Jack writes about the blazing sun and a bad choice burning his chances of a 100th GP celebration in Spain.
Well, that wasn’t exactly a big way to celebrate a milestone, was it? Sunday was my 100th Grand Prix start which was a pretty major achievement, and we had some fun celebrating with the team before the race started after Sunday morning warm-up. It kind of stopped there though, and finishing 13th, the same place I started, definitely wasn’t the race I had in mind.
Take the race out of the weekend, and all in all it was a pretty positive one for me at Aragon. I know, I know … the race bit is the bit that counts, I get it. Definitely would have liked to finish higher after the weekend I had, but I already know why we didn’t. The bike, I feel really comfortable with it at the minute – it’s up to me now to make better choices on the tyres for the next races. Because on Sunday, we stuffed that up. The direction we went on the rear tyre hurt us.
The track at Aragon is in a place where it’s usually pretty cold in the mornings and we get a lot of fog, and the whole morning warm-up for all of the classes got pushed back because it was so foggy on Sunday. But by the time the race happened at 2 o’clock, all the fog was long gone and the track temps were up to 40 degrees, the hottest we’d had all weekend. We definitely underestimated the impact of that. The front end of the bike, we chose the medium tyre and that was really good, but I was missing drive grip on the rear and that was what killed us, I couldn’t make the hard tyre on the rear work early enough in the race. I didn’t get a great start, had an average first lap, and then it took me too long to get on the pace. I didn’t manage to get a low 1min 50secs lap out of the bike until the eighth lap, and by then the race I wanted to be in was happening a fair way up the road. I couldn’t keep the times consistently there either, so I was kind of in a holding pattern where I had the guys behind me covered, but the others ahead were gone. Multiply that by 23 laps and that was it, basically.
Let’s look on the bright side. OK, so it wasn’t the race I expected, but we also brought home a decent position and some points. I managed to move up one position in the championship after the last race at Misano when I was really strong, and here I was nowhere near that, but gained another place. So that was something good to take out of it, but it definitely wasn’t the day I thought it would be.
Before Sunday afternoon, it had been a strong one. Friday when it was wet, I was right up there in fourth, and then Saturday I did all of my qualifying laps by myself with no tow from anyone and still nearly made Q2, I was nine-thousandths out. It was still my best qualifying for five races, and I was confident I had good race pace. Sunday morning, third in the warm-up. And then the sun came out, and we made the wrong call. I’m not happy about it, but it happened. Learn from it and get it right next time.
Next time will be the flyaways, when I get closer to home for the first of them at Japan, and then get to come home as soon as I can afterwards to spend as much time in Australia as I can before Phillip Island. Can’t wait for that. The flyaway races seem to work pretty good for me, I enjoy them a lot. Three in a row, it’s a lot of fun because you get to spend a lot more time with the crew and everyone. It’s the best part of the season for me, because being so far away from home anyway I enjoy it when we’re away and busy. I love the Island obviously, and Sepang is good too and a track I really like. I’m pretty confident there’s a couple of top-10s coming up pretty soon.
This story originally appeared on redbull.com
Photos courtesy of Marc VDS.