Young Racer of the Year award winner Robert English could not have picked a tougher weekend to make his British Superstock 1000 debut than the Donington Park season opener. The first race of English’s season took place under extremely changeable weather conditions, on an unfamiliar circuit and included the first endurance race he had ever tackled.
Competing in his first BSB Superstock 1000 event was always going to be a steep learning curve for the reigning Masters Superbike Champion and the changeable weather did not make his task any easier. Following two dry practice sessions qualifying was wet and having been as high as twentieth on the time sheets Robert eventually dropped to 29th, but was still happy to be one of the forty riders who qualified to race from the fifty racers entered.
Races one and two would provide the Mondello Park, Dawn International, AJ Plumbing Services, Pat Duke Plant Services and Megabikes backed rider with the biggest challenge of his career. The first two races of the season would be eighteen laps each, with just a ten minute break between them, making for an hour of almost non-stop action. The longest race English had previously contested was a fifteen minute Masters race around Mondello Park.
With so little time between races the IFS Yamaha team knew that they were stuck for two races with whatever set up they went for in race one, but they opted to take a gamble on a wet set-up. Race one was initially playing into their hands, as English climbed to 9th from 28th on the grid, but as the track dried he fell away to finish 18th. There was just time to change tyres and re-fuel before the restart, so English had to tackle the dry second race with a wet set-up and this dropped him to twenty fifth at the finish.
Having acquitted himself well over the longer races the Bangor rider was confident for Sunday’s shorter final race but soon found out what life in the middle of a packed Superstock 1000 grid was like. The early laps were spent avoiding other riders accidents and off track excursions, so with finishing as his main aim English took his time until the latter stages and then got his head down to set his fastest laps of the weekend on his way to a safe finish in twenty fifth.
English summed up his weekend as “A tough one, but one where I learned so much. I’ll go to Brands Hatch now with a much better understanding of what a BSB Superstock weekend involves and I will look to push harder to get towards the points. Everything about the weekend was new to me from the race distances to the level of competition, as these events are such a huge step up from the Irish scene. I’d like to thank all of the award sponsors who contributed to this weekend, and all of my other supporters and team members for helping me to get this season together and I look forward to giving them some better results at the second event”.
English’s next BSB event will be at Brands Hatch in two weeks time. For the second event the Superstock 1000 will once again have a new format as they tackle a fifty mile race on the short Brands Hatch Indy circuit.