Bradley Jones – Brands Hatch Round 12 Race Report
Brands Hatch for 12th and final round of the 2015 championship and what good weekend it was set to be. With the weather forecasted to be wet Friday and iffy Saturday qualifying was going to be a bit of challenging.
Friday 9:00AM Free Practice- cold, wet and slippery. With nothing to prove in a wet free practice session I went out just to get a feel for the conditions as I knew qualifying 1 would be wet later that day. Lap by lap I built my pace up and found a feel for the grip. There were a lot of crashes in the session and I didn’t want to crash as it would have created ourselves lots of work in short space of time before qualifying 1. As the session ended I finished up 14th which wasn’t a bad start to the weekend and I was looking forward to qualifying. With no changes to be made as the bike was working well in the wet conditions I was set to go.
Qualifying 1- Still wet, cold and slippery but it was the same for everyone so I had to get on with it. It felt to me there was more grip in this session therefore I was getting a better feeling. After 10 minutes of the session I was lapping in the 1:45’s
which was the fastest time in free practice and that put me in the top 10 at the early stages of the session. A quick pit stop to check tyre pressures but no changes to the suspensions as it felt great. I headed back out on track with 11 minutes left, as the clocked tick down I was getting bumped down the order therefore I had post a fast time. My first few laps after my pit stop I was held up by slower riders so I had to get past all of them before I could put a good lap together. I crossed the line with the 1 minute remaining so I knew I had one last chance, I pulled all the stops out and pushed on. I raced across the line to go 5th with 1:43 so two seconds faster than my previous laps. I was happy with this result but we weren’t sure if Saturday would be wet or dry so we had to wait and see.
Qualifying 2- a damp but drying track and too dry for wets. Therefore we were on the dry tyres and the times where going to be much quicker making qualifying 1 irrelevant. Although we had dry tyres on, the track was still damp
on the racing line in places but it didn’t affect the pace to much. Within the first 10 minutes I was in the top 10 and feeling good. Each lap I was building my pace up and feeling the grip. 15minutes in and I came in to the pits for a few changes as the bike felt it was on the bottom of the fork travel, and indeed it was. So changes made to benefit me and I set off to push on hard and get a top 10 qualifying result. Strangely the changes we had made didn’t feel like they had made much different and it felt like my tyre was doing all the work rather than the suspension which gave it a floating and unsettling feeling. I hit a brick wall at a 1:32 and couldn’t go any quicker as I really struggled to turn the bike. The session ended and I finished up in a disappointing 19th. I was far from happy with this result, we had a long debrief and discovered our wheelbase length was way too long which was affecting the weight transfer on the front end which described why I was bottoming out my forks. With this sorted I had to charge hard in the race and make the best of a bad qualifying.
Race- 19th on the grid, a good start was defiantly needed. Lights on, lights off and I didn’t make a great jump so I had to muscle my way through on the first few corners. Every corner people were getting sat up and there was a lot of swapping and changing going on. After the first lap the safety car was out. Two laps of touring and we w ere off again and I still had some work to do. I pushed my way up to 15th and the red flag came out so we all headed back to pit lane and got the tyre warmers straight on. 10 minutes of waiting and then all back to grid. I had to do all the hard work that I had just done again. As the lights went out I didn’t get a great jump off the line so it was elbows out and push hard. As the race had been red flagged we now had a 6 lap dash so it was even more critical to get my elbows out and progress through the field. 3 laps down and I was sitting in 13th and chasing down 12th. Unfortunately I ran out of laps and couldn’t quite get 12th so I ended up the final race of the year in 13th which isn’t the best result of the year and that was down to a poor qualifying. However, I finished up 7th in the overall championship which is very pleasing. Plus I was 1st rookie in the Superstock 600 class this year which I am over the moon with and it makes all the time, money and effort everyone puts in worthwhile.
Overall it has been a fantastic year and I can’t thank all of my sponsors enough. Let’s make 2016 as successful and I can’t wait to get racing again.
- Best Qualifying: 3rd
- Best Race Result: 3rd
- Crashes: 3
- Injuries: 2 (Broken finger and broken thumb) Overall Championship Position: 7th
- Rookie in the Superstock 600’s: 1st
- How many tyres used: estimated at 46 individual tyres