Well here we are, on our return from the European championships.
So much to report so little brain to do it with! This trip was hard, 3,300 miles and stuck in a van with the two kids for more than two weeks is it any wonder it's a blur. So there follows a very condensed report, apart from the second race in the European Championships at Curno, where I had the chance to video tape it.
Before I report on the trip may we thank ZPF Minibike, Sam Dornan Motors, Scott Capello, The ACU for their help in making the trip possible, and especially Emma Cannop of ACU licensing for her help above and beyond (as they say) in getting Alex start permission, through to us before we left.
The journey to Italy went without a hitch, arriving at the ZPF factory, the Zanetti family always greet us with the best Italian hospitality, and once the camper is hooked up to the electricity supply we are again shown the latest innovations to ZPF products, this is not a sales pitch, this is a passion for the sport and the engineering excellence of the team at ZPF.
The next day, ZPF British. Team mate, Alex Heaton and family joined us and this gave me the chance to show Andy (Alex H's Dad) all I had said about ZPF was true, as Franco insisted that I show the family round the factory.
On the Friday we all made the trip to San Mauro for the first round of the European Cup, and joined the rest of the British team, who were already out practicing, Alex failed to qualify for the race, no excuses we were crap, although the Brits did do very well overall. Alex Heaton came home 9th in Junior "C", Chris Jones came home 15th in Junior "B". Hard luck story must go to young Scott Redding in Junior "A" after showing so much promise in Qualifying, and the start of the race. Two collisions and a chain coming off, left the youngster unable to finish. Another big disappointment was in senior "A" with Ross Wiltshire his tyres going off after about the tenth lap put paid to any hope of a podium finish for what must be the best young rider in Britain today. I will not say to much about this meeting as the other competitors have their web site's and will want to tell the story themselves, suffice to say that Alex did not have the chance to race, we enjoyed it immensely, it is a different world.
With the first round over the Gault and Heaton's moved up the road some 40 or so miles to the excellent Pompossa circuit, for some practice, and between the cracking' track, handy Beach and good camping facilities, spent a memorable 4 days there, memorable in, the good ship 'Sinking Express' (a blow up boat the children played on) living up to its name at the beach. Some good practice time for the boys, Alex Heaton coming home 2nd in the Wednesday fun night race and Alex G's 2nd place in the dash for cash (Typical). Oh! and the biggest mosquito's you have ever seen they didn't only bite you, they bit you and bored through to the other side.
With a return to the factory for a night, before the trip to Curno for the second round of the championships. With the Heaton's departure for home on the Saturday night, this left Alex as the sole representative for his country at this meeting. So I hoped that he would do slightly better than last week, and now thanks to the miracle of video footage I can go into a bit more detail about the meeting or at least the Junior "B" class.
Round 2, of the European Cup, The Italian Gp, was held at the fast Orbito Kartodromo in Bergamo. Organized by the MOTO CLUB MONZA, and what a fantastic job they did, as I said before it is a different world here, Fantastic weather, Factory teams, Brolly Dollies, commentators, stands full of spectators, who have to pay to watch! One race per class, 20 minuets between races, podium presentations with national anthems playing in the background. A big bike meeting with the only difference being the size of the bikes.
Any way, with Saturdays practice (mostly held on a wet track) over, Sunday was to be a different story. Held in what can only be described as" SCORCHIO" temperatures, first timed qualifying for the Junior "B's" got under way at 8.50 and lasted for 20 minuets……. now I don't know how Alex felt but I know how close I was to a seizure. The times in and Alex had done great qualifying 15th on 49.642 sec just in front of fellow ZPF rider William Frazzotti on 50.921 sec. Top ZPF rider Maxime Mestdagh qualified in 6th place with a fantastic 48.854 sec. But the phenomenon Roberto Tamborini showed every one the way with a 46.229 sec lap for provisional pole. These times had however came from a slower track, the high humidity obviously playing havoc with the grip available.
The second qualifying round at 11.30, and the track conditions had changed, this was reflected in a blistering 43.394 sec lap from Tamborini. Almost a second quicker than second placed man Giuliano"Billo"Gregorini on 44.289 sec. The rest of the grid improved about a second a lap on the times from the first qualifying. Although Alex dropped a place to William Frazzotti's time, of 47.991 to Alex's second round time of 48.202. These times came from the printed out time sheet available to all riders.
Now, when we arrived in Italy I would have been happy for Alex to qualify. After the disappointment at San Mauro, here he is, the only remaining Brit, qualified 15th on the grid. Remember the highest recorded finish for a British contestant in Junior "B"is 12th. This being the hardest junior group in the championship. Where is he? Away playing water fights with some of the other children, FOCUS! Boy FOCUS! Ah! It will come.
Down to the race, "Play video" as I remove my foot from my mouth, the last thing I said was "good luck, enjoy your self and be careful" before that I said, "You need to get a good start" DOH! An anticipated start, then a stop, the lights going out as Alex stopped left him on the line and last away, however what a recovery by the end of the first lap he was up to 12th from the 20 starters by the next lap 9th, I could not believe it by lap 5 he was in seventh place. How hard it was to remain videoing instead of cheering him on. But then he dropped a place, and another and another, it was obvious the bike was getting slower confirmed by the lap times his fastest of 47.716 set going through traffic on lap 4. By lap 9 he had settled into 12th place with a gap between him and 11th & 13th and maintained it till the end although little Maxime had a mishap on the penultimate lap, which let Alex through into 11th, where he finished.
What a result, Highest place finish from any Brit in the history of this class, First ZPF home, Beating the Italian factory team rider (ok only because he fell off, but at the end of the day, sounds good). Friendly, hospitable people, fantastic sometimes to hot weather. Well organized and well ran, now don't get me wrong, I don't think this format would work in this country, remember this is as near a world championship as you can get in minimoto. We wouldn't stand for one race a meeting or 20 minuets between races, but with the settings, the commentary in Italian, and some fantastic racing we will definitely be back next year.
On our return to Britain thanks to Sponsors MAG Sport, We had the privilege of attending the British round of Moto GP at Donington, unfortunately we had to cut our visit short as Alex and then Ryan came down with a Virus, so with both boys feeling very ill we returned home on the Friday evening.
Once again can we take this opportunity to thank every one who has helped us over the past two weeks or so, on both sides of the channel, both financially and with advice and training. I hope you all think it is worthwhile and that Alex did us proud.