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03 September 2006

Tunstall denied points at Assen by just 6/10th of a second

Tom Tunstall came within 6/10ths of a second of securing championship points in the two-part rain hit ninth round of the World Supersport Championship at Assen in the Netherlands. Riding the Hardinge - Ice Valley Motorsport Honda CBR600RR, Tom was in fine form and scythed his way through the world-class field from his starting position of 30th to finally end the race in 16th place.

In qualifying, Tom and the team firstly had to adapt themselves to the new circuit layout after recent track revisions completely altered the flowing nature of the Dutch circuit. Tom had no problem learning the track, but on day one struggled with set up of the Hardinge - Ice Valley Motorsport Honda CBR600RR and finished 34th. In final qualifying the team were able to improve the set-up and Tom responded by improving his time to move up to 30th place on the grid.

Heavy overnight rain continued into race day and the scheduled 22 lap World Supersport race got underway in fully wet conditions, making it a level playing field for Tom to show his wet weather abilities. From the opening lap, Tom made his intentions clear and was relishing the tricky conditions as he moved up through the field in his search for championship points. By lap ten, Tom was up into 17th place and on target to move into the top 15 when Yamaha rider Stephane Dutrene and Ducati man Luca Nedog suffered a dramatic crash on the back section of the track causing the race to be stopped.

With under half race distance complete, the race was restarted over a further 11 laps with aggregate timing from the two heats determining the overall race result. By the time the race was restarted the rain had stopped and the 2.8-mile circuit began to dry, which required the team to work hard to change the set-up of the bike to suit the new conditions. Tom was able to continue his good progress and despite struggling for grip had a tough battle with former World Supersport runner up Katsuaki Fujiwara onboard the factory supported Megabike Honda. Tom dug deep and was able to match the Japanese stars pace and beat him overall, but at the finish hadn't quite done enough to get into the top 15 and missed out on championship points by just 6/10th of a second.

'It was a good weekend in the end, but I'm just disappointed I didn't get in the points. We had a really tough time in qualifying but in the race I was battling with Fujiwara and beat him over the two heats. The wet conditions threw the whole thing up in the air and I had a good feeling with the bike and track. In the first part of the race when it was fully wet, the bike was working really well and I spent the first ten laps catching and passing people and I felt I was definitely on for a good result," explained Tom.

"We've struggled at the last few races so it's good to be fighting for points this weekend. We're still working hard with the bike and it's definitely getting better. To go from 30th on the grid and finish 16th is pleasing but to come that close to getting a point is obviously frustrating. It's a reasonable result but as a racer you always want more," he continued.

Tom and the Hardinge - Ice Valley Motorsport team won't have to wait long to have another chance of fighting for a top 15 finish with the tenth round of the World Supersport Championship taking place this weekend at the Lausitz Ring in Germany. Tom has no previous knowledge of the circuit but is determined to continue his good form with the first practice and qualifying session getting underway on Friday 8th September.