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Chaz Checks In...Sachsenring

After the Donington GP it was nice to have such a short (2hrs) journey home instead of the 4-6 hour journey we normally have!

During the break between Donington & Germany, Casey Stoner stayed at my house for a few days & we went shooting, fishing and generally did all sorts of activities. Casey left on the Saturday to drive to Germany whereas we got ready to fly on Wednesday. After all our flight complications this year, with flight cancellations and time changes which have caused us to miss two flights because we received no notification of the changes, we had decided that from now on we will always ring before we leave home & make sure everything is the same as the tickets. The staff at BMI Baby confirmed everything was in order, no flight changes had been made so for a change it looked like we would have a straightforward journey .............. but

On arrival at East Midlands airport we were at the check-in desk and the lady said "I'm sorry but Mr Peter Davies will not be able to travel to Prague today" My dad said " You have got to be joking, why?" and the lady replied " I wouldn't joke about such a thing Sir. Because you are flying to the Czech republic you need to have 90 days at least remaining on your passport & you have only 75 days left!" Typically & just our luck it turns out that the Czech Republic is apparently the only country in Europe that demand you have 90 days at least on your passport. The pain was, Dad had a new valid 10 year second passport at home but there was no time for him to go home & get it before the flight left. It was decided that me & mum should fly that day to get me there and BMI Baby said they could get dad on another flight on Friday (unless he could find an earlier one). So dad went home to get his other passport & me & mum left for Prague. We eventually arrived at the Sachsenring circuit after travelling on 5 buses & 4 trains taking us nearly 8 hours after we left Prague!. An absolute nightmare journey but at least we had arrived.

After a good nights sleep the next day I went to the local football stadium to play in the MotoGP vs. German All-stars football charity match which was packed with fans. My team were quite a strong team & included Max Biaggi, Pablo Nieto, Jeremy McWilliams to name a few but some of the German athlete players were giants & some turned out to be pretty handy at football too. In the first five minutes we had conceded 3 goals. Not a good start! But after 15 minutes we started piecing it together and had most of the ball possession. I had three close attempts at goal but never actually buried one. All in all it was great fun & we won 8-6 and raised quite a bit of money for the Riders for Health charity. On returning back to the paddock I found dad had arrived. He had found a earlier flight with another company.

On Friday morning I spent a good 30 minutes loosening my muscles from the football match! I ran in a new engine at the start of the free practice session and felt comfortable with the circuit straight away. We haven't really changed the settings of the bike much since the Dutch GP because we seem to have found a reasonable base setting and after all the dramas with the suspension at Jerez, Mugello & Catalunya now we seem to have now found a reasonable setting which we are trying not to move to far away from. The only real big problem we keep having is setting the rear suspension for the tyres. The general set-up felt ok but we could get no more than about 4 decent laps from a rear tyre before it started to move around. However after the first qualifying session I was in 14th position & we were going to try some different settings the next day so I felt pretty happy with things in general.

For Saturday, we decided to play with tyre pressures more to try and help the 'life' of the rear tyre. The soft tyre would be good for about 4 laps then go rapidly downhill and the medium tyre would not give me the grip I wanted and would tear up. I ended the mornings free practice in 16th position and for the afternoon we changed the tyre pressures which helped the soft tyre. We also changed 5th & 2nd gear for a bit more responsive power in these gears. During final qualifying the gearbox change was better but we were trying to find a rear tyre that would last race distance but nothing was working for more than a few laps. I ended the session in 17th which I was unhappy with but after looking at the overall times 3 tenths would put me in 12th position and I was only 1.7 off pole so it was very very close.

There were rumours of heavy rain for Sunday but we awoke to baking hot sun! I ran in some new pistons during warm-up and just got a feel for the bike with a full tank of fuel.

At the start of the race it was hotter than it had been all weekend. My start was quite good and my plan was to go around the outside at the first corner to try and make-up for not such a good qualifying position but there was a big crash with 4 bikes going down at the first corner. I basically stopped the bike, narrowly missing the skittled riders & bikes and found myself back with the wildcards in 19th position by the 2nd corner! A disaster of a start & the Sachsenring circuit is not the easiest place to pass at. I got my head down and worked my way up to 14th position and caught my team mate Dirk Heidolf & Jakub Smrz within a few laps even though I was about 2.5 seconds back off them originally. I passed both these riders but my rear end grip was absolutely terrible. There wasn't one lap from start to finish where I wasn't out of the seat at some point. We had the soft tyre in but the track temperature was the hottest it had been all weekend and the tyre was just too soft to cope with the high temperature. There was nothing I could do & as soon as I had a gap on Dirk & Jakub I would have a 'moment' and they would be back on me. They watched me being thrown out of the seat until the last lap when Dirk passed me. I managed to hold off Jakub and finished 12th. This was, of course, my best result of the season but, I believe, it was possible for me to get a top 10 position so I wasn't entirely happy. My team manager Dieter Stappert was just pleased that I didn't go for a kamikaze move on Dirk and both of us perhaps ended up in the gravel pit. I was tempted though!

I am not too sure about the next race in Brno as last year my handlebar snapped off in qualifying and I injured my back as a result & didn't get to race. Hopefully we can get there with the new passport & no complications!

Chaz #57



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