Jack writes about a challenging race at Aragon, where he beat the heat and survived a late scare to score his best result in nine races.
Ninth at Aragon doesn’t sound like a lot – I mean, who comes into a race weekend saying ‘I really want to finish ninth’? – but considering how things have been for me lately, it’s pretty good. I’m not overly impressed, but it’ll do.
Why? It’s been a long while since I’ve scored that many points – Le Mans back when I came fourth in April if you can believe that – and I was only 16 seconds off the win and had my best-ever finish at Aragon, so that’s something. And also because that was no easy race with how hot it was here. It was over 30 degrees when the race started and the track was up to 45 degrees and climbing fast, and there was no way you could even consider anything other than the hardest front and rear tyre available, for our bike anyway. There was no other option. And even then, that gave me some dramas.
I just couldn’t seem to get the life out of the tyre at all today. I was eighth and starting to crawl back towards my teammate (Danilo) Petrucci with seven or eight laps to go, and then I had this feeling like the bike had jumped out of gear or something, because I had this huge vibration. I thought I’d delaminated the rear tyre on the left-hand side, so that was a bit of a panic because I thought I was probably going to have to retire or crash. I’d been riding with one eye on that because the whole race, from the first lap, the tyre light came on my dash warning me about the tyre consumption. I knew that wasn’t right because it was so early in the race, but you knew it was coming, and I just kept counting the laps down waiting for a drama. Seeing a tyre light every corner make it hard to keep calm, that’s for sure.
When that vibration came, lap 17 I think it was, I immediately dropped my pace back half a second or more into the 1 minute 50s which left me exposed to Valentino (Rossi) coming up from ninth, and he got me with less than two laps to go. I had nothing for him at that stage, I wanted to fight him but the tyres definitely didn’t. The last four laps, I had to roll off and basically nurse it home because I had zero tyre left. It’s pretty scary when you’re having vibrations on the straight and you’re convinced the tyre is chunking when you’re doing 320km/h …
When I got off the bike, the tyre looked fine as far as the chunking goes – there were no bits hacked out of it – but it was destroyed. Maybe the vibration came from the gearbox, we’re still not sure until we look into it a little bit more.
With all that going on and me wondering if I was going to still be on the bike when my race finished, it’s not too bad of a result. I got a bit unlucky with the start, because I got such a good one that I was close to (Jorge) Lorenzo when he went down after starting from pole, he had a big old highside and Petrucci and I had to sit up to avoid him and that cost me some spots. Probably could have easily run into him, or run into someone else that did. So, ninth is nobody’s idea of an awesome result, but it’s a start of something better, at least that’s how I’m looking at it.
I just needed to get some points going again, and these ones have been a while coming – I was fast at Silverstone and then we didn’t race with the weather, and then Misano was going pretty well until I screwed up and dropped it on the third lap. I got there eventually, so hopefully this is something to build on.
Thailand is up next, and it’s the first time for us all there to race after we did the test there before the season. The interest was crazy then, so it’ll be nuts once we get there for the race. It’s the first of the flyaways and that means Phillip Island is getting closer, and I get to spend some time at home soon which will be awesome. I had some strong results in this part of the championship last year, definitely in Australia and Malaysia, and the top 10 is still reachable for me this year, which was the aim coming in. We’ll try to keep this up in a couple of weeks’ time – we’ve started walking again, so we’ll pick the pace up from here …
This story originally appeared on redbull.com
Photos courtesy of Alma Pramac Racing.