11th January 2015 - Winter Ram Run
Stoneleigh Park - 12KM Obstacle Course Race
Ben completes the Winter Ram Run 12KM running race. But how was it?
Well, to be honest the physical effort wasn't too much of the problem. Let's be honest, 12KM's isn't too far a distance to be running. But when you throw in the freezing temperatures of January and climbing obstacles all mixed in with swimming through a river, things start to become a little different. Especially with the temperatures of a river in early January.
It was a great experience, thoroughly enjoyable and I would highly recommend competing in one. I took roughly about 2 hours 30 minutes to complete, but there were large queues for the first few obstacles, very similar to the beginning of the western beach race. Never the less, I survived, even after almost catching hyperthermia! Word of advice, bring a sufficient towel and don't under estimate the cold in January.
Please check out the new 2015 gallery where you will see some photos of the action.
13-15th March 2015 - Brands Hatch Indy
NG Road Racing - Sounds of Thunder, Rounds 1 and 2
Day 1 - Friday Practice
So the last time I rode any motorbike was 5th October last year. Over 5 months ago. Unlike the previous off season where we went to Almeria in Spain testing, this off season we haven't done any. As a result we half expected for the pace to take a little while coming back.
For the first Friday practice session it was almost as if it was Silverstone BSB last weekend. I felt at home and comfortable straight away. We made further steady progress throughout the day, making a slight tweak to the suspension setup and ended up being just over half a a second off last year's PB time for Brands Indy. Incredible considering the lay off, sub 10 degree temperatures and the same tyres from Silverstone.
Day 2 - Satuday Round 1
Saturday was the first race day of the 2015 season. Practice was cold at around 6 degrees. Never the less with a new rear tyre, the bike felt comfortable and handled well putting me in good stead for race 1, where I started in 4th.
For race one I was gifted with a bit of luck. After a good start I jumped into 3rd for Paddock Hill. On the run up to the hairpin the leader lost the front end and this gifted me the lead as second place got pulled wide with the incident. I managed to keep this lead for two laps until top British Superstock Rider Josh Day passed. I let another place slip a few laps later as we entered back markers. I finished the race in 3rd overall having reached my pb for brands.
For race 2 I started in 3rd, a front row start and a clear run down into Paddock. Another good start helped me to hold my position for much of the race. On a couple of occasions I wasn't decisive enough on some of the passes on the back markers. This helped MV Agusta rider Scott Adam to catch up and pass me two thirds into the race. I was on his back wheel but didn't manage a pass. I finished 4th overall knocking a tenth off my pb.
All in all its been a good couple of days. We've got a few places where we can improve upon both with my riding and the suspension setup.
Fingers crossed for tomorrow's weather. But let's see how things go.
Day 3 - Sunday Round 2
For the first two days at Brands Hatch the weather to us was quite kind, or at least it was dry. But the same cannot be said for Sunday. The heavens had opened and the rain was on/off all day. Although for periods of the day it hadn't rained for quite some time, with the 6 degree temperatures, the track was never going to dry. At best there was no standing water just a wet track.
For the qualifying race I managed a good start and was 3rd for the first corner. With a lack of wet practice to optimise a setup, It was a matter of holding off the other front runners. I wasn't too confident with the bike to be pushing at the pace of the others. As a result, by the end of the race I let a further three riders passed to finish 6th overall.
It was a similar story for the championship race but instead I began 6th on the grid. I launched away from the lights with good reactions and I began to gain on David Irons on his 1198 who was 3rd on the grid, but by the time I was almost by the side of him, I opened the bike up a little more and suddenly the rear lost traction and spun up. Although nothing too serious it was enough to loose my momentum on the field. I went into the first corner in a disappointing 6th place. With the setup and the uncomfortable nature continuing. I finished the race 6th overall.
All in all it was a good weekend. We didn't expect to have such a positive weekend after such a long layoff the bike. After the first two championship races we are now 5th in the championship. We will begin on the grid at Cadwell in this position which should put us in good stead once again. Hopefully we can continue the positive form to give us a good begining to the championship fight.
The next round is Cadwell Park in two weeks time. 10, 11, 12 April. Please come down and support us.
I would like to thank JHP Ducati Coventry for all of their help in preparing the bike for the start of the season. And another thank you goes to Shark Helmets/Nevis Marketing for their continued support into the 2015 season. Be sure to check back after Cadwell Park for the latest news updates on how we got on.
22-24 May 2015 - Donington Park
Ducati Tri-Options Cup - Round 3
World Superbike Support
This weekend we were supporting the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park. On top of supporting such a top series we have a new livery for the bike. Since we have been racing a Ducati we have had a simple red design. From now on we will have a yellow and white colour scheme being supported by Broadway Transport – Specialists in Medial Distribution.
Since the last outing at Oulton Park for the North Gloucester Championship, the team was extremely busy having only 4 days in between rounds. The final preparations for the weekend spilled into Friday morning with final bodywork preparations. We were still putting on numbers and sponsorship vinyls a few hours before free practice. It all affected the time available to adjust the bikes setup from Oulton Park. It was far from Ideal, but we made it out.
The session began and the whole field was taking it steady for the first few laps. My pace started to pick up and I felt I was getting held up slightly. I was lining up the rider in front heading into the Melbourne Loop. I was alongside the rider heading out of the hairpin when all of a sudden the bike’s power went really flat. The bike suddenly wouldn’t pull and there was a misfire present. I rolled round the final corner and slowly pulled into the national pit lane entrance. It was unfortunate because we felt strong up until this point, but with the problem we only managed 3 laps which wasn’t enough time to feel what adjustments would be required to improve the setup in readiness for qualifying.
We had limited time available to find the route cause of the problem. Qualifying was only a few hours after free practice, so once again we were flat out. After inspecting the electrical wires around the battery, we found that the cause to the problem was a damaged earth wire connector. It is annoying and so unfortunate that such a cheap part can cause such an electrical issue and cause us to DNF a session. What’s more irritating is that we didn’t have any time to adjust either the suspension setup or the gearing so we head into qualifying as if it was our free practice session. This showed in our qualifying results.
