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Joe Collier with Bazzaz Z-Fi TC earn 1st win in the 600 SS class of BSB for 2013
Team HARIBO Starmix’ Joe Collier brings home 25 points for his first S’stock 600 race win. Meanwhile, our young rookie rider Jordan Gilbert makes the grade and qualifies to race in his first ever British SuperBike (BSB). And then... whoops!
James Jackson, Racing Principal: just as we started to build our team-awning here at Brands last Thursday, we were hit by a snow storm. “No change there then” we all thought.
Of our five planned pre-season testing sessions, we only managed to get Joe & Jordan out on their new 2013 bikes for 3.5 hours on cold & damp tarmac.
Our first test day at Donington was abandoned thanks to an early-morning snow-fall; our 2nd attempt to test there ten days later, was also cancelled. Even the official BSB test-day at Snetterton was socold that we all agreed it was way too dangerous; pointless to venture out and risk injury.
We did at least manage some testing at Brands Indy. But even that day was so cold & damp, that we skipped session-1 (to see how many riders slipped off, and where,) and, once our riders were happy with their basic bike set-up, we ended that test-day early - the tarmac was just too cold to do anything clever; it was potentially treacherous.
Jordan thus started his first ever race-meeting at British SuperBike,.. his first race on a Superstock 600 (almost double the power of his last-season MiniTwin bike)… his first dry session at Brands on this new bike... and his first time in the publicity-glare of our sweet fans ;o). So he had lots to learn; lots to distract and get excited- or worried-about, and potentially lots of pressure-induced elephant-traps. Despite all this, Jordan’s Free Practice (FP) andQualifying (Q1&2) performances were exceptional for a 16-year old rookie. Jordan just got his head down and steadily chipped-away at his lap-times. He ended a respectable 31st on the grid.
Although Joe had at least ridden the earlier 675R Triumph model in last year’s series, neither rider had had enough time on our new bike. But Joe was soon showing he'd adapted well to the 2013 675R. Each time he took to the track he was amongst the fastest. Joe ended Quali 2 (Q2) in 2ndplace.
Race day was considerably warmer. With the sun shining, the lights changed and Joe got off to a ballistic start... heading the field into the first corner and for the first few laps. (Race pundits say: Joe got the hole-shot ie. he was first into the first corner.) The Pole position rider Jordan Simpkin had followed Joe closely and eventually got past. But Joe used his head and followed Simpkin whilst they pulled away from the rest of the field.
Jordan meanwhile had also started well and quickly moved up the field. Unfortunately he got a little eager on the gas and slipped off at Druids but had still put in a good performance for his debut. Back at the front Joe meanwhile was shadowing the leader and with two laps to go used the backmarkers to his advantage to retake the lead,.. a position he was to hold to the chequered flag. A dream debut for Joe, for the new Triumph and for the team too. Roll on Thruxton...
Joe Collier #23: Last season in the same opening round I slid around Druids corner on my back, so Brands hasn’t always been my favourite!
However, in the final race of last season I finished 2nd at the circuit and must admit I was looking forward to going back this weekend.
Q1: Despite the cold conditions the session started well. I was happy with the bike set up and was really comfortable with the corners on the smaller Indy track. I felt I was losing speed on the straights but hitting the corners well. I finished this qualifying session in P2, and was happy with that.
Q2: The weather improved slightly and with it the track conditions. My times improved, along with most of the other riders, and I came off track maintaining P2.
The Race: I was comfortable with the whole bike set up and my starting position gave me added confidence. I knew that having a good start could make or break the race for me. I gained the hole-shot and led into the first few corners. Jordan Simpkin took me along Coopers straight and pretty much set the pace for the next 18 laps. I was looking and waiting for an opportunity to make a solid move. This came in lap 19. I saw my chance on Paddock Hill and dived underneath Jordan taking the lead for the remainder of the race. It was a really close battle, with credit to Jordan S for constantly pushing throughout the closing laps of the race. I held onto the lead and finished just 0.1 sec in front of him, taking my first BSB win.
‘Happy’ doesn’t come close!! The fact it was a good clean race and a hard-fought win made it much more satisfying.
A massive shout to all the Team HARIBO Starmix gang. Thank you all for your hard work, dedication and professionalism. Our win was a huge team effort.
Also congratulations to Jordan Gilbert for getting his first BSB race under-his-belt. It’s a massive learning curve. Being new to the paddock is daunting; we’ve all been there.
I’m so looking forward to Thruxton.
Jordan Gilbert #24: My first race meeting at BSB,.. racing on a Stock-600 for the first time too. (OK, it’s a 675cc really.) I was apprehensive. Nervous for what was in-for-me.
We’d had five tests booked before the season started. That should have been enough. But we could only complete two test as the weather just wasn’t on our side.
I didn’t know what to expect from the weekend: i) how will the bike and I perform in the dry? – we never had the chance to test in the dry, and, ii) what would be the pace of the other riders? iii) can I stay up with themand maintain a safe race pace?
Free practice: Free practice was very strange for me. We started to leave the pit lane to enter the track knowing that the track was very wet (as it had snowed the day before).
As I left pit lane to approach Paddock Hill bend (for the first time as a BSB Superstock 600 rider), the snow started to fall heavily again, thus creating a very slippery and unpredictable surface beneath my Pirelli wets (in fairness they’d gripped brilliantly in pre-season testing, but this was Paddock Hillguys). Free practice went well; I was just trying my best to get used-to the bike and gel with it a little bit more. I didn’t need to look at my lap-times at this point. I just focussed on my riding, and seeing what the bike was doing.
