The opening round at Donington Park was a chance for the Case Moto Rapido Moto3 team to have their first ever race in the Motostar Moto3 Standard Class with Thomas Strudwick. The Pre-Season has gone great for both Thomas and the team so they were looking forward to getting back out on circuit in the UK.
Friday morning opened with a bright and sunny day. But with strong winds, the track and air temperature was cool for the first session. Thomas headed out onto the circuit completing two runs to collect data and gain track knowledge, during the second of the two runs Thomas jumped into 1st place by a full second with his first fast lap of the weekend. By the second session of the day, the track had warmed up and allowed for the lap times to start progressing. With a slightly different bike setup to the first session, Thomas ended the day in 3rd position confident for the weekend ahead.
Overnight the weather was changeable and meant that by the morning the circuit was damp. Just before the session started it began raining and meant that the first Qualifying session of the season was in the wet and also the first time for Thomas this year to try the Pirelli wets. By the midpoint of the session, Thomas was in the lead and progressing every lap showing good pace. After a quick setup change he headed back out and continued to improve his lap time. After a small crash at Starkeys Bridge with 10 minutes to go in the session, he couldn’t improve as the other riders closed the gap. Thomas finished the session 4th place in class but needed to make up a small gap to catch up with the leaders.
With a bit of work to do in the afternoon, the sun came out and allowed the track to dry for race one of the season. Thomas headed out of the garage and lined up on the grid ready for the race. After a successful start moving up and closing on the riders in front, a small technical problem didn’t allow him to push on and ultimately finished the race in 5th position.
Sunday warm up was a cold and short session allowing Thomas to test the bike once more before the second race of the weekend. After a few changes overnight he was happy and ready to go racing. The race started and after a great initial launch Thomas struggled on the opening few laps, but once he had the rhythm in place he managed to start closing the gap to the riders in front and moved up into 3rd position. With a 6 second gap to the riders in front he managed to start closing on them but couldn’t catch them by the end of the race, and crossed the line in a secure 3rd place.
After the crash in qualifying and small technical problem in race one, to finish on the podium in the second race was great and has given the team and Thomas a huge boost to the next round in 2 weeks time!
This is what Thomas had to say about round one:
“I feel that overall to finish the first round with two solid top 5 finishes and a podium place is brilliant! We know have a lot more to aim for and a long season ahead which has only just started.. but I’m feeling confident heading to Brands Hatch for round two! I know what I need to do now and can’t wait to get back out onto the track.”
Iain Hopcroft, Case Moto Rapido Moto3 team manager added:
“A brilliant start for Thomas, the team couldn’t be happier. We started the weekend with a target of finishing in the top five for both races, Thomas went that extra mile and brought home the team’s first trophy of the season. I can’t wait to see what he can do at Brands Hatch!”
Picture by Bonnie Lane Photographic