For qualifying I could tell that the other riders in the field already had one session to sort themselves out and fine tune setup. I was certainly on the back foot, and results showed. I was struggling down in and around the high teens. We had both the Oulton Park gearing and suspension still on the bike. Normally we would have adjusted the bike prior to qualifying with information from free practice but with the electrical issue this wasn’t possible. I had a significant lack of grip out of the corners. I could feel the bike spin up with the slightest touch to the throttle. This obviously didn’t help confidence. I dropped down to disappointing 21/35.
Race one was mid-day on Saturday. We had time to improve the setup and both the results and the laptimes reflected the improved on-bike confidence. Race one was the Oulton Park replacement race so for this race we were 21st on the grid following laptimes from the first OP race. From this far back in the field we knew we had a lot of work to do.
The lights went out and luckily I had a good start. I moved up a few places instantly from the start. With every lap, with additional bike confidence, I was able to confidently push hard and pick off the other riders one by one. I managed to work my way up till just out of the points where I finished 16/29 where I began in 21st, making up a massive 5 places in 8 laps. Considering the issues we had for the beginning of the weekend and missing a session, we were extremely pleased. This race however, we were almost cut short a finish. Half way through the race entering into the Foggy’s Esses, I’d clipped the inside curbs with my gear lever and it had actually bent and unwound itself, it was on the last few turns by the end of the race. Lucky that we actually finished the race.
Race 2 and 3
The remainder of the weekend was much the same with results. We always felt that we were starting lower than we should have and if we had the grid position, our finishes could have been another story. For race 2 we started 21st and finished 17/32. For race 3 the grid positions were determined by laptimes. For much of the race, my laptimes were quicker on average than the riders I was battling with. I had even improved our PB laptime by almost a second. We were quietly confident that we would have been starting the final race from a better position. Unfortunately there were 5 riders with a laptime within 0.05 of a second and my laptime was 4th in the little tally so unfortunately once again I was forced to begin lower than I should have in 20th place. This was frustrating.
From 20th in race 3, I had one of my good starts but I had some misfortune being caught up in a rider falling on the opening lap out of the chicane. This made me loose the tow on the group and for the remainder of the race I was playing catch up. Again I finished in 17th from a P21 start. It is disappointing to know that if we wouldn’t have had our electrical issue in free practice, our whole weekend could have been completely different because our qualifying would have been improved. However this is racing, and we have learned a lot from this weekend. I really felt that I earned the positions that I was finishing in, despite the starting positions. It’s just a shame that we didn’t come away with any championship points to show for our hard work.
There is a long break now until the next Ducati Tri-Options Cup round which is at Knockhil 3-5th July. Our next NG Road Racing round will be out the weekend before that at Castle Coombe 26-28th June.
I would like to thank all of my supporters and sponsors, including JHP Racing - Ducati Coventry, Shark Helmets and Arc-On Motorcycle Clothing.
Please check back shortly, for all of the latest photos.
9th May - Oulton Park
NG Road Racing - Sounds of Thunder, Round 5
Free practice wasn’t ideal for any of the competitors. Combined with the torrential rain, someone had dropped a significant amount of petrol/oil over half of a lap. The session was red flagged very shortly.
After about 20 minutes of clearing the substance, the session resumed. Even though at first appearance the circuit was now cleaned from the oil, it was difficult to forget the amount that had just been put down over such a large amount of the circuit. We finished the session in 8/41.
Race 1 - Qualifying Race
Following wet practice, the rain had stopped. The circuit was drying quicker by the minute. Being the first race in the schedule the circuit was never going to dry 100% by the time we went out. And indeed with delays to the previous race and being held in the collecting area for quite some time, the circuit was only drying even more. By this point 75% of the circuit was completely dry. All the riders had full wets. Everyone was in the same situation, so it was who could make the most out of a bad situation.
I started from 3rd on the grid, but with a poor opening lap, I had managed to drop down to 4th. I knew I had some work to do. I knew I had the pace to be up with the leader who had got some space and started to pull away. This was frustrating. Lap by lap I managed to pick my way through to second place with 3 laps to go. With the leader being too far up the track, I had to settle for second. I finished 2/17.
Race 2 - Championship Race
With the second place finish in the first race, this meant I was starting from 2nd for the championship race. This wasn’t put to good use, as with the first race. Off the start I got up alongside Peter Car the championship leader, I took the tighter line out of the first corner and as a result I didn’t get the run into cascades as I would have hoped. Two riders passed me putting me into 4th. It was obviously that the two riders were holding me up. With a good run out of the first chicane and a late braking manoeuvre into the second, I managed to take 3rd into the second chicane. Seeing the leader pull way I knew I had to continue the charge if I was to have any chance in catching up.
Towards the end of the lap, I managed to get another good run on the rider in 2nd and heading into the final corner. I did another late braking move and by the end of the first lap I was in second place charging for the leader.
I could see that at times I was slowly catching Peter, but with the lead he had managed to pull on the opening lap, it was always going to be difficult to bridge such a gap. With a few laps to go, I decided to settle for second place and just bring home the points for the championship. I finished 2/18.
Having a second place finish in the championship race, now means I have overtaken David Irons for second place in the championship. I am now over the moon to know that I will be beginning from second on the grid for the next round at Castle Coombe. Being such a quick circuit, It will be important to stay ahead of the bigger capacity bikes.
I would like to thank, JHP Ducati Coventry, Shark Helmets and Arc On Motorcycle Clothing.
The next round of the NG Road Racing, Sounds of Thunder Championship will be at Castle Coombe 27-28 June. The next round of the Ducati Tri-Options Cup will be supporting the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park 22-24 May. Please check back for an update following the weekends activities.
2-4 May - Oulton Park
Ducati Tri-Options Cup 2015 - Round 2
Day 1 - Saturday - Free Practice
Today was a difficult and frustrating day. Things were made difficult by the weather. Free practice was dry, but we had light rain all session with the rain flags out. Although there wasn’t any major difference to the track surface due to rain, the surface had a greasy feel to it. The tyres never felt planted on the tarmac to the normal standard you would expect.
