And so ends another season in the 1000 Cup with No Limits Racing.
2013 – My first foray into racing
2014 – NLR Novice year
2015 – NLR Cup year 1 (9th overall)
2016 – NLR Cup year 2, missed most of it with broken collarbone
2017 – NLR Cup year 3. 17 points in round one. Not a single point since.
It has been a tough year. It started with a 4-day trip to Cartagena with coaching from Simon Crafar, definitely a highlight. I crashed on the last afternoon on a worn tyre, but no drama. Felt ready for a good season!
Round one at Silverstone was great, grabbed points in each race (14th, 12th, 12th, 9th) which made me think I could have a fun year fighting for top ten places. This was after basically a full year off the bike, so to come back into points was a real high for me. I did collide with another rider, I stayed on but it was an ominous sign of things to come.
Round two was Brands Hatch and I was very frustrated by my performance, I just couldn’t find the extra speed I needed. (20th, 26th, 23rd, 21st). This was also the first round a few of the Pirelli Cup guys moved down to our race, strengthening the top end of the grid – but regardless, I didn’t ride as well as I wanted.
Round three was Dony GP. 21st, 18th, then taken out in a big crash into Foggy’s. Bike a mess, I managed to get away with no serious injuries but a very expensive and potentially very dangerous collision. Frustrating because I could see me grabbing a point or two – and also because there was no excuse for anyone to come into me that hot, it was downright dangerous riding which I hadn’t seen in the Cup up to that point – but have seen it repeatedly this year.
Round four was Anglesay, second session of practice day I lost the front on a cold tyre. Unable to move my arm for weeks, lots of pain and another expensive crash – my own fault, just trying too hard too early. The bike flipped and made a mess, I wrecked another helmet, did my leathers a lot of damage and really screwed up my left side. If my collarbone wasn’t metal, I reckon it would have snapped again, instead I fractured my scapula. Amazing for an off-camber low-side.
Round five we went to Oulton, 29th, 29th, 25th. A bit disappointed to be so far back but good craic having my old mate John over from Ireland to race against me.
(Round six was endurance only)
Round seven was Cadwell Park, 25th, 23rd, then taken out again at Mansfield by someone forgetting they were meant to turn left. Tried to go back out last session but bike wasn’t straight and the clip on wasn’t tight and was moving back, so it was a DNF. Frustrated because I was determined to improve on the Sunday and felt I could. Getting fed up at this point, third collision (none of them my fault) and I’d only done six rounds.
Rounds eight and nine I missed because of a holiday and work.
Round ten was Donington National, I was looking forward to doing the full weekend when work got in the way, so ended up just doing the races, 28th, 22nd, 26th, 26th. I enjoyed myself, despite the poor results – this round was all about repairing confidence and having fun again. I had a great qualifying in horrible mixed conditions, got destroyed in the dry race on Saturday. Sunday’s first race was full wet which went ok, the last two races I enjoyed scrapping with Shimmy and a couple of others and really felt my mojo coming back. My riding style was back to something like it should be, my confidence was good and it all felt well within my comfort zone. Was very glad to finish the weekend in one piece – that was important.
As you can see, it was a season that started full of promise. Our race then became a lot more competitive with the addition of the Pirelli boys, but that’s all good as it raises our game. Then a couple of accidents took the wind out of my sails a bit and I struggled to find my form again. It all felt a bit stop-start with a lot of money being spent on new helmets, leather repairs, new bodywork… By the last round all I wanted to do was get through a weekend without another crash – and that’s no way to approach a race. My bike fitness was also lacking – two months off the bike, even with regular training, is not a good thing. But I enjoyed Dony and am finishing the season with my confidence repaired.
I am sitting out next year. We will be getting married in the summer, so that is number one priority. I’ll also be helping Danny Shaw when I possibly can at Ducati Tri-Options, doing a Euro or two and might do the odd track day and race – but I need a breather from another full season. I plan to regroup, maybe get a new bike and come back fresh in 2019 for a full season, either sprint or Endurance. I was starting to worry that if I didn’t get all my racing done now I’d be too old, but then I took a look at our grid and there are some very competitive boys a lot older than me – so I’m actually pretty relaxed about taking time out.
Thank you to everyone who supported me, cared about me, helped me or just asked about me this season. It all means an awful lot – it’s a lonely and difficult sport if you’re on your own. The racers I compete with are a fantastic bunch and I look forward to dicing with them again in the coming years.
Biggest thanks go to the long-suffering Heidi who I’m not sure genuinely believes I won’t be racing next year – but she has never asked me to stop and is wholly supportive when most wouldn’t be. It would be impossible without her.
See y’all on the flip side losers!!!!