25 August 2008
Slow Start But Solid Finish for Tunstall
The Cadwell Park race circuit located deep in the Lincolnshire Wolds played host for the latest round of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship. And the fortunes of Hardinge Ice Valley racer Tom Tunstall were hampered with bike problems at the start of both races but the Yorkshirman produced two battling rides to bag another load of Championship points.
Renowned for its tight, twisty and undulating nature Cadwell Park also includes the unique Mountain section where the bikes leap from the tarmac.
Tom and the team spent the free practice sections working on bike set-up before the debut of the new "F1 style" qualifying session. Tunstall just missed the cut by less than half a second commenting: "With only 25 mintues to get a time we didn't have time to work on the bike set-up it was just a matter of pushing for a time. We knew it was going to be tight to get through to the next phase this weekend. I enjoyed the new format, the pressure is on all session and it pushes you. Also for the fans it's more exciting."
"We're placed fifth of the cup riders on the grid and apart from [Gary] Mason the times are close and if we can keep progressing with the bike we'll be in the fight tomorrow."
In the first of the 18-lap races Tunstall lost ground off the line as the bike failed to get away cleanly. After being held up finding a way past Dean Ellison in the opening laps Tunstall was up to eighth. Three laps later he'd caught and passed Ducati mounted Leon Morris to take seventh.
Over the following eight laps Tunstall grafted hard and closed down a three second gap to the riders ahead. Embroiled in a three rider dice Tunstall just missed out on 5th place at the flag.
"The start was shocking! The bike didn't pull away cleanly and I had to slip the clutch so much. We believe it's an ECU fuelling issue and we need to get it sorted as I'm giving too much away. Once I got going I'm happy with how I rode. It's difficult to pass around here, especially in a pack of riders as not only is it a tight circuit, you've got to keep one eye on the guy behind as well as line up the rider ahead. The frustrating part is I have the pace to race with the guys for the podium but I need to get away with them."
At the start of race two Tunstall struggled to get his Honda away but managed to minimise the effect on his track position, however exiting Barn corner on the opening lap the rear end of the bike snapped sideways. Tunstall managed to stay onboard but lost another two places in the process.
As in race one Tunstall fought his way back through, and was up to fourth by lap 12. Finally with clear track ahead he set his fastest laps highlighting a pace that matched 3rd place Martin Jessop ahead.
After the race Tunstall remarked, "I certainly had the pace for the podium today, but lost far too much time in the early laps passing slower riders. The team have worked well improving the bike and I'm riding well, but we desperately need to improve getting the bike off the line for Croft."
With just over two weeks before the next round at Croft the Hardinge Ice Valley team have a test planned to come back stronger, especially at the start!!