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Heading home to Silverstone
27 August 2013
The first Motorcycle road race meeting I ever went to was at my local track, Silverstone, where this weekend I'm riding a MotoGP bike in the British Grand Prix - with a chance of qualifying on the front two rows of the grid.
That's the reality of the situation but it's still very hard to believe.
The first race I watched was the Aprilia Superteens because my friend Craig was racing. That's the story of the last ten years of my life: From watching Craig ride at Silverstone to riding in the MotoGP race at the British Grand Prix.
The first time I turned up at Silverstone it still had the chicanes and it's amazing in my time of riding a motorcycle just how much the track has changed.
I feel a lot less pressure going into my biggest event of the year because I'm a lot more at home on the bike than I was at the start of my Rookie year. The change of the date of the grand prix from June to September has been good for me because the home grand prix adds enough pressure as it is.
Going into it relaxed and at a race track I really like and enjoy riding on. The way the track sits and lays realty suits my riding style. I led the Moto2 Grand Prix last year even if it was short lived and I was able to qualify the Tech 3 bike in fourth place.
Something seems to click there with me and the machine and it's the third race of a back to back sequence which means the M1 Yamaha is my friend. It's not going to take any warming up or getting used to after Indianapolis and Brno. The ball is already rolling and we certainly will not arrive on the back foot. The important thing will be to stay calm because it will be the first time I've ridden a MotoGP bike there.
Riding a MotoGP bike will be tough at speeds of over 300km/h around that track in most areas is going to take some taming and will be very physical weekend. The Yamaha is definitely suited to the track with plenty of nice flowing corners. It is the first and only time I will ride in front of the British fans this year on a MotoGP bike and it makes big difference.
The fans will obviously be very supportive of Cal and I hope I can also carry the flag and put on a good show. The fact it's only 30 minutes from home is a joy because I don't have to spend any time travelling. I can spend time at home in my own surroundings until the last minute which will also help the relaxing part.
The result at Indy was in many ways what we expected but it certainly came in a different way than planned. At the best we thought seventh and it was eighth. I was happy with the weekend but we had problems in the race with the bike and tyres which meant we were lacking but that happens in racing.
The big positives were the fact in every session I was around sixth, seventh and eighth for the first time this year. Then at the finish of race I was able to pass both Dovizioso and Hayden on the line after they got a bit involved with each other on the last corner.
That big step forward continued at Brno which was so encouraging for us all. We clicked right from that first practice session and we modified the front forks and the front end to make the Yamaha easier to ride with a full fuel load. Straight away it felt comfortable and to qualifying on the second row just half a second down on Cal was a great achievement.
However, as often happens in grand prix racing, our joy was short-lived when I crashed at turn nine. I was relaxed but I'd not say comfortable after a maniac opening couple of laps and was running seventh. I was sitting in there waiting for the rear tyre to get up to full temperature when the next thing I was on my backside wondering what happed there.
Cal had a similar crash in the race and I lost the front end in a similar way in the Qatar race and practice in Barcelona. I was not on the limit but close to it and I've got to learn from it.
All in all, although the results might not reflect it, we made big strides in those last two races and long may it continue at Silverstone.
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