2017 Season 2 Review
Riders Review by Sam Middlemass
Salus Approved Inspectors are sponsors of local superbike rider Sam Middlemas in the Ducati Tri Options Cup. Here Sam reviews his 2017 Ducati Triops season for us.
Round 1 – Donington Park
The opening round of the season was at our local circuit (to Hinckley HQ at least). We finished 6th in both races out of a grid of 62 entries which was the biggest ever seen in the class. I was happy with the opening weekend’s results despite, unforeseen circumstances that meant we missed our pre-season test in Spain; hence little time on the bike prior to Round 1. Daniel Tutcher from Willmott Dixon joined us on the Sunday as well as Richard Talbot from Next.
Very sadly, the weekend was overshadowed by the death of a fellow competitor after an accident in the first race, reminding us all of the danger involved in the sport.
Round 2 – Brands Hatch
Brands is a track I love, where I had my first ever race and my first BSB podium, so I always look forward to racing there. I qualified 4th and felt confident to challenge for the podium. Whilst in hot pursuit of the top 3, I hit lapped traffic in the wrong places but still went on to Race 1 in 5th after battling for 4th for much of the race. Race 2 was a fight for the podium once more with Australian rider Levi Day. A fellow competitor crashed in front of me and I had to take to the grass to avoid crashing myself. I managed to re-join the race but lost places as a result and finished 8th.
Round 3 – Oulton Park
Race 1 and disaster struck on the opening lap. A fellow competitor’s bike leaked water onto the track which brought down the majority of the top 10 including myself. I was unhurt but the bike was damaged. After Paul and my Dad, Mick had repaired the bike, the series organisers made us start Race 2 from the back of the grid due to not finishing Race 1. This is a rule which makes little sense, however it meant I had to start in 40th position. I made it back to 11th at the flag for what would be my worst round and result of the season. Ian Adams from Salus’ Wirral office and his son Simon, together with Graham and Jeanette Mills swelled the Salus Supporters Club, together with Guy Dibley from Paragon, who has become a season regular.
Round 4 – Snetterton
Probably my least favourite circuit, finishing 9th in Race 1 and 8th in Race 2. Snetterton is a track where power is necessary due to the length of the straights on the circuit. The bike was not at its best this weekend and I wasn’t sure why at the time. The reason became clearer at the later rounds. Steve Price from The Shaylor Group attended the meet with extra Salus support from Steve Jackson, Andrew Wignall and Richard Green for this round of racing.
Round 5 – Brands Hatch GP
The bike blew up in practice, explaining the problems I’d had at Snetterton circuit. We were therefore unable to compete on this weekend. Jeff Emmett and his family from J C Emmett Architects had come for the racing weekend and even though I was unable to compete, I hear they had a great weekend, even though were not able to cheer me on. Salus support included Richard Green from our Corby office.
Round 6 – Thruxton
Another track I love, but it looked like we might not even make the round due to the bike issues from the previous round. Unable to sort the engine parts needed to complete the repairs in time, Paul managed to cajole another team into lending us a bike which enabled me to enter another class in the series for the smaller 899cc bikes. I managed to win Race 1 of this class at my first attempt and was pipped on the line into second place in Race 2. I was determined to get a good result as a lot of effort had gone in just to borrow another bike for the weekend. Paul Morris from Forum Architecture joined us for this weekend of racing, as did a number of Salus supporters including Geoff Bromfield and his wife.
Round 7 – Silverstone
With my own bike back for this round I was back in the premier 959cc class, finishing Race 1 in 7th position. A difficult race as the track was neither wet nor dry. With the length of the circuit being over 3 miles long, we had some sections of wet tarmac and some areas of dry tarmac making it difficult to determine how much grip there was. In Race 2 I finished 8th in fully dry conditions. Adam Collier from Generate Studio joined us for racing on Sunday and there was a good complement of Salus support as well.
Round 8 – Assen
At Assen, Holland I finished 5th in Race 1 after a race-long battle with 2017 champion, Joe Collier, just losing out on 4th position. This was a good race and result, made more difficult by the torrential rain. This marked the one year anniversary of Paul and his brother Neil joining our pit crew, so it great to celebrate this with a good result. In Race 2 I finished 8th.
Overall, the season did not go as well as 2016 with much of this due to bad luck, which unfortunately was out of our control. Guy Dibley from Paragon, an avid bike fan was joined by his wife Judith at nearly every round last season. He became our resident team photographer and took some excellent action shots, so a special thanks to him for his support.