Q1: Luckily the weather had changed slightly. The track was not so cold, and the rain stayed away; we finally had our first dry session on the new Triumph.
Going out in this, I didn’t know what to expect: so this was all a new learning curve. I was putting-in a string of laps that together gave me some consistent 53-second laps.
After coming into the pits for a quick review and for a tyre pressure check; we changed the tyre pressures to suit the speeds I was now achieving. This change allowed me to drop almost 2 seconds off my lap times. I ended Q1 as 32nd fastest with a new fastest lap of 51.4 seconds.
Q2: This was brilliant. I now had a second chance to further improve my lap-time and grid position. The weather had changed to a beautiful blue sky, and the track temperature had risen along with the air temperature thus creating better tyre grip. This session went really well. I managed to achieve a time of 50.1; this placed me 31st.
I must admit that I’d thought that my 1.3 second improvement would have placed me slightly higher than 31st, but then, everyone else had improved their lap-times too.
Warm up: I used this short session to refresh my mind on the track layout and where I would change gear, and to check that the minor setup changes would work for me.
The bike felt good and gave me confidence that I could do well later that day.
The Race: Sat on the grid of my first ever race in BSB. I was nervous. Extremely nervous, almost wetting myself and fearful of throwing up in my helmet. The nerves were absolutely shredding me. And they got the best of me as I had a shocking start and I ended up near the back of the field. I managed to fight my way through and eventually gain four positions in the first two laps. Then the next lap a few more places. At this point I thought: if I ride consistently like this I would be very happy - I could end up much nearer the front.
Next lap: I went down my usual two gears to enter Druids bend, and my rear suspension had compressed to its full amount, and as it sprung up, I momentarily lost rear tyre grip. I couldn’t save the high-side; I landed on my head & hip, completely winding me – so I was unable to think about getting up and off the track! After I regained my breath, I realised I’d taken a few knocks. But nothing serious. I hailed a BSB circuit-bike taxi back to the awning where I privately sulked to myself!
What suddenly made it better was learning that our Joe had won; and that brought very high spirits in the camp.
The team had told me that, after a crash, Derek Sanders the team principal, will always ask about the state of my race leathers as a first question. As he entered the awning after my crash, armed with the team trophy for Joe’s win, Derek asked:“how are your leathers, Jordan?” “Are they ok?.
No surprise there then ;o) That cheered me up; it brought a grin to my face. The bike had crashed well; there was minimal damage.
So overall, I’ve ridden around and learned lots from this weekend’s huge learning curve. Thruxton, here we come!
Derek Sanders, Commercial Principal: our bikes rolled off Triumph’s UK production line in late-January, and thanks to the magic of James Jackson and our racing partners, they emerged eight weeks later as fully-prep’d but untested race bikes; they were ready just-in-time for the start of our arctic weather. We’d held on to last season’s bikes - just in case the new beauties weren’t going to be ready in time.
(It takes more than six weeks to produce a new mold for new-shape race fairings; and when testing race bikes, fairings tend not to last too long; so having enough race fairings available has been a hand-to-mouth business. Exhaust systems too for brand new models also take time to tailor to perfection, and we are indebted to Scorpion Exhausts in Ripley for their outstandingly gorgeous new racing exhaust systems; Scorpion had to retain one of race bikes at their development lab for many weeks, but it was worth the wait. It’s been a nervous yet exciting eight weeks – as we knew the new 2013 model Triumph 675R Daytona could – if we get it right in time – be a stunning bike.
Pour rookie-rider Jordan arrived at Brands staring at a list of 44 competitors – some he already knew; many had already competed on 600’s at BSB. Each would battle for their rightful place on the 38-rider starting grid of this short Brands Indy circuit. The self-induced pressure suffered by ‘BSB-rookies’ can be really tough. (When Alex Olsen first started racing with us, he only just squeezed in and qualified 37th; Alex then went on to finish his championship 5th overall.) Jordan started 31st last Sunday. After lap-1 he was 29th. After lap-2, 27th. And he’d overtaken at least two more before he slipped off. Overtaking at that rate, and bearing in mind that he might (it’s that big word ‘if’ again) have had 20 more laps in front of him; Jordan is now reflecting where he might have finished if only he’d stayed upright. OK., it’s not unusual for our races to be red-flagged for an early race-finish, but with 20 more laps ahead of him, and at a rate of two-rider-overtakes per lap ;o), it’s surely possible that Jordan will soon get closer to the front. No pressure Jordan. But watch out Joe ;o)
Joe’s ride was a joy to watch. His smooth riding style and cool race tactics were impressive. And the new Triumph did him and us proud. He’ll now have personal-pressure to repeat that winning performance this coming weekend at BSB Thruxton. But, as pre-race testing at Thruxton is impossible (the circuit is under a constant threat from the local Noise Police – such that they don’t/can’t do motorcycle testing days), we’re not expecting anything famous from Joe this coming weekend. But it would be nice to see our British Triumphs up there again ;o)
Joe and Jordan: we salute you for your positive team-work at Brands last weekend; I know Joe’s support & advice to Jordan made a real difference; it might actually have help them both. And you’ve both shown us that the whole team can again look forward to yet another enjoyable racing season.
Many thanks and kind regards, Derek
For Derek Sanders and James Jackson
Ride Now Racing Ltd – a not-for-profit company dedicated to supporting talented young riders.
Racing as Team HARIBO Starmix in BSB Junior Superstock 600
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