This weekend's upcoming Oulton Park triple-header; and the following week's North West 200.
The season's now in full swing and it's just Oulton Park this coming Bank Holiday weekend for the triple header then back home to try and add to my tally at the North West 200, and get the Tyco Suzukis on the podium... but despite what people think, it isn't going to be easy.
I'd like to just forget about Thruxton BSB at this stage, I suppose we all have to face up to difficult weekends in racing and hopefully Thruxton will be one of very few I have this year. The races were tough for me as you could probably see. I was struggling in both races for entry feel and on the exit; the tyre was really spinning up and pumping out of the turns. It was disappointing and I didn't even take my helmet off after the second race. I just marched back to the motor home with my bottom lip out!
We've since looked at the data and apart from a few things we can change, I think I have to accept I'm probably still riding the Superbike a bit like a 600; carrying too much lean angle and being too aggressive on the throttle. It's something I'll have to work on and I've been thinking about adapting my riding style a little to overcome this. I haven't just got that front-end feel yet to lash it into the corner, but again it will come. In the wet we are bang on; we are actually mint with that set-up, which brings us to Brands...
We knew from the first race at Brands, where we just lost out on giving Tyco - our new titles sponsor - its first win and we needed to get a bit more weight on the rear of the bike for more grip entering the turns and over the bumps and ripples in race two. The temperature had dropped at Brands and as much as I was disappointed that race two didn't run (as I thought I could win it), there definitely would have been more crashes. So postponing it on safety grounds was the right thing to do.
The new rules have already shown that there will probably be quite a few race winners this year. Kirkham and Lowry are both good riders, but no one would have expected either of them to win so early in the year, or probably me if I'd won at Brands. It's good for the Championship that other riders are coming through and pushing the likes of Hill, Brookes, Laverty and Byrne.
The new GSX-R1000 definitely has winning potential as Josh proved at Thruxton. I just need to get my bike working that bit better now. If you don't feel the bike is well planted and has enough grip, then the likes of Thruxton is character building to say the least.
After testing and especially coming away from Kirkistown - where I was doing consistent 54-second laps and matched my best ever time around there - I sort of thought we'd nailed it. But when you get to Brands and different circuits, it always throws up a few other things that need to be ironed out. I lost a bit of confidence at Thruxton and it just magnifies the problems. I really just couldn't get my head into it. One positive from Brands and Thruxton is how fit I feel. I've been training at the Sports Institute for Northern Ireland (SINI) and I'm a lot stronger than I was. I can chuck the bike about and I hardly broke sweat on it at Thruxton, so there are no problems physically.
Oulton Park is next up, and as I say, we have three races there. I like Oulton. I was watching the Superbike races from there in 2010 where I qualified fifth. I was running top-five but missed a gear on the last lap and John Laverty nipped in to take his first podium.
After Oulton it's off to the North West 200 and I've always had a bad round before the NW200, so I'll not be panicking or letting it creep into my mind. Last year I had a bad weekend at Croft on the Supersport bike before it, but this year I'm fully focused on the BSB races and the NW200 can't be taking up my thoughts until we get there.
I need to be getting some decent results at Oulton, as it'll work both ways: If I do well there I'll be back in the hunt in BSB and it will give me confidence for the North West, even though we're back onto the full FIM specification Superbike there. It's all about having a good Tuesday practice at the North West. I know how I prepared last year and also in 2010, so we can build it up on Thursday; then we have that Superstock race on the Thursday night.
I heard the other day, unfortunately, it's going to be the coldest May on record. What we don't want is another race day like last year: cold and wet. We have a good wet set-up so that wont bother me at all but it's no good for the fans. I think we'd all prefer dry and sunny if we had a choice.
Hopefully between Conor Cummins, Guy Martin and myself we can get some wins for our new sponsors Tyco Security Products - as they are an enthusiastic bunch - and bag a few decent cheques for the back pocket!