Rapid-column-23rd-September-2008 by asafwewe


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									Rapid column 23rd September 2008

Hitting the ground running is not really appropriate in describing how we started
Donington, hitting the ground swimming seems a little more suitable. As usual the
sun just doesn’t exist at Donington and conditions pretty much replicated what we had
there at the British round, freezing cold wind and rain. Every session including the
warm-up was wet and I am pretty confident that is the first time that has happened in
my career.
I was on the pace all weekend in the wet conditions but got caught out a little in
qualifying in the few minutes a dry line started to form and intermediate rears were
put in. I came in after 20 mins in first position in full wet conditions and decided to
put an inter in early and just stay out there but then it started to rain as I was going out
so I came back in and put another wet in and by then the dry line had started to appear
again and I destroyed the wet in 3 laps so I rush in and put in the intermediate again
but then on my first flying lap it starts to rain again.. I ended up qualifying down in
15th and put simply I was out on the wrong tyre each time the conditions changed. I
had got through ok from the 3rd row a couple of times but from the inside of the 4th
row was not going to be easy and the rivals were on the front row.
I got to the lead on the 4th lap of amazingly a dry race and lead it for most of the race
except the last two laps. Brookesy went for the softer tyre and it really was working in
the last couple of laps when he was chasing me. I went back to 3rd in the middle of the
race to see what the others had but without me in front of them the pace slowed by a
second so I decided to go back in front and set the pace. I didn’t have much tyre left at
the end and couldn’t do much with him when he came past. Also I was thinking about
the championship and figured 20 points would be ok. I was a bit disappointed when I
watched the replay and didn’t keep the pressure on him because he made a few
mistakes on the last lap and if I was right on him I could have grabbed it.
Craig Jones’ dad came to Donington for the little tribute they had to Craig and he was
down at the podium ceremony. He is a new fan of mine.
After spending 3 months in Europe this year with Mum and having only been home
for about a month Dad decided to come back for the last couple of races this year. He
arrived just before Donington to try to make things a little easier on me day to day and
generally provide some support after a few difficult weeks. Even if he tends to end up
being the person I take my frustrations out on and let off some steam.
Then of course after a week in the Isle of Man we headed down to Rome for the next
one in Vallelunga. Having tested there in June we had a pretty good base to work
from. Honda took us (all the Ten Kate team) on an open roof bus tour on the
Wednesday night around Rome followed by dinner then back to the motor home.
Friday started with pouring rain again which we couldn’t believe after Donington so
we sat out the morning practice and decided to do a few laps in the afternoon. The
circuit was flooding and the bike was aquaplaning everywhere and I crashed straight
up and down on the brakes as did just about everyone else so it proved to be a total
waste of time as the weekend was forecast dry and sunny.
Qualified ok in 5th but my teammate was setting the pace and looked tough to stop.
Got a good start and was sitting behind Jonny in second for about 8 laps and then
bloody Harms decided he should desperately pass me and as usual started making
mistakes and Jonny was gone. Dealt with him but then had to race with Parkes and
Laverty (Fabien’s fill in) which was tough as the Yamahas were smoking me on the
uphill back straight. Laverty was in second and I was third but then Broc made his
move into second and was starting to go so I had to get past Laverty. He was getting
into the long right at the end of the back straight too hot most laps and running wide
and I had passed him a couple times when he ran wide and he did it again and I held
my tight line and was past him and not wanting to lose a position he cut it back in
straight onto the line where I was and slammed into me taking me out. Unfortunately I
was the only one who ended up in the gravel trap and lost a bag of points for the
second time this year after being taken out by a bloody Irishman. It is not what you
need at this time of the championship someone coming in trying to make a name for
himself pulling any move he can think of. So the championship no longer looks so
comfortable and now my lead is down to 11 points instead of 30 odd. Got to go out
there to fight and win now and make sure I keep them all behind me.
Our nominated test track is Magny Cours so we have a two day test there this
weekend leading up to the race so it has to become my new favourite track.
Hit the ground running on Friday morning first free practice and try to give them
something to chase, oh and one more thing, please come back soon Fabien.

