Max Symonds - Final 3 rounds of the year

By: Max MotorCycle Direct Posted: November 16th, 2016
Max at Donington Park.

After a slightly longer than normal summer break the prospect of lining up on a busy grid for another race was an exciting but nerve-racking prospect! These feelings were amplified given the fact that the first races were at Donington Park, one of the first race tracks in the UK with decades of history. Some of the best bike riders had ridden here including Valentino Rossi who took his first 500cc race victory here. Despite the tracks great history and it being a rider favorite by many, I have always struggled there with only two podium finishes. To me it has always felt like a battle that the harder I try the slower I go. Perhaps a more relaxed and smooth approach would help me this time.

After getting lots of laps in during Friday testing I was feeling as good as I ever had on this track and I was able to go out in the qualifying round and match my best ever time. The bike was feeling good with the rear tyre sliding just a little on corner exit without flicking me out of the seat or off the bike as it has done before. This left me feeling positive about the forthcoming races.

Lining up on the 3rd row, I was in a good place to mix it with the front group however after a good start I found myself getting beat around by the other riders for the first couple of laps. Having not raced for 7 weeks I think it took me the start of the race to get back into the close cut competition that goes along with 600cc racing. Once the initial madness had calmed down I was able to battle and make some overtakes, unfortunately I had lost too much time in the opening laps to make any progress.

In race 2 I had a much more positive start. I was more in the zone and after a great start and a first lap overtaking around 10 bikes I was up into a really good position and ready to fight forward. However, at this point disaster struck as it began to rain and a lack of feeling resulted in me dropping back down the field again! Damn.

Finally, the last race of the weekend I was determined to go out and have some fun and hopefully get a better finish. The first couple of laps were full of battling with several other riders. After the pack started to stretch out I was able to get into a really good rhythm and I felt the best I had all weekend. It's always a great feeling to come out of turn one and cascade through Hollywood and Craner curves. I finally crossed the line inside the top ten to rescue something from the weekend and leave me feeling a bit more positive than I had done about the other two races.

I have highlighted Donington as a track that I need to get some practice in early next season to make sure I have a better pace for the next time I race there which hopefully will gain me a more positive outcome.

Thruxton - 8th Oct 2016

Max at Thruxton.

Next up we returned to my home round of Thruxton Race Circuit, this time with NG Road Racing. This is always one of the busiest rounds and I was eager to impress all the people that had come to watch.

As it was only a one-day meeting there were just two races (and qualifying sessions) being the 600cc race and the Open race. These were certainly two different races. First was the open where having qualified 5th I knew I would struggle in the race as the 1000cc machines were likely to have the advantage down the long back straight meaning I would have to fight to get ahead of them and make some time in the tight corners early in the lap. This was exactly what happened with a scrap for 5th to 10th taking place for the whole race, early on I was able to use my corner speed to get underneath some of the other riders and battle to the front before we got to the back straight and they would then pass me back again! Unfortunately, with around a 3rd of the race to go it started to rain lightly preventing me from pushing my corner speed to keep getting past them leaving me 8th at the finish.

In the 600cc there was as much of a battle and even more fun as there were no 1000cc riders getting in the way! From the off I was locked in a battle for 2nd-5th place. We all seemed to be faster at different points on the lap which meant that no one got any kind of gap and by the time we got out to the fast section at the back of the circuit with 100+mph corners we were almost side by side.

At the halfway point I got to the front of the group and nearly suffered a complete disaster getting on the throttle to soon and getting thrown out of the seat, it was (mostly!) luck that kept me going at that point. After getting caught out by back markers on the penultimate lap I ended up 4th and put in my best ever lap time making it a successful day.

Brands Hatch GP - 14th Oct 2016

Max at Brands Hatch.

With the last race of the year being with the British Superbike championship it was back to Brands Hatch GP and with it now being Mid-October the weather was predictably unpredictable!

Both qualifying session were in tricky condition with some parts of the track fully dry but other areas under the trees still being quite wet, coming down the back straight at over 150mph to find the next corner fully wet was a shock! You had to be really careful when trying to put in a fast lap to not get caught out and find yourself in the gravel trap. Leaving it as late as possible I put in a fast lap in the last minute of qualifying race 2 which was enough to match my best ever grid position.

The warm-up was cancelled due to a thunderstorm just about flooding the track and although the rain had stopped it was still very wet by the time we got back on track. Given the fact that I hadn't had any full wet track time I squeezed in 3 sighting laps to try and get up to speed before the race.

From the off it was hectic action in the final race with everyone bumping and passing each other and several people crashing leading to the race being stopped on lap 4. On the re-start I got boxed in at the first corner and was back and forth over the first couple of laps. Once things started to calm down I was able to get into a rhythm and was able to make overtakes and climb up through the pack. At the end of the shorter 6-lap race I finished 22nd to again equal my best finish.