Last weekend we raced the 4th race in the Swedish Superbike Champs, and we managed to break into the top-20 for the first time. Felt pretty good!
I had a good feeling before the race, we had some good tests the week before, and we finally found a sollution to the problem with understeering when exiting corners.
This weekend the BRH Kawasaki team made some special arrangements in the pits with hospitality tents, showroom, and all the kawi riders were set up in the same area. So we had a Kawasaki street in the pits. Cool!
Friday, and free practice.
We used the first two sessions on friday just to get to know the track again since we haven't been here for a year. The setup of the bike felt pretty good from the beginning, and I set a new personal best early in the first session.
The last session we made som minor changes to the bike. A different gearing and tried another tyre compound. Improved slightly, and it felt pretty good.
When we woke up, the weather was cooler than on friday. There was a light fog, and very humid. What tyres to use? We made a gamble for the first session with a medium/medium setup, despite the cooler temperature.
Made a stint of 10 laps in the beginning ofthe session, and then made a planned stop. Managed to do a 1.05.7 on lap 8, a new personal best (with over 2 secs since last year). And we were in 20th place, best qualification this year. Not too bad, but I felt that I really could do better.
Went out for another stint, and pushed a lot harder. Started to have a lot of rear wheel spin, and the bike was all over the place. Didn't improve.
For the second QP, the weather took a turn for the worse. Had some light rain just before the start, and we sat out the first couple of minutes in the box, just waiting for the track to dry up a bit. Tried to go out and improve, but it was impossible. The track temperature was a lot cooler, and with some wet patches here and there.
So we were still in 20th, the best so far this year...
Once again, the weather was a bit dodgy... Light fog in the morning, humid, and cold... Tried on a soft front for the warmup, and stayed on medium rear.
Took it pretty easy, there's really nothing to win by pushing hard in the sunday morning warmup, just a lot to loose of you screw up (we don't have 2 or 3 bikes like the big boys).
The riding felt pretty good, and I was a bit surprised to be in 15th in that session. My best result ever in Superbike, which boosted my confidence a bit more. The laptimes were slower than on saturday, but that was due to the weather.
I was actually a bit more nervous than usual, maybe it's because we were close to that top-20 finnish we wanted, and this time it actually felt like we had a good shot at it.
The lights went off, and I got a pretty good clutch release, but had to let off when I changed into secon to keep the front wheel down. Made a terrible descision in the first corner and got stuck on the inside while riders were rounding us on the outside, and then I was forced to go wide on the exit. After the dust settled, I had to be dead last... Damnit!!! Not good!!!
Got some positions back in the first reak braking into turn 5, and lapped the first lap in 20th.
The pace felt pretty good, we were a group of 5-6 riders, and I had to push to keep up, but it felt comfortable. As the race progressed, the pace got a bit higher, and I really had to fight to keep up. On lap 6 I got "P-20 +12" on the board, which meant that I had a gap of 12s back to the nearest rider, so there was no preasure from behind.
Got up into 19th on lap 9, and managed to pull away. But then I made a mistake in turn 1, and went wide. Lost a gap of about 3 seconds to the guys in front. Then overshot the braking in turn 5 when I tried to make up for it, and lost some more. After that I had a gap of 6-7 seconds to the guys in front, and 17 seconds to the one behind me.
Made a couple of attempts to close the gap, but couldn't do it. Then I just tipped off a bit and cruised to the finnishline for the last part of the race.
Actually had a oretty booring last half of the race, all by myself, but was pretty happy when I rolled over the line for my first top-20 finnish in Superbike. Was a bit dissapointed that I let the guys pull away infront of me, but next time.... I wont...
I want to say a big thank you to all my sponsors (especially BRH Kawasaki, Bridgestone and Breed), and the whole team (Ida, Peter, Olof, Mike, Andreas, mom, dad) who made this possible.
Now we have one weeks vacation on the West coast, and then we're off to Norway for the 2nd race in the Scandinavian Open Championships...That's gonna be tough!!