Well, what can I say about the past couple of weeks?!
Oulton Park was a positive round for the team, and Sylvain was strong again on a track he had never experienced before. We headed into the Donington Park round full of confidence and completely unaware of the events that would unfold...
The weekend started off as expected. Sylvain was running at the top end of the field throughout the practice sessions and ultimately qualified second, just a few tenths off pole. We knew that we would be strong in the race and were looking forward to getting the Championship lead back.
But then on the sighting lap it all went wrong. I don't need to go over what happened again, but Josh Brookes t-boned Sylvain coming into the Loop and took him straight out. I still think it was an avoidable accident, but the fact remains that Sylvain was taken out of the race, suffered very bad injuries to his leg and looks to be out for the majority of this season.
Whatever happened, the incident has cost Sylvain and the team a shot at the Championship, which we felt we had a very good chance of winning. I've spoken to him regularly since the accident and he is keeping his chin up and he wished us all the best for the next round at Thruxton.
Our next job was finding a rider for Thruxton and after considering all the options, I decided that Michael Rutter was the logical choice. He always seems quick around there and everybody knows that he is an experienced and capable rider.
I'm very happy with our performance at Thruxton and with Michael's showing in particular. To say that he had never thrown his leg over the Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9, he did a fantastic job. Before the weekend, I was looking for Michael to be running in the top six, so the fact that he put the bike on the front row and secured two solid fifth places speaks volumes for his ability. The most surprising aspect of the weekend, though, is that Michael managed to fit into Sylvain's leathers!
I've still to decide who will ride the bike for the rest of the season, but together with Sylvain's performance through the winter and earlier this season, Michael's results at Thruxton show that the team are working very well together and that we have a very competitive package. Michael will ride again at Snetterton, after competing in the Isle of Man TT. I don't really miss the TT, but I wouldn't rule out going back there again. When I'm pushing hard in the Britsih Superbike Championship, I haven't really got time to focus on the TT, but I'll be keeping my eye on the results as always and wishing Michael the best of luck.
I'm currently taking a few days off with Doris, Helga and Bodo (no, not our kids, they are our dogs!) in the mountains of Austria, recharging the batteries ready for the next round of the Championship at Snetterton on 19-21 June
Hopefully I'll see you there.
All the best,