MOTORCYCLING: Mitchell slides down standings
MOTORSPORT: A tough crash in wet conditions at Sydney Motorsport Park has set Luke Mitchell back in his quest to claim his maiden Australian Superbike Championship.
The James Creek rider kicked off last weekend's action in Sydney sitting in a podium position in the Supersport Class championship rankings but has now slid to fourth.
There was trouble from the start for Mitchell, who had mechanical issues with his bike in the opening round of qualification before switching over to a secondary bike which had him finish in P10.
Quick thinking from team mechanic Marty Dowd had Luke on a repaired Yamaha R6 and back out for the second qualifying event which had him jump up the grid to P4.
"When the first session was done and dusted, there were bolts and tools everywhere," Mitchell said.
"We had four guys scrambling around the pit trying to find a solution.
"By the time I was back after the last two laps of the first qualifier, Marty had already looked up the error code and was working through the problem.
"That is the beauty of having a mechanic who knows what he is doing. We didn't miss a beat from then on with the second qualifying race, to finish on the second row of the grid."
It was a misty weekend in Sydney and with a light sprinkle of rain hitting just before the first race, Mitchell knew he wanted to hit the lead early just in case the red flag dropped.
"I was just going pretty loose trying to lead the race from the start," he said.
"The other guys stayed out of my way and let me get to the front pretty quickly.
"But I made a massive mistake, I came out of a corner and wound the throttle too fast and the back slid out giving them a chance."
Luke finished in third place in the first race after being out-dragged to the line, missing second place by 0.005 of a second.
But it was a tough crash in the second race which had Luke drop down the rankings below last year's champion Callum Spriggs.
But with three rounds left in the championship and less than 20 points between himself and championship leader Troy Guenther, Mitchell said he will push hard at the next event in Western Australia in early June.
"It is not over yet, it is still only 18 points, that is less than a race win," he said. "There is still six races to go.
"I know at the moment we are matching the opposition for speed and I am coming in knowning we are not 100%, we still have more speed to come."