11 May 2008
Solid Weekend For Tunstall
With the opening in April round snowed off, the second attempt to run the British Superbike Championships at Brands Hatch was held in blazing sunshine, and although Hardinge Ice Valley racer Tom Tunstall ended race one in the gravel the performance over the weekend showed he was definitely back on track.
With the grids held from the abandoned event, short free practice sessions were provided for the teams and riders to dial into the 2.3 mile Kent circuit.
The teams optimism from Oulton park was well founded as Tunstall’s pace and consistency was clear, posting the third quickest time of the Superbike Cup runners.
“The bike’s working well with the settings we had from race two at Oulton, the consistency lets me get a better understanding, and gives me the confidence to push the limit of the bike. Looking at the timesheets it’s going to be a tight race & I’m really looking forward to it."
Held in glorious sunshine race one saw Tunstall complete the opening lap in sixth place. On lap four he swooped under James Buckingham into Sheene curve, before getting the better of Aaron Zanotti a few laps later. Setting his fastest lap of the race Tom immediately latched onto the back of a four rider dice.
Unfortunately Tunstall’s race ended 3 laps too early as he lost the front going into the 2nd gear 60mph Druids bend.
“I didn’t feel like I’d done anything different and the data recording backs that up, same entry speed brake pressure etc. But when you’re pushing on the limit sometimes it doesn’t take much. On the upside were back fighting for the podium and I plan to go out in race two and push just as hard.”
The Hardinge Ice Valley team worked flat out to get Tunstall’s Honda CBR1000RR back into shape, and Tom literally dusted himself down ready for the second of the day’s races.
Having lost ground in the early laps finding a way past ex-moto gp rider Chris Burns, Tunstall caught and passed Malcolm Ashley leaving a five second gap to the battle for the Cup victory ahead.
With clear track ahead the Yorkshireman upped his pace further setting the fastest lap of all the Cup contenders and within four laps had brought the gap down to a couple of seconds and well within his sights.
However a heavy crash brought out the safety car and the field was together once more. By the time the track was cleared and the race got underway there was only two laps left but Tunstall was in fourth and within reach of the rostrum, when Suzuki mounted Tom Sykes engine blew leaving oil on the track and leading the organisers to declare the result early.
“To me there’s a big difference between finishing third and fourth and missing the rostrum is a shame but I’ve proved we have the pace to be there by setting the fastest lap, and if the race hadn’t been interrupted I’m convinced I’d have been on the podium. I'm happy were on the right track and looking forward to Donington.”
Donington Park hosts the next round of the British Superbike Championships over the May 24th – 26th Bank Holiday Weekend.