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17 June 2007

More Points for Tunstall

Hardinge Ice Valley Motorsport racer Tom Tunstall picked up yet more points in his hunt for the British Superbike Cup Championship in Ireland at the weekend, but it was far from a straightforward task…

With a short trip across the Irish Sea for the British Superbike teams, the latest of the 13 round championships took place at Mondello Park near Dublin.

The tight and twisty 2.17mile track proved to be testing for Superbike rookie Tom Tunstall having not seen the track since 2004, since when the circuit has been modified.

Inclement weather throughout practice and qualifying proved another challenge for the Huddersfield racer having never ridden the high powered 1000cc machine on anything but a dry track.

Having qualified 5th fastest of the cup contenders Tunstall commented: “It’s been a tough weekend so far. I’ve learnt a lot about the feeling of the Superbike in the wet. I steadily built my confidence and understanding but it was harder being so unfamiliar with the circuit. The forecast for tomorrow [race day] is dry so I guess we’ll start from scratch again!”

Although the forecast was correct, the circuit was still damp for the Sunday morning warm-up session meaning Tunstall was to start the race with no dry experience of the track.

After being baulked in the opening corners Tunstall lost ground and took time to find pace but by lap five had found his feet and started to close on the riders ahead. First up was former Cup winner & current series leader James Buckingham. The Yorkshireman slashed a 2.5second gap in four laps and once past immediately pulled away by more than a second each lap.

Next up was experienced cup runner Malcolm Ashley whose 3.5second advantage was eroded in just three laps. Tunstall eased past to take fifth which he held to the flag.

“It took me a few laps to get going but once I did my pace was the same as the podium guys. Considering the lack of experience here especially in the dry and that we took an educated guess on set-up it was a good start. We’ll make some changes for race two and I hope to build from here.”

In the second of the days races, Tunstall’s pace was slightly faster, knocking seven seconds off his race time but he was unable to improve his position and ended the race in sixth.

“I was hoping to be stronger in the second race but I brought it home and got some more points.
I knew it was going to be tough here with the Irish guys' home advantage. But it’s been stacked against us with the changing conditions and my lack of superbike experience. But then again there’s only one way to get experience and that by doing weekends like this. That’s the thing about racing, you never stop learning…”

The next round of the Championship is north of the border at Knockhill in Scotland on 1st July.