for the entire race. As we approached some back markers this proved important to be at the front of the group, to try and work a plan around them as easily as possible. On the final lap in to the last turn, I was going underneath a back marker, and one of the riders in our group, went for the lunge on us both and hit my back wheel. He unfortunately crashed, causing us all to run wide or have to back off. I was close to running of track but managed to just keep it on the road. Thinking I’d certainly lose positions from this, I got it back on line and got my head down for the finish, expecting to be dragged passed just before the line. Thankfully I got a good run and crossed the finish line in 5th place.

For our first weekend on the 959 that required some fine tuning, I’m happy with the steps forward made, for the limited track time we had. We are still not where we want to be, which is fighting for race wins and podiums, but I’m confident our hard work will have us up there soon. The progress made is really important and the Indy Circuit has never been my best track. We are off to Oulton Park to test during the week, before our next race there in two weeks time. I am looking forward to getting back on the 959 and working hard to further improve my feeling on the bike!

 Thanks to Steve Brooks for working hard on preparing the 959 in such short time, all the team at BPS Racing for their hard work over the race weekends, and my sponsors who make it possible to give it everything in this class. It is such a huge team effort and I wouldn't be in this position with out some amazing people around me.