A sudden trip to the gravel trap effectively ended local boy Josh Elliott's challenge for points at Oulton Park at the last British Superbike round a week ago but he is hoping for better fortune this week when he competes at Brands Hatch.
Elliott's Carbontek Four Anjels team had made big changes to his Superstock 1000 BMW bike to cure the instability problems he suffered at Knockhill, and it was down to the youngster to adapt his riding to suit and gel with the track. Friday was a washout and after a very wet free practice, qualifying one was postponed to Saturday which brought better weather. Elliott managed 17th in his first dry session and improved to 11th in final qualifying, but didn't make the most of the final run on a new tyre amongst the 48 rider field.
He takes up the story of his weekend: "The bike was much more stable and it was down to me to get used to the feel of it again and get down to good times at this track. I made a big effort in final qualifying but just didn't get the clear run I needed on the new tyre, so ended up nearly a second slower than I did here in May.
The times I did felt comfortable so I was confident I could do better in the race. I got a decent start and settled into 13th place early on in a big group but found the rear edge grip I had in qualifying just wasn't there to allow me push forward. I decided to settle in and stay with the group to see if any other riders suffered tyre issues later in the race.
The pace car came out for two laps and tightened everybody up and a lap or so later I noticed the two riders in front of me struggling and dropping off the pace a bit. I knew I had to act to stay with the group, so lined up one for a pass but he hit the rider in front of him in the braking zone. His bike went a bit out of shape and as I was close it forced me off the track. I had to take to the gravel trap to avoid hitting both riders in front. It was a bit scary but somehow I managed to stay on, got out of the gravel and going again. Later on the next lap the race was stopped for another incident and I was unlucky not to get a lap count back, which would have given me some points. Still, I was fortunate to stay on and avoid a bad crash." The Fermanagh youngster was credited with 29th in the end, but his team were celebrating as his team mate Australian Dave Johnson won the shortened race for both his and the team's first win!
Elliott departed immediately after his Oulton Park race for Brands Hatch in Kent where he took part in a track day the following day. He is to compete at the GP circuit there this weekend and that was his last opportunity to learn the full track, having only competed on the short 'Indy' circuit there in April.
Josh commented on his test day: "Firstly, a very well done to Dave for his win at Oulton which was well deserved! I really enjoyed learning the GP circuit at Brands. Team sponsor Steve Greenhalgh of Four Anjels was at Brands too on his bike and we had a great day on track as the weather held off. I got down to some decent times for a beginner, so I really hope I can put the bad luck of Oulton behind me and get a decent result for the team at Brands."