Strudwick feeling comfortable on the podium at Brands Hatch
The second round at Brands Hatch was run on the shorter Indy circuit over a 4 day Easter weekend. Only two weeks had elapsed after Round One which meant that the Case Moto Rapido Moto3 team and Thomas were straight back to work during the Friday practice session. The first round went well and Thomas started this weekend in 4th position in the Championship.
Friday afternoon was Thomas’ first session, the sun was out with not too strong winds allowing for the air and track temperature to be high. He headed out onto the circuit and was straight onto the pace finishing in a comfortable 2nd place but knew exactly where he could improve over the rest of the weekend.
Overnight the weather stayed the same and Saturday morning opened with a bright and sunny day. Free practice two started with Thomas jumping straight into first position, going 0.6 seconds faster than the previous session. After a short break mid-session to go through some changes he went back out and managed to match his earlier lap time. During the last lap of the session, he dropped back down to second but was confident for the qualifying session that afternoon.
The day continued to warm up and the afternoon session was one of the hottest of the weekend. During the first run of the session, Thomas was in first place matching his Practice times and came into the pit lane for a short review before heading back onto the circuit for a longer run. During the early stages, he jumped into 1st position 0.3 seconds faster than 2nd and continued to match his pace multiple times. On the last lap of the session once again he was just piped to 1st but this time by only 0.052 of a second!
The next morning a quick warm up session allowed Thomas and the team to try a few more things but ultimately ending the session in 3rd place. Race One of the weekend was at 13:30 but minutes before the pitlane opened a problem with the clutch meant that the team was pushed for time to get it fixed. They worked quickly and calmly to get the bike back together and while the rest of the grid lined up Thomas sat patiently in the garage. The team finished, got the bike started and Thomas headed down pit lane with milliseconds before it closed. Joining the grid in his regular position he got a great launch off the start but struggled to get settled and was running in 3rd position. Thomas quickly returned to second place with the gap to 1st position, by this point in the race, already 3 seconds but it didn’t faze Thomas and he got his head down to try and catch the leader. Heading into the last lap Thomas was just behind 1st position but was pushed offline by an open class rider meaning he had just a bit too much work to do around the final corner. He crossed the line in a secure second place over 4 seconds in front of 3rd and 0.8 seconds behind 1st.
Monday morning opened with another warm up session and Thomas went out onto a much cooler circuit topping his class and finishing 1st position by 0.3 seconds. The day continued quite overcast and the temperature was down from the earlier 3 days. The race was later in the day at 14:55 and this time Thomas was straight out onto the grid with no problems! After a brilliant launch off the line and a great first lap, Thomas worked his way through the field crossing the line in 1st position in his class and 6th overall in the race! He managed to keep his position all the way until lap 19 of the race when a move was made from the rider in second position. After a little tangle with an open class rider, Thomas had work to do if he was to lead into the last lap once again, which he couldn’t quite close in. Thomas crossed the line in second place but showed brilliant pace throughout the race, impressing his team and supporters.
The pace this weekend from the standard class has been brilliant with the top 2 riders being only 0.7 seconds behind the open class lap record. This has been a brilliant performance from Round Two and a huge leap forward from the first round. Thomas is now 2nd in the Standard Class standings and only 33 points behind 1st position.
This is what Thomas had to say about Round Two:
“Well this weekend has been brilliant and the best ever Moto3 results I’ve had before; It just shows the work we are putting into the Case Moto Rapido Moto3 project and I’m so pleased to be a part of it. I’m really happy to be in the position I am in right now because I know exactly what we need to work on. To be running inside the top 10 against bikes that are 10mph faster than ours due to the different class and rules is absolutely brilliant. The team is faultless, and the progress we are making is awesome, I can’t wait for Round Three now.”
Iain Hopcroft, Case Moto Rapido Moto3 team manager added:
“Thomas had great pace over the weekend and two 2nd place finishes all point us in the right direction for the championship. The learning curve of Moto3 continues with the team and we now look forward to Oulton Park where we will dominate!”
Picture by Bonnie Lane Photographic