The European Junior Cup powered by Honda Racing rode in to Assen this weekend for Round 2 of the one-make series at the Cathedral of Speed in northern Holland. Padgetts and PaddockChatter.com supported Josh Harland was looking to put the disappointment of the opening round at Aragon behind him.
|Josh Harland with his Honda CBR500R
Photo: Josh Harland
The early sessions in Spain were plagued with technical problems with the brand new Honda CBR500R machine. The issues unfortunately left the York resident 22nd in qualifying but with the usual grit and determination, Harland was determined to make amends come race day. With a good set-up finally in place for the race after warm-up and right from the lights going out the Brit immediately picked off three riders in to turn one and a further three riders further round the lap.
As is the case with the EJC there was a large group of 15 riders all running similar pace and fighting hard for places, as Harland passed the fifteenth place man the rider immediately tried to pass back and in a rash move pushed Josh off track. The gap that Harland bridged had now opened up once again and he gathered himself for another effort to catch the leading group, unfortunately on the same lap the front of the Honda washed out after clipping a kerb, leaving the youngster out of the race uninjured but bitterly disappointed.
Round two at Assen started brighter for Harland and his team, he was immediately on the pace in first free practice and was happy to secure 7th place, a real confidence boost after Aragon two weeks previous. Qualifying Practice on Saturday continued in a similar vane with cold temperatures still causing havoc with grip levels. Harland managed to snatch tenth place on the very last lap of qualifying to secure a third row start for the race on Sunday afternoon.
Race day saw a welcome climb in temperature for the riders and the minor changes that the team had made to the Honda would stand them with a good chance of a podium position. Josh didn’t make the best of starts from lights-out but after entering turn one in 13th place he’d recovered to 7th place by turn 5, determination and skill in equal proportion. As had been the pattern over the weekend, Harland carried immense corner speed but would immediately be passed with some ease on the straights, it seemed the technical gremlins that blighted Aragon had returned.
Instead of over-riding his Honda and risking another DNF, Josh settled for 13th place and 3 vital points in getting his season underway. The team now look towards the historic parkland circuit of Monza for the next round of the EJC, confident that the technical gremlins will been ironed out and that Josh can fight at the front of this competitive field as he has previously proved.