I’ve made quite a few changes to the ZX10-R over the winter. Incorporating Gen 5 electronics to improve the traction control, performance and handling was just one of them.

The time we had to test everything at the Donington Park and Brands Hatch track days, after running it on the dyno with Matt Wren at TBR Performance,  wasn’t really enough to get my head round the dramatic differences in the bike. The engine breaking was a real issue, and I really didn’t manage to sort that out until the last day of racing over the weekend. It still needs some adjustment, but I hope to have it all sorted for the next round at Silverstone.

Anyway, enough of that for now, because it was great to back on the track and actually racing again!

I was expecting it to be tough with the weather forecast. Why does it always seem to rain at the weekends?


Warmers on and ready for practice… it was a busy day.

Practice on Friday was dry to begin with and I managed to get some decent laps in – going a second quicker than the previous track day in the first session… straight into the 49’s, which was a good place to be early on. However, going faster magnified issues with the bike - particularly the engine breaking. The bike just wouldn’t settle itself, and was hard work entering corners like Graham Hill and Surtees. So, it was out with the computer to hook it up to the ECU and start changing a few numbers. In the afternoon it rained, so I couldn’t really test the changes I’d made at lunchtime. The bike did feel a bit better, but it was hard to really tell in the wet.

Qualifying on Saturday morning was around 11 o’clock and I was keeping my eye on the weather again. Luckily it stayed dry for our session, but I went slower than I did the day before - the bike just wasn’t smooth enough for me and was sliding around a lot more than usual, especially on left handers which was confusing me and very unusual.

I was becoming very frustrated and beginning to despair, wondering if the changes I’d made were actually going to be worth it. I thought a new tyre would help, so I quickly changed to a new front and rear slick ready to race later in the afternoon.

Qualifying in 10th position was not where I wanted to be on the 4th row for the first race, but I got a decent start and quickly found the pace I needed to stay in touch. It was an exciting race and I managed to finish in 7th place, eventually reducing my lap times into the 48’s at last. This put me on the third row for Sundays races which I was pleased about. I was making positive progress.


The sun was out on Saturday…Sunday in the wet was another story…

The Gen 5 traction control felt much better than last year, but at one point it didn’t kick in ‘til very late. And, instead of looking around the corner just before you enter the straight at the end of Clearways, it went so far sideways I was actually looking down the pit lane! I was out of the seat, up the air, and as I was just about to let go of the bars, I landed back on the seat when the bike finally came back round. Luck was with me this time.

I was still struggling with the engine breaking. It felt like the engine was cutting out and then – on the exit – it would lurch forward unsettling itself and making it hard work to hold on to. My arms were aching and I felt shattered after the race.
There was no choice but to change the settings again and remap the ECU for less engine breaking and easier throttle response. Back in the caravan for a few hours I worked on the computer, changing the map and then copied it over to the bike.

I could only try it out in warm up on Sunday morning and I was thinking that it better work because our race was first up…right after the warm up session.


Sunday morning the circuit was wet after early morning rain – another wheel change…

The bike felt better, but the track was sketchy, drying out in places but predominantly slippery and still wet. I had no choice but to keep the Pirelli wet tyres on and go with them, even though they were a quite worn from the day before. I knew 16-laps would push them to the limit as the track was drying and was worried that the rear may not make it to the end of the race.


Easing forward on the grid as the weekend progressed…


I was on the 3rd row for the start, which was better than the day before and got away reasonably well and held my position. After a few laps, I moved up to 6th after being stuck behind another rider for a while. Then Peter Baker came past me and I had a good tussle with him over the remaining laps. It was very close and I couldn’t find a way back past him until the last lap when I managed to get in front of him with a good run on the outside at Clearways. I looked at him when I went past him and it was a drag race to the line where he just pipped me over the stripe by 200ths of a second! We both had a good laugh about it after.

Although I was a bit fed up with 7th position again I was encouraged by my lap time which had me 4th fastest; bumping me up to the second row for our final race of the weekend.


With my rear tyre completely destroyed I had to use another set of wet tyres.
Rain always costs you money!


Anyway, it actually poured it down all morning and the circuit was full of standing water. There were many incidents – one of them bringing in the helicopter – and long stoppages in the other races, which meant we were almost two hours late for our race. By this time, it had stopped raining and the circuit was just wet with no standing water.

When the lights went out I didn’t get away very well, the rear wheel spun up and the traction control stopped me from getting away quickly. (I need to sort that out as my starts are usually one of my stronger points). As a result, I was knocked back to 11th place.
The race had been shortened from 14 laps to 10, so I had to pull my finger out and get a move on. It was a good race with the lads close to me and I managed to pass quite a few to finish in 8th place.

Although it wasn’t the result I wanted it was enjoyable and I achieved my personal best ever time in the wet at Brands Hatch: 55 seconds. In fact, it was a time that would’ve won the wet race the previous year. Everyone was going so much quicker. I was told later that the commentators made the point that they couldn’t believe that the pace was so fast in the wet with nobody crashing out!

It was also great to be back in the paddock again and meeting some old faces. Steve Palmer and his brother Ben, and last year’s champ Aiden Patmore stopped by to say hello and have a chat.

Looking back, I guess it wasn’t the best weekend for results, but I had to make big changes and test it them in the race. Not ideal, but it worked out well enough and I was pleased that all the changes I made were going in the right direction.

Silverstone next. I’ve not raced there for nearly 10 years. Not my favourite circuit – flat and featureless as I remember. We’ll see how we go.

Big thanks to those who have helped me so far and to all my sponsors.

Loomies Café and Shop
Wossner Performance Pistons
Vance & Hines
R&G Racing
OPIE oils
Cradley Kawasaki
TBR Performance
Maxton Suspension
OCS Engineering


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