Hawk Kawaskai rider Scott Smart secured fourth place in the championship at the last round at Donington Park. He had been in with a fighting chance of third, had it not been for a little divine intervention from above. In his final exclusive Crash.net 2004 season column, Scott reveals that some things are just beyond even his control...

It hardly seems possible, but the end of the season is on us already. When I think about it, it only seems like last week that we were pre-season testing at Silverstone.

But enough of all that dewy-eyed cobblers, let's get back to racing.

The penultimate BSB round, at Oulton Park, was always going to be tough for us. We weren't quite sure how the bike would go because it was hard work there earlier in the season. It's hard finding a good set-up at Oulton, but we knew we'd improved the bike, chassis-wise, since we were last there.

During Friday practice the bike was pretty good and we went quicker than we'd ever been there previously, but then it lashed it down and washed-out any chance of us improving the bike further.

It was dry at the start of qualifying and not far into the session I pulled out to overtake a slower rider on the way into the last corner, but because I'd gone in a bit tight and off-line it tucked the front and down I went. It was just one of those things, but as it turned out it was probably the start of a run of bad luck that would follow me all weekend.

Although I was pretty much ok, that crash did knock my confidence a little bit and it took me a while to get going in the second session, but in the end it all came good and I qualified ok, for Oulton, in seventh place.

Morning warm-up was record-breaking for me because I'd never crashed more than once in a meeting up until that point. Unfortunately I had a big one - I ran into the back of Kiyonari when his bike suddenly stopped dead going into the Shell Oils' hairpin. There was nowhere for me to go.

Because my bike stopped the instant it hit his I was flung high into the air and then thumped solidly into the track. It hurt quite a lot, I can tell you, especially on my shoulder and wrist. My behind wasn't so smart after that either...

I went to see Charlie, the BSB paddock physio, and he said my collarbone had been broken enough times to be extra tough - that's why it didn't go, thank God. It was weird because it felt like my shoulder was telling me that I'd broken my collarbone.

It was 30 per cent of the pain of a break but with the same feel. Charlie patched me up ready for the first race, that was only about an hour after morning warm-up, while my mechanics tried to convert the mangled mass of metal and fibreglass, which was once my bike, back into something vaguely rideable.

With all that was going on I missed the pitlane closing time by about 10 seconds and had to start the race from the back of the grid. As luck would have it I made an absolutely blinding start but then, as luck wouldn't have it, another rider chopped right in front of me in the first corner and I almost had my third crash of the weekend.

My feet were off the pegs and, if I wasn't bruised enough, I ended up banging my right shin on the curb, which is still swollen and puffy. Even so I got my head down and managed to carve my way through to eighth place before the race was stopped due to rain, so it wasn't a bad result. And that was on my spare bike too!

In the second race I was back on my number one bike but I got that tired uncomfortable from my injuries that I started to feel a bit odd, so I pulled in. I hate retiring from races, but when you're risking your safety, and that of everyone else around you, you have to make that call.

The worst thing about it, though, was that Kagayama took a big chunk out of me points wise and dropped me to fourth in the overall standings. Rats.

While at Oulton we (myself and my hoe, photographer Martin Heath, who stays in my truck) thought we'd nip out to a nearby town and grab a bite to eat. We found this pub and while we were there we bumped into Lee and Gary Jackson - Lee rode for Hawk last year. So there we were, Martin and I, going through what we'd like off the menu and Gary and Lee are like, "Nah, nah, they haven't got it, you can't have that."

We thought they were just taking the pee, like they normally do, but when we came to order they really had run out of everything we fancied. In the end we were so hungry we ended up eating whatever they had left - knowing our luck it was probably reheated leftovers! Oh well...

It was almost as if someone 'up there' was out to get me at Oulton. As if two crashes, a DNF and eating scraps weren't enough, it blew a force nine gale all the way home. In fact it was so bad across the Pennines that I was almost blown off the M62! I can see the headline now: BSB star found buried in peat bog! Er, perhaps not...

From there it was onto Donington. After the two impromptu spills at Oulton I thought it'd be best to rest the body for a couple of days before for the last round. So after a good sleep I tried to get myself out of bed on Monday morning - and fell flat on my face. My shoulder and wrist simply weren't having it. And my girlfriend had gone out, so I couldn't even get any sympathy.

Even so, I was looking forward to Donington because it's very fast and flowing and that really suits my style. I felt pretty good on the Friday, I was in the top six for most of wet practice, but then it is less physical in the wet.

Come Saturday morning's first qualifying session, however, and I really did feel second-hand. The boys wanted me to test the spare bike so I went out on that initially, which was a mistake because it started to rain.

Unsurprisingly I didn't manage to get a good lap in and by the end of the session I was in thirteenth place. Because of my injuries I probably wasn't as good in those conditions as I could have been - something my mechanics wasted no time in pointing out to me.

There I was, sitting in my truck between sessions, listening to the circuit speaker, when Fred Clarke starts going on about these notes that have appeared on my bike.

There was one on the back that said, 'Running-in, please pass', a 'Beginners guide to qualifying' on the tank that started with, a) Sit on the bike, and ended five points later with, e) Don't ride like a poof, and even a pair of my spare gloves on the floor advertised as being made from genuine rat scrotums and for sale for ?1.75 ovno.

I knew it couldn't have been my mechanic, Lee 'Diesel Fitter' Machin, who wrote them because they were all spelt properly. Lee got that name from posters that started appearing on the garage wall at Oulton with him asking me a question and my reply being, "F**k off diesel fitter" and it's stuck ever since. Clearly a team joke that one, ahem...

Despite the obvious encouragement stuck all over my bike, final qualifying didn't go to plan. The bike kept misfiring on hot laps and then I'd have to abort and come in. We finally realised it was down to the quickshifter, but by then it was too late and I ended up ninth, behind both my team-mates.

As it was, I got a really good start in the first race, from ninth to third in one corner, and hung in there until the pace car came out a lap later. Unfortunately I was a gear too high and I couldn't get the drive once we were racing again.

I found my pace a lap later and ended up in fourth at the flag. I got another good start in the next race, I was fourth and Glen was second, but after he'd crashed out on lap two I chased after Rutter.

He and Kiyonari, on the Michelins, were pulling away, but I was pulling away from everyone behind me, so I was settling into third pretty well. Then I made a mistake going into McLeans, tucked the front and ran onto the grass, losing 10 places in the process.

I got back onto the track, got my head down and, by the end of the race, made it back up to fourth again. I was far and away the fastest Dunlop runner in the race so it wasn't a bad way to finish the season, even if I did miss out on third place in the championship by just five points. If I'd have had one more lap I think I could have got onto the podium, but that's life I guess.

After the racing it was party time. We had a karaoke party in the Hawk tent and guess what? Yup, myself and the other riders got stitched-up into singing the first number.

There are many things I can do, but singing ain't one of them so as you can imagine it was pretty awful. It was really embarrassing. Luckily the evening did get better after that. I bumped into Dean Thomas' missus and we ended up, at about 4am, in James Haydon's motorhome with my hoe, Martin, Mrs Thomas and Mrs Haydon - the two best looking wives in the paddock.

We were perfectly behaved though, honest, apart from when the two ladies decided to draw all over my body in marker pen - something I'd forgotten about until I woke up the next morning.

I'm off to America for a break now and to meet Judith, my girlfriend, who's out there working. There's lots of talk about where I'll be going next year, but I'm honestly not going to make my mind up until I get back from the States. And you'll be the first to know.

Cheers and thanks for all your support and good luck messages this year. See ya soon.

Smarty Pants

 

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