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14 October 2007

Tunstall Takes Third in Cup Championship

Hardinge Ice Valley’s Tom Tunstall concluded his successful debut Superbike season at Brands Hatch on Sunday, taking a well earned third place in the final Cup Championship standings.

The final rounds of the British Superbike Championship utilised the shorter Brands “Indy” circuit layout and after his strong showing at the previous event the Yorkshireman was keen to keep the momentum going to the end of the season.

Throughout the practice sessions the Honda mounted rider was in fine form and going into the single qualifying session was only 0.08 seconds off the fastest Cup runner.

However, unable to get the best from his qualifying tyre, he slipped back to fourth of the cup contenders.

“The qualifying session didn’t go well, I had a problem with the front end which meant whenever I tried to go faster the bike wouldn’t let me – the front end just washed out and I was so close to ending up on my backside a good few times. The end result is I’m further back on the grid than I should be and it is quite hard to pass on this tight circuit, but my race pace is good and if we can iron out the front end issues I know we can get some more strong results."

In the first 30 lap race Tunstall ended the opening lap in fifth and by lap eight was up to 3rd. However Tom’s progress was thwarted as he tried to find a way by Guy Martin, crossing the line only 1.0 seconds off 2nd position and taking his 15th podium of the year.

“I knew it was going to be tough to get past some of the riders and it was frustrating not being able to lap as fast as I know I could. I tried at every corner to get past Guy but just couldn’t make it stick. I’m planning to rectify that in race two."

The result also secured Tunstall third place in the Superbike Cup Championship.

Tunstall’s determination to get a result was evident in the final race as he hacked his way through the field from the start. He was quickly up to third disposing of last years Cup champion Chris Martin, and this time managed to get past Guy Martin in only a couple of laps. With second placed James Buckingham in his sights disaster stuck when Buckingham’s engine blew dumping oil on the track and throwing the rider off at Paddock.

With many riders waving to the marshals to halt the race and clear the oil the safety car was deployed before another rider crashed and race was stopped.

Amazingly the grid for the restart was taken from after the accident meaning Tunstall had all the hard work to do again. Undeterred he set to the task and on lap eight was passing Paul Barron for second position when the Irish man hit Tunstall taking both riders out of the race.

“Before the restart it was going great but the grid for the restart was after everyone had been waving to the marshals & I was stuck behind the slower riders again. Barron was lapping about 0.6 second a lap slower and I had passed him up the inside into Druids [turn2] – I think he was a bit ambitious trying to retake me around the outside when we touched. I tried to restart but the front brake was jammed on. I'm not beating myself up about it as it was out of my hands – a 'racing accident'."

“It was a bit of a shame I never got chance to show what I was capable of in the races and I was really looking to come away with a win.”

“To finish third in our debut year behind experienced Superbike riders like Tristan Palmer and James Buckingham is more than creditable. Without the issues we had at Silverstone and Oulton earlier in the year who knows where we would have ended up?”

“As the season's progressed the team and I have just got stronger and stronger. I’m really enjoying the 1000cc machine and hope to take that momentum through to the start of next season – I’ve got to thank the team, Hardinge Machine Tools, Ice Valley Mineral Water and all our sponsors for help making it happen.”