Knockhill was a possible turning point for James and NMT No Limits Russo Racing, where we found settings to increase pace and ran in 7th position before the unfortunate mechanical failure, of which forced retirement in the race.
Typical Summer Time Stormy Skies welcomed British Superbikes to Knockhill, 2016, where a turbulent weekend for weather played out.
For all sessions in Superstock 1000, it was effectively dry with some wet interruptions. Free Practice saw us get off to a steady start to build up to the track and get used to what the 2016 ZX10R had to offer. We lost a large chunk of time due to a rear brake malfunction which put us slightly on the back foot with settings to try.
With some setting changes, we went to work on improving, of which we did, but did not improve on position. I lacked feel from the bike and struggled to find the grip to push. P15 in Q1 on a 50.7 lap time sent us back to the drawing board.
The session looked as if it would be wet, but maraculously, around 20 minutes before the session, the track became dry enough to push for a lap time on.
We improved with a big and unconventional change to the suspension to put us 12th on the grid on a time of 50.336, some distance off of the capable pace, but an improvement nonetheless. Once more, we produced consistent lap times of which indicated a good race pace. This gave me confidence, but I was still uncertain of the bike’s set up, and what consistent grip would be available over the race distance.
Warm Up was a big boost as we found a small improvement from the previous day’s feedback. I was confident that I could be competitive in the race ahead.
A poor launch had me throwing gears at the bike to stay in pack on the way to turn one, where I left the brakes as late as I could to overtake on the inside.
The more aggressive first lap succeeded and we were running well in 7th position until around lap 8 when the bike through some unpredicted high revs under load, suggesting we had encountered a clutch problem. And this was the case. The clutch kept slipping for several laps until it finally gave up the ghost and forced me to retire.
It was a shame to have improved the way we did to end with a DNF, but our improvements show promise and a new base to start from for coming races.
Snetterton will be the next round, and my Goal will be for a top 6 finish. If we find confidence from the front end and consistent grip under acceleration, then we will have a good chance of doing so.
Thank you to my close supporters and Team NMT No Limits Russo Racing, Kawasaki UK Team Green for the opportunity.