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05 May 2008

Tough Weekend For Tunstall

Photo courtesy of Dave Couldwell / MONOPICS

The second round of this year’s British Superbike Championships took place at Oulton Park over the bank holiday weekend and for the Hardinge Ice Valley Superbike Team it proved to be tough weekend.

Having suffered major set-up issues at the opening Thruxton round and without opportunity to test prior to arriving at the Cheshire track Tom and the team knew they had work to do.

Having started to progress further during Saturdays dry free practice session, track conditions on Sunday were once again wet. And although Tunstall showed great pace it robbed the team any opportunity to improve the set-up.

By the end of the single qualifying session the track was virtually dry however the handful of laps Tunstall completed with the slick tyres wasn’t enough to do justice to the teams efforts and he claimed seventh place on the Superbike Cup grid. “It was pretty much worse case scenario for us, in the full wet conditions I’m as fast as any of the cup runners but we still haven’t found a good dry base setting on the Pirellis since swapping back to the 07 suspension. Results wise I’m hoping the race will be a wash out but we do need dry time to sort the bike”

Race one initially looked like it was going to be dry but rain started to fall as the riders took their warm-up lap. After a huge crash at the first corner the race was red flagged and the track was wet for the restart.

In the opening laps Tunstall cut his way through the field, up to 2nd place and overtaking Rizla Suzuki’s Atsushi Wantanabe. However on lap four Tunstall started to drop back, and as the laps went by and the track dried he struggled more and was forced to pit on lap seven.

The team changed the rear tyre and Tunstall completed the race taking ninth.

“In the opening laps I was flying but the grip dropped away very quickly and I just couldn’t lean the bike over without the back end coming round, it was lethal!  I’m gutted because I know I had an easy second place if not better.”

The track was fully dry for the second outing and Tunstall took to the grid with a revised setting.
As the laps went by Tunstall’s pace got faster as he acclimatised himself with the bike set-up and was chasing cup stalwart James Buckingham when the race was abandoned on lap 12 after a crash.

“It’s probably the happiest I’ve been after finishing a race in 6th! Once I got a feel for the bike my confidence was growing each lap. I’m hoping this setting will work well at Brands and I can concentrate on just racing the bike. Its obvious we’re suffering from a lack of testing but the team have done a great job with the situation and conditions we had this weekend and I’m looking forward to getting the results we all deserve.”

Tom and the Hardinge Ice Valley Team won’t have to wait long as the next round takes place in less than a week at the re-scheduled Brands Hatch GP round this weekend (May 10th-11th).

Photo courtesy of Dave Couldwell / MONOPICS

Photo courtesy of Dave Couldwell / MONOPICS