Drayton Claims Front Row at Thruxton
Round seven of the Pirelli National 600 Superstock Championship paid its annual visit to one of the fastest circuits on the calendar, Thruxton. A circuit for brave, with the long sweeping corners testing the limits of both rider and tyres, optimum bike set up is critical to returning top lap times and results at the Andover circuit.
For Dan it would be his first visit to the circuit on the more powerful 600 superstock machine and he soon familiarised himself with the track during Fridays free practice one. In order to gain more of an insight into the best lines, breaking points etc he joined BSB Smiths BMW rider Peter Hickman on Friday evening for a track walk gaining additional pointers before going into FP2.
Saturday dawned and with a mixed weather forecast the Hampshire skyline loomed with a combination of dark clouds on the horizon. With qualifying round the corner, the anticipated downpour hit the Andover circuit and the following drying track would be faced by riders in the 600 superstock class.
Image: Ian Hopgood
Still with the threat of more rain, Dan made the tactical decision to let the field depart and hold back to ensure he didn’t get caught in traffic. Eventually entering the circuit and with the knowledge gained on the previous evenings track walk Dan had a front row position set firmly in his mind. One out lap, then Dan jumped on the gas to put in a fast lap. As he entered section two the rain commenced yet again but by the end of the lap he had done enough to secure third spot for race day with a 1.22.394. However, not satisfied with this Dan was one of the few riders who opted to carry on for the remainder of the session to gain valuable experience of riding in the wet.
Race day and Dan was feeling a little daunted by the fact that there would be 35 eager riders behind him all split by just seconds and with minds firmly set on being first into the long sweeping ‘Allard’ corner. Lights extinguished and the anticipated rush to the first corner ensued and with 38 screaming 600 machines all fighting for the exit to ‘Cambell’ it was definitely one suited to the bravest of riders. Losing his rhythm as the safety car was despatched mid race, Dan was also passed by two riders under these conditions, both were later penalised for this rule infringement.
As race conditions got underway again Dan reclaimed his composure and started to up the tempo, in the process recording a lap time of 120.647 a personal best of the weekend on his Kawasaki ZXR600. However, a brave battle in one of the most highly competitive classes in the British Superbike Championship he managed to cross the line in very respectable 16th position. Post-race, Dan was pleased to be offered the opportunity to run in the Supersport feature race, as his lap times would have qualified him to join the grid and gain even more valuable experience. But due delays in the programme and then the news of an incident in the 1000 superstock race Dan and the team decided to withdraw and take the opportunity at a future race meeting.
‘’I have previously visited Thruxton as part of the KTM Junior Cup but I must admit nothing prepared me for the experience and speed you can reach on a 600 machine. It’s like a totally different circuit and with most parts being so wide you have a multitude of lines to choose from. I definitely benefited from the Friday night track walk with Peter Hickman and I think this showed in my qualifying time and landing a front row position. I am now settling into the 600 superstock class and I have to be mindful that there are only seconds covering the front to the back row of the pack, so every 100th of a second count. Once again, I can’t thank Neil and my dad enough for setting up the bike…it was spot on all weekend...!
The incident in the superstock 1000 race concerning Mark Fincham puts things into perspective and the who paddock has been effected by the sad news of Mark succumbing to his injuries. I would like to pass on my, and the teams sincerest of condolences to Marks family, friends and his team at his most difficult time.’’
Dan will be preparing to his home round on August 19th – 20th at the undulating and challenging Lincolnshire Cadwell Park.