SARACEN’S Head flier Ben Stafford was back on the track over the weekend – but nothing seemed to go his way.
Stafford, who has endured a stop-start season, was competing at round five of the British Supermoto Championship at the Three Sisters circuit in Wigan.
Newly back from a round of the European Supermoto in Pamposa, Italy – where Stafford is currently a mechanic for the Cumbrian based SHR team – the teen rider was eager to get back on his D3 Racing KTM 450 bike.
Continuing his recent trend in the British Championship, Stafford used Saturday’s XP meeting as a practice session.
Keen to try out new skills picked up from the European rounds, Stafford and his team weren’t interested in results.
The first session was purely about getting back on board and gaining a feel for the circuit layout, before using the three ten-lap outings as testing.
After several changes with suspension and tyres, the team were ready for the Sunday Open Elite.
Very wet morning conditions greeted the team, meaning all work done on the previous day was negligible – and with all settings readjusted, qualifying began on wet tyres.
Conditions aside, Stafford pushed hard to attain ninth position out of a grid of 19th in a time of 54.912 seconds.
With the rider in pole position clocking 54.003secs, it again proving that Stafford’s lack of bike time is making it difficult for him to gain the extra second required for a top three position.
Getting boxed in at the first corner, he dropped down to 11th in the first race of the day, which was contested in appalling wet conditions.
He maintained that position until two laps from the end, before losing the front going onto the dirt section. Stafford remounted quickly to finish 14th.
Starting back in 14th on the grid in his second outing, Stafford got off to a good start and picked up two places going in to the first corner.
However, an adventurous move through a sharp right hander into the dirt saw him pushed off course. When he returned to the course, the South Holland ace was way down the pack in last position.
Undaunted, Stafford dug deep and made several excellent moves to finish in 15th.
The third and last race of the day was a case of damage limitation, but Stafford kept his cool up and pushed all the way to the finish to take a reasonable tenth position, securing a better end to the day.
Overall it was a reasonable performance from the teen, with the outcome likely to have been much better with a little lady luck on his side.
Stafford today jets out to Alpe d’Hues in France to again take up his role with the SHR team in the Italian rounds.
He’s then on to Switzerland for the next round of the European series, before returning to the UK for round six of the British Championships at Blyton in North Lincolnshire.