Well well well, what can I say WORLD CHAMPION again. Mr Ware decided to
somehow let me squeeze a little add on to the column I wrote last week that I thought
was absolutely last minute pushing the deadline. I suppose exceptions can be made in
extreme circumstances like we had on Sunday in Magny Cours. What a relief to get it
done after the disappointment of Vallelunga but I suppose I was due a little luck. As
they say what goes around comes around.
After Vallelunga Dad and I drove straight to Magny Cours for a team test. We had
good weather and got a good base setting but on the second day Rea was quicker. I
felt good on the bike despite being a bit stiff and sore from the crash but felt I would
be ready when I got back for the race. Dad stayed at the circuit with the motorhome
and the hospitality guys for the 5 days while I went south west to Sebastian
Charpentiers’ house to spend the lead up with him and do some training and generally
get in the right frame of mind for the battle. Although I still had eleven points lead to
me I just wanted to win and most importantly beat Rea.
So after some really good positive days with Sebastian and his mates with a little top
shelf red wine thrown in I was smiling again and really up for it. He even had a
surprise for me on the Monday before the event. We went down to the train station
and jumped on a train called the TGV (train grand vitesse) high speed. The only
difference was the driver’s door opened up and in we jumped with him. I had no idea
where we were going as the train was going 500 kms to Paris. Seb said, “We are
going to Paris for dinner and we are driving it”. Keep in mind this train travels at
300kmh and we hadn’t done much train driving before.
Alain was the driver who happened to be a mate through a mate of Seb and after
about half an hour he explained it all and handed over to Seb to do some distance and
then it was my turn. It really was an amazing feeling driving something at that speed.
It took 2 hours to get to Paris and with the driver we jumped in a taxi and headed to a
restaurant called Lipp that is one of the classic street restaurants in the city and had a
great dinner then back to the station to drive back to Bordeaux. So I suppose you
could say we grabbed a TGV and drove it to Paris for dinner.
The weather all weekend at Magny Cours was very cold but generally dry. Friday
afternoon qualifying started well heading the time but then I went out on a new rear
with 5 minutes to go and half way round a hot lap that would have had on pole I had a
big one. Lost the front in the fast chicane as I flicked left on the cold side of the tyre
and saw my bike self destruct as it went sailing over the fence. The gravel trap gave
me a good seeing to so I was back to being very stiff and sore again.
All night the boys built me a new bike from scratch and we managed to qualify 3rd but
most importantly on the front row.
My plan for the race was simple. Stay at the front and if someone passes me, pass
them straight back. Upset their rhythm but most importantly stay out of trouble and
try to avoid any trouble. It seemed to work as Harms managed to take out Parkes and
Rea braking into the hairpin mid race but there were still 3 others to race with. I
worked out Rea was out by looking at the big screen as I braked into the hairpin and
started thinking what would be enough to take the title. Second or third but I realised I
had the pace and the safest place was at the front so I just stayed consistent and really
started to flow. The lap times kept coming and I slowly started to eek out a gap. That
was it World Champion and job done. As it turned out Rea got going and got up to
tenth so the win was necessary. The feeling of relief just swept over me after the ups
and downs of the year and to finally get the job down that everybody told me would
be easy was great. These things are never easy especially when you are expected to do
it and anything else is seen as failed. My team have been great all year and I have
never enjoyed a season inside the box like this one. I am going to be working with the
same guys again next year and with the bike improving we should be there again.
Dad was there to see it all which was nice as my sister Emily was there in 2001 when
I did it. The other coincidence was that the same guy won the superbike title that year
too as he did on Sunday at magny cours again. So congratulations TB.
We had a great party in the hospitality on Sunday with music and dancing and
speeches, I even saw Dad doing a few moves on the dancefloor so I’m assuming the
new hip and knee are working pretty well.
The only remaining decision I suppose is, what number we put on the bike next year.
Watch this space!
I’m off to take the old man out for a big Italian lunch before he flies back to Australia
tomorrow feeling pretty good I think.

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