The sixth round of the European Junior Cup was held at the famous Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in France last weekend. The 2.74 mile circuit has a combination of high speed chicanes and slow hairpins. It is a circuit which hasn’t proved very kind to Drayton as he injured himself twice there in 2015, but despite an early scare the weekend proved a success for the Scunthorpe racer.
Late afternoon on Friday the European Junior Cup riders took to the track for their first free practice session. Team Bike Insurer – Drayton Racing had been working on Drayton’s bike after the last round to try and cure some gearbox problems. The clutch had been changed and additionally they had changed the master cylinder to improve front braking. Unfortunately, Drayton still suffered gearbox problems throughout free practice one and there were problems with the engine too. He recorded a lap time of 1:55.770 which placed him in 17th position. Overnight the team changed the engine and hoped for improvements in FP2.
The second free practice was wet and very slippery. Drayton and the team were keen to check the replacement engine they had fitted the night before. Unfortunately, after completing six laps on the tricky surface Drayton succumb to the poor track conditions and slid off, as did around ten other riders. Once again he was out of luck on the French circuit.
Track conditions were better for qualification although Drayton was still feeling the effects of his earlier crash which injured his ankle. He managed 9 laps and qualified in 17th position. It was a competitive session and he was only just over two tenths off qualifying 13th.
When the race got underway on Sunday afternoon the Bike Insurer / Drayton Racing rider made a very positive start. On his first lap he was up to 14thposition. He was involved in a battle with Murley, Chapeau and London in the middle part of the race having got himself up to 13th place. As the race reached the final stages Chapeau and London had been dropped and Drayton had caught and overtaken New Zealand rider Avalon Biddle. He now led a group of three riders which included Murley and Biddle. With the next group of riders too far ahead Drayton concentrated on bringing his bike home and defending the position he had. He crossed the line to finish ninth and collected seven championship points.
Dan Drayton said afterwards, “We had a difficult weekend but I am pleased that we managed to recover and finish ninth. Early on we had gearbox and engine problems so the team worked flat out on Friday night to change the engine and the master cylinder. Then in a wet FP2 I crashed which meant we didn’t qualify as high as we could of as I couldn’t complete the number of laps I wanted to. Having said that we recovered well and to finish ninth was a good end to a tough weekend. Thanks once again to the team for putting together a great bike and all my sponsors. Finally, congratulations to Avalon Biddle who won the women’s championship today.”
Drayton has moved up to 12th in the championship with one event to go, which is a double header at Jerez. Lying just six points off tenth spot Drayton is hoping to end the season inside the top ten. The final round of the European Junior Cup is at Jerez on the 15th October where the riders finish the season at the aptly named Circuit of Speed.
Photo: Vaclav Duskla Jr.
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