PURITON motorcycle ace TJ Toms made the long trip north to the Knockhill racing circuit in Scotland, for Round 5 of the National Superstock 600 Championship, writes Alan Heal.

At only 1.2 miles long, Knockhill is the shortest circuit on the calendar and close racing is always guaranteed; the fitness and in upper body strength of a rider is tested to the limit on the twisty circuit.

In the first of two practice sessions, Toms set a lap time less than half a second off his 2018 best, and after changes to the suspension and gearing on his Kawasaki ZX-636, he improved his time in final practice.

Toms said: “I would normally use just gears first to fifth on this circuit but we are trying a shorter gearing setting to improve drive out of the final corner.”

In qualifying, he improved his time by almost two tenths of a second to finish 12th quickest, to start from row four on the grid.

Less than one second separated the top 10 on the grid, such was the class competitiveness.

In wet and windy conditions, Toms made a good start but when he went to change gear into the first corner the quick shifter, a component which allows a rider to change gear without using the clutch, snapped and he was stuck in first gear – so dropped down to 15th place at the end of the first lap.

A gap had opened up in front of him but by half race distance he was up to 12th and gaining on the leading group.

With only two passing opportunities, at Taylor’s Hairpin and Duffers Dip, Toms showed grit and determination to cross the line in ninth position.

Toms and the team will be back in action at Snetterton on July 21.