| From the Back to the Future? as Jones races his way to top 10 finish first time out on the BMW superbike.|
New bike, new team, new language, throw in a new track for good measure against riders at the climax of their season. The perfect warm up to your own championship "run in” if your name is Gareth Jones and you are having the season of your life. "No worries" says the bloke from Canungra, "Compared to the pressure I put on myself to succeed, no outside force affects me. I understood that I was the 5th rider in the BMW pit this weekend and just got on doing those things within my control, which I could manage, to get myself into a racing position."
Qualifying was interesting with so much raw power and speed in the BMW Superbike that you need traction control and a whole host of technology to help you harness the power curve. After a days testing on the long track at Hockenheim Ring as part of a track day Gareth made a good start to understanding the BMW S 1000 RR but knew that the real test would be when it came to racing in anger.
As every racer knows, the one place you don't want to be setting up the basic handling of a racing bike, is at an important race meeting. The pressure on qualifying means you don't have time to make the systematic multiple progressive steps that you spend the winter doing to establish the rider baseline. You focus on fine tuning the baseline at the race meeting for the individual track.
If you have no baseline then the team has to make intuitive decisions about getting in the region of the baseline settings, but with a bike as complex as the BMW the variables are greater than time available for an unsystematic approach.
After Q1 Gareth was placed 17th in 1.29.6 which was 1.7 secs off pole. The time was frustrating because the potential to go much faster was only a fraction away. In Q2 Gareth decided not to go with a qualifying tyre but concentrate on a race set-up because a sticky tyre would mask some of the behaviour of the bike and the team were still in test mode and Gareth wanted to give the engineers the best information possible about the bike performance. As a result he laid down a consistent but non pole challenging series of 1.29's while others put in their one off fast laps. The net result was 18th position on the grid. On the positive side the bike fit Jones like a glove and he and the engineering team continued to work over-night on the set-up.
On race morning, in warm up some of the engineering changes kicked in and combined with the fact that the other bikes were now also in race set-up rather than qualifying mode Gareth achieved 8th place which indicated that racing could be competitive even though he would be coming from a long way back.
Race 1 saw Jones "wheely" down the start straight, so strong was the clutch bite at the start. By the first corner he was blocked by 6 riders abreast, but quickly turned the bikes power to his advantage taking 4 places between the first and second corners. He then settled into a steady rhythm of low 1.29 sec laps, faster than he qualified, taking opportunities as they came and finishing unchallenged in a creditable 12th place.
Race 2 was improving all the time with Jones applying steady pressure on the field and working his way into 13th place by the end of the lap 9 and the race was red-flagged. The restart was classic Gareth Jones, as he jumped into the third row melee down the main straight and closed in on the riders in front. After taking 12th place he closed down on Arne Tode in 10th place and was beaten to the line by 1/10th of a second to secure a further 6 points for the BMW team. The points meant that Gareth placed 12th overall in the 2009 IDM Championship despite having completed only 3 of 8 race meetings. Which is a fine bonus to the RT Motorsports team.
Comments from Gareth Jones Rider #87
“It was a big ask to take on this extremely talented paddock, at a new track, on a new bike, with a new team, when everyone else was at the peak of their season. The important thing is I got faster all weekend, so I know I haven't peaked yet.
We [the team] know that we are fast in this company on the 2007 Yamaha R1, and this week-end showed that we can be competitive even on a bike we have no experience with. We also learnt a lot about the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR and I believe it will be a formidable force next year in its 2nd season. It also gives us great confidence going into next weeks ONK "Race of Champions” at Assen, where the team is looking to secure our first Dutch Superbike championship.
This has been the target all season and we are so close to achieving our goal that all thoughts of next season have been put on hold until we finish our day job.”
From The Back to the Future? - Gareth Jones () 09/19 07:33 AM
. . Re: From The Back to the Future? - Gareth Jone (dl41) 09/19 09:03 PM
The views and opinions expressed in these pages are strictly those of the authors and cannot be taken to represent the views and opinions of Formula Xtreme Promotions Pty Ltd or the Australasian Superbike Company Pty Ltd (Ausco).