Round 3 of the 2017 British Championship - Ducati Tri Options Cup - Oulton Park

Round 3 of the 2017 British Championship - Ducati Tri Options Cup - Oulton Park

Round 3 of the British Ducati Tri Options Cup was held over the bank holiday weekend at the stunning Oulton Park circuit. Based in the beautiful Cheshire country side, the track is a unique blend of rolling hills, tight chicanes, and fast blind turns. It's a great circuit that I always enjoy riding, and I was looking forward to getting the V-twin Ducati around there!

 Our track time at BSB is limited, to one 20 minute practice, one 20 minute qualifying session, then two 10 lap races. Because of this, we need to be on the ball with setup. All the fast guys had tested their previously, either at a club meeting or at the official test. We had used Maxton suspension in the front end for the first time at the test, to go along with our Maxton rear shock, used for the first time at Brands Hatch, at round 2. 

My pace improved from the test to the first practice session of the weekend by just over 1 second. We had made some big changes to start off the weekend, knowing that if it didn't work, we could go back to what we ran at the test. But all was feeling good and we were on the pace. The Ducati class has an over subscribed grid this year, making every session very busy out on circuit. I made a mistake in qualifying by heading out in the middle of the field, instead of getting out at the front. I managed to put a reasonable lap time in toward the end of the session to put me 5th on the grid. This was by far my best qualifying of the year so far, that we were in the mix with the front guys.

 Our first 10 lap race on Sunday started off well. I was in 4th place, and feeling comfortable behind 2nd and 3rd. One of my team mates had an issue with a water pipe, unfortunately sending him and a few others riders down. On the restart the race didn't quite come together and I came home in 5th place. I was feeling I could have done better in that race, but our pace was now up with the front group, so comparing it to the 5th at Brands Hatch, I felt we had made some good steps forward to now be on the back of the leading riders.

I had to find a little more time in a couple of areas where I was struggling, so we made some changes for race 2. I got away with the front group and I was feeling comfortable running the pace. I moved my way up to 3rd, before Rob Guiver, who was running 2nd, had an issue and ran off the circuit. While running 2nd, I then missed a gear coming into the faster turn on the track, fortunately staying on the circuit, but losing some time. I dropped back to 4th, but just on the back of 2nd and 3rd place. Getting into 3rd, I had dropped just back from Phil Atkinson in 2nd. I tried to keep calm, feeling that if I pushed on to catch him I could have made a mistake, falling into the grips of 4th. I managed to keep the rhythm going and cross the line in 3rd, my first podium of the year!

 I feel we made some huge steps forward this weekend, to show that we can run the pace at the front and fight for podiums. My team have worked hard to get me feeling good on the bike and I'm really enjoying riding the 959 Panigale. Thank you to my sponsors who support me and make this opportunity possible. My wife Katie for always believing in me and sticking by my side and my family and friends for all their support. We now have 8 weeks before our next round at Snetterton. I'll be working as hard as ever to keep the progress going to ensure we are strong at round 4 of the championship.