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01 October 2006

Tunstall in Contention in Thrilling Imola Race

Tom Tunstall put in another strong weekend performance in the penultimate round of the World Supersport Championship at Imola where he narrowly missed out on a top twenty finish. Riding the Hardinge - Ice Valley Motorsport Honda CBR600RR, Tom finished in 21st spot after a thrilling last lap manoeuvre nearly netted him 18th place.

After a tough race weekend last time out in Germany, Tom and the Hardinge ˆIce Valley Motorsport team arrived at the historic Imola circuit in Italy, focussed on turning around their fortunes. From the opening practice session Tom immediately felt more comfortable on the bike and quickly set about learning the technical and undulating 4.959 KM circuit.

"Qualifying went well and from the first session we were able to find a good setting on the bike which allowed us to get into a good rhythm and start improving the lap time. In every session I went faster and we were able to get the bike dialled in to the technical nature of the track and I finished in 26th place," explained Tom.

The 21 lap race got underway in bright sunny conditions with Tom making a characteristic strong start to move up to 22nd place in the opening lap after a committed move around the outside at turn one. Tom then became involved in a tough battle for position and dropped to 24th before regrouping and beginning a strong fight back. With his composure regained he closed down the group in front of him and by lap ten he‚d dispensed of top Italian rider Alessio Corradi to move up into to 21st spot. Not content with the position, Tom showed his high fitness levels and commitment as he continued to close down the group in front. After securing 19th place Tom continued making strong progress and on the final lap went for a pass which would have seen him move into 18th place, but unfortunately he collided with Finnish rider Vesa Kallio and ended up running off the track and dropping back to 21st spot.

"I was planning on going up the inside coming into the first corner but I think that was everyone else's plan so I ended up cutting across to the outside and managed to pick a few places in the process. In the early laps I saved a big moment exiting the Acque Minerali corners which lost me a couple of places. After that I was actually pushing too hard and as a result I was making mistakes and losing time, but I realised what I was doing and was able to get back into my rhythm," said Tom

"I found that I my strongest section of the track was down in to Villeneuve corner, which was where I was able to make most of my passes. I got Corradi into there and then after a bit of a fight with him I had a three second gap to the guys in front. It took me a few laps to close it down but by the end of the race I was on the back of them. I passed Lauslehto and tried the same move on Kallio a lap later but we ended up hitting each other and I was forced to go through the gravel before getting back on track, which lost me three places. It's disappointing to be 21st but I would have been more disappointed if I'd stayed a safe 19th and not tried to make the pass on the final lap - I had to go for it," he continued.

The final round of the World Supersport Championship takes place at Magny Cours in France this weekend where Tom and the Hardinge - Ice Valley Motorsport team will be going all out for a point scoring finish at the fast Formula 1 circuit.