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31 August 2009

Progress and points for Tunstall

Photo courtesy of motoprofessional.com

The latest round of the British Superbike Championships proved to be a testing encounter for both Tom Tunstall and his Hardinge Doodson machine. Despite a series of niggling issues, great progress was made throughout the challenging weekend.

Held at the spectacular and picturesque Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire the event once again pulled a massive crowd of enthusiastic race fans with nearly 50,000 people in attendance.

Following practice and the single qualifying session Tunstall was placed 6th of the Superbike Cup contenders and Tunstall explained; “Coming here I knew I had room for improvement around Cadwell on a Superbike especially through the woodland section and I’ve been determined to turn it around."

“We’ve had a few issues with the bike and I lost some track time in practice which is a shame as I’m still learning around here – it’s a strange place, if you try too hard and get too aggressive you just go slower. It’s a case of being precise, keeping the momentum and getting the right balance of aggression and smoothness."

“I got blocked on my fastest lap in the first sector when James Ellison sat up, but my qualifying lap was still 1.3 seconds faster than last year so we’re going in the right direction.”

In the first of the day's two 18-lap outings Tunstall continued to make progress as he drove up the field. Having avoided Kenny Gilberston’s crash on lap four he claimed fourth place after passing Martin Jessop a lap later.

Lapping consistently faster than in qualifying, he caught and passed Suzuki backed Atsushi Wantanabe and latched onto the back of Yamaha rider Graeme Gowland. However before he could make his move his machine cut out completely as he started the 12th lap.

Afterwards an obviously frustrated Tunstall commented; “It's a real shame the bike stopped. I was racing well, my times were coming down, I was really enjoying catching and passing the rider ahead, but these things happen and hopefully we’ll resolve the issue for race two.”

The fault was traced to a broken fuel pump relay – a rare failure from an inexpensive part adding to the team’s frustration.

Race two saw Tunstall make a great start but seem to struggle initially to match the pace shown in race one. Having passed Wantanabe at the start of the race Tunstall lost the position just before the safety car was deployed following Michael Howarth’s MV Agusta dropping oil on the track on lap five.

At the restart Wantanabe made a mistake in the final corner and as Tunstall wasn’t allowed to pass before the start line it meant both lost ground on the pack ahead. The pair quickly regrouped and Tunstall caught and passed Jessop on lap 15 taking the chequred flag fourth of the Cup competitors.

The cause of Tunstall’s issues was clear as he returned after the race – having lost the toe slider protection off his boot he had ground through the boot and sock and therefore was catching his foot on the tarmac.

“It was difficult to keep concentration at first as I had to lift my foot out of the way on all the right hand corners rather than just race but I still managed reasonable lap times and got through to fourth. It was annoying really."

“I’ve enjoyed racing at Cadwell more than ever this weekend but I think some of the issues we had meant that the results didn’t show what we were capable of. I’m already looking forward to Croft and hopefully if things run a bit smoother there we should certainly be back on the podium.”

With the next round at Croft in North Yorkshire on the 13th of September, Tom and the Hardinge Doodson Motorsport team shouldn’t have too long to wait.

Photo courtesy of motoprofessional.com

Photo courtesy of motoprofessional.com

Photo courtesy of motoprofessional.com