The Honda Racing UK team wraps up round 2 of Bennetts British Superbike action at Oulton Park with another haul of championship points.
Fresh from his 6th place finish in yesterday's shortened sprint race, Andrew Irwin was keen to make a forward step in today's races and push towards the podium positions. Overnight changes to the bike improved his feeling and meant that he was able to fight at the sharp end throughout the 18-lap opening feature race. He would finish the race in fourth position after just being pipped to the final podium position over the line. His best lap of the race was a 1.34.956 placing him fifth on the grid for the last race of the meeting (which would become fourth once penalties were applied for others).
Also pushing forward from his 18th place grid slot in Race 1, Tom Neave was engaged in a race-long battle for 12th position with fellow Honda rider Davey Todd. Once more, Tom proved his racecraft and fighting spirit as he held onto 12th place as he crossed the finish line, 6 places higher than his grid position. With championship points in the bag and confidence growing, his best lap of 1.36.731 provided him with 14th on the grid for race 3.
Meanwhile, in the road racing side of the garage and in the sole superstock race of the weekend, Nathan Harrison put in a fighting ride to finish in 15th position, 18 places higher than his qualifying position of 33rd. He also earned himself his first ever championship point for his efforts and now turns his attention to the roads.
After a frustrating qualifying on Saturday, circumstances changed for John McGuinness MBE and he was able to line up in 40th position on the grid for the race. He too would make up many places throughout the race and showed brilliant pace throughout to finish in a fantastic 20th position, passing a remarkable 20 other riders in doing so.
In the final Superbike race of the weekend, Andrew got a lightning start from the second row to run into the first corner in the lead. He continued to battle for the podium positions in the early stages of the race before fading to finish 9th. Tom Neave was lapping strongly in the latter points-scoring positions before crashing out of the race unhurt.
Elsewhere in the Pirelli National Superstock class, Fireblade mounted riders Dan Linfoot, Richard Kerr and Franco Bourne made it a Fireblade lockout on the podium for the third race in a row this year.
The Honda Racing UK team now turns its attention to the North West 200 (9-13th May) as the first road event of the year for the team approaches. Riders John McGuinness MBE and Nathan Harrison are both eager to race the CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP superbike for the first time this year. British Superbike action will resume once more at Donington for round 3 on 19-21 May.
Starting from 33rd on the grid was a bit of an ask after a wet qualifying, which isn't my strong point. But in the race I got into a great rhythm, catching rider by rider and my fitness was really good. The bike felt like it was my own so I could really push on and make progress. I’ve got my first ever championship point, which is helping to build the confidence heading into my first road races of the year at the North West 200. To have got a point at one of the tracks that I find the hardest has also given me loads of confidence.
John McGuinness MBE
It’s weird, I’ve never started last on the grid in my life, we even had our own row all to ourselves! The first few laps were pretty scary, lads flying about all over the place, but once I settled down I started to enjoy myself and started picking them off one by one. For me it’s 14 valuable laps of riding hard before we head to the North West. I kept pushing, never gave up and if you are going forward you are going alright.