27 September 2009
Strong performance from Tunstall
The penultimate round of the 2009 British Superbike Championships was staged at Silverstone over the weekend. Hardinge Doodson Superbike racer Tom Tunstall showed strong form all weekend, netting another Superbike Cup Podium.
With sunshine bathing the 2.21mile Northamptonshire circuit throughout the weekend Tom and the teams progress was clear.
Making it through to the second phase of qualifying Tunstall showed impressive pace – lapping two seconds a lap faster than ever before, his best lap averaged just over 91mph and for the majority of the session looked to be good enough to net another Superbike Cup Pole Position. As the chequered flag ended the session Cup wildcard Richard Cooper just crept through, edging the Hardinge Doodson Motorsport rider into second place by just 0.14seconds, but still in front of some established riders like Michael Rutter, Karl Harris & Cup Champion Gary Mason.
“I’m really pleased with my times and my feeling on the bike. Of course it’s a shame to miss out on the cup pole by such a tiny amount but we’ve got to be happy, the cup class is getting stronger and its one of our strongest qualifying performances of the year, I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to the races.”
As the 30-rider strong field launched off the line Tunstall made a good start however, lap two saw the Yorkshireman make a rare mistake running off the track exiting the fast Copse Corner, loosing time and a place to cup rival Peter Hickman. Three corners later Rutter attempted to pass Tom at the Abbey Hairpin but Tunstall fought back and regained the place.
The fracas had opened up a two second gap to the battle ahead. Tunstall managed to close the gap down to just over a second but was unable to catch the group before the flag ending the race 5th in the superbike cup but only a couple of seconds behind Gary Mason in 2nd.
Tunstall explained: “I made a mistake early on and with the pace being so close it was difficult to close the guys down.
“By mid race I was really struggling with the front tyre. It was shot and was difficult to balance between pushing on to catch the guys ahead without going too hard and crashing. “It was good to be so close but frustrating not having the tyre left to sustain my race pace, especially as we’ve used the compound all weekend.”
With the right hand side of the front tyre very heavily worn it was clear changes would have to be made for the second outing. Tom and the team opted for the Harder compound front, unknown territory as Tunstall hadn’t run with it this season.
Cooler conditions greeted the riders for the second of Sunday’s 20-lap races. Tunstall again got away well and into the Abbey Hairpin on the opening lap Tristan Palmer’s Kawasaki engine blew – Tunstall avoided the incident and was placed well just behind Mason, and Suzuki mounted Sylvain Guintoli. However the race was abandoned as the debris from the incident was cleared up.
On the restart Tunstall was edged out after battling with Rutter, Yamaha rider Dan Linfoot, and Martin Jessop in the early laps and lost touch to the battle ahead.
Holding fourth place Tunstall was elevated to 3rd place as Cup Champion Mason crashed out at the Woodcote chicane. Crossing the line 10 laps later Tunstall took his eighth podium of the season.
“I didn’t have quite as much confidence in the front and combined with getting held up behind Jessop meant I couldn’t fight for a higher position in race two. But it’s great to be back on the podium again and I think we certainly deserved it as we’ve performed well and had a strong pace all weekend.
“Hopefully we can keep the momentum through to the final round at Oulton Park and pick up some more trophies there!”
With three races taking place over the final round weekend, Tom and the Hardinge Doodson Team will have three opportunities to add to their trophy cabinet in just under two weeks time.