Thursday, April 28, 2011

26th April 2011 - Solid weekend for Ducati Manchester at Brands Hatch Round 1

Solid weekend for Ducati Manchester at Brands Hatch Round 1

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Easter Bank Holiday weekend saw the first of the 9 round Ducati 848 Challenge Championship commence. With the weather forecast for bright and sunny all weekend the team and the public were in for a scorcher, on and off the track!

Ducati Manchester racing arrived at the circuit and setup both Robbie’s and Alexey’s machines ready for the weekend ahead. As this was the first time the team had compete at British level for some time, the team and riders knew they were in for a difficult time and therefore weren’t looking to set the world alight during the first round.

Robbie and Alexey showed great promise during practices, improving lap by lap and learning more about the machine in every outing. After some dramatic setup changes during the weekend, Alexey and Robbie qualified 7th and 12th respectively. Speaking after the qualifying session Robbie explains his feelings thus far; “We came into this weekend not aiming for the win, just wanting to get some good setup to point us in the right direction for the rest of the season. Its obviously difficult taking a year out of racing, let alone doing such little testing mileage on the off season, there is no doubt we have an uphill struggle but I am happy with 12th and the way we are improving lap after lap. Its all I can ask for at this time is that we keep improving and learning about the bike.” He explained.

Race one saw Robbie and Alexey get great starts and run with the top 5, Robbie then dropped back and afterwards stated that he just didn’t have the pace to run at the front just yet, the setup wasn’t quite there. After a hard fought race Robbie and Alexey ended in very respectable 6th (Robbie) and 8th (Alexey) places.

Alexey reflects after race one “I am quite happy with the way the season has started. I learned more and more each lap and began to be more comfy with my Ducati Manchester machine. There is still much to learn but we are taking step by step and it will not be long before we can run in the top 3”

The following morning both riders had made some huge changes to the machines in a hope to close the time gap to the leaders ahead of race two. However, Robbies morning warmup was bought to an abrupt end when Mike Edwards collided with Robbie out of Paddock Hill Bend, then at the following corner it became apparent that Robbie’s brake lever had broken in the collision, forcing him to jump from his machine at speeds in excess of 110mph.

“Things looked really good up to that point” explained Robbie “I was improving lap after lap and the changes made overnight really helped my confidence and my laptimes. It was a complete shock when Mike hit me, obviously it wasn’t intentional but it still shouldn’t have happened, I didn’t realise the lever had snapped and at the next corner it became apparent and I had no choice but to jump from the machine. Absolutely gutted for that to happen just at a time when my confidence was lifting. Still, every rider crashed and must bounce back” continued Robbie.

Race two saw Alexey get another great start but Robbie struggled to get his machine off the start line, arriving at the first corner in second-to-last position. Alexey battled for 5th and 6th places along with several other riders, he completed the race in a very respectable 7th position. Robbie fought hard all race, putting in his fastest lap of the weekend and finishing in 9th position.

“Overall the weekend has been a great success. Aside from Robbies crash which could not have been avoided, the team and the riders have improved dramatically over the weekend and everyone has been working extremely well as a team. I am very proud to be part of this team with Robbie and Alexey and I look forward to the rest of the season. We plan to test a little more and again adapt to the bikes and how they react to the settings, this weekend was always going to be difficult with new bikes and new riders but both riders have done a fantastic job and should be proud. They have shown much promise for the rest of the season” explained Chris Booth, Managing Direct of Ducati Manchester and DMC Moto team manager.

The team now have a two week break where they plan to regroup and get ready for the next battle in Assen, Holland, hoping to capitalise on their successes at Brands Hatch.

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