Max Symonds, Castle Combe, 02/07/2016

By: Max Symonds MotorCycle Direct Posted: July 18th, 2016

Max Symonds at Castle CombeAfter what felt like a tropical storm last time out at Oulton Park, it was a big relief arriving at my local track Castle Combe under bright sunshine. With this being the only race meeting at Castle Combe this year, I was keen to impress.

Although nobody would argue that motorbike racing is a cheap sport with the cost of one racing meet probably covering a lifetime supply of football boots, it certainly felt a little cheaper when I arrived on circuit the day before test to find a Ferrari only track day taking place. There were several expensive and beautiful looking cars hanging around.

With noise levels a major problem at Castle Combe, the Friday test day was held with an incredibly low decibel limit meaning the team had to adapt a Yamaha R1 Road Exhaust Can to fit on to the bike. Apart from sounding completely silent and losing some horsepower the bike worked well with the different exhaust and I was able to get some valuable track time at a circuit where riding is very limited. However, come the last session of the day I made a as Valentino Rossi would put it "a stupid mistake!" running in too fast into quarry corner, a left bend followed by a tight right hand corner, unable to stop in time the bike ran off the track and I dropped the bike as I was about to hit the barrier. Ooops!

Max Symonds at Castle CombeApart from giving the team a bit of work to do over night the crash was fairly minor and I was looking forward getting back out and putting things right. Qualifying was held under damp conditions and after opting for full wets I was first out on track ready to put in some quick times. Unfortunately, the bike immediately had some running problems and a misfire caused a major drop in power. Unsure whether this was a result of yesterday's crash or an electrical fault, the team were unable to solve the problem during either qualification session leaving me 17th & 9th for the races.

Overnight we were able to improve the bike issues massively (but not completely) leaving the bike running at around 90% of its best. Nevertheless, I was sure I could make improvements on my qualifying positions. First off was the open race and from 17th on the grid I got a flying start running 6th by turn 3 but then disaster struck as the rider in 4th place high sided on the exit of the first chicane forcing me onto the grass dropping me back to 13th. From here I pushed at the complete maximum and managed to make several overtakes into the tight last chicane in the first few laps, brushing my shoulder on the inside tyre wall at one point, before setting about hunting down the remaining riders ahead of me. By the time the chequered flag came out I had made it up to 4th place and was the first 600cc finisher, earning me the performance of the day award.

There was no time to celebrate as only one race later I was back out again for the 600 open final where again I got another good start running 4th by the first corner. I soon made an overtake down the inside into Tower Bend and a fast right hand corner at the end of the back straight, which from there I pushed on putting in a lap time 1 second faster than I had ever gone before. However, this was not enough to catch the front two leaving me with a solid 3rd place at the flag.

After the drama at the last couple of race meetings it was great to get a couple of strong finishes from starts so far down on the grid, particularly on a track where I have always struggled in the past. This gives me good confidence as looking forward we are planning to compete in the next 2 National Super Stock 600 races at the British Superbikes so everything will need to be at its best.