Finally back on home soil, the team returned from the North West 200, wet and tired but nothing can dampen the smiles on their faces after a fantastic day's racing.
Photo credit tbc
The long week started out on Friday Night, driving from HQ in Newton Aycliffe up to Cairnryan (Scotland) to catch the 11:30pm, HSS super-fast catamaran to Belfast. After landing in Belfast at 2am on Saturday morning, the team drove on to the paddock in Portrush, just outside Coleraine, arriving at 3.30am so it was certainly time, for some well deserved sleep. The following day, the team set up and settled into paddock life, with the sun bleaching the sky it was time to relax and enjoy the weather and prepare, as there was no track time till Tuesday.
Tuesday soon came round and it was time for business. Daley took to the track for the first time since being knocked off and breaking his collarbone back in 2015. His excitement soonovercame the nerves and he was quickly up to speed, setting good times in all three free practice sessions. Crucially, Daley had some great feedback to help the team try and eneure the bikes were more stable, at high speed, to achieve better top speeds in qualifying.
After a day of alterations and rest on Wednesday, Thursday was an important day of qualifying. First up was the superstock class. A class that Daley was confident in after his success at British Superbikes , with solid track time on the bike beforehand. The session didn't go all their own way, with electrical gremlins of Darley Moore reappearing but luckily, Daley managed to nurse the bike back to the pits and the team were able to solve the problems. Daley swiftly took to the track again, with just enough time to complete 2 laps and in the last lap, was Daley's personal best, managing to qualify 17th.
The supersport qualifying was next on the
agenda, another bike that Daley is comfortable with after his success at Oliver's Mount earlier in the year and after small changes were made to the suspension on Wednesday, Daley had a successful session, again achieving personal bests and qualifying 20th on the grid.
Superbike qualifying wasn't as successful. As after a few laps, Daley made a pit stop to try and improve more stability issues, which were causing a lack of confidence at top speed. The team made adjustments and Daley headed back onto the course but unfortunately, an outlap was all we managed before the session was promptly stopped, due to an incident on the course. Due to the road opening times, the session was not to be restarted and Daley had not managed to set a fast time, dropping him right down the order of qualification - 42nd on the grid (middle of the second wave). Disappointing to say the least.
Friday we decided to make huge adjustments to the superbike and after viewing the data, found the superbike to be down on top speed, aswell as the stability, which explained the qualifying result. It was a long day for the team, as they worked relentlessly with the suspension technicians and the BMW technicians, to provide a good setup for Saturday's racing; that coupled with general maintenance to the other two bikes, meant a long day for the boys.
Four races were scheduled for Saturday and also an unsettled weather forecast, left question marks on on the racing. None of the practice or qualifying sessions were wet so a gamble was to be made on all settings.
First up, was the Supersport 600 class and what had been a very wet morning, started drying out so it was always going to be a hard tyre choice but after the sighting lap, Daley chose dry tyres knowing his ability in the mixed condition. A good start saw Daley in the top fifteen with the first fifteen separated by two seconds. On lap three, the tyre choice proved a great advantage, as the track quickly dried out and the times started to tumble. Daley picked his way through the field, finally crossing the chequered flag in 12 position (career best at nw200).
Race two was to be the first of two superbike races (the main event). By this point the awfull weather set in again, just as the champagne stopped flowing, the heavens opened, delaying the start again and again, which had everyone feeling exhausted and anxious. Daley however, was keen to get on the track putting all problems with the superbike aside, he knew this was his time to shine. Even starting in the second wave, the aggregate timing systems meant he still had a shot at a decent result. Finally, the race began and Daley took only two laps to hit the front of his wave and started taking chunks of time out of the field ahead of him. After catching and passing some riders from the front wave, an impressive 13th place was achieved, in such miserable conditions.
Again, the somewhat bipolar weather conditions of the north west coast were providing, seemed to switch and showed signs of drying up. The superbikes where next on the schedule but the organisers decided to switch the events round so the conditions were totally dry for the superbike race, bringing the superstock class forward into the wet/drying track conditions, again a vital tyre choice was to be made. Initially intermediates were at the ready, but Daley made a last minute call to again, swap to dry tyres - another good call as the track was mainly dry, with only the odd wet patch. Another good start and Daley was well up the field again, in the top fifteen and making progress. Daley managed to battle through to 12th when two laps to go, the rain sprinkled the circuit again, slowing the leaders down dramatically and Daley honed in. Unfortunately the race was deemed too dangerous to continue and was stopped and called a result - finishing in 12th place.
Finally, the grand finale superbike race two and after the rain stopped as quickly as it had started, the road looking no wetter then in the superstock rac. Daley took a gamble and opted for slick tyres and joined the grid, a fantastic start by Daley, as the TV showed Daley carve his way through the second wave as early as turn one. By turn three, he had left the pack behind and was hunting down the tailend of the first wave. Daley heroically battled his way through, still struggling with a obvious lack of top speed, showing on the speed traps, all the way to 11th place - an outstanding result having climbed 31 places from his starting position to achieve another career best.
The Team and Daley where overjoyed with their achievements however, the weather took another turn for the worst and the heavens opened just in time for the team to get drenched, packing the truck ready for the early boat home on Sunday morning!
Reflecting on the week, the team are now heading rapidly towards TT practice week, feeling very optimistic that they have the best machinery to date and with Daley having the most track time and feeling fit, they're certainly ready to hit the mountain course at full speed ahead.
Again from all at Daley Mathison Racing (EddieStobartRacing) we cannot thank the sponsors enough for putting together such a good package.
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