Thursday night was the first time I have met the team. After a good chat about what we was hoping for from the weekend, we got all my bars pegs etc in the right position for my liking.
After an early night and a good night sleep I was feeling good even though I hadn't even sat on the bike before. First session I went out and had to get used to better brakes, better suspension and better power delivery. The first session we clocked in a 1.49 which I was happy with as I’ve not been on a bike around Oulton Park since last year.
A few bar changes and suspension tweaks and we went out and clocked consistent 1.47's. So the 3rd session and the last session before qualifying I went out and got into the 1.45's which we were all very happy with.
We had a good dry set up being able to run competitive times so was looking forward to qualifying in the afternoon. 25 minutes before qualifying the heavens opened and soaked the track.
After only riding the bike in the morning in dry conditions we didn't have any set up for me for the wet conditions, Dave put the settings in that he knew would be okay. I did a few laps to get up to pace and seeing p1 in class on my pit board on my 6th lap I did 3 more laps but thought id done enough to take 8th overall and 1st in class but on the last lap 'Bobby Varey' put in a very fast time to knock me down to 9th and 2nd in class. I came in and Dave and Paddy seemed very happy with the qualifying results as was I.
A good chat with Dave and Paddy on Friday night and we wasn't going to touch the bike as it was performing perfect for my style.
After waking up to a greasy track we decided to leave the wets in and do 1 lap in warm up just to do a practice start which we were happy with. Wheels out and the new rubber on we put the dry settings we had from Friday morning testing.
Race 1 Double Points
Getting in the zone I knew I needed to get a good start to see if I could run a good pace in the dry and stick with the top 5. After a mega start we were straight into the 1.44's running 6th overall and 2nd in class, an amazing race with Lloyd Shelley and Brendan Mallinder swapping positions every lap every corner it was always going to be a messy last lap, coming into Hizzy's Chicane on the brakes I took the tight defensive line so I knew Lloyd would have to go the long way round, he got a long side and was running so much speed into the chicane and ended up running onto the grass and crashing, this was unlucky for Lloyd but meant I had 2nd in the bag for my class but I wanted to keep 6th overall and coming over the line 0.010 seconds in front of Brendan Mallinder just shows how much of a good race it was. Back on the podium I was buzzing to get second in the double points race so that gave me 40 points. After coming back from the podium Dave noticed I’d been bottoming my forks out as I had got quicker, he made some changes to the front which we both thought we would be able to drop into the 43's which would be a positive step.
Starting the same place on the grid (9th) we got another brilliant start getting up to 5th overall I was hoping I could try and get away with the front runners but another rider had some problems which made him run wide, he came back on track but was right on my race line, this made me take avoiding action and I struggled to get my mojo back for a good 2 laps. After Lloyd Shelly came past me I knew I had to get my head down to get back on his tail, the changes we had made to the front were just a little too much and I couldn't get any feeling from the front but I knew I had to beat Lloyd to get the last podium place, after another great race battling with Lloyd just like the first race, on the last lap a back marker was coming up and I caught him going into Hizzys, he held me up and I was just waiting for Lloyd to come past but I managed to hold him off and beat him to the line by 0.050 seconds so another close finish.
Two top 10 finishes and not off the podium in the sportsman class was a great weekend working with the whole Phoenix Commercial Fleet Services Race Team.
I want to say a massive thank you to Dave and Paddy for giving me the opportunity.
GLP STORAGE SOLUTIONS LTD for helping me out with the entry fee's.
My Dad and Andy for bringing the caravan and making sure I was always fed.
Ian Boldy Superbike Photography for some outstanding photographs of the whole weekend.
Every body who took the time to talk to me.
Triumph In The Face Of Adversity
Weekend Overview - Dave Ogden
Oulton Park Race Report - Aaron Bradley
Oulton Park Report
Arriving at the Cheshire circuit Thursday evening we were greeted buy the Bradley Entourage and our Loyal and Hard working Media and Photographer Ian Boldy, who had already been organising Parking at the back of the garage along with his Media desk in garage No 4.
First thing get the Phoenix Commercial Fleet Services ZX6R in the garage check it over and get Aaron sat on it and comfortable with all the levers etc. and a quick training session on the different options on fuelling, available to him.
Aaron was straight away aware of the different ride position, and felt comfortable sat in the Machine rather than his position on his old ZX6R, his whole attitude towards the weekend was positive from the outset.
With this circuit in my opinion being the most difficult on the TSGB calender to get to grips with, there is one thing for sure the bike had to be right, so feed back and set up were paramount.
Aaron had rode a ZX6R before so we had a head start, but with the extra adjustments available on the MUPO suspension, a massively different power delivery to other machines, and his ride position / Height changes he had a lot to get to grips with and only had three 20 minute sessions before qualifying, he had to be on his game with feed back and adjusting to the bike in a record time.
Over the three sessions starting with the base setting that we knew worked all we had to alter is front damping and Bar position and by the end of the 3rd session Aaron had a massive smile on his face, and I saw something different in Aaron as a rider he was calm, cool, determined and most importantly enjoying himself.
Well to add insult to injury and after finding a fairly good dry setting within only 3 sessions, Aaron now had to qualify on a bike in full wet conditions, talk about throwing him in at the deep end, but what a storming job he did, the wet setting was based on historical settings used, he managed P1 in class and 5th overall the latter was a Team best to date right up until the 3 minute board, due to his board reading P1 + 2.0 secs Aaron had come in to pit lane buzzing and happy with the bike, unfortunately with a slightly drying track and a few on fast laps he dropped to 9th overall and second in class.
As a team we were very happy and this was a great position at this very difficult circuit, and the first time on the Phoenix commercial fleet services ZX6R for Aaron.
My opinion is that Aarons riding style is in keeping with some of the best and helps him deliver and improve lap after lap, a very well done!
Race One (Double Points)
Aaron managed to get away very well bearing in mind he has no long term experience with the power and clutch delivery of this machine which again shows his quick learning and ability.
Aaron fought with Brendan Mallinder and Lloyd Shelley throughout race one who have some seven years experience combined between them on 600’s, Shelley ran wide going for the lead on the last lap Aaron rode defensive and Shelley went on to the grass and crashed out unfortunately.
Mallinder pushed Aaron right to the flag with credit to Aaron running a good line to the flag and pipped Brendan to 6th place which is a personal team best and to add a second in the sportsman class on his debut race for the Phoenix Commercial Fleet Services.
Another good start but got held up by another rider rejoining the track on lap one which made me loose valuable time on the front pack and dropping to 3rd in class which meant that Shelley and myself were fighting all the way for the final class podium, on the last lap a back marker caused us to to look for a best option line and fortunately I managed to hold Lloyd of to the line by 500ths of a second and secured another podium.
A great weekend with this talented 21 yr old and would hope that a sponsor would like to step forward and help a budding Nottinghamshire rider with bags of potential.
Thanks to Gary Bradley and Andy for the great company.
All the best Dave Paddy, Ian
Great thanks to Ian Boldy for a great Media coverage leading up to and including the weekend.
All of us from the Phoenix Commercial Fleet Services Race Team would Like to thank the following -
Ian Boldy Superbike Photography
By Dave Ogden - Team Principle
Commercial Fleet Services