Teenaged Brit, Oliver Brindley became the highest placed European finisher ever* in GNC flat track main last night, when he finished fourth in the Daytona TT Singles race.
Ollie's previous career hight point was the Superfinal at the Superprestigio, but a few demoralising DNFs at high profile races had piled the pressure on his young shoulders. Fortunately, his family are the coolest, most laidback supporters of him and had faith that it would come good. That faith was repaid last night.
65 racers entered the class. Of those, only 48 made it through timed qualifying, 17 going home before the evening's heat races. Of that 48, 36 went through to the semis, with the top nine in each semi making it to the main.
Ollie struggled with starts against the cream of the US singles races, but kept his head and finished eighth in his semi. His bike looked slightly down on power, he thought it could be the high level exhaust they'd fitted was affecting revs and power delivery, giving him less traction than low-pipe 450s, but with more ground clearance over the jump.
He would start the 15-lap race from the back row. Not ideal, but the target was simply to make the main. Another less than ideal start saw Ollie dead last for a couple of seconds before he made brave, strong moves down the pit straight and into turn one. He had made up 9 places by the time he'd exited the first turn, then picked off more on the run back down the back straight. Within two laps he was up sixth, then fifth as a rider ahead made a mistake. He crossed the line fifth, but a rider ahead (not sure who, sorry) was disqualified for cutting the course and making up time, so he was awarded fourth - FROM A BACK ROW START!
Well done to Ollie, Derek and Nigel, who were in the US spannering for him, and all his other supporters. Ollie will also race the next AFT round, the Atlanta Short Track on 25 March.
Photo: Derek Brindley
* Unless you know different.