It’s almost a little crazy how a bike can feel so different from one circuit to the next. Whereas at Brands Hatch I could be pushing harder and harder and my pace was hot, this time I felt like I was working extremely hard but without the quick lap times coming to provide the reward. We knew that at Brands Hatch we had chatter when hard on the brakes into Paddock hill which was affecting our turn in and braking performance. But after getting a service on our front forks this issue seemed to have now been resolved, which is nice. Especially to be able to concentrate wholly on performance into a turn.
Other areas on the other hand wasn’t so kind. Oulton Park obviously has quite a few undulations and rises. The bike seemed to be extremely wheelie happy. Although I can ride past and ignore when the bike wheelies, this time it seemed a little step too far having to roll off the throttle little bit to help the bike stay settled. This probably means that I would have been losing quite some time over the period of a lap.
All in all for free practice, the bike felt good in places but extremely hard work in others. This tailored with the greesy track surface, made for a difficult session for us. Although times in the session I was pushing up to 12th position, I eventually finished in a little disappointing 15/36. For our next dry session we will be sitting down and focusing our efforts on improving our bike setup. So hopefully we can make some jumps up the timesheets.
Day 1 - Saturday - Qualifying
Qualifying was wet and another difficult session. This season we haven’t really felt that we have secured a good wet setup. Especially where I am able get some decent feel/feedback from the bike, where I am able to generate a good level of heat/grip from the tyres. In all honesty for this session, we should have gone to some lighter springs. Both for the front and rear. This would have made the whole bike that bit softer. The main thing I was struggling with was side grip when I was accelerating with the bike lent over. Having our softer spring on, would have helped this.
Even if you ignore our little mistake with our setup. Even after speaking to other riders in the session, there seemed a general consensus that there was a general lack of grip from the circuit. This was proven because by the end of the session, there was quite a number of DNF’s who was unlucky enough to take a tumble. Early in the session I almost joined the DNF club, after having a large moment exiting the last corner. The rear tyre spun up, and threw the bike sideways, and then bucking the bike from one direction to the other. Luckily I managed to stay on and remain focused to finish the session. I finished 17/34. As a result, it was a little disappointing. Lets hope the weather forecast is kind to us, and the rain holds off for Sunday and Monday.
Day 2 - Sunday - Race 1
For race one there was both some positives and negatives to take away. The positives were that we had made a large change to the bike setup, and it seemed to improve the bike for the better and I believe it should be by quite some margin. Once that is, when I have had some track time getting used to the handling. With the bike feeling so drastically different on the first few laps, it was difficult to feel comfortable pushing to the normal level I am used. As a result I seemed to find it difficult to keep fellow riders behind me on the opening laps. It was like I couldn’t keep any rider behind me, and before I knew it I was in 24rd place chasing a 10-15 bike group.
It’s a shame we had the start we did, because after a few laps on the new setup, I started to find my feet and I felt like I was really getting held up. The train of riders we’re changing places like tomorrow, so to be behind everyone, it was extremely difficult to make any attempt at passing.
I managed to gain one place back, along with a pass on two other riders. Two of these managed to get me back at a later stage. But the whole race I felt like I was getting held up. It’s unfortunate. We finished the race in 23/32. However the result, we can’t forget how far we have come since last year, both with how competitive we are, and how lap times have improved. Just this circuit, I have improved my PB by 0.9 seconds which I managed on the 848, and a massive 2.7 seconds quicker than last year on the 899. At Oulton we clearly have more to go, but things are improving here.
Day 2 - Monday - Warm Up and Race 2
Race 1 was a bit of a disaster from the beginning.
There we were sat on the grid fully ready to go. The lights go on, we’re waiting for the off, and they never go out. A technical issue occurs. They held us for a while on the grid. Gave us another warm up lap, but someone blew up. We got to the grid again with all paddock stands and warmers. Another warm up lap. Then start delayed again. We got given another warm up lap but then someone falls at Hizzy’s chicane. Once again the start was delayed once we got to the grid. Finally they then pull us off the the grid and it was later announced that they would cancel the race and run another race at another round.
Disappointing to say the least. Onwards and upwards. I would like to thank JHP Ducati Coventry, Arc On Motorcycle Clothing and Shark Helmets for all of their support. The next round for me is next weekend at Oulton Park once again for the North Gloucester Road Racing Champoinship where I am currently 3rd in the championship. Please check back after next weekend to see the latest results. Photos will be uploaded shortly.
17-19 April - Brands Hatch
Ducati Tri-Options Cup 2015 - Round 1
Day 1 - Friday - Free Practice
The first round of the Ducati tri-options cup was just under two weeks ago now, but how did it go?
We were lucky in the fact that we’d had two club championship weekends experience on the bike for the 2015 season prior to the first Ducati tri-options round. One of these weekends was held at Brands Hatch so we managed to have a little bit of a head start with bike setup and more importantly, gearing. Although we had got this vital information, we were unsure on how we were going to get on for the weekend.
Luckily for us the weekend seemed to be in our favour and all the work we had put for mid-season bike preparations, club championship racing and working on my physical fitness, seemed to had paid off. We began the weekend late on Friday afternoon for Free Practice. Being the first round there was quite a bit of traffic on track. It proved important all weekend to work hard on getting through small groups of riders and continue to stay focused enabling some good lap times. For much of the session I was in 9th place overall. And this was still the case up until a short period of time left. Unfortunately with the large amount of riders on such a short track, I hit traffic on the last few laps and dropped down to 10th overall. Never the less we were extremely pleased with both our position and our laptime. My highest place free practice at nation level, and a PB for Brands Hatch first session out. Knocking off a further 0.6 seconds in the space of a month.
Day 2 - Saturday - Qualifying and Race 1
Saturday morning was the time for Qualifying. The track temperature was a little cooler with a little more wind than it was in free practice. For this session it took me a little longer to get dialled in and focused. It was over half way into the session and I hadn’t made any progress on my laptime from the first session. I was hovering around the low 50’s/high 49’s when suddenly after finding some focus, I found some time and had a good run exiting graham hill bend. For a few laps running after this, my lap times began to fall with large chunks of time and as a result, my position started rising. With 14 minutes complete I had worked my way up to 7/36. The team was over the moon, but after making an unscheduled pitstop mid-session, then never finding the focus with the remaining 6 minutes my position had unfortunately dropped to 12/36. Never the less we were all extremely happy with our continued progress, both for pushing top ten and having another highest place finish we’ve ever had in Qualifying.
