Valencia: Steve Martin race report

Steve Martin Left Speechless by Spanish Sagas The third round of the Superbike World Championship at Valencia in Spain proved another saga filled race meeting for Steve Martin, with the ongoing events of the weekend leaving him speechless. The...

Steve Martin Left Speechless by Spanish Sagas

The third round of the Superbike World Championship at Valencia in Spain proved another saga filled race meeting for Steve Martin, with the ongoing events of the weekend leaving him speechless.

The vastly experienced Aussie rider was initially left perplexed when he was approached by fellow countryman Andrew Pitt, informing him that the DFX team had contacted him about testing the Honda CBR1000 machine.

This news was then compounded when, due to a lack of mechanics, team-mate Michel Fabrizio's father was brought in as a substitute mechanic for Steve, having never worked in a Superbike paddock before.

Steve explained, "I'm pleased that Andrew came and spoke to me as at least we were able to have a good chat and establish how things stood. But needless to say it was a bit of a shocker and what with that and then finding out about my mechanic situation, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry!"

And with the bikes arriving at Valencia directly from the previous round at Donington, without any mechanical preparation or set up work, Steve's crew chief and chief mechanic had their work cut out from the start.

Steve spent much of the first free practice session setting up the new HRC electronic system on his number one bike, which proved a much welcomed benefit to his Honda's performance and helped Steve achieve 7th position in the morning timesheet.

A quick shifter problem and other niggling mechanical set-backs during the afternoon dry qualifying session caused Steve to switch to his number two bike, but, this didn't have the new electronic system set up and, coupled with only minutes remaining of the qualifying session meant that Steve was unable to improve his lap time and qualify anywhere near his capability.

With a downpour on Saturday morning meaning that no riders would be able to better their lap times and therefore improve their qualifying positions from the previous day, Steve used the second qualifying session to set up the electronic system on his second bike as the quick shifter issue with his first bike remained unresolved.

"Although that session was wet, we were able to achieve quite a lot with the set up and I ended that session in 10th position, which wasn't bad for an hour's work," Steve continued.

Still lapping on wet tyres for Saturday afternoon's second free practice session, Steve high sided coming out of turn one in the slippery conditions. Fortunately, he walked away with only minor bruising, but damage in the form of a hole was caused to the clutch cover, although this did not become apparent until race two when it provided the channel for an oil leak oil, on to Steve's boot and bike.

"For the morning warm up on Sunday I just rode round to shake down the bike ready for the race, as there was no point in pushing for a lap time and I also wanted to preserve the bike as it was the only one I had that was set up," Steve explained.

He continued, "Although the track was still damp, everyone started race one on slicks and up until lap nine, when my race was over, I had achieved the second fastest lap time of the race behind James Toseland. It was at this point, having managed to catch up with the group of riders who were dicing for the sixth position, that the throttle assembly just fell off my handle bar and almost caused me to crash!"

Race two proved another bitter disappointment, when an oil leak sprayed oil over Steve's boots causing the gritty rider to call it a day and be forced to retire into the pits on lap 14, concluding the weekend of woe.

Steve said, "It is obvious the team is not putting a great deal of effort or funds in to my side of the team, due to the underlying situation regarding my ride and team's lack of funds. We have had so many stupid, and potentially dangerous problems caused due to lack of experienced people. I have a fantastic crew chief and first mechanic but it's too much pressure on them and unfair to rely on two people to do the work of five when also, there's just not enough time even if it was possible. Therefore mistakes get made and it's as simple as that."

Steve stayed on at Valencia for a test the next day and, following a first lap out oil leak, was able to consistently improve on his lap time to finish the day over a second faster than his best race lap time from the day before, on the same tyres and with a hotter and more slippery track surface.

Steve commented, "That test was probably the best test I have had with the team. We finally got the chance to work with the suspension settings and new electronic system and now I'm pretty confident we are in the best position that we have been in all year!

"So I'm looking forward to Assen as the bike should be ready to go when we get there as we've already achieved improvements from the one day test, rather than being in the usual situation of having to test new things on the Friday of the race meeting.

"We've got a week at home now before heading to Assen for the next round and in that time I'll be keeping up my training and looking for a new ride, as I now know that Monza will definitely be my last race with the DFX team.

"I'm bitterly disappointed that the team hasn't delivered all that it promised at the start of the season but, at the same time, there is an element of relief over the situation as there is just no point continuing the season with just more of the same, as that no good for me or my bike crew.

"Now I'm just trying to look onwards and upwards, enjoy the next two races as much as possible and do my best to sort out a ride for the rest of the season."

-credit: www.stevemartin99.com

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About this article
Series World Superbike
Drivers Andrew Pitt , Steve Martin , James Toseland , Michel Fabrizio