Jed Metcher Partners with EAB racing FIM STK1000 in Magny Cours, France
Two weeks after running in my first British Superbike round it was great to be back at Magny Cours, France for the final European round of the World Superbike Championship. The weather was surprisingly great to kick the weekend off on Friday morning. Although the weather didn't help me in the slightest! I honestly felt like I was riding a newly born piglet on stilts compared to how I felt in Jerez! Due to the nature of the two very different tracks, Jerez being flowing and Magny Cours being more "stop and go" it meant the riders weight and position on the bike was far more critical. This is highlighted by the chassis of Panigale. I had to force the bike turn and accelerate more than on any other make of motorcycle that I have ridden.
After the first session I was more than 2 and a half seconds slower than the fastest rider. Before session 2 I sat down with the team and explained that I was really struggling to make the bike stop, turn and accelerate with confidence. I did however understand that when I raised my bum off the seat putting the weight through the pegs and my head as far forward as possible the bike would become easier to manage. The general idea was that the setting that was in my bike to suit my considerably shorter team mate simply sent too much weight to the rear for my size and style. Although we made an improvement and I went 1.5 seconds faster so did most riders on new rubber meaning I was still 2 seconds from the leaders. Overnight we only made minor changes as we did sacrifice a little rear grip for the second session.
During session 3 we opted to use second hand rubber as we needed to save a new set for qualifying. After a lot of thought I decided to simply change handle bar position and seat from the modified set up that my team mate found help rear grip, to the standard one which put my weight slightly forward and considerably lower. I then ran a race simulation where I put a lot more emphasis on riding the bike with my head positioned as far forward as possible. During the run I was able to slightly improve my fastest time on a set of tyres that had completed over 30 laps. The standard seat was a big step forward because it kept the balance of the bike in a better working window, and I was actually able to enjoy riding the bike for the first time during the weekend.
The all-important one and only qualifying session was still really a practise session for my side of the garage. It's hard yards fighting for a podium from the front, let alone having to start mid pack where it can often be more fierce, so qualifying is just as important as the race. Again I managed to make a big step with the lap time around 1.3 seconds faster, which placed me briefly in the top ten but eventually I dropped to a disappointing 13th.
I remember hearing the rain as clear as day at around 6am and thinking this could be my ticket to a podium today. I was really keen to get out as soon as the green flag fell for the morning warm up, as I had not turned any laps on the Ducati Panigale 1199 in wet conditions. The decision to get out early was smart because the session was called off early due to the rain being so heavy.
Since the STK1000 race is scheduled after the second Superbike race I was able to see where people were struggling for grip and crashing which helped to minimise having to make those mistakes. My start was your pretty average start but I was able to quickly move forward on the opening lap. The first 7 laps felt like only 2 on as I was honestly riding on the edge and only just staying on top of my Ducati. After the third time I had a moment and ended up out of the seat I put a stop to any throttle opening with lean angle. I made the conscious decision to simply concentrate on braking later and getting the bike in the middle of the tyre where the spinning was more manageable.
Moving through the field was actually made fairly easy as each bike I passed another would fall off! So before I knew it I was in 6th position with 5th position Fredirico Sandi and 4th position Kevin Valk within reach. I was able to block pass Sandi and reach the rear wheel of Valk, on the final lap a disaster occurred for Italian Luca Salvadori who I observed exiting the gravel trap! It was now a podium battle, luckily I had assessed where I was stronger than Valk. I made sure I was glued to Valk's rear wheel as he really started to push knowing that he was in a podium position. Four corners before I knew I had to make a pass I showed Valk a wheel just to be sure he knew I was there. It was then that my history of Magny Cour luck kicked into to play as Valk got on the throttle a little early causing him to have big moment meaning I could get past with just a few corners to the end gifting the final position on the podium to myself and the EAB Racing team!
I would like to thank all my supporters who have helped me on my journey to this particular podium as it was a long road! Darren and Lisa Scibarras have been amazing in keeping me on the Race Center RC10 superbike and confident. My dad Mal Metcher has for the 24th year in a row been vital to keeping me moving in the right direction (pretty bloody fast in the right direstion on Sundays normally). I need to thank my Mum Jackie Taylor, Step Father Mal Taylor, Nana and Pa Margret and Henry Rankine and my Auntie Bernie Taylor for their huge efforts at the fundraiser that was filled with amazing people who made my trip possible! I owe more than a thank you to all my amazing sponsors and Fans who also assisted in getting me to Europe this year. Make sure everybody keeps their eyes peeled for BSB this weekend at Brands Hatch.