Wigley Racing Round 11 Race Report

Wigley Racing Round 11 Race Report

The penultimate round of the 2018 British Superbike Championship bought us outside of the usual realms of Great Britain and into Europe, to the TT circuit of Assen in Holland.

The weekend began on a positive note with Kurt setting a good pace and putting down top 10 lap times during free practice 1. He closed the session in P8, feeling optimistic that there was more progress to be made throughout the rest of the weekend. He further sliced from his lap time in FP2, however, this left him in P10 as the session ended. Matt did not complete the Assen round last year due to competing in the Superstock 1000 class and thus hadn’t been to the circuit for 6 years! Having spent the two practice sessions applying knowledge from his research, working with Kurt and learning the track, he was able to knock over a second off his original lap time in FP2.

On Saturday morning, weather conditions were dry and bright. Kurt had made several big changes to the bike settings with the aim of helping him bring down his lap time. Whilst he managed to knock off a further 0.4s, this left him qualifying on row 6 of the grid. The session was good and the team were happy. Although the improvements made were not to the extent that we were hoping, it’s always a positive to reduce lap times, especially having made such drastic changes to the bike. Once again, Matt progressed with leaps and bounds. Having also modified the settings of the bike, he reduced his lap time by a further 0.8s and qualified in 24th.

The sprint race got off to a good start, with both riders making up positions. However, after first couple of laps it was becoming evident that there was an issue with Kurt’s bike as other competitors were passing him early on the straight, leaving him to fight back on the corners. By the fourth lap, it was clear that there was a serious clutch issue meaning that Kurt was unable to accelerate out of the corners anywhere near to the rate at which he should due to the clutch slipping. For the first time ever, he was forced to retire from the race. Matthew continued battling with a group following the incident but overestimated the bike’s ability to stop entering turn 1 during a bold overtaking manoeuvre when he lost the front and sent the bike into the gravel trap. Matt was fortunately ok but the same couldn’t be said for the bike, with a long night of work ahead the mechanics.

The beginning of the feature race on Sunday was a completely different situation with Matt starting ahead of Kurt on the grid due to Kurt’s short-lived race 1 meaning he did not have chance to put down a strong lap time. Kurt was feeling determined to prove himself after a series of bad events and achieved a good start to the race. However, Kurt opted for the outside line for turns 1 and 2. This was a fantastic step forward as it moved him a few rows ahead, putting him on the outside of Matt as the bikes entered turn two four-a-breast. Unfortunately, the risk of being on the outside is being caught up in other people’s incidents. It turns out that in this situation, that person was Matt. As he lunged for the inside line, a collision with a fellow competitor meant that he lost the front mid-turn, close lining Kurt into the gravel as he passed through the field on his side. In an attempt to recover the situation, Kurt tried to restart but was stuck in the gravel trap. Matt quickly got up and helped to push his brother back onto the track. The crowd cheered. Now placed 38thwith a standing start in the gravel, Kurt first had to catch and overtake the BMW i8 safety car. Following that, he then moved on to the true competitors who had an advantage exceeding 10 seconds on lap 1. Due to the extent of the delay, Kurt tried his upmost to catch and pass as many riders as possible who had broken off into small groups by the time he reached them. He made his way forward to 22ndplace. 

Faced with a lot of bad luck this weekend, the twins have their sights set on making improvements at Brands Hatch for the final round of the season. The season seems to have passed far too quickly this year!