Unfortunately due to a bad start for the first race that afternoon, race one was a little disappointing, and I knew I had a lot more to put down on the table. After starting 12/36 on the grid, into the first corner I had dropped down to 18th. Extremely disappointing considering the progress we had made for the prevous two sessions. After passing one rider, I was on the tail end of a large group of riders ranging from 11th-17th. I knew myself that I had the pace to run quicker than the group, but with such a busy group of riders It was difficult to find space around. As a result, my position didn’t change and I finished in a disappointing 17/32. The main thing here was that we all knew that I had more to show. Not only was my position down, so was my lap times from Qualifying, so we were confident that if we were able to get the start with everyone else, we would be in a better place for a better finish.
Day 3 - Sunday - Race 2
Luckily for me though, because my lap times was better than most of the riders in front of me in race 1, I was able to be placed 12th on the grid for race 2, having recorded the 12th quickest lap time. I was given another life-line for a good result. For this final race, we made a couple of changes to the suspension setup. We were struggling with some front end chatter all weekend when hard on the brakes and following a change things didn’t quite help our situation, and at times I almost felt like I had to be releasing the brakes slightly when heading into the corners to help the bike over the bumps. This wasn’t ideal ass you can imagine. Including this, we bled the clutch system through with some new fluid, and this seemed to help millions with the feel of the clutch system on the grid. It was just the thing that was required. The lights went out and this time I managed to get away with the grid. I was into 12th. It was such a relief to get the start I was such in need of. But I knew it was never going to be easy holding this position, especially when we were having suspension issues which has probably been caused by my increase this particular weekend. My weakest place on the circuit, where I just so happened to be struggling with chatter on the front end the most, was into paddock hill bend. And 2/3’s of the race, one by one I managed to let two places slip and I was down to 14th place. The pace was hot so it was never going to be an easy feat.
Unfortunately, I was never able to make any come back to the riders who had passed. Even though at times I was extremely close and I felt I had the pace to make a pass, track positions and rider location at particular moments, made it extremely difficult to find a way through. Never the less with a rider dropping out of the order further up the grid, I was gifted 13/31. We were extremely happy with our result and even more so about another PB laptime. In the space of an month we had dropped 1.5 seconds. And at such a small circuit of just over a mile in length, this is no easy feat. We are over the moon, considering it also took us most of last year to get any championship points on the table as well. We have managed to do it at round 1. I am now 16th in the championship.
All in all, to have finished a weekend where we were pushing the top ten for most of the weekend, It is great to feel competitive in such a competitive British championship class. We are going to work hard to try and continue to momentum we have at the moment. And let’s hope for the next round at Oulton Park we can continue our top ten charge. Unfortunately, as Oulton Park isn’t quite the best circuit of mine. It may be a little bit of damage limitation. But only time will tell.
Thanks for reading.
10-12th April 2015 - Cadwell Park
NG Road Racing - Sounds of Thunder, Rounds 3 and 4
Day 1 - Friday Practice
It's been a good but frustrating start to the weekend.
To begin with after a bit of a nightmare at work for me and my dad on Thursday afternoon it unfortunately meant we didn't arrive at the circuit until Friday mid day. As a result this meant we only had 3 seasons left for the friday practice. It helped to blow off a months worth of cobwebs and helped to get dialed in for the weekend.
Day 2 - Satuday Round 3
Today was annoying. The day began with the heavens open. The practice was fully wet. Although there was quite a bit of traffic in the session it went well. The bike felt good and the setting I had provided some confidence in the bike and I finished up in 5 overall.
For the qualifying race we were held in the collecting area for quite some time. A sidecar had slipped off laying down some oil. In the mean time with the sun having come out the track was drying rapidly with us in the collecting area still on full wets. Eventually we were released to the grid and I began from 3rd on the grid. After a poor first lap I got passed by a couple of bikes and this held me up quite considerable. After struggling to get past and without a long race to work past them. I finished 4th overall. This 4th place put me on the front of the second row. With a good start I managed to get away with the front runners and after picking off 3rd place, I then very soon started to become very frustrated due to not being able to pass the more powerful Ducati 1198 of David Irons. Every straight a gap would increase so much so that it was too much to ask to give it a dive up on the inside on the brakes. Never the less a third place and 16 points isn't to be sniffed at.
I am pleased with our progress in the championship never the less. We are now 3rd overall in the championship. Less than 10 points to the lead. So let's hope we can continue our form to push for another good few results tomorrow. Lets also hope it's a good day for weather.
Day 3 - Sunday Round 4
Throughout the day, the wind was high to the point where we were forced to pull down our awning before havoc broke loose and became a tent. Never the less, the wind didn't affect the racing results.
The first session of the day was a quick ten minute practice. I went out in the 600's rather than the 1000's and this seemed to help with a complete lack of traffic unlike the 1000's practice, and I managed to get a good number of clear laps following a fellow 600 rider. Before the session I made a quick change to the rebound damping, hoping to aid mid corner turning ability. This seemed to help handling and I finished 2/28, going a tenth quicker than the championship race yesterday where the track temperature was a lot higher with newer rubber.
This put us in good stead for the qualifying race. With a new rear tyre and third on the grid, things were looking hopeful. Unfortunately it took a number of laps for the rear tyre to begin working, this wasn't helped with a poor start and quite a few wheelies down the initial straight which lost me the legs on the rest of the field. At one point I was down in 7th, but after the grip began to arrive slowly, I was able to push hard to make a few passes to get myself up to 4th where I would finish off. A good effort considering the issues.
For the final race of the weekend, we had the option to change for a new front tyre. The current tyre had been on the bike since the beginning of the weekend, and in the qualifying race it was showing signs of wear. Even with this, we thought it was better to keep with what we got so that we wouldn't risk loosing out on the first few laps waiting for the tyre to come into its own. This is bearing in mind that the race is only 7 laps long. A quick sprint race really.
