19 July 2009
Weekend of Solid Progress for Tunstall
Round seven of the twelve round British Superbike Championships took place at Mallory Park over the weekend and for Hardinge Doodson Motorsport backed racer Tom Tunstall it proved to be a weekend of solid progress, just missing out on yet another podium by one lap.
Over the past couple of years Tunstall has toiled to get the best from a superbike at the short and tight Leicestershire track; “The track is a bit small for superbikes really – it’s basically made up of three chicanes and a hairpin all of which are really tight and between 30 & 40mph which on one of these 200bhp machines is very hard work and dictates a specific riding style to get the best out of it. It’s a style that’s not natural to me but I’m here to learn.
Tunstall applied himself well and after following the practice and qualifying sessions had lapped nearly 1.5 seconds faster than ever before – no mean feat around this tight circuit.
“It's been a learning curve here this weekend and its sounds strange but I’ve had to slow down to go faster. My corner speed is a strength at most circuits but you have to sacrifice it here, get the bike turned and get out of the tight corners as fast as possible. I’m pleased to be lapping so much faster than previous years but it’s very tight. I’m only 0.5second from 5th on the grid but in 21st place [5th of the Superbike Cup runners]!"
Despite lapping at the same pace as eventual 2nd & 3rd place cup finishes Tommy Bridewell and Peter Hickman in the first of Sunday's 30-lap races, Tunstall lost a vital few seconds passing [Atsushi Wantanabe on lap three and Kenny Gilbertson on lap 14. A multiple rider pile-up at Shaws Hairpin on lap 22 brought a premature end to the race, with Tunstall taking 4th in the Superbike Cup class and 13th overall.
Race two took place in contrasting conditions with rain soaking the 1.41 mile circuit. Having passed both Relentless Suzukis on lap two, the Honda rider was running fourth in the Cup contest, climbing up to third after passing Cup series leader Gary Mason on lap 12. Tunstall then set about catching Simon Andrews and Hickman ahead.
However heavy rain started to fall again on lap 15 and with obscured vision Tunstall’s lap times dropped allowing Gilbertson to nip passed taking third place. The race was red-flagged a lap later and as track conditions deteriorated further the organisers abandoned the rest of the event, forcing Tunstall to take the fourth place result.
As the race wasn’t fully completed only half points were awarded to the finishers, meaning Tunstall now closes to within 4.5 points of third place in the championship.
“It’s really frustrating that we didn’t get chance to restart and I’m gutted I missed out on the podium but I guess there was no choice with all the rain and track flooding."
“This was always going to be a tough weekend as it’s not a strong circuit at all for me and I’ve learnt a lot. In both the wet and dry I’ve had the pace for the podium and although it’s frustrating that we didn’t turn that potential into silverware it certainly bodes well for the coming races.”
Tom’s next chance for that silverware comes in just under three week’s time with the legendary Brands Hatch GP circuit next up on the calendar over the weekend of 7th-9th August. .