WILSON RACING EVOLVE AND TAKE HUGE STRIDES FORWARD
(DONINGTON PARK WEEKEND REPORT BY ISAAC HALL UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD SPORTS JOURNELISM STUDENT)
As the sun beat down over Derbyshire, providing the historic Donington racecourse with near perfect conditions for a weekend of racing ahead, the Wilson Racing team prepared or the trials and tribulations that were yet to come over the course of what was set to be an action-packed event.

The weekend started rather promisingly for the boys in blue, with the majority of the riders turning up for some much-needed exhilaration following their all-important exams, the first and only trip out onto the track for Friday got underway as the team went out for their first practice session.

Ben led the way for the riders, as he picked up a fastest lap of 1:44.086, Harrison was .412 seconds behind with a 1:44.500, with Iwan following just up with 1:44.825, finally Samuel was just close by with a 1:45.317.

Following this first outing, the Wilson team returned to their base of operations, where they worked on any of the bikes’ issues, as well as de-brief the riders on where they could be a little bit sharper on the track, as to prepare themselves for what was yet to come.

Sullivan Mounsey, last year’s runner-up in the BTC and current Red Bull rookies cup competitor was in attendance during the Donington weekend, supporting the team and providing advice, speaking to him on Friday evening shortly after the team returned, Sully said “The weekend’s been good so far, they’ve built into it, and now it’s about getting the ball rolling, and starting to get ready.”

Saturday started very early for the young Wilson outfit, and it seems that a good night’s sleep did the riders a world of good when it came to the days racing, with improvements seen all over the track.

At just 9am, with the very first session of the day, the second free practice for the British Talent Cup began, Harrison moved to the forefront of the Wilson riders, picking up almost a second and a half on his previous time as he moved to 1:42.978, Iwan likewise knocked off almost 1.5 seconds, as he notched his time down to 1:43.424, Wilson’s number 42 in Ben also improved as he got to a fastest lap of 1:43.600, with Samuel again hot on their heels as he rode a 1:44.978.

Once again, the riders returned to the Wilson awning for repairs, reconnaissance and rejuvenation, before the Qualifying round was due to begin in just two hours’ time. Following the quick turnaround the team once again returned to the Donington Track, ready to give it their all, and get themselves the best possible starting positions for the races yet to come.

Once again the riders stepped it up a gear, and it was lights out for the first deciding trip out that would seal their fate for how they would line up to begin the first of the two races. The qualifying began and the Wilson team really stepped up to the plate, pushing for the promising positions, moving up and down the table throughout. Iwan was the fastest of the Wilson riders, as he hit a 1:41.449, and subsequently earned himself a P13 finish. Harrison was a razor thin 0.002 seconds behind his compatriot, riding a 1:41.451, at the cost of his front shield, which became cracked and needed replacing after an inadvertent headbutt following a gear change gone awry. Ben was around a second slower, as he moved to a P21 finish, with a fastest lap of 1:42.697, and Sam did seem to struggle slightly, but left himself with room to improve as he hit a P27, with a 1:43.735 quickest time.

Speaking after qualification, Harrison spoke to how he felt the weekend was going so far as he opened up “I’m happy, P14, i’ve been better but I can’t change anything and I am looking forward to the race” and “I think it will be a good race, starting from P14, I have done it before, I proved it back in Navarra from further back” The first official race of the weekend showed huge signs of promise, as the Wilson side managed to wrestle themselves up the standings and make life a little easier for what was yet to come on Sunday.

Harrison pulled himself up two spots into 12th, edging closer and closer to the top 10, and marginally improving on his lap record, as he hit 1:41.415, Iwan dropped of the pace ever so slightly, as he dropped 4 positions into 17th, Ben finished the race exactly where he started, in 21st, but he managed to shave seconds off his fastest time, showing signs of improvement. Samuel did manage to move himself up the rankings as he grappled into a P25 finish.

On the close of day two, it was clear to see that the riders had moved from strength to strength as the clock ticked over, but a final push and a final shift up in gear was needed to help get the team over the finish line and pick up as many valuable championship points as they could.

Much like Saturday, the final day of the Donington Park weekend started bright and early, and with perfectly picturesque conditions, the day was set up for Wilson Racing to finish the three days of hard work and maximum effort with a bang. The Wilson riders were first out on the track, with lights out at 9:15, however they were only allotted just 8 minutes of track time before the final race of the weekend. Iwan was once again at the front of the Wilson rankings, getting some track time for what ended up being his final appearance of the weekend as time would tell. Ben reported some five laps, recording a slightly slower 1:42.562, however saved his best racing for last. Samuel really stepped up and showed his best racing bravado, as he found another level and hit a 1:42.820. Harrison did struggle on the track on this outing, with the fastest time for this section of the weekend being 2 seconds slower than that he recorded in the initial race just 10 or so hours before. This issue became more apparent and serious as Harrison entered pit lane, his bike began to smoke, prompting action from nearby stewards to get the incident manageable, before the bike was returned to the paddock, and the collective efforts of the Wilson engineers managed to get HMR 61’s bike ready for racing in just under 25 minutes, and hopefully get him back on track for a top 10 finish.

Ben spoke about how important it is for the background team at a race weekend to be there for the riders, as he said “if anything goes wrong, you need them there, and if anyone is not fully trained then you’re not going to make it out in time.” In the final race, the light blue outfit made their supporters and teammates proud, however Iwan did not feature in this race, and as such his weekend ended early, much to his disappointment.

Harrison moved up 4 spots and through some excellent manoeuvring, managed to wiggle himself into the top 10 as he earned a P8 finish and shake off any of the early morning troubles, and prove the hard work of the engineering staff paid off. Likewise, Ben ragged himself up the standings, as he got himself into the top 20, as he shot up 3 places into a P18 standing. Samuel really pushed himself in this one, and ended the weekend on an amazing high, and like Ben managed to get himself into the top 20, getting a P20 finish. The race was called off with 3 or so laps left to go, and despite the Wilson Boy’s best efforts, they were denied the chance to advance further up the standings, still the side did themselves proud, and have stood themselves in good stead for what is yet to come, and picked up 12 points overall to take forward.