Last time I checked in, I was getting organized to head down to the teams base for a couple of days and get a day of long awaited testing at Mugello.
I think I might have already mentioned it before that the team is based won in Tuscany about 20 clicks from Pisa. It’s not a bad part of the world at all but I still haven’t had a chance to check out the old leaning tower in Pisa yet. (maybe next year)
I have a new team mate for the rest of the season Yohann Tiberio, a young French guy who’d not yet ridden a Superbike before, so you could imagine how keen he was to get out on track.
Mugello is just above Florence and obviously in the heart of where they produce the gigantic steak Florentinas. So after spending 3 hours consuming half a cow we all waddled of to bed. The next morning I was still feeling sorry for my self but the skies had cleared and it looked like we were going to get out on track after all. Just as we were arriving at the front gate of the track our team troop carrier was leaving but the funny thing was it was leaving on the back of a tow truck. Guess you had to be there, it definitely gave us a chuckle.
The track dried a couple of hours later and then we were full swing into our test programme until the skies opened up again around . We concentrated on suspension and by our 10th shock change it was beginning to feel like a motorcycle again. I haven’t been able to enjoy riding for a long time, and I was satisfied with what we achieved in Mugello and couldn’t wait to measure it against the rest at Lausitzring a couple of weeks later. It’s amazing what a huge chunk of beef can do!
The next day I was back to Zurich for a little over a week before our trip in the bus across to Lausitzring for the next race. That week I concentrated completely on my fitness, so if I wasn’t training I was sleeping and if I wasn’t training & sleeping, I was eating. It was great! By the time Friday came round I was pretty done and I had the bright idea to head down to Misano for an overnighter and check out the GP. I flew down Saturday and back Sunday, nothing like leaving it all to the last minute but it was good to catch up with a bunch of crew I haven’t see for a long time.
Couple of days later we were all packed up and on the road to Lausitz in the bus. The last 200 ks were all a bit strange passing one storm after the next and in between blazing sun and blue skies. Nearly every storm had a bit of hale except for the last one which was completely full, you could swear we were driving through the Alps somewhere with only 9°C and everything outside was white.
The forecast for the week-end wasn’t great and with the weather we’d just passed through its no doubt, especially on Lausitz which is diabolical when it’s wet.
Friday went pretty good with an average pace of about 7th and the bike continued to work well as it did in the test, it seemed to have definitely paid off getting some laps in at Mugello. Saturday Morning the skies had opened up and it looked like we were in for a wet one! We decided to sit out the morning session and it was probably a good thing with 10 out of the 13 riders that went out crashed at least once. It had dried out in the afternoon but for superpole it was beginning to look a little grim, so the plan was to get out as soon as possible get a time in before the skies opened up. Nice plan, about a quarter of the way around the lap I found myself wrestling the bike to the ground or vice versa, grinding the end off my little finger and dislocating my shoulder. After I finished sliding down the road I was able to roll over onto my shoulder and it went back into place and began to work again, a quick squeeze of the finger to check he was still there I picked my bike back up and returned back to the pits. On my way back I discovered I wasn’t the only one who’d had a little excursion cause on nearly every corner there was a bike in the gravel trap. Nieto and Laconi were the only ones to make it round. I dusted myself down and went out on my 2nd bike and by this time it was completely wet, and tried to settle into a good speed and then before I knew it I’d been ejected again That’s a bloody record!
After that one, I called it a day with the worst I could be would be on the 4th row, which were I ended up. I guess the circuit workers were pretty tired after spending the entire night grinding off the white lines which had been painted black and tried to prepare the circuit a little better after it took more then 100 crashes on Saturday to finally spring them into action. Better late then never, I guess!
So to see some blue skies for race day brought more then just one smile to the paddock, I was completely relieved.
The first race on the out lap my shifter broke which meant I had to close the gas every time I wanted to change gear and on a track like this one there was a whole lot of gear changes which meant a whole lot of closed throttle and a completely nackered arm after only 10 laps. Lucky for me a couple of the boys slipped off and I crossed in 10th position. The 2nd leg I crossed the line in 10th again with only some minimal electrical glitches, but this time I was at least in the game.
So all in al l it was a pretty solid result and it seems that our team has found its feet and if we keep working in this way we should be able to move a little further up the grid.
This weekend I’m off to Trieste which is up past Venice for a party which is by one of the team’s sponsors and a week later we’ll be off to Rome for the next race.