May 3, 2016

Jessopp upbeat despite 'frustrating' weekend at Oulton Park

MARTIN Jessopp insists he and his team are upbeat despite a disappointing showing at Oulton Park in the second meet of the 2016 British Superbikes Championship.

In difficult conditions at the Cheshire track the Yeovil rider finished 21st in the first race on his BMW before crashing out in the second race after a tyre mix-up.

"We were a bit unlucky and I am not as downbeat as I was after the first round," Jessopp said, despite taking 17th and 18th place finishes at the opening meet at Silverstone two weeks before.

"It was a weekend of mixed conditions. We had one wet day and one dry day and everyone on the grid was very up and down.

"The first day was good and we were only a second off the leading time and the setup on the bike was good. We were hoping that all the races would be dry.

"But I had a mishap with my helmet in qualifying and missed two laps, which meant everyone was just going faster and faster than me.

"Race one was then wet at the start and dried out and I have always struggled on the BMW in the wet.

"I dropped down the order and started to come through, but I was so far back that the gaps were too much. I was setting times that were among the top 12 but could not gain any positions.

"So it was poor but I am upbeat at the same time."

As intermittent spells of rain made planning for races difficult, Jessopp started race two knowing that it was going to be a struggle to finish, let alone get among the points with a top 15 placing.

"For race two we were set to go ahead in the dry. But then just as the teams were about to leave the heavens opened, so we had to leave for the track with wet tyres," the Yeovil rider said.

"When we got down there, although it only rained for a few minutes half of the track was wet and half was bone dry.

"We got to the grid without any other tyres and knew that the wet tyres wouldn't last in these conditions. So two of the team sprinted back to the garage when we only had about five minutes until we missed the time for changing tyres.

"I chose an intermediate tyre for the rear, which even with hindsight I would have done, but we ran out of time to change the front tyre.

"I knew that would not be good because it would get too hot on the drying track, so I was sat on the track with the tyre I needed next to me but not on the bike. It was always going to be a disaster before the race had even started.

"I made the best of it that I could and made up nine positions from 24th to 15th in the first lap, but in the back of my mind I knew it was only going to get worse.

"I stuck my neck out and sure enough on turn three of lap five I crashed. I stood up and walked away without any scratches but it was very frustrating. There were three riders that came off on the same corner.

"So on paper 21st and a crash looks like a bad weekend, but we are upbeat because of the pace we were setting in the dry."

Jessopp takes a break from BSB now to head out to Northern Ireland for the first road race of the season - the North West 200. He has traditionally done well on the roads and although he admits that racing in all five classes at the event for the first time will be a challenge, it is one he is looking forward to.

"I haven't got long to dwell. The mechanics are flat out getting ready for the North West 200 and this time we will be in Northern Ireland qualifying - hopefully in the sun," Jessopp concluded.

"The midset for the roads is completely different and I have to get my brain into road racing now. I am concentrating on good results and will be doing all the classes for the first time, so I need to keep fit and keep my wits about me because I will be doing five races in a day back-to-back.

"It is a big ask for myself and the team, but we are capable of running at the front and fighting for podiums. We need good results - we've got all the tools to do it.

"That would set us up well for Brands Hatch [May 20 to 22] and then the big one, the Isle of Man TT [May 28 to June 10]."

Thanks to the Western Gazette for the use of this story.