HONEYBOURNE-based National Superstock Championship team Jones Dorling Racing made the long trip north at the weekend to the Knockhill racing circuit in Scotland for round six of the 1,000cc championship.
Rider Ashley Beech secured his best finish of the season at the last round with a sixth place at Snetterton which moved him up to 11th place in the championship and he was hoping another good result north of the border would get him into the top ten.
However, a brakes issue forced Beech into retirement to end what had been a promising effort from both rider and team.
At only 1.2 miles long, Knockhill is the shortest circuit on the championship calendar with close racing always guaranteed and, with each lap taking less then a minute to complete, the fitness and in particular upper body strength of a rider is tested to the limit.
On such a twisty circuit with only one short straight across the start/finish line, Beech’s Kawasaki ZX-10R race bike used just second up to fifth gears and for almost half of the lap he used just third gear.
With only two passing opportunities at Taylor’s Hairpin – named after the late Jock Taylor, the 1980 Sidecar World Champion – and at Duffers Dip, it is important to protect your line but at the same time take advantage if an opportunity arises.
Since the last round the engine had been stripped and rebuilt by Kawasaki performance specialists who found a number of internal components were in urgent need of replacement – one of which most certainly would not have lasted another race meeting and may have caused severe damage.
During the practice session Beech found the power delivery was much smoother since the rebuild and he was able to power out of the corners better and the team were delighted when he finished fourth quickest.
Only minor changes were made to the suspension and, despite increasing his lap times, Beech remained fourth after the first of the two planned qualifying sessions.
When torrential rain overnight caused severe damage to the track surface, the organisers made the decision to cancel second qualifying and grid positions would be decided after the first session, meaning Beech would start on the second row of the grid.
Beech made a great start and held his position going into the tight first corner and he was part of the leading four as they started to break away from the pack.
When the leading rider crashed a podium finish was within his grasp but at half race distance his brakes started to fade and for the next few laps he almost collided with another rider, so he had no option but to retire to the pits as to continue would have been dangerous.
This was a disappointing end to the weekend although the team know both rider and bike are capable of winning and it was only a mechanical failure which prevented it, meaning hopes are high heading to Brands Hatch for the next round later this month.