15 July 2007
Tunstall Splashes to Podium Double
Hardinge Ice Valley Superbike racer Tom Tunstall managed to turn torrential
wet conditions to his advantage at the weekend taking two hard earned podium
finishes at Oulton Park.
After hosting a round back in May it was a return visit for the ever popular British Superbike Championships to the Cheshire track.
The heavy rain that has blighted not only the British summer but the previous two events continued and the wet practice was starting pay off for Superbike rookie Tom Tunstall as he posted the second quickest Cup time in the wet practice sessions.
Respite from the rain came on Saturday for qualifying and the Superbike Cup pace was extremely close with the top four riders covered by 0.2 seconds for the majority of the session. When riders swapped the race tyres for qualifying rubber Tunstall just missed out and was pushed back to fourth despite lapping at and average of 96.94mph.
"I didn't really get the best out of the qualifying tyre. With all the rain it's the first time Ive had chance to use one since Snetterton in mid-May! Still, we're on the pace on race tyres which is more important, so I'm not too concerned
Unsurprisingly the rain returned, and continued to fall as the Superbike riders took to the grid on race day.
Tunstall launched off the line and already started to pass riders on the run to turn one. Disaster struck for former champion Gregorio Lavilla as he crashed exiting the first corner. With bike and rider strewn across the track Tunstall had to shut off, allowing riders to re-pass, and he ended lap one in 3rd.
The first lap carnage brought out the safety car and when the race got back underway Tunstall struggled to make ground on the riders ahead, but pulled away quickly from fellow cup riders James Buckingham and Marty Nutt.
Even though Tom's pace continued to increase, lapping faster than the cup leaders ahead, it was not enough and he crossed the line in third.
After stepping off the podium Tunstall remarked: "It was an eventful race I lost time when Lavilla crashed and I'm surprised they didn't stop the race as I saw him get run over. Once the pace car went in someone dropped oil around half of the track leaving even less grip. I'm happy with my pace especially the second half of the race and Im even happier to be back on the podium!"
Race two was held in similar conditions and Tunstall again made a good start, and was third behind Tristan Palmer and Malcolm Ashley. With the wet conditions catching many riders out including championship leader Kiyonari, Tunstall kept calm and was promoted to 2nd as Ashley slid off the track on lap five just in front of Tom.
Lapping more than a second a lap faster than Irishman Nutt behind, Tunstall had a safe second place which he took to the flag to make it a double of podium finishes.
"I was really struggling with grip, especially at the rear and was out of the seat a lot, we went with the same set-up as race one so Im not sure why. It's easy to make a mistake in those conditions so I just tried to keep it smooth. It's great to get another podium finish, the whole team deserve it after all the hard work so I'll save some of the champagne for them!"
With the next race at Mallory Park this weekend the team wont have to wait to fight for yet more podium finishes.