THE FIRST of three planned visits to Brands Hatch this season for Honeybourne-based team Jones Dorling Racing and rider Ash Beech proved fruitful.
JDR had experienced mixed fortunes at the opening round of the National Superstock 1000 Championship at Donington Park, where they gained two points-scoring finishes before tyre problems in the third race prevented a clean sweep.
Round two in Kent took place in dry and bright conditions and Beech completed both practice sessions well, improving his lap times in each.
Like many riders, his bike was suffering a lot of movement from the rear of the bike coming out of the last corner on to the start and finish straight.
Fitting a harder rear spring may have improved the handling, although this would put more wear on the right-hand side of the tyre so a compromise had to be made.
Beech made good progress in qualifying, again improving his lap time to finish ninth quickest.
The series organisers have added an additional race this season – the first on Sunday consisting of 38 laps (50 miles) of the 1.2-mile Indy circuit and, with each lap taking less than 50 seconds to complete, the fans can expect some fast and furious racing.
Just half a second separates the top 15 riders and little more than a second is the difference between the top 30 which indicates just how competitive this series has become with former British Superbike stars, Isle of Man TT winners and international stars from Australia, USA and Europe all fighting for podium finishes.
A light drizzle started as the bikes went out on the warm-up lap so, when they lined up on the grid, the race was delayed five minutes until it was clear it was not going to rain.
Beech got off the line well but, after a lot of bumping and barging into the first few corners, he had dropped two places at the end of the first lap.
However, once he had settled into his rhythm he moved back up to ninth place where he finished after the red flag brought an early end to the race on lap 28 due to rain.
Because more than two thirds distance had been completed, a result was declared and Beech was accredited with ninth place, earning seven valuable points to move him up to 11th place in the championship.
The grid positions for the feature race on Monday are determined by the lap times in Sunday’s race, meaning Beech would start from 11th place.
As the feature race began, it got frantic as more than 40 bikes entered the first corner at Paddock Hill and then dropped down the dip before climbing up to the slowest corner on the track at Druids – one of the few passing points.
Riders then dropped down Graham Hill Bend – one of only two left-hand corners – and, with cold tyres, this section of the circuit can catch many riders out.
Safely around the first lap, Beech crossed the line in 12th place and battled hard for 24 laps to eventually finish ninth and importantly score further championship points.
“The bike is pretty close to how I need it but we are still missing that extra tenth of a second,” said Beech.
“My race pace is good and my lap times are consistent but with that tiny bit more I can get on the front row of the grid and I’m confident I could battle for the win.”
The next round of the championship is at Oulton Park on May 1. Follow the team’s progress on Twitter @JDR_Racing or on Facebook by searching Jones Dorling Racing.