Danny Coutts' hopes of finishing the season on a high were dashed at Donington this weekend by a freak gearbox problem and then a tumble on the eighth lap of the race.

Despite remounting, a broken clutch lever meant the Horsham youngster went home with little more than a grazed finger to show for the weekend's efforts.

Having been compromised through the qualifying sessions by the ailing gearbox, Coutts claimed the 13th slot on the grid, his best time just under 2 seconds away from pole man Chris Martin.

Despite making a good start, Coutts' paid the price for the lowly starting position when his progress was hampered through having to avoid an incident between Michael Wilcox and Jonathan Rea. From that point on he faced an uphill struggle to make up ground on the leaders.

For the next seven laps the 2001 BMCRC Champion concentrated on getting his head down and working his way through the field. Trading positions with Lee Longden, Steven Neate and Brian Clark, the action was typical fast and furious 125 racing as each rider tried to gain an advantage.

The frantic pace took its toll as the riders entered Goddards for the eighth time when Coutts lost the front on the brakes, the resulting spill breaking off the clutch lever and ending any chance of finishing the race.

A philosophical Coutts explained: "With no means of operating the clutch, there was no point in trying to continue, it would not only severely compromise your speed out of the hairpin but if the engine happened to seize you wouldn't be able to grab the clutch to free up the rear wheel.

"I don't seem to have had much good luck this year, which is a shame as the team has always worked hard to give me a bike that was capable of running at the front. Just look at our performance at Thruxton when I was only a quarter of a second behind [race winner] Michael Wilcox. Based on our performance at the end of last year, we were looking forward to fighting for the championship, but for one reason or another it just hasn't come together for me. I've learnt a tremendous amount though, and I'm looking forward to moving up to the 600 class next year."

Team manager Clive Padgett was full of praise for his young charge's dedication: "Dan hasn't had the easiest of years, but he's always a pleasure to be around and just gets on with the job without any complaints. From the way he's improved over the last two years, I think he'll soon be a force to reckon with in the Supersport class."

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