After the long summer break Scunthorpe rider Dan Drayton was back in action in the European Junior Cup a support series of the World Superbike Championship. On board his Honda CBR650F he competed in the fifth European round of the season at the Lausitzring in the state of Brandenburg, eastern Germany. The last time the World Superbike series visited the circuit was nine years ago.
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Friday free practice was held at 5pm for the European Junior Class. Drayton made good use of the time allocated familiarising himself with another new circuit. The Bike Insurer / Drayton Racing rider made steady progress reducing his lap time by around 2.5 seconds over the free practice period, setting a best time of 1:55.716 placing him 12th.
On Saturday the poor weather conditions and red flag incidents in another class caused the race officials to delay the second free practice until Saturday afternoon. With FP2 and qualifying happening consecutively the teams had only two hours between the sessions so the riders would have to return promptly to the paddock to change the tyres on each of the bikes and refuel, so time was of the essence.
When FP2 did get underway Drayton was running in 11th position. With around 11 minutes on the clock remaining he came out of the pits for the final part of the session. Unfortunately he crashed as the front tucked suddenly in the fast turn one. The bike suffered quite a lot of damage and Drayton hurt his shoulder and badly damaged his riding gear dropping to 12th by the end of the session with a time of 1:54.600.
There wasn’t much chance to rest because of the rescheduling. His family and friends had all rallied round to get the bike in working order in time. Two hours after free practice and Drayton was back out on track for qualifying practice. Still suffering the aches and pains of his recent fall Drayton was only able to ride for half the session. Although he didn’t match his best time from FP2 he qualified in 15th position for the race on Sunday.
As the lights went out for the race Drayton was stranded on the starting grid as he was struggling to select any gears. After finally engaging gear he found himself at the back of the grid with the safety car. Calmly Drayton then began to pick-off the riders in front of him as he was quickly outpacing the riders ahead and by the end of the first lap he had moved into 18th position.
On the second lap he had chased down another three riders and was in fourteenth place some 1.8 seconds behind the next rider. Within two laps the gap was extinguished and Drayton ploughed on, now in 12th position.
Just after the half-way stage Drayton had got himself onto the back of the group of four riders battling for ninth spot. A couple of laps later and he had sliced his way through them and up into 8th position.
In the final few laps he changed places with the rider in seventh a couple of times before they entered the final lap. Two corners from the end the two were tussling for position when they came together in a racing incident. Drayton managed to stay on and was looking to return to the track, and salvage a points finish. Unfortunately, the other rider ran over to push Drayton off his bike. Showing immense maturity in the situation Drayton calmly picked up his machine, remounted and crossed the line in 19th place.
Dan Drayton said after the race, “Unfortunately, I didn’t qualify where I wanted to, having had a big crash in free practice two. The team did a fantastic job in getting the bike back together for qualifying and as I was still aching 15th was the best we could do. We then had some bad luck on the start line as I couldn’t find a gear to get away! But I knew we had good race pace and I was really enjoying myself working my way back through the field and we were on for a very respectable finish. Then two corners from the end I was involved in a racing incident with another ride. The race authorities have now dealt with the rider, but it was a disappointing way to finish the race after all the hard work we put in this weekend.”