MOTORCYCLING: Sad weekend of racing for Jaggard as fellow rider dies in crash at Donington Park

Keith Jaggard racing at Donington earlier this month   PICTURES BY COLIN HILL
Keith Jaggard racing at Donington earlier this month PICTURES BY COLIN HILL

BSB 2017 Ducati Tri-Options Cup, round one

Having opened his club race season at Brands Hatch two weeks earlier it was time for Rugby racer Keith ‘Bugsy’ Jaggard to get his British Championship campaign underway at the sweeping, technical, fast Donington Park circuit, writes Colin Hill.

With a new colour scheme making its debut and a huge field of 47 bikes and the grid only being able to hold 40 machines, Keith’s first objective was to qualify directly instead of having to get in via the last chance qualifying race on Saturday afternoon,

FRIDAY - Free practice: Despite the inclement weather that surrounded the circuit, the riders managed to get the whole session completed in the dry. Keith made steady progress through the 25-minute session, managing to lower his best time nicely while getting to grips with the set-up on his new machine.

SATURDAY - Qualifying: Needing to be inside the top 30 to progress directly into race 1, Keith had a solid target to aim at and throughout the whole qualifying session he held onto one of the coveted direct spots on the grid, but, with a minor set-up tweak and gritted teeth, just to make sure he went out for a final flying lap. Whilst on that lap and going quicker than he already had, he was pushed out wide by a charging front runner and went for an excursion through the gravel which wiped out all the previous good lap work...worse still other riders managed to better their times which bumped him down the standings and out of the top 30, meaning he would have to race for his spot on the full race grid.

Qualifying Race: With the disappointment of not qualifying directly, Keith focused on the job in hand. Starting in 9th all he had to do was hold his position and he would be on the grid for the first of the main races. From lights out ‘Bugsy’ made a good start, managing to get up to 8th place but after lap 2 he had dropped back to his original starting place, which he held onto until the final lap where early on he was pushed back to tenth ..then hearbreakingly beaten to the flag by a mere 1000th of a second, so setting up an agonising wait to see if he would make it to the grid as 1st reserve..

RACE 1: Heading to the grid for the race, not knowing if he would be in or not, Keith was happy to find out he was in due to a rider from the qualifying race not being able to make it out for the race.

So starting from the 40th spot on the grid, his main focus was to make up as many places as possible in the 10 laps available, and, by the end of lap 5 he had managed to make up 9 places, but a nasty multi-bike accident brought the race to a premature end and half points were awarded.

As a result of the incident on lap 6 of the race, the #77 rider Mick Whalley lost his life and his loss was and will continue to be felt throughout the whole race paddock.

SUNDAY - Race 2: After the incident in Saturday’s race the riders got together for a meeting in the evening and it was decided overwhelmingly to complete their weekend schedule, and, after a respectful minute’s silence in honour of their fallen competitor the racing would be a fitting tribute.

With the grid being set from the fastest times in the previous race Keith would start from 32nd, despite crossing the line in 26th.

After a grueling and emotional 10-lap race for all involved, Keith managed to repeat the result of Saturday and coming home in 26th so ending one of the hardest race weekends he and many others had ever been a part of.

The Championship moves on to Kent’s compact Brands Hatch indy circuit over the Easter weekend.