So onto this year. We have already completed a successful pre-season Spanish test at Circuito Cartagena and have found a few things with the bike which we can improve ahead of the 2018 season.
2016 Season 1 Review
During the 2016 season Sam Middlemass was on the back foot as it was his first season on the Ducati, a very different bike to his last outings in the now defunct Triumph Triple Challenge.
The season was a case of start from scratch at each meeting with respect to suspension, gearing and settings for the bike. As Sam says “The paddock is very secretive and no-one gives help or advice to co-competitors, if they did chances it would be to send you in the wrong direction with setup”.
It’s a tough series, but even with the odds against him Sam was always a top 10 finisher and has been as high as 5th dicing with the front group challenging at times for podiums. In the recent meeting at Assen, Holland, his 1st time ever at this very fast and technical track, he qualified 16th out of 32 and came a respectable 10th in race one and 9th in race two having been up to 6th in the early laps until his back tyre went off. Sam is currently 8th in the championship with a chance of getting 7th in the last meeting of the season at Brands Hatch on the 15th – 16th October, not bad for his 1st season on the Ducati against series seasoned veterans.
Salus Director, Paul Morris, had the best seat in the house after he was commandeered to do the pit signalling as only Sam’s father from his regular crew were able to make the journey to Holland.
Paul said “I didn’t know I was going to be enlisted until a few days before, so talked my brother into going as well! he was there to assist on the Grid if Tyres needed changing last minute, and hold the Brolly!! While I had to get the tyre warmers off in the paddock, get Sam on his way then race with the equipment to the Pit wall.
I’m not sure if we were help or hindrance and Sam and his Father Mick’s eyebrows were raised when I suggested Neil and I used the free practice to get used to the pit wall signalling and operating the stop watch, I was unaware that transponders on the bike feedback live track positions and lap times to TV monitors on the pit wall just like F1, and on raceday there were live TV pictures too!! It was hard work but very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to next year already.”
Fast forwarding to the season’s final meeting at Brands Hatch on 15th/16th Oct 2016 and Sam did rather well.
He qualified 5th for race one then the weather turned, overnight rain meant a damp track requiring full wet tyres for the race. They say the wet is a great leveller with advantages in bike performance negated and Sam’s skill shone through 6th at the first corner he went with the lead group picking them off one by one until he took the lead and then pulled a two second gap.
Unfortunately for Sam, the track was drying rapidly and he’d pushed his rear tyre a bit too hard, losing traction out of the corners he lost the lead on the penultimate lap, then was piped for second on the last corner crossing the line in third just 0.12s behind second and 0.85s behind the leader.
In the second race he qualified 4th and was running 5th in the early stages only to be hit by another rider and the “save” caught live on TV was impressive but by the time he recovered and got back on the track he was down in 10th and with the race shortened to 8 laps due to earlier delays he could do nothing to get back to the leading pack.
But his 1st podium of the year in his 1st year in the series was a well-deserved end to an exciting year and he finished 7th overall in the championship.
The story behind the sponsorship
Salus have provided low key sponsorship to augment his main sponsor but whilst supporting Jamie, Paul Morris, Director, Salus Approved Inspectors, went to watch Sam Middlemass race at the same meetings.
Paul said “I knew Sam’s dad Mick (an Ex racer himself) a little through friends who also used to race. Sam and Mick approached us at the end of last season and asked if we would be interested in supporting him this year on the Ducati.”
The Directors at Salus were inspired by what Sam and his ‘family’ team were trying to do, their passion and positive attitude resonated with the nationwide Approved Inspectors.
Stuart Power, Director, said “As Sam and the team live so close our HQ we loved the idea of being involved with such a prestigious sport and at the same time be able to support local sporting prowess on a European stage. The team brought the bike to the office to do a press launch for the local paper at the start of the season we knew we had made the right decision to get involved!”
Paul Morris, Director – Salus, said “One of the unforeseen benefits to sponsoring Sam and the team was the amount of fun our clients had when we invited them along to the supercharged racedays. All seemed to really enjoy the chance to get close to the bike in the paddock and talk to Sam and his crew”.
Ducati Performance TriOptions Cup Sponsorship
Salus Approved Inspectors will be sponsoring Sam Middlemas for a third consecutive year in the Ducati Performance TriOptions Cup 2018, a support series for the extremely popular and well regarded televised British Superbike Championships.
The 2018 season promises to be as exciting as ever with the introduction of new bikes – The Ducati Panigale 959, more horsepower and bigger engines than the current 899cc machines.
Sam will have the bonus of all riders having to get to know the bike and settings for each circuit.