104 BSB Round 1 - Donington Race Report

Let’s go racing!

Full race report attached....

Glen Coombs pic credit

As the clock ticked down to the start of the season, the wet weather could only dampen the track as the spirits of the team and Daley were most certainly high and filled with excitement, for the season ahead. 

 

The Easter weekend would see a schedule of free practice one and two on saturday, qualifying and race one (split 15/15 lap endurance) on sunday and race two on monday. The wet weather had arrived, Donington being renowned for being one of the worst circuits on the calendar for grip levels in the wet, as Daley has vivid memories of sliding down the road in 2017. Determined not to make the same mistake twice! 

 

FP1 saw the team fighting for position against not only the other competitors but against the torrid weather conditions. ​Battling just to stay on the bike with the freezing cold track temperatures and the persistent rain causing us no end of set up issues and struggling to make the bike feel comfortable underneath Daley.

 

FP2 the rain had stopped however, the track was still damp with a dry line appearing around the circuit. The team reverted back to our test day default setting and instantly, the bike felt better, the lap times began to tumble and Daley started to climb up the table finishing the session in a positive 20th position.  

 

​Sunday morning

Qualifying and finally a gap in the weather, with no rain forecast it was a level playing field for the riders, and Daley knew it would be a tall order to qualify with such a quality and quantity all fighting for the 40 places on the grid with over 50 entrants. Daley initially started strong, easily lapping at his previous bests in testing however, he felt the bike needed to improve to allow him to go any faster. By the mid way point, in the session it became apparent that that wasn't good enough to qualify as he dropped steadily down the board, as the other riders upped their pace.  A back up plan had been made within the team for a drastic setup change in the event we had time to try it. Daley came in and the decision was made to make the change. An efficient pitstop but we knew we would only get one flying lap to make the change count, the change was instantly noticeable in the out lap and after one good flying lap still adapting to the change, Daley finally managed to get the Eddie Stobart Jackson Racing BMW on the grid. Daley was confident the changes made were a big improvement to the bikes handling and would only get better for the race.

 

As the lights went out, our BMW rocketed off the line and Daley battled hard into turn one, pushing through rider after rider, working his way through half of the grid on the first lap with fantastic aggression. The bike was finally feeling good underneath him and the confidence certainly showed as the front boys pulled Daley over two seconds under his previous best lap time, a couple of faster riders managed to pick their way through one by one, as expected at such a high tempo however, Daley hung on and crossed the finish line after a grueling fifteen laps finishing in a respectful 26th position. 

 

With only 10 minutes to change Tyres and refuel, it was a rush to get back on the grid for race one part two. Starting where he finished, Daley got another good start and again battled up place after place, running comfortably mid pack before unfortunately, an electrical issues caused the Eddie Stobart Jackson Racing BMW to cut out and go into safe mode, meaning an early retirement after ​the first few laps. Disappointing however, with the bigger picture in mind we all took the positives away from a good strong performance. Daley’s confidence was high and the excitement for race two kicked in.  

 

​The excitement was soon overcome as the forecast for Monday was set to be horrific, waking to the sound of heavy rain on the roof of the truck and sub zero temperatures, it was almost inevitable that the schedule would be in jeopardy and the right decision was made by the race director Stuart Higgs, to delay proceedings.  With the rain forecast to ease up, a revised schedule was decided upon leaving our class with no morning warm up, as the track came alive with other sessions, it was clear that the grip levels on track were poor when van load, after van load of damaged bikes came back to parc ferme. The team took a gamble on setup as Daley really struggled in the wet practice on Saturday and with no warm up there, was no way of knowing how good it would be.

 

The lights go out and the spray lifted with the roar of the 40 x 1000cc superstock grid rushing into a cold and greasy wet turn one.  Again, Daley replicated his excellent start like in race one, battling through half the field in lap one, narrowly missing a fallen rider early in the lap. It soon began clear that a lack of rear grip would hinder Daley throughout the race, still not feeling comfortable on the bike - unusual as he's known as been a wet weather specialist. After a number of big slides and an excursion over the grass, Daley settle for 27th place which all things considered, was a good result and another signature under his belt towards his infamous TT mountain course licence.

 

Daley and the team are now looking forward to there next outing in a few weeks time!

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