Last weekend we were all at Silverstone for the season finale. It was a great opportunity to have some fun on a different track, and Leon was again looking to add yet another lap record to his already very impressive racing CV.
The weather forecast was a little worrying though, and I remember hearing the rain lashing down at about 3 o'clock on Saturday morning while snoozing in the caravan. This resulted in us waking up to very damp conditions. But the sky was bright so we had hope that it would dry out. The practice sessions were very wet, and full wet tyres were definitely needed. Leon went out on both the 400 and 600 and very quickly dialed himself in to the new track. I was a little more cautious and just steadily rode round familiarising myself with the place...in fact, I was quite awestruck every time I came round the complex area. It must be an amazing feeling riding round it when the grandstands are full! But I found it fairly easy to get on with, it's really just two long straights with a couple of corners at each end. But the more I rode round it the more I began to like it.
Anyway, with the wet practice sessions over we were then left with the uncertainty of weather conditions for the first set of races. It hadn't rained all morning but it was still quite wet. Leon was out first in the qualifying race for the C0-Ordit 600 event, and full wets was the decision. He got off the line really well (from 6th on the grid), and finish lap one in second place behind Ricky Elder. It was a tricky race though, in very tricky conditions, but Leon rode a solid and mature race to eventually bring it home in sixth position. This left him with a great grid slot for the points race and meant he could turn his attention to the first 400 race.
The qualifying race for the 400's was up next, and again we decided to use full wets. Another good decision. However, when Leon and I rode down to the holding area (which seemed miles away!), we found that everyone had already been sent out to the grid. This meant that we had to miss the warm-up lap and start from the back of the grid. Leon was rightfully annoyed by this as he was on pole and it's always dangerous for him to come flying through the pack. I, however, was quite excited by it all...I probably had the best seat in the house when the lights went out and watched Leon disappear off in to the pack ahead of me. I saw Leon pull over in front of me as he looked to negotiate a way through the mob...I actually contemplated trying to follow him, but quickly thought better of it as I watched elbows and fairings being bashed together! I then settled in to a lowly position and assumed Leon had made his way to the front of the pack by the end of lap one...which he had done! It was then a case of getting my head down and trying to learn the track in conditions that I probably hate the most. But I actually really enjoyed it and got a little quicker with each lap. I also enjoyed watching Leon come flying past me round the outside on the last corner when he lapped me. He was clearly channelling his initial anger in the right direction as he went on to win the race from the back of the grid. And showed exactly why he had already been crowned Formula 400 champion this year ...brilliant stuff! I finished fourteenth in class and was happy that I had completed my first race at such a prestigious track.
Next up was the points race for the Co-Ordit 600 event. The track by now looked like it was dry, although there were damp patches around the edges. So full dry tyres was the choice this time. I was on the pit wall to watch this race, and it turned out to be a belter. Right from the off Leon got stuck in and was quickly up to second place, pushing Ricky Elder very hard for the lead. Eventually Leon made a move and took control of the race when he passed Ricky down the back straight. He then put in some fantastically consistent lap times to ease out a gap and bring it home to a very impressive victory. And in doing so setting a new lap record for the 600 event with a terrific time of 1:00.49. That'll do just fine!
And so we move to the final Formula 400 race, and the conditions were still getting better, so dry tyres it was. This time Leon and I headed down to the holding area in good time, this avoided starting from the back of the grid again. While on the warm-up it was obvious that it was dry, although there were still some wet patches in places. Leon was starting from the front row, and I headed up row eight. The first lap was a bit hectic, and I remember being gobbled up by a group of riders as we hit the left-hander at 'Maggots'. That was ok though, as the new gearing that Mike had fitted seemed to help me out a little down the back straight. About half way through the race it started to rain...but the track still felt grippy, so we didn't really have to ease off too much. I rode a steady race, using each lap to learn as much as I could about the track. I managed to maintain my grid position in the race and finish thirteenth in class, and a few more points in the bag! Leon, however, was on it! He was by far the best F400 rider out there and wasn't too far behind the leading 2-strokers either. I know this as I saw them come past me about a lap before Leon did. In fact, Leon politely looked over at me as he came past down the back straight...it made me smile anyway. And you guessed it, Leon stuck yet another lap record under his belt with a time of 1:04.69 - which was actually faster than on of the leading 2-strokers up ahead. Nicely done indeed!
