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Ben Gautrey

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Ben Gautrey 2008 - Brands Hatch May - June

On Thursday 29th May we collected our caravan in Chorley and continued our journey South to brands Hatch, which was to take 7 hours in total. It was the first time we were attending a race meeting with our own transport and accommodation. The previous 3 meetings sponsor Paul Hibbott (Swims Cool) had kindly lent us his Motor Home and Trailer Tent.

I awoke on the Friday morning to grey clouds which was soon to break to a glorious day for my 1st encounter of the Brands Hatch circuit. At just over 1 1/4 miles long the circuit was to be very fast and physically demanding but one I was most definitely looking forward to. In total I had 8 20 minute practice sessions during the day to which my times gradually got quicker and quicker the more I got used to the circuit. By the end of the eighth session I had got my lap time down to 60 seconds dead.

I awoke Saturday morning to very similar weather conditions to Friday which suited me fine. Of course there was more at stake now with it being 'Race Day'! I would have 2 races during the course of the day to look forward to and hoped I could produce the kind of laps for the Race that i had done in practice the previous day. In my 15 minute qualification time all 40 Superteen Riders were out at the same time and finding space on the circuit to put in some quick laps was hard to find at the end of the qualifying period I was pleased to find I had qualified 29th with only 3 seconds separating the top 30 riders.

My first race meant I started from grid position 27 and managed to finish 22nd in the ten lap race at the same time shaving another second of my lap times bringing it to 59.1 and I was more than pleased with the end result as 32 riders started the race.

My second race put me in Grid position 5 out of a total of 17 riders and this was the Nitro Newcomers Race. After a slow start I quickly managed to move myself through the field and with two laps to go found myself in 6th place I had been tagging 4th and 5th for the previous 3 laps and had been working out a strategy as how to take them. On the last lap my opportunity came as the Riders in front approached the back marker and they both chose the insdie route where as i went on the outside taking all 3 riders (including back marker) to take 4th position I headed into the final bend with the inside line and came out of the corner on full throttle to cross the chequered flag in 4th place my best position to date and at the same time recorded a 58.6 second lap. Saturday had been a good day!

Sunday began with the pitter patter of rain on the caravan roof although this didn't phase me in any way I knew there would be other riders who would of had different thoughts to me in our ten minute warm up lap several riders found the course alot more tricky than the dry conditions they had experienced on the previous two days in fact it wasn't long before riders were picking themselves up out of the gravel.

My first race on the Sunday saw me once again starting from grid position 27 and after my good showing on Saturday I was full of confidence of improving on my 22nd finish on the same race the previous day. After 5 laps I was steadily making my way through the field and in good shape. Riders were still finding conditions difficult with more accidents happening. It was on lap 6, however, that my luck was to change coming out of the last corner I hit my gear lever to find top gear when my gear lever suddenly went all loose on me I couldn't find any gear in fact I couldn't even feel the gear lever on my foot a nut had come loose and fallen off and put pay to my race i immediately raised my hand and retired my bike from the race. Disappointed as I was I knew this could happen to anybody and with another race to come i could not afford to let it dampen my spirits.

The time had come for the final race and I was really looking forward to it like Saturday I knew if I got a reasonable start and with the travelling speed and confidence I had then 4th place or even better was a possibility. the course by now had dried out from the mornings rain and the circuit was once again racing quick. I was starting again from grid position 5 and knew I needed to get away quickly. The lights went out the revs went up the clutch came out and away I went by the end of the first lap I was in 6th position but travelling well I soon over took the 5th place rider and set my sights on the man in front this was to prove more trickier than I thought and it took me a further 4 laps to tag him!

By the end of the 6th lap I was in 4th position and homing down on that podium place in front of me, as I shortened the gap between us so he was shortening the gap on the two riders in front and as the last lap flag came out all 4 positions were still up for grabs. I knew in my head were I wanted to make my move and as we came down the hill towards Graham Hill Bend I ducked inside breaking late and keeping a nice tight line I came out on the Cooper Straight in 3rd position with only two bends left I hadn't enough time to get at the two riders in front and we crossed the line with only 1/2 second separating the 3 of us. I punched the air in total satisfaction as in only my 4th racing event on a motor bike I had a podium position to celebrate.

Things got better at the final presentation when it was announced the 2nd placed rider had been disqualified for riding without a starting motor something he had been warned about from a previous meeting I now had a second place to be proud of, things got even better when the time marshall announced I had recording the fastest lap time of the race in 57.406 seconds thus beating my previous time of 58 seconds.

I received my Dunlop cap and trophy from Thundersport GB and then gave my first interview to Motors TV to which you can see in two weeks time (Monday 16th June 7pm Sky TV).

It gave me the opportunity to thank my Sponsors, Bikelegal at Fletchers and family for giving me the opportunity to 'Live the Dream'!

Thank you once again for your continued support.

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