The conditions at brands Hatch in Kent this weekend could not be any different to those just five weeks ago when heavy snow caused the cancellation of the first round of the British Supersports championship. The re-run was blessed with sun and summery 25c temperatures, with track temperatures hitting a massive 35c by Saturday lunchtime.
With grid positions set by the performances at the beginning of the season teams only had two free practice sessions on Saturday to get used to the track conditions.
Interserve racing set out with everything to prove and nothing to loose after a disastrous season so far. The first session didn’t start any better with the bike stuttering on the power, after just two laps Ross dived into the pits where the quick thinking of team Principle Ross Walter Snr ended with the disconnection of the quickshifter and the bike back to full power with minimal loss of track time.
Despite lacking the rider aids he had become accustomed too Ross soon got back into the swing of it stringing lap after lap of smooth riding. His best time of the session came on lap 13 of his 14 lap run with a 1.31.788, beating his qualifying time over 2.5seconds. This fantastic personal best time around the Brands GP circuit put for 13th place overall and third in the cup competition. Even though he was 13th place his time put him just 1.1seconds behind the first place man Steve Brogan on his Honda CBR 600 RR.
Sunday morning brought more of the beautiful weather, warm sun out early to great the riders as they rose and prepared themselves for race day.
Morning warm up Ross was dispatched with a few minor adjustments to test. Ross decided to see what he could do by himself without the aid of a faster rider to slipstream through the faster sections of the GP circuit. With just 6 laps he set of hard, getting steadily faster. Putting his best laptime on circuit 5 of 6 with a 1.31.9. This respectable time was just two tents slower than in the heat of Saturday afternoon, putting Ross’ Triumph 22nd fastest in the warm up, an indication of good things to come in the afternoons race.
Due to riders dropping out between qualifying and race dates Ross has moved up to 32nd on the grid. Unfortunately this put him next to the pit wall giving him a steeper slope to overcome on the start than the other riders on his row. Despite this Ross cut though the grid making up a huge number of places before tipping into the first corner.
An error from Pete Spalding just in front of Ross caused Pete to sit up mid corner and run out wide. In a pack as tights as the supersports starting formation this could only lead to innocent riders being hit. Spalding hit the gravel at speed flipping him and the bike, he was lucky to escape with only leg injuries. Other riders caught up include Buff Triumph team mates Frost and Dye. This incident brought out the safety car, bunching the group while Spalding was recovered to the medical center.
As the safety car pealed into the pits at the end of lap 3 Ross found himself in 25th position for the re-start. Ross maintained his track position as he lost and then re-gained ground on McDougall.
For the next 4 laps Ross fought hard with the Relentless Suzuki ridden by Lowry who was making his way from the back of the field after starting from the pit lane. Despite Lowry’s vast experience and factory machine Ross kept pace and only lost the position after lap 9, fighting back on lap 10 Ross showed Lowry a wheel heading into druids and again as they tipped into Surtees.
Lap 11 and Ross slid past Lowry as they passed through Surtees again. As he powered out of the bend the safety car flags were clearly visible as the Audi was dispatched for the second time of the race. To avoid any possible penalty from his overtake during the flagged period Ross let Lowry back in front under the safety car.
At the end of lap 13 the car again headed for the pits letting the riders go at full pace once again. Ross put in a stunning time on lap 14, equaling his personal best time around the brands GP circuit with a fantastic 1.31.7. This lap also saw him set a blistering 118.1mph through the speed trap, the second fastest time of the entire race. Showing the triumphs pace out of Graham Hill bend. Lap 15 and Ross was pushing equally hard as they raced up though the trees of the GP section. The pack tipped through Hawthorne and on towards Westfield. Ross was hard on the breaks as he turned into the corner. With the bike well lent over in this fast fourth gear bend he adjusted his grip preparing to get on the power early when he just pulled the brake leaver a little more in an uncharacteristic error of judgment. This caused the front tyre to loose grip, tucking under causing Ross and machine to slide into the gravel at high speed. Ross’ leg became trapped under the bike as they slide to a halt just short of the safety fencing. Ross was instantly up and out of the way suffering no injury.
Despite the crash during the race the team were in buoyant mood, Ross Snr smiled as he described the weekend.
“We’ve had so much bad luck this year it’s been great to see Ross riding, and riding well. Second fastest at the speed trap and personal best lap times are the result of over two years hard work and development by everyone at Interserve racing. We’re all really looking forward to Donington now!”
Interserve racing will next be in action at Donington Park in two weeks time. Where the competition will be harder than ever with a number of world supersports riders taking the opportunity for testing before the international teams attend the circuit later this summer.