So there you have it, a fantastic end to a rather up and down season. It's been a difficult year, but to end up with a championship, more lap records than you can shake a stick at, and a top ten finish at a National 600 Superstock event...things could have been a whole lot worse! Very well done to Leon for turning a potentially disastrous season in to one that we can all feel very proud of indeed...
The weekend of October 8-10th saw the BSB championships reach it's conclusion. Held at Oulton park in Cheshire, BMC Racing were there to compete in the final round of the 2010 Metzeler 600 Superstock championship. It was a three day affair...qualifying was over two days...one on the Friday, and one on the Saturday - with the top forty riders qualifying for the race on the Sunday. And Leon was eager to get well and truly stuck in!
The first qualifying session (on the Friday) went well, with Leon putting in some great lap times to finish twenty first overall. This put him well and truly in contention, and we all hoped for more of the same on the Saturday. His best time of 1:44:198 was only a couple of seconds off the leading riders pace, so things were looking good.
The second qualifying session (on the Saturday) was another story. In fact, it was an amazing story! Leon seemed to rise to the occasion, and very quickly put in some blistering lap times. After barely completing a handful of laps, Leon had already stuck in a lap time of 1:42:563...a fantastic lap! Only a second off the pole position pace too! And was enough to put Leon eighth on the grid for the race...YES...THE SECOND ROW! An incredible achievement! One that highlights just how much Leon has improved throughout the year, and certainly helped to negate the tricky year of injuries that he has had to endure. I looked at the sector times afterwards, and Leon was the fourth fastest in sector one ahead of the likes of Luke Stapleford, Josh Day and Danny Buchan. Wow! We were all over the moon and really looked forward to race day and watching Leon have some fun at the sharper end of the action.
Race day came, the weather was good and everyone's mood was upbeat. The 600 Superstock race was the first of the day, just after all the warm-up events had finished. I decided to head down to Lodge Corner. I was actually hoping to get across the track and go and film the start grid from outside of the track, but due to events being held up, all track crossings were cancelled. This was a shame as I would have liked to get some individual footage of the team on the start line on such a special day. So I settled for watching all the action from the exit of Lodge, that way at least I could see down the start and finish straight from a distance.
As I saw the pack of riders come round on the sighting lap, the excitement was building. It was quite emotional in fact! It's moments like this that make the hard work and effort all worthwhile. Then there were two warm-up laps before the race finally got underway. I positioned myself right under a loud speaker so that I could hear exactly what was happening at all times round the circuit.
The lights went on...then off! The roar of the pack was immense! And it was an incredible sight to watch them all dissappear off down towards Old Hall Corner for the first time. There was a bit of a pile-up at turn one though, but it was more towards the back of the pack so I tended to assume that Leon wasn't involved. My attention then went straight to the commentator as he tried to quickly make sense of how everyone was settling in to the race. There wasn't any mention of Leon on the opening lap, as all the attention was on the guys who were in with a shout at the title. But it wasn't long before the roar could be heard again as they all teared down the back straight down in to Lodge. I watched intensely as I counted the riders coming round the corner one by one. Leon was tenth! A great start, even though he got slightly boxed in going in to Old Hall. But he looked like he had settled in well with the leading bunch of riders.
