Oulton Park Round 2 – Hard work and persistence gives promise and a new look on the season ahead.
James East and the Opus/Brabus Kawasaki on track at Oulton Park
East and the Opus/Brabus Team battled through all kinds of adversity in the 2nd round of the National Superstock Championship, gaining important data which will be sure to change the course of the season after a tough start.
An un diagnosed handling problem plagued James in his performances at Brands Hatch and testing and would hinder his efforts at the demanding Cheshire circuit during practice, contributing to a crash on the 3rd lap of FP at the fast 4th gear Druids corner.
This put the team on the back foot and drama would commence in the first qualifying session when the motorcycle, post crash, would suffer some ignition damage and wouldn’t start.
With just under 5 minutes left in the Qualifying Practice the bike fired in to life, giving James enough time for an out lap and one flying lap, to confirm a grid spot on a 1:39:9.
After a stressful start to the weekend I wanted to focus on putting a smooth lap together to secure a good qualifying position, but this was seemingly impossible.
The bike was violent on circuit, squatting and throwing me out of the seat, and despite my best efforts to keep the bike and myself under control, the best I could achieve was a 1:39:5 to put me 29th on the grid, snapping my steering damper bracket along the way after some huge moments.
I had never felt this kind of behaviour from a bikes’ handling before, so we studied the data to see what was causing the erratic handling.
After looking through the data and conferring with the suspension providers, a fault was found and diagnosed with a component controlling the damping in the rear suspension. A fault which could be fixed. I was pleased that a solution had been found for myself and the team, and the cure was confirmed in morning warm up where the bike felt better than ever.
In the race I got a good launch but was naturally caught up in all kinds of tussling for position in the first corners. The first lap was difficult and a massive crash in the chicane caused a safety car to be deployed.
When the safety car went in I set upon moving through the field but quickly came in to some trouble with the gearbox on the bike. Whether the earlier crash had caused a problem, the bike was not going in to 2nd gear, which was forcing me to run some corners in 3rd, ruining my drive.
I battled through to 21st before the red flag came out once more to end the race after another big accident.
Despite the gearbox issue I still bettered my time even in traffic to a 1:39:2, confirming the suspension issue was solved.
I am obviously disappointed with the result and the start of the season as a whole, but very happy with the effort being put in. The team put in a fantastic effort for me for which I am very grateful.
Despite round 2 not being successful in terms of results, we made a leap forward in terms of set up, fixing the major handling issue. From now on we can move on with a consistent motorcycle and refine the set up to fight for the results we deserve.
We will fix the transmission, carry the data forward and test with a competitive package prior to round 3 at Snetterton in June where I am confident we will be capable of achieving a top 10 result. I finished 6th in the race there in 2013. With our new approach I will be looking to achieve a similar result with an overall view of working towards podiums as soon as humanly possible.
Thank you to the Opus/Brabus Team for their outstanding efforts at Oulton Park. And Thank you to the team sponsors for their support.
A special thanks to my personal sponsors for their fantastic support.
Samco Sport By Racebikebitz Ltd
Nevis Marketing – Shark Helmets UK
Jap 4 Performance