Never the less the race began with me starting from 4th on the grid but very similar to Saturdays championship race, I became stuck behind the "quicker in a straight line/larger-capacity" Ducati of David Irons. Every straight we would pull onto, he would pull at least half a second gap. Regardless of how strong I would pull onto a straight, even if I was to be along side him by a quarter of the distance down the straight, it would just be like he's flicked the boost button. He would simply pull away to a distance not able to be closed by a late braking manoeuvre. This situation being very similar to Rossi/Dovi in MotoGP from Qatar. D Irons is Dovi with the straight line speed and I'm in Rossi's shoes.
Never mind. In the end I finished in a respectable 4th gaining more top points towards the championship where I am currently 3rd overall.
Overall then, the weekend was very frustrating. With every race we should have finished that one or two places higher. But unfortunately we didn't manage it. We will have to push harder next time out at Oulton Park on the 9th May. Next time out on the bike though will be for the beginning of the Ducati Tri-Options Cup next weekend at the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent. I an really looking forward to this round, especially that all bikes will be on a level playing field, similar power output, similar spec machines. This will definitely help with passing opportunities and make for some exciting races.
Once again a big thank you to JHP Ducati Coventry and Shark Helmets/Nevis Marketing.
Thanks for reading.
7th February 2015 - New 5KM PB
Arrow Valley Lake Parkrun
After all of the additional running and training I have been doing in the last few weeks/months, it has finally paid off with a PB in the 5KM distance. Running the Arrow Valley Park last Saturday with new trainers enabled me to keep a strong pace going thoughout the distance.
What has made things difficult in previous races has been the starting position. If I have been unable to start at the front of the field for whatever reason, it can be difficult to pick your way off the slower runners to get to your own personal pace. This time I was on the front row of runners. By the time the field made it to the begining of the lake a few hundred meters in, I was in 5th place. As a result, I wasn't having to fight to keep my own pace up. By 1KM I was still in 6th. By 2KM I was still in around 10th. It was this stage that the rest of the field picked up their pace. The starting pace might have been a little too hot for my running and ability, but with the determination to continue as hard as I possibly could I managed to achieve a personal best time of 21:42, with the position of 22nd/255. I smashed my previous Arrow Valley Lake Parkrun PB time by a masssive 39 seconds, and beat my overall PB which was set in the Coventry Memorial Park Parkrun by 8 seconds which is also a much quicker course! This just shows the achievement.
Lets hope I can continue to push my fitness to bring on more PB's in 2015.
3rd-5th October 2014 - Silverstone Arena GP
Ducati Tri-Options Cup - Round 8
So the final round of the Ducati Tri-Options Cup was just over a week and a half ago, but how did it go?
Day 1 - Free Practice
At Assen a few weeks before, the bike felt pretty comfortable to ride in the dry conditions. Assen being a quick circuit, and Silverstone being the same, we expected the bike to work well. With only changing the gearing and subsequently adjusting the wheelbase for the chain tension, the characteristics changed drastically. The bike became unstable over the bumps and made the bike difficult to ride quickly. Due to Formula 1, Silverstone in places, is quite bumpy. We finished 22/26.
Day 2 - Qualifying
Saturday was wet. With being out at late on Friday and then early Saturday, we had limited time to adjust the bike for the wet conditions. We got up especially early, and set about making our adjustments. The front and rear suspension had softer springs put in, the damping was put softer and the front and rear gearing was changed along with wheelbase. Running behind, we decided that we would sacrifice the first 5 minutes of the session to ensure the bike was to the best possible set-up. Unfortunately luck wasn't on our side and there was a mechanical failure to the rear suspension prior to leaving the awning. We were forced to miss qualifying. As a result we didn't complete a lap, so we were to start from last on the grid for the afternoons race.
Day 2 - Race 1
Although we had missed a vital 20 minutes practice in torrential conditions that morning, I felt the race went well. We know that if we had the practice from the morning like all the other riders we would have had a much better finish by the end of the race. I definitely felt that I was on the back foot. But in reality, if qualifying went to plan, we would have started from higher on the grid, I would have had more confidence with the bike in the wet and my laptimes would have been better. All of this would have helped overall pace. Never the less, the bike handled great. It is nice to feel that we have got a good wet set-up. For the future our confidence can be boosted knowing that the bike will work when the rain comes. We finished 18th/21 with 5 DNFs. We were pleased considering we started from 26th on the grid!!
Day 3 - Warm up
Sunday was glad-fully dry. Although we only had 8 minutes for warm up which was combined with the Triumph Triple Challenge, we made some tweaks to the suspension, and we felt like we made some progress with our dry set-up. This boosted a little confidence for the up and coming final race of the season. We finished 20/45 total and 12th Ducati.
Day 3 - Race 2
Luckily for the second race, our grid positions were decided by our lap times from the first. This boosted my position further up the grid. Again we still felt that we would have been further up if we hadn't missed qualifying. But unfortunately this is racing. Once again made some final tweaks to the suspension for the race. Unfortunately our luck wasn't over because on the warm up lap I noticed there wasn't quite something right with the bike, and as a result I was forced to pull into the pit lane to check the bike over. This made me miss the close of pit lane. As a result once again I was forced to start the race from the back of the grid. This was a great shame. I could only do the best I could from the grid position I was in. The race went okay, we did go quicker, but we were still in the region of a second off last years lap times from the 848. This may be the only circuit that we haven't beaten or matched our times. You could argue that we had missed 2 sessions because of the wet, so in reality we didn't do too badly. We finished the race in 19/22. There were 2 DNFs and 1 DQ.
I think we could safely say this was our worst weekend for results in a long time. Such a shame to have such a great year, where we have made massive gains in suspension understanding and suspension set-up. Never the less, with all of the knowledge we have gained over the year, and all of the information collected from each round, we can take this all away and definitely make sure 2015 is an incredible year.
I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported throughout this 2014 season. Special credit to JHP Ducati Coventry for their invaluable continued support! Other supporters I would like to say a thank you to is: Shark Helmets and Bonnie Lane Photographics.
Don't forget to keep checking back here over the winter months for regular news, photos and more, for the up and coming 2015 motorcycle racing season!
