MOTORCYCLING: Unlucky 13th and crash for Ben

Ben Stafford at Snetterton. Photo: Adrian Smith
Ben Stafford at Snetterton. Photo: Adrian Smith
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Saracen’s Head youngster Ben Stafford crashed out of Sunday’s race in round five of the Dickies British Supersport Championship.

The Silicone Engineering team travelled to Snetterton, although this was the second time Stafford had ridden the Norfolk circuit since the transition to the track from Supermoto.

Renowned for being a difficult circuit with the very fast sections and the tricky slower sections, it was always going to be difficult.

Most teams had taken advantage of the two official tests two weeks prior to the meeting and were armed with a set-up to start.

However, the team’s other commitments meant Stafford was not able to attend.

With wet weather blowing in at the last minute, Stafford set the eighth fastest time in the difficult conditions in the first free practice session.

Desperate for dry conditions to achieve the set-up when the second session came and on a dry track, Stafford struggled badly and at the end of the 30-minute test was still uncomfortable.

Radical changes again to the bike overnight were in vain as just before the start of qualifying on Saturday, in came the wet weather.

When Stafford joined the session, the dry wet track turned into a monsoon and he was unable to get a good time in – leaving him in a lowly 16th on the grid for the afternoon’s race.

After a good start in the sprint race Stafford made his way through the pack to 10th place but was clearly struggling to ride the dry 
conditions and after a slight mistake on the penultimate lap he crossed the line in 13th and disappointed.

For Sunday’s race the mechanics worked all day to try to sort out the handling problem but it was clear after only a few laps that the bike was still very difficult to turn in and trust on the high speed corners.

After pushing for five of the 15 laps Stafford cartwheeled and destroyed the Kawasaki.

His dad Andy said: “Ben was up and ok and on reflection despite the hard work from everyone involved we have to take what positives there are from this.

“This class is extremely competitive and had some very experienced riders which we are running alongside.”

The team left the circuit on Sunday evening and travelled to the Isle of Man on Monday to compete in the Southern 100 with Dean Harrison.

This weekend’s return will only leave three days to build a machine from a bare frame in time for the round six meeting at Thruxton.