Racing Steps Foundation Pre Season Test
Rory’s first outing of 2015 on the Racing Steps Foundation backed KRP Honda Moto3 run by Mark Keen was at a very wet two day test at Albacete in Spain.
Rory worked well with his new team and in less than ideal weather conditions over the two day test clocked up over 200km of wet track time. A break in the weather leading up to the final Moto3 session gave Rory a chance to finally ride his new bike on slick tyres for the first time and he finished the test at Albacete with a positive feeling for the new bike and team.
From there it was on to Valencia for a further two days of testing only to again be hampered by some of Spain’s worst torrential rain in years. Rory went out to learn the Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo track with the rain bouncing off the asphalt. Eventually on the second day, again in time for the final session, Rory managed to get in some dry laps and get a better feel for the new bike on slicks.
What had been planned as a comprehensive test schedule to give Rory some valuable track time ahead of the first round of the RFME Spanish Championship was unfortunately hampered by the unpredictability of the weather.
RFME Spanish Championship Round 1 – Albacete 29 March 2015
The level of competition was far greater than Rory has previously experienced. Along with a new team, new bike, new circuit and with riders who knew their way round this meant a huge learning curve for Rory.
With the expertise of Mark and the team setting up the bike using Rory’s feedback and bike data he managed to finish Qualifying 1 in 7th place, just 1.6 seconds off the provisional pole setter.
Qualifying 2, with a couple of small changes to the set-up, Rory started out well running fastest until a low side at the final turn put him out for the remainder of the session. He finished up being pushed back to 8th on the grid for Sunday’s race.
Race Day – The lights went out and Rory managed a perfect start catapulting himself up to 2nd by turn 1. The pursuing pack had other ideas and Rory found himself in a fight for 6th exiting turn 1. By the end of the first lap he had dropped off the leading group at the front, he was unable to turn the bike as he wanted following a last minute change to the settings in the hope of a faster lap time, unfortunately Rory had a lack of feel from the front end as he tried his best to hold his own. He was then caught by a group of three riders and forced out on turn 1 past the rumble strip. He managed to save the bike from going down to finally battle for several laps over 10th position. Rory managed to pull a comfortable gap and maintained 10th pulling back in the group in front. With not enough laps left to continue his bid, he ended his first Spanish Championship race with a solid 10th place.
Rory said “RSF, the team and I are happy with my progress given the lack of dry time on the bike and I now know how the other riders work. I will come back to the second round at Jerez at the end of May with a better understanding of the bike, the other riders and myself. The team have done a great job. Unfortunately we only managed one lap of morning warm-up due to a red flag incident and we ended up taking a gamble on a setting change that we made after my second qualifying without a proper test, so to finish 10th I am very happy”.
Rory’s next round of the RFME Spanish Championship is at Jerez on 31st May 2015.