19th-21st September 2014 - TT Circuit Assen
Ducati Tri-Options Cup - Round 7
Day 1 - Free Practice
So here we are at Assen. All set up and been out for free practice. It was a bit of a rush to get the bike ready for the 11am start, and as a result we only had the warmers on for just under half an hour, not the usual hour. This wasn't ideal, neither was forgetting to put in my contact lenses or wearing my glasses. I did a lap and had to pull in to put them on, I couldn't see the corners coming up. Eventually with my glasses on, with 12 minutes to go I restarted my session. I managed to get into a good, comfortable rhythm and managed to put in a time of 1:49.9. Pretty much down to last year's times on the 848.
I finished P14/25 and 3rd fastest over the start finish line. A great start to the weekend. Let's hope we can continue the good form. Next session is qualifying at 14:05. Live timing is available on tsltiming.co.uk.
Day 1 - Qualifying
In between practice and qualifying I investigated the data logger to see where I could make up some time. It allowed me to understand that some places around the track I was shutting the throttle more than I expected. As a result this helped and after working on improving my pace in specific areas of the track, I knocked 1.3 seconds off.
Unfortunately I lost one place from practice and dropped to P15/25. Never the less we are still extremely happy to be over a second quicker than last year.
The next session is the race tomorrow which is at 15:15. If it going to stay dry like we hope, we will make some suspension alterations to help get the bike to turn on the slower corners, mainly the hairpin onto the back straight. Let's hope it stays dry.
Day 2 - Race 1
The race went well. We made some tweaks to the rear suspension in between qualifying and the race with the aim of supporting the back end a little. Happily the changes worked and I ended up going another second quicker, managing a 1:47.5. Better still, my ideal laptime was quicker still at a 1:47.2. The race itself was extremely close. I was within a 5 bike group for 12th. Unfortunately I was at the tail end of the group so I finished P16/23. Never the less, having the pace to push for 12th and only half a second off a lap to push for 10th. I can't really complain.
We have made some further changes to the suspension for tomorrow's race. This time we are making some alterations to the front end. Hopefully this will help me to push harder and carry more corner speed in sector two where I am loosing the most time.
Once again I was joint second fastest over the start finish line. Let's hope with the alterations we have made for race 2, that I can increase this form to other areas of the track to get into the 1:46s and push for higher race position.
Unfortunately the weather may be cruel for us for tomorrow. Let's hope it will hold off, to give us a full dry weekend!
Day 3 - Race 2
The final race at Assen was a disappointing finish to a great weekend. With the heavens opening an hour before the race start and continuing to shower on and off until half an hour before the start, the choice for tyres was never going to be easy on a drying track. Since the rain had stopped it was blue skies above and by the time pitlane opened for our race the track was half wet half dry.
The entire grid was on different tyres. Not expecting the track to dry as much as it did, we went for a wet front, dry rear. For me this seemed the most logical choice. Unfortunately this wasn't the case and it was the riders who gambled with full drys who got it correct.
For us though, down the straights the bike had a strong tendency to weave due to the wet front and dry rear combination. Even after adding 4 clicks to the steering damper to reduce the weave, it was still difficult to control the bike. This didn't inspire confidence. Half way into the race pushing hard deep into the first double right I had a large moment where the front almost tucked and threw me off. From then on, I relaxed on the bike and tried to be as smooth as possible and just bring the bike home in one piece.
The final result was a disappointing P19/23. Overall though, with the gains we have made throughout the weekend and the previous few rounds with the suspension, we can sure be happy that the future is bright for Ben Broadway Racing.
The next and final round of the championship is just two weekends time at Silverstone. This is another favourite track of mine, so let's hope we can continue the good form and push for a good points finish.
18-20th July 2014 - Brands Hatch GP
Ducati Tri-Options Cup - Round 4
Day 1 - Free Practice and Qualifying
Last time I was out, it was a cold and wet Cadwell Park in early May. Considering the amount of time I have been out of the seat, and coupling this with a shoulder injury, I am over the moon with today's progress.
Free practice began slow as expected, but times were soon tumbling. Unfortunately the the progress was halted. The bike's temperature was running a little too hot so we were forced to pull out of the session early only completing 6 laps compared to 12-13 like others. We finished the session in a slightly disappointing 21/24. Some positives from this session was that the shoulder held out just fine, only being slightly weak, no pain what so ever.
Qualifying went really well. The lap times were falling with every passing lap just like free practice and with a couple of laps to go, a personal best laptime around Brands Hatch GP was achieved. We managed to go 2.3 seconds faster than free practice, jumping to 17th overall. A step in the right direction indeed. Unfortunately we got nipped in the closing stages of the session and ending up in 18/25. Only 0.05 seconds from 17th. With a few changes to be made to the setup for tomorrow’s race, we will hope for further tumbling laptimes.
All in all, good day.
Day 2 - Race 1
Day 2 at Brands Hatch GP with the Ducati Tri-Options Cup was race 1. As I qualified 18th I was on the inside of row 6. Being on the inside can be a good thing, or if luck doesn’t go your way, then it can have the adverse effect. This is exactly what happened in race one.
As the lights went out, I had a great start, I managed to leap alongside the rider in front of me on the 5th row. As we were heading up the hill towards Paddock Hill bend for the first time, due to a combination of the field bunching up and the pit wall which slightly enters the track on the right hand side, I was squeezed out and was forced to shut off. As a result, by the time we reached the second corner, the hairpin, I was in last position. This caused the entire race to be difficult, and due to only having 10 laps, and such a competitive field, it was difficult to pass many riders. As a result I finished the race in an extremely disappointing 19th out of 21.
Although the disappointing result, I did manage to go quicker, 0.2 seconds quicker. It was a disappointment because I felt that I had the pace to go a further half a second to a second quicker. Never the less, I still went quicker and the suspension changes which were made prior to the race made a small improvement but it was difficult to gauge the improvements due being stuck in traffic.
Day two in one word - Dissapointing.
Day 3 - Race 2
The last session of the weekend was race 2. This again was a ten lap race but the grid position was determined by the lap times from race 1. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to start from lower down the grid than the first race. For this race, there were further suspension changes which were to be tried.
