Scunthorpe’s privateer racer and young gun Dan Drayton made the long trip south to the Kent countryside to compete in round six of the popular and highly competitive Pirelli National 600 Superstock Championship at Brands Hatch.
Competing in the UK and Europe’s premier race series the Lincolnshire based rider is making steady progress, in what is viewed as a year to adjust to both his Kawasaki 600 ZXR, plus the competition around him. Dan is no stranger to the highest level of the sport, as the leap to the British Superbike Championship is a direct result of spending two years in the prestigious European Junior Cup which travels alongside the World Superbike Series and has produced many seriously competitive riders over the years.
However, Dan is also no outsider to the British Superbike Paddock as he was one of the first riders to be signed to ride in the KTM Junior cup, so the rise to the next level, the 600 superstock series was a natural progression in his career.
Free practice one on the Friday allowed the team to gather data together and put the bike, and rider through its paces enabling fine adjustments to prepare for the weekend ahead. 39 riders took to the 2.4-mile Brands Hatch GP circuit which offers a mixture of high speed straights, fast flowing corners and undulations, therefore suspension set up and gearing is critical to success at this legendary circuit. At the conclusion of FP1 the Scunthorpe racer recorded a 134.343 placing him in 20th position and giving confidence that the settings would mean Dan could push harder in FP2 which would take place later in that day.
As FP2 got underway, with willpower Dan focused on improving on his FP1 time and in preparation to ensure a good set up for qualifying. However, towards the end of the first lap as the pace was increasing Dan was clipped by a fellow rider as he entered the fast Sheene Curve, resulting in a big high side launching rider and bike into the middle of the circuit. He was then placed in a dangerous position, which required him to roll across the circuit to avoid the perusing pack. The outcome caused significant damage to the front end of the bike, front wheel, many of the controls and body work.
Dad Kevin, and Crew Chief Neil Pearson jumped into action to busily repair the damage incurred….no mean feat given the magnitude of the task they faced. While all this was going on Dan was kindly provided with transport from some of his guests to the local ‘Halfords’ store where he purchased repair material to make amends to the cosmetic damaged caused. All, in all a team effort ensued to get Dan back on the grid for race day, it wasn’t until much of the ‘midnight oil’ was burnt that the team where all ready to go.
Race day dawned with mixed weather predictions on the horizon and with both rider and bike still feeling somewhat battered and bruised from Fridays crash this was all put to the back of Dan’s mind and the tenacious Lincolnshire rider lined up to take his 32nd starting position on the grid.
As the race got underway Dan settled into a steady pace making credible progress while keeping focused on the full race distance. Lap after lap he managed to keep tempo with the pack and although still feeling under the weather at the chequered flag Dan brought his Kawasaki ZXR 600 over the line in 27th position.
‘’The weekend got underway quite positively, but sadly the crash in free practice two took its toll on me and the bike. Neil and my dad did a sterling job to get me back out on track considering the damage and I can’t thank them and all those who helped enough for their support. I don’t see this weekend as a set back as I finished the race, in fact I see each race weekend as development and a learning curve gaining more and more experience. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the marshals and in particular the medics who shown their concern for me after my FP2 crash.’’
Dan and the team have just over a week to prepare for the next round at Thruxton on the 4th – 5th – 6th August. Meanwhile, Dan will be out in action this weekend as part of the ‘Sorrymate Team’ in the 1000km ACU No Limits Race which takes place at Donnington Park.
The team would like to thank all their dedicated sponsors for the ongoing support they provide
If you would like to follow Dan why not visit his website: www.dandrayton.com
Image credits: Ian Hopwood Photography