The last round of the season in Portimao went smoothly enough, massive tankslapper aside. The bike got all crossed up in braking in race one and I was little more than a passenger as I aimed for the ever shrinking gap between my teammate Marco and Johnny Rea. The bike had whipped me so violently that my right hand had let go of the handlebar but luckily I found Marco just where I needed him as I used my right elbow on him to hoist myself back onto the bike otherwise I was going over the handlebars. It all happened so quickly that I can’t even spot myself doing that on the TV coverage! Unfortunately the huge moment bust the steering damper so I was forced to enter the pits for repairs. On my out lap I spotted the leaders rounding turn 10 at the top of the hill as I was exiting the final left handed turn on the circuit. It was heartbreaking to see the gap between myself and the race leader get bigger as the race dragged on and I was left thinking of what might have been.
Only Carlos and I had found the best race tyre during practice and I knew that we were going to show our cards in race one. The others switched to the same rear tyre as us for race two and so I found myself with a real fight on my hands. I pushed on at the front looking after my rear tyre ready for those final laps but unexpectedly it was my front tyre that gave up the ghost with just a handful of laps remaining. 2nd was the best I could manage which put me level on points with Biaggi overall in the standings. I lost out on 3rd in the championship on countback due to Max securing more 2nd place finishes over the course of the season (we both had two race wins each). I’m glad a lot of you seemed to enjoy my ‘elevator’ imitation during my post race interview. It all started over a joke with Matt Roberts and Toby Moody back at the ‘Fastest’ movie premiere and I said I’d do it if I won another race this season. I may not have won but I thought what the hell, it’s the final race of the year! I leave the 2011 season with fond memories of my superbike debut with Yamaha and working with a great bunch of guys.
As you all know I’ve signed to ride for Aprilia in 2012 and I got my first taste of the bike on Tuesday after the final round. I finished up quickest lapping at lap record pace so I guess you could say I was pleased with my day’s work. Back home I’ve been training long hours during the week and trials riding on weekends. My friend Tubman edited a cool video of us in action and it makes for entertaining viewing as always! Finesse is not a strong point of ours on trials bikes. Former world championship rider Rob Crawford and his buddy Russell Houston have been giving us lessons as well as getting wrapped up in our daft attempts at the impossible! The craic is incredible and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend an Autumn afternoon.
It’s been a long day today as I woke up at 03.30 this morning to catch a flight from Dublin. I’m currently on the return leg of my journey but my flight was delayed the guts of an hour so it could be 02.00 before I get home. Some of you will think I’m crazy but a 23 hour day is worth it for two consecutive nights in my own bed! I attended the Milan Motorcycle Show today for the World Superbike organisers Infront and I was pretty impressed with the scale of the whole operation. It’s a huge show and it would take a week to get around everything!
I get another spin on the Aprilia at Portimao at the end of this month so I look forward to my first proper test on the bike with all my crew onboard. The weather is usually fairly hit and miss on the Algarve at this time of year so fingers crossed we get some dry tracktime.