Once again from the lights I had a good start and made up number of positions in the opening corners. Unfortunately this was short lived due to a mechanical issue whereby I was unable to change gear. Quickly I was forced to pull out of the race after only 2 and a half laps. This was once again extremely disappointing. Not only due to the fact that we had to pull out of the race, but we had made some suspension changes which we were keen to see the result of. Unfortunately our run of bad luck continues. Let’s hope we can put it all behind us and come back strong for the next round at Oulton Park in 3 weeks time.
Before the next Ducati Tri-Options Cup round, I will be racing at Donington Park for the NG Road Racing Championships. Let’s hope we can get some good results, and close the points gap.
Day three in one word - Dissapointing.
17th July 2014
Shoulder Injury Update #2
So this morning was four weeks after the initial injury of my shoulder and so was hospital visit time. The consultant again was useless as ever, but seeing the NHS Physiotherapist, restored all faith. In his words "I am happy for you to race". As a result I can confirm that we will be racing at Brands Hatch GP this weekend for the 4th round of the Ducati Tri-Options Cup.
14th July 2014
Shoulder Injury Update
So it's been almost 4 weeks since my shoulder injury, and seeing as the next Ducati Tri-Options Cup round is just 4 days away, I think it is time for an update.
The range of movement in my arm/shoulder has vastly improved. I almost have 100% range back. There are only few extreme movement ranges which promotes a little discomfort. I began physio one week from injury which has continued, which includes ultrasound treatment. The physio has said the injury has been heeling extremely quickly, and the advances in the range of movement has been tremendous. Definitely a good sign.
I can now cycle, run and do press ups. I attempted to swim last week to build up some strength, but due to the particular movements when swimming, this caused a little discomfort due to a lack of support to the shoulder.
As a result, all being well and with the correct strapping/taping to the shoulder to provide increased support, I should hopefully be riding at Brands Hatch GP this weekend!
27th June 2014
Missed World Superbike Round and Shoulder Injury
Since the last time out on the Ducati at Oulton Park, I have had a hectic couple of months, mainly due to finishing university. Following Oulton Park we should been out at Donington Park World Superbike for the second round of the Ducati Tri-Options Cup. But unfortunately, due to some unforeseeable circumstances we were forced to pull out last minute once again, following last years misfortune of missing the same round, but due to a broken wrist.
Most recently it looks like our bad luck is continuing, but this time with an injury. Whilst out training on my push bike last week, I managed to fall off going down pretty hard onto my left shoulder. As a result I have torn the ligaments connecting my collar bone to my shoulder blade, separating them. I am pretty gutted to be missing another round, but having started Physio yesterday, we are hoping to be at the next round at Brands Hatch GP in July.
-- Ben is 5th overall in the Sounds of Thunder championship after
three rounds --
Oulton Park – Practice – 05/04/13 – Circa 10am - Wet Track
After travelling back and forth and from Oulton Park, rather than staying at the circuit, time was limited before the first practice. To make things worse, the heavens opened, and the rain started just after getting the bike and the race clothing scruitineered. At this point in time, we still had to fit the wet tyres onto the spare rims. We made it just in time with one session to go, so the tyre warmers hadn’t been on for long before leaving for practice and there was a lack of time to adjust the suspension to a wet setting.
With plenty of traffic on track, it was difficult to make a clear lap, and after having a moment exiting knickerbrook, it wasn’t worth throwing the bike up the road for a first wet practice, and I rode with extra care for rest of the session till the checked flag.
Oulton Park – Qualifying Race – 05/04/13 – 14:40 - Drying, greasy Track
By 10.30, the rain had stopped, but with the cold temperature the ground stayed moist right up until a race or two to go. Once again it was a mad rush to get the tyres back changed.
Never the less, I was starting from third on the grid, inside of the front row. The lights went out, and I was soon into second entering the first corner. This was short lived with the tyre warmers only just going on, there was a lack of heat within the tyres. The lack of temperature reduced the tyre pressures and the bike was reluctant to steer with any aggression on the opening laps. This allowed the competition to pass. By the time the tyres had warmed, it was a little late, and I was battling within the second group. Racing was close, but unfortunately, an incident up in front caused a red flag, cutting the race short. I finished the race in 7th position. It was unfortunate because I feel that I had the pace to be a little further up the grid.
Oulton Park – Championship Race – 05/04/13 – Circa 18:00 - Dry, greasy Track
A couple of races before the championship race, the heavens opened again. For a few moments it was a question of which tyres to be put onto the bike. But luckily with the temperature having risen over the period of the day, the track was drying quick fast. The track was still slightly patchy, but the majority of the circuit was dry in readiness for the race start where I started 7th overall. Outside of the third row. I knew I had to get a good start to be in with a chance of getting a good result. As the lights went out, I managed to get myself into 4th heading into the first corner. The pace was hotter in this race than the first. And although I was competitive, the pace was a little hotter than I could cope with and only managed to finish 6th overall. This was still a place higher than he had started in, so there were some positives to take away.
The weekend was a tough one. And it was a little bit of damage limitation. We have now dropped down to 5th in the championship, but we know what we need to do to the setup of the bike to be a little bit more competitive for next time. So fingers crossed we will be closer to the front in future. The next Sounds of Thunder rounds is at Cadwell Park 9-11th May. Before this I will be out, for the first round of the Ducati Tri-Options Cup at Brands Hatch 19-21st April.
Photos from Brands and Oulton will be online soon.
A massive thank you will go to JHP/Ducati Coventry.
-- Ben is now 3rd overall in the Sounds of Thunder championship after
rounds one and two Brands Hatch Indy! --
After round one and two of the sounds of thunder championship at Brands Hatch Indy with the North Gloucester Road Racing Club, Ben is now 3rd overall in the standings after finishing both championship races in 4th and 7th respectively.
The weekend was the first time out riding the new 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale on a UK circuit in racing conditions. The pace of the sounds of thunder championship has seemingly risen a lot in the last 5 months off since the final round of 2013 season at Thruxton last year. Never the less consistency was the key for Ben’s success finishing a respective 4th, two 7th’s and one 8th over the period of the weekend.
Friday was difficult and the progress on the bike was a little slow. The majority of the sessions were disrupted with on track incidents causing numerous red flags. This wasn’t ideal to be learning a new motorcycle. Never the less Ben persevered with the track time available to become more comfortable on the new bike.
