Phillip Island inside view
Simon Says in association with CIA Insurance – the number one choice for motorcycle insurance
Well I am just back from Phillip Island so thought I would give you all the inside view of the event for our teams (Parkalgar Honda & Bogdanka PTR Honda).
We got there on Saturday and set the garage up. Next day we sorted the bikes and got everything ready for the following two days testing. Sam had two crashes in the test when he allowed himself to get rattled by riders looking for a tow. As I explained to him he should take that as a compliment considering he has only just started in the Championship, especially as one of these riders was self confessed Championship contender Gino Rea. Now I know Gino loves a tow but surely not from Sam when Gino is in his second season in the series and his dad wondered if I had lost my mind when I signed Sam. I wonder if David Rea still thinks that? Anyway, Sam is like a sponge and took it all on board and never put a foot wrong for the rest of the event. Good man Sam.
James also had a big crash at turn one that left him with knee ligament damage and meant he had to miss the second session of day one. At the end of the testing we were in pretty good shape with Sam but James was struggling with his injury. Our other two riders Miguel Praia (Parkalgar) and Pawel Szkopek (Bogdanka) both did well. Miguel was struggling little but we knew he should be able to put it together when race week started. Pawel also crashed twice but despite this he was very quick in the wet session and showed good promise for his first race with us.
The Clinica and the Australian medical staff were all very helpful for us with James and they found us a way for James to go and have keyhole surgery on the Wednesday to enable him to be fitter when official practice started on Friday. Away he went and when he came back although a bit sore the improvement in his movement with the damaged left knee was remarkable. – full credit to the surgeon who did it. While he was there we took his wife Sarah to the wildlife park and she got some great pictures with the kangaroo’s and Koala’s etc. I must say though Sarah and the vast majority of the mechanics were not so keen on the Emu’s. Biggest coward award here must go to James chassis technician Matt Lloyd. Take a bow Matt for being the big girl!
In qualifying Sam continued to impress us by grabbing a front row start in third in his first race for us. He also had great race pace so looked in good shape for the race. James qualified in 11th and when you consider this was not even two full days after surgery hats off to him and I knew he would have better race pace. The loss of track time in testing had hurt him a little but we had some things to try in warm-up to fine-tune his bike for the race.
Unfortunately when we woke on race day it was raining hard so we could not confirm our changes in warm up. That said Sam ended warm up fastest with James a fantastic second and Pawel fifth; things were looking good should it be a wet race. The locals assured us it would clear for lunch-time and it did just that.
You will all have seen the race by now and an outstanding performance by Sam to get on the podium in his first race WSS race for us. Now I know some people have said our bike was down on power and I must admit the Yamaha did have a slight top end advantage on us. The Kawasaki seemed to be just about equal. Over the whole lap we were right on the pace. Both Sam and I think that he could have broke clear earlier when he caught the then leader Salom. He opted to stay behind him to look after his tyres as this was the first time he had run at the front in WSS. This allowed Parkes and Scassa to catch up again and lead to the final lap show down you all saw.
Just to give you all more of an inside view; gearing plays a big part around Philip Island and with a head wind on race day our bike was not revving out in top. Both Yamaha and Kawasaki have more gear options than us so they had an advantage there. We could not have changed the overall gearing as the ratios for the corners would then have been too short in places. Also with more experience with our traction control system Sam would have trimmed some off as the tyre wore – it may have been holding him back a little – especially onto the start finish straight. I think you will see a different story at Donington and the other races this year.
James finished sixth and although he was a little disappointed with that I was more than proud of him and admired his commitment after the surgery. He is also in a good position as we look to round two at Donington and I am sure there will be races this year when both Sam and James get on the podium. I am excited about that and hope you all are as well.
Both Miguel (clutch) and Pawel (engine problem) failed to finish which was a great shame as they had both shown they would have been in the top 10. In Miguel’s case eighth looked a strong possibility. Pawel had 5 crashes during testing and the event and this may have played a part in his engine problem. I am sure this is not an indication for the rest of the season and I expect them both to make their respective fans from Portugal and Poland proud as the season unfolds.