Well here we are it’s our home round, Donington Park. It should be a great event this weekend so don’t miss it. I will come to the team in a minute but let’s start with the Paddock Show.
Michael Hill really has done a great job with the expanded Paddock Show this year and it really does add to the event experience for you the fans. All the riders support it and, like last year on Saturday evening, directly after the Two Wheels for Life auction it’s the CIA Landlord Insurance Honda concert!
Trust me it will be even better than last year. The band, George Buckmaster (chassis technician for Robin Mulhauser and of course, my son) and his friends Sam and Glen have been practising in the garage this weekend and are on top form. As I write this Hikari has turned up to make it a full band practice for Hikari and the Okubos. They will be joined on stage by our rider from last year, Kyle Smith. The line up is Sam on drums, George on bass, Glen on lead guitar backed up on rhythm by Kyle. The boys will do more numbers than last year and there will be some surprise vocal guests as well. Don’t miss it you will all enjoy it.
Now to the actual race weekend. Jules is up to 6th in the Championship but we can’t hide the fact that 6th was not what we needed or are capable of as a team and Jules as a rider. I always say most things are not bad luck and if you look at it in an open way you can, in nearly all cases see a better way forward and correct things for the future. I believe after the disappointment of not converting victory for Philip Island or Thailand we fell into the trap of trying too hard to give Jules the perfect bike and even Jules also looked for the perfect bike when in most cases you can’t have it.
Supersport is a great series and overall the bikes from Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and MV are actually quite close. There are areas where each model is strong but over a lap of nearly all the tracks you end up with an even package. Honestly we know where our bike is strong and we have a window in which it works. We need to start well in Free Practice One and then work with that set up with no major changes. That way Jules rides the same bike more often and can use his huge talent to adapt and get the best possible from the bike. We were fast at Donington last year with Kyle and I am sure Jules will have a great chance to score his first victory of the season on our home soil.
Hikari did not have a great Aragon and an even worse Assen. He had a couple of crashes including an ankle injury at Assen. It was really good to see him come back much stronger at Imola and score a very good 9th place finish. He is now only 3 points off the top ten in the Championship and our aim has to be a top six finish and move into the top ten. This is his second year with us and he will go from strength to strength. You have to admire his ‘never give up’ approach. He takes a usual Japanese way of ‘step by step’ but I am sure he will challenge at the front this year at some point and will be in great shape to challenge for the title in 2018. Remember it took Sam Lowes 3 years to win WSS and he is now in Moto GP as you all know. Hikari is still only 23 and will be with our team for years to come I hope.
Robin had a crash in warm up due to oil from Caricasulo’s Yamaha after he had already crashed during the session bringing him down on the entry to turn 1. To be honest he had struggled all weekend and the crash just lost him all momentum and he rode to a very disappointing 19th position. He rode in the Le Mans 24 hour and had a great ride but maybe this affected his performance on our WSS machine. I hope not as he has also just done the 8 hour race in Germany. We will give him all the support he needs to return to the promising pace he had been showing. Robin is a great guy and it’s always good to see nice guys do well.
Hiromichi always faced a difficult task as each circuit he does is new to him. He also has had a few, although not major slip-offs but crashes always cost track time and momentum. Despite this he showed a real step forward in Imola which is a very difficult track to finish in the top 20 for the first time at. A good job by him and his crew of Graeme and Alberto. We will look to build with him for the rest of the season.
It’s going to be a great event at Donington Park and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible there. Do come and say hello.