Saturday soon came, and having previously never done a race start, Ben found it difficult to get the best “off the line” performance. Even though Ben was starting the qualifying races from 5th on the grid, it took Ben till the final race of the weekend on Sunday afternoon to get the best performance out of the motorcycle. The three races previous to this, Ben struggled with early race pace due to poor starts, resulting in early race positions lower than he we would have liked. With poor starts Ben found it difficult to pass the mid-pack traffic, and with shorter race distances which are present at north Gloucester races, there is limited time to move your way up through the field of riders.
With the final race of the weekend, Ben tried being a lot more aggressive off the line. This new tactic, shot Ben straight into 3rd position heading into the first corner, paddock hill bend. This was short lived as another of the riders passed him on the run up into the hairpin. With the pressure of the great race start after starting from the third row in 7th, Ben started making a few mistakes with gear selection on the run into some of the corner, especially heading into graham hill bend. This resulted in the riders behind him being able to keep up with his pace. This made things difficult for Ben to comfortably ride his own race due to constantly having to fend off fierce competition from top spec Triumph 675’s and the larger 1198 Ducati’s. Every lap, a passing attempt was made heading into paddock hill bend. Fortunately for Ben, this along with the hairpin were Ben’s strongest places on the circuit. With one lap to go, Ben was still in the running to finish 6th overall, but with a larger capacity Ducati hot on his heels, the rider managed to out drag Ben to the line, resulting in a hard fought 7th overall.
Even though the positions were a little lower than Ben would have liked, a lot was learned over the weekend. The new Ducati is a great handling bike which is really easy to ride. With more track time on the bike, as the season progresses, Ben is hoping to continue with his progress within the sounds of thunder championship to be scratching the heels of the of the regular podium finishers.
The racing season is fast approaching with only 3 weeks away till the first round at Brands Hatch for the first Sounds of Thunder round with NG Roac Racing. But what has Ben been up to since the Almeria Spainish winter test?
In between Ben's extremely busy final year university work, he has been out training hard. He has been undertaking as many long distance runs as he can. Most recently, Ben completed the Redditch Arrow Valley Parkrun this moring (22/02). The parkrun races are of a short distance 5KM a distance which isn't a favourite of Bens due to the shorter distance. (Ben favours distances of 7 miles plus). As a result, with this being Bens first parkrun in a little while, he took things steady. He completed the course in a time of 23:12. This is just over a minute slower than his PB but never the less he finished 34/168 and finished 1st in his age category senior Mens aged 20-24. In the coming weeks, Ben is hoping to compete in more of the races.
At university, things have been extremely busy. Ben's Moto2 racing frame project has been taking much of his time with a "design freeze" quickly approaching to finalise the designs to ensure maximum manufacturing time is available. This week Ben has been spending much of his time in the university Metrology Lab using a Portible Coordinate Measuring Machine (PCMM) Lazer Scanning the chassis of the donor motorcycle, a 2000 model Yamaha R6 frame. Ben will use this scanned data to analyse both the stresses and the stiffness of the frame, whilst having the data for accurate measurement purposes also. This task will aid in the development of the new frame design.
The following two photos, show the lazer scanned frame and the current CAD design. Please bear in mind this is still an early concept, far from finished, and still requires lightening.
21st December 2013
So what has Ben been up to since the end of the 2013 road racing season?
Ben has been studying hard at Coventry University for his final year at university. He studies Motorsport and Motorcycle engineering. He has two final year dissertations, both a group dissertation and an individual.
•Design, Manufacture and Develop a road racing Moto 2 chassis for a Yamaha R6 motorcycle.
•Using engine simulation software, optimise engine performance without a significant drop in fuel economy.
Whilst being busy with these two large projects, Ben also has been kept extremely busy with numerous other university coursework’s. Typically, there has been is a coursework deadline roughly every two weeks.
Additionally to this, he has been keeping up his fitness regime, predominantly through his running and has recently been competing in the weeks Coventry Memorial Park 5km runs. These races are held weekly on Saturday mornings at 9am and allow for a constant push to forever increase fitness. Ben’s personal best currently stands at 51st/379 with a time of 21:50. In this coming months, Ben is hoping to improve upon this performance to a sub 20 minute time.
So the final round of the 2013 Ducati 848 challenge has finished. An eventful round with a puncture in the first race putting me on the back foot for the second. Never the less, with lap times good enough for 10th overall I couldn't be happier. My performance on the bike has improved incredibly this year allowing me to be a regular point scorer in the closing stages of the championship. The 2014 season cannot come quick enough.
A massive thanks to the following:-
- Ducati Coventry / JHP Racing for all their expert help, knowledge and support.
- Arc-on Motorcycleclothing for their Evo Leathers and Competizione Gloves.
- Bonnie Lane and JB Sports Photography for their amazing photography coverage.
- Moto-GF Performance Tools & Accessories.
- BBR, Bromsgrove Body Repairs.
- And finally, all others who have been involved throughout this year's racing season.
22nd September 2013
Great weekend racing at Assen this weekend. Have upped both my practice, qualifying and race pace bridging the gap to the front guys whilst gaining a more championship points. Got a 15th and an 11th overall. Couldn't be happier. Bring on Silverstone in two weeks time. Cannot wait to get back on the bike!
I would like to thank JHP Ducati Coventry, Rick Hackett, Arc-on Motorcycleclothing, the Railton's, Michaela Bentley and all others who has helped and supported throughout the weekend! — at TT-Circuit Assen
7th September 2013
Finally got championship points at British championship. A long time coming. Just need to make it a regular thing. — at Donington Park
18th August 2013
Great racing at Anglesey this weekend. Felt really good on the bike in the dry. Got two 5th's and was only just over a second off the lap record with lap times good enough for 3rd. Really getting to grips with the bike after massive improvement with the setup. Just need to improve my racecraft now and I can't wait for Donington Park for the 848's.
21st July 2013
A great weekend at Brands this weekend. Got into the 50's on Friday, them matched my times on Saturday around the GP circuit on without any prior practice. Had a bit of a hiccup both races but we can put that behind us with the increased performance in recent months. Looking forward to Oulton now. Fingers crossed it'll be another good'un.
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