The Donington Park round is barely a day away, as the entire ThunderportGB paddock lines up in support of MotoGP. Racing in front of so many people at such a massive event is hugely exciting. Support race slots like this are a big deal, and it’s testament to the organisers of Thundersport that they have pulled this off. Of course, they actually run the British GP and WSB events and have put on support races before, but to cram in every class is remarkable.
The Streetfighters are on track at 1.25pm for 15 minutes of qualifying, after which the bikes will go straight back on the tyre warmers before the race at 2.30pm, and home in time to catch the Tour de France highlights on Eurosport. We have a single eight-lap race, so we’ll be flat out. The biggest motivator of all is that it’s double points. My focus now is on race wins, rather than worrying about the points constantly. I haven’t been the most consistent rider so far, and that’s cost me dearly, but I have been the fastest. I want to win as many races of the remaining 13 as possible, all ideally, and then the points will take care of themselves. If it’s dry on Thursday then I have a good chance.
I love Donington and know the circuit very well. I rode the Tuono to two wins there last October, so I know it suits the flowing nature of the track. The last three corners will be harder work as they are more stop-go, but I think the relatively open nature of the two hairpins compared with those at Mallory and Pembrey will reduce any disadvantage my Aprilia has to the lighter Triumphs. Recent set-up progress has improved braking stability a lot, a vital ingredient at Donington, while actually improving corner speed too. Add in Dunlop tyres, locally made with more circuit expertise than anyone else and with a support truck on hand to recommend compounds to suit the weather on the day, and I’ll have everything I need to feel confident on the start line. The unknown quantity is the weather. The forecast is 50/50 right now. Despite my crash in the wet at Oulton, I’m not too worried if it’s wet. My pace at Oulton had been good up to that point, I know where I went wrong, and I’ve ridden Donington in the wet more than any other track. I’ll also switch to Dunlop wets, as there are none better.
The challenge is certain to come from Andy Denyer again. He tends to take a few sessions to get up to speed, so the reduced schedule should play in my favour. His confidence will be up though, after pushing me harder than ever at Snetterton, so I won’t give an inch. In particular, I’ll be careful not to tow him round in qualifying. Chris Matthews and Keith Smith will be keeping us honest too, and could well be fighting for the win if they click with the track. The very best thing would be for them to get in behind me and ahead of Andy. The worst would be vice versa. The Streetfighter B class will be out with us too. Fortunately, Donny is fast enough that our A bikes should stay clear, though Craig Morely and Barry Utting are sure to be well up the order overall. If you’re coming to the Day of Champions to meet the GP stars, be sure to give us all a cheer too and stop by the exhibition centre to see the ThundersportGB paddock. Just don’t ask anyone for an autograph or you’ll be met with a very bemused look.