28 September 2008
Battling Final Race for Tunstall
Hardinge Ice Valley racer Tom Tunstall concluded his 2008 Superbike Cup campaign with a battling ride at the final rounds of the British Superbike Championships.
Staged on the shorter "Indy" layout at Brands Hatch, the 1.2mile circuit always produces close and tight racing and this year was to prove no exception.
Having posted the fourth fastest time of the Superbike Cup contenders in the practice sessions Tunstall was disappointed to find himself 8th on the grid for Sunday's two superbike races, remarking; "As we expected the times are tight, I'm only 0.14seconds from fourth. It's going to be a tough race to get through the riders ahead. I'm sure we can find more from the bike set up and I enjoy racing around here so I'm looking forward to getting stuck into tomorrow's races."
The conditions for Sunday's races were almost perfect with late summer sunshine bathing the Kent track.
Still searching for an improved set-up on the team's Honda CBR1000RR, Tunstall started the first of the day's 30lap outings with a revised front fork setting. However it wasn't enough. Having lost time at the start he wasn't able to catch the cup riders ahead and finished race one in seventh position.
With changes to the rear suspension linkage and shock absorber, race two saw Tunstall get an improved start and opting to go for the outside line in the opening corners, a tactic which worked well, gaining places around paddock and into druids, until a collision between Dave Johnson and Francis Williamson pushed Tom wide and almost off the track undoing his progress and losing time.
With a committed performance Tunstall cut past Dave Johnson and Victor Cox before closing down a 2.5 second gap to Ducati mounted Leon Morris. Once past, he was on the back of Martin Jessop but ran out of laps before he could attack - taking the flag in sixth.
"After qualifying and getting caught up at druids on the first lap, I worked as hard as the bike would let me to get a result. The rear link helped edge grip but I was still struggling for grip. Although sixth doesn't reflect what we're capable of, I did what I could with what I have today and I'm happy that I rode well."
The results saw Tom getting pipped for third place in the 2008 British Superbike Cup Championship by experienced superbike rider Gary Mason.
"The Cup Championship stepped up a level this year, with some big teams and experienced riders joining the grid. That, combined with the new supersport engine rules which seemed to hit us more than most, meant it's been a tough year.
"But the whole team has worked exceptionally hard from the first round to the last to get the results and podiums, I owe them all a massive thank you.
"Of course, without the loyal help and backing from Hardinge Machine Tools, Ice Valley Mineral Water and all our supporters none of it would have been possible and I'm indebted to them for their belief in myself and the team."