Over the next few laps Leon climbed up to eighth place. He was now in a four way scrap for fifth position along with the likes of Josh day, who was one of the main title contenders. Lap by lap they came flying round as a group until an extra rider joined them and passed both Leon and Josh. So Leon was now in ninth, but he was along way ahead of the next rider...so a top ten finish looked good. This is how it then stayed right to the end, you could've thrown a blanket over them they were that close! Leon sat comfortably behind Josh and followed him home to see him crowned as champion, and in doing so Leon took his very first championship points at this level. It was a terrific race to watch, there was clearly a lot of fun being had out there, and finishing ninth amongst such quality was a testament to how well Leon, Mike and the whole team have worked this season. And to top it all off, when we looked at the timesheet, Leon was the fifth fastest...now that's a result!
So there you have it, a marvelous weekend indeed. And just goes to show that Leon really belongs in this championship. So let's hope we can secure enough funding to allow us to have a good crack at the full championship next season...
(One of the best circuits around.)
(All the top teams were there!)
(Now that's a qualifying session!)
(Leon takes time out to relax.)
(There was a lot of chatting about the set-up.)
(Mike takes the R6 down to the grid.)
(LOOK...LEON'S ON THE TELLY!)
(This is the view of the start that Eurosport didn't show.)
Last weekend BMC Racing were in action again. This time it was at Thruxton for the penultimate round of the NG Road Racing championships. It was Leon's first time at Thruxton too, so it was going to be a strong case of learn as you go! He was out on both the 400 and 600 machines, and was very much looking to consolidate his lead in the F400 championship.
The day started very misty. So misty, in fact, that proceedings didn't get underway until about 10.30. But things cleared up and the days racing began. First up, as usual, were the F400s...who were again grouped together with the 2-strokers. Race one saw Leon get faster with each lap as he went about his business of learning the track. He found himself in a battle with track specialist Michael Rose and narrowly missed out on taking the victory - but second place on a circuit he doesn't know is something to admire. And Leon's fastest lap time was a fraction of a second off the lap record too! Even more impressive. The BMC Racing team then set in to action, and looked to change the gearing in a bid to find ways of gaining an advantage in the points race.
Race two (the points race) soon came round, and Leon lined up on the front of the grid along with Michael Rose...it was going to be a battle, but Leon and the team had worked well to prepare the bike for action. And what a race it turned out to be! Not only did Leon beat Michael Rose to win the race, he also smashed the club record and the OUTRIGHT LAP RECORD as well! Amazing! The mind boggles as to just how quick Leon would have been if he actually knew the track! Again Leon just got quicker and quicker throughout the race which culminated in him taking the lap record on the final circuit with a very impressive time of 1:24:69. Some of the moves Leon had to make were just awesome. The crowd were agasp as they watched Leon keep the ZXR pinned through the first corner, and go underneath Michael to take the lead. A properly heroic performance indeed...well done mate. But there's more to the story...the victory was enough to give Leon the Formula 400 title. Impressive stuff...particularly when you consider the fact that he's missed four rounds of this year's championship. What a race!
And so to the Co-Ordit 600s...and a very highly competitive field too! There were two qualifying races, such was the amount of entries, and Leon was in the first one. He rode a very solid race to finish an excellent eighth place. This was enough to put himself on the fourth row for the final, but that was going to make it tough to break in to the top ten. The final came round soon enough and Leon got stuck in right from the off. He put in another very impressive display of lap times...pretty much all of them in the 1:23's to take himself up through the field to finish seventh. This now puts Leon tenth in the championship. Again this is amazing, as Leon has missed most of the races throughout the year due to injury. He beat Michael Rose again too, who was out on his 600, which just shows how quickly Leon can get his head round new tracks. Brilliant stuff!
So there you have it, another great day at the office for the BMC Racing team. We can now all look forward to the final BSB round at Oulton Park and then on to Silverstone for the final round of the NG championships...bring it on!
Hello, my name is Richard Dorey. I'm one of the riders in the Shropshire based BMC Racing motorcycle team. I ride a Honda RVF 400 which has been fully race tuned and prepared by my brother Mike, owner of BMC Racing. I have been racing in various Formula 400 classes at club level for a number of years now.