28 September 2008
Tunstall Just Misses Out on Another Podium
The penultimate round of the 2008 British Superbike Championships took place at Silverstone over the weekend and a battling performance saw Hardinge Ice Valley racer Tom Tunstall just miss out on netting his seventh rostrum finish of the year.
Having made good progress with the set-up of the Honda CBR1000RR superbike in the free practice sessions Tunstall capitalised straight away in the qualifying session setting his fastest lap of the weekend so far on his 1st run with a new tyre.
After pitting for a second fresh rear Pirelli and looking to improve his time further, a mechanical problem ended his run, meaning he was unable to progress and was classified 6th of the Superbike Cup runners.
"We made a good jump forward on the set-up this morning and it's a shame my qualifying was cut short. But the guys will easily be able to fix the problem. I think the race pace of most cup runners will be tight, therefore it'll be crucial to get away with them."
Race one showed Tom's prediction to be true – after being held up in the opening three laps trying to pass Ducati mounted Leon Morris, Tunstall had lost over four seconds to the cup contenders ahead and, despite posting a succession of qualifying pace laps, was unable to close the gap and ended the race in fifth place.
"I knew I had to get away with them but I lost too much time early on. It was frustrating as I could hold the gap for a time but couldn't close it. We'll make some changes to the gearbox for race two and hopefully give them something to be worry about!"
Race two looked to follow a similar vein but Tunstall showed his determination by consistently posting his best times of the weekend as he caught and passed Shannon Etheridge, before setting his sights on fellow Honda riders, Dan Stewart and Martin Jessop.
As the end of the 20 lap race grew near Tunstall had closed down a four second gap to Stewart with Jessop now just in front. Unfortunately for the Yorkshireman, he selected a neutral gear entering the Abbey Hairpin on the penultimate lap running wide and losing a vital second. With only one lap remaining Tunstall couldn't get back on terms with the battle for third and crossed the line in fifth.
"I'm gutted I got the neutral into the hairpin. I know for sure I'd have been able to fight for third as I'd worked so hard every corner of every lap to close the gap. My times were good and my race time was more than 10 seconds faster than race one. It sounds strange to say I'm happy to finish in 5th but I am happy with my riding and confidence on the bike."
However the drama wasn't all on the race track as Gary Mason, who'd won both of the cup races, was excluded from both races after his Quay Garage Honda was found to have an illegal engine.
The reclassified results mean Tom took two fourth places finishes and goes back up to third place in the Cup Championship with only one round remaining.
The final round takes place at Brands Hatch on the "Indy" circuit over the weekend of the 10th-12th of October.