It was a wet start to the weekend at Silverstone, for Goole racer Charlie Atkins. Round nine of the Hel Performance British Motostar Standard Class Championship began with the usual two free practice sessions on the Friday.
The riders had to contend with the rain in FP1 at the 3.7 mile GP circuit as well as riders from the North European standard Moto3 championship. Whilst the two sets of riders qualify together they will score points in their own championship series. Atkins was 13th in the combined times and fifth in the Motostar standard class.
FP2 took place after more rainfall and a thunderstorm between the sessions. Whilst the rain stopped for the session the track was still damp. Along with the other riders Atkins improved his lap time but slipped to 9th overall in his class with a time of 2:50.551.
Saturday morning was brighter and qualifying was completed on a dry track. With the Silverstone track being so long the number of laps possible to record a good time is somewhat restricted. Atkins was quickly down to a 2:29.279 before pitting a lap later. After the disruption of a further pit stop Atkins ended the session having completed just four flying laps. In the end he managed to improve on both his final two laps finishing with a 2:26.982. On the combined grid for race one Atkins would start 18th, although he was 8th in the Motostar standard class.
On Saturday afternoon the threatened rain didn’t return, meaning a dry race. Atkins charged from the start line as the lights went out and quickly gained two places, moving up to sixth in the standard class. He had three North European riders between him and Jack Scott ahead in fifth. The gap began to fall between Atkins and Scott from almost half a second to 0.7 seconds as the race progressed. However, Atkins was unable to find a way by the invited riders and went on to finish sixth with a fastest lap of 2:27.002
The race on Sunday was mid-morning. Once again the riders were lucky as the race remained dry, although overcast. With grid positions based on fastest laps in race one, Atkins was fourth in the standard class and 14th overall on the starting grid. Atkins made a good start but got muscled out on the first lap. He then found himself under pressure from six other standard class riders. The group were swapping positions throughout an exciting and hard fought race. In the final stages put in some of his best laps of the race and finished the race in seventh position.
Although Atkins didn’t finish the race where he would have wanted he continued to improve his lap times finishing with a 2:25.811.
Charlie Atkins said, “Race one was good but I had to be careful because sector two was still wet. I was in a group of about eleven riders between the two championships and we were constantly swapping and changing positions. One point I was right behind Jack Scott then I was six places behind him! Race two wasn’t very good. I had a good start but I just got swamped on the first lap. I got done on the brakes and dropped several places. I found myself in the slower group. I learnt a lot about how aggressive the Europeans are on the brakes and the quality of the overtaking. I’ve upped my training to build my strength so I can get the bike to move quicker from one side to another and enable me to brake later. It takes time but it will come.”
Atkins remains fifth in the championship on 175 points. The next round of the Moto3 series will be at Oulton Park on the 15th to 17th of September.