22 July 2007
Another Podium for Tunstall
Hardinge Ice Valley racer Tom Tunstall was on the podium once again, as the
British Superbike Championship took to Mallory Park in Leicestershire over
what was a difficult weekend.
With the scheduled practice and qualifying session abandoned due to torrential rain and the tragic fatal accident of fellow Superbike rider Ollie Bridewell the grid positions for Sundays races were decided by championship positions. And boosted by his strong performance last time out at Oulton Park Tunstall lined up the 3rd of the Cup riders.
An extended 35 minute free practice session on Sunday morning was the only opportunity for the Superbike riders and teams to set up there high powered 1000cc machines to suit the tight 1.41mile circuit.
After the session Tunstall commented; It was a difficult session as I had quite a few issues to try and iron out to make the bike work. Ive never raced on this current circuit layout before which doesnt help. On corner entry I was struggling with stability and on the exit I didnt have any grip we're going to take a bit of a gamble on set-up going into the first race.
Showing total commitment the Yorkshirman gained places taking an outside line in the first chicane and ended lap one in 2nd. Heading into Edwinas Chicane on lap five Tunstall selected a false neutral causing him to run off the track losing vital time and positions.
By the flag he had dropped to fifth and once back in the pits explained further;
The first lap went really well and I was working at making a fast rhythm. Im really annoyed about getting the neutral as Im convinced I could have held 2nd or at least made a good fight for it. I was still struggling with the bike. Well see if we can improve it for race two.
Second time wasnt so lucky for the Honda mounted Tunstall as he ended the opening lap of race two back in 6th. Keen not the lose touch with the cup leaders he pushed his way to 5th on lap two picked off another place two laps later.
Lapping faster than in the previous outing, Tunstall was working hard to close the three second gap to the riders ahead. On lap nine however Cup riders James Buckingham and Marty Nutt collided along with Aaron Zanotti promoting Tom up to 3rd and sealing his 8th podium finish of the year.
Race two was tough as I still couldnt ride the bike as hard as I would like, the bike was fighting me a bit too much and in some parts of the track I had to ride slow to keep it stable and stay on the track! The set-up changes we made helped in some areas but made the bike worse in others. The lack of set-up time has hindered me more than most due to my lack of superbike experience and data. All things considered though, Im happy to come away with another podium.
Its been a very difficult weekend on many levels, and Ollies accident has affected everyone in the paddock as he was such a great, genuine guy - he will be deeply missed.
The next round of the Championship takes place in Toms home county of Yorkshire at the Croft circuit on August 12th.