Race 1
BSB 2023
Round 6

Saturday at Brands Hatch is wild and windy

gb Brands Hatch GP

Honda Racing UK navigated the wet and windy conditions as Franco Bourne continued his adaptation to racing the Superbike with a twenty-first place finish in the Bennetts BikeSocial Sprint, as Tom Neave struggled for confidence.

Saturday at Brands Hatch is wild and windy

Saturday’s action of round six of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship became a damp affair when the rain started to fall in the middle of eBay Qualifying and refused to abate for the rest of the day. With rain falling in all sectors, Honda Racing riders Tom Neave and BSB class newcomer Franco Bourne, secured nineteenth and twenty-third on the grid respectively aboard their factory Fireblades for the late afternoon sprint race.

Under dark grey clouds and with rain falling heavily, the lights went out and the twelve-lap dash began. Both Honda Racing riders had in fact never raced the Honda Fireblade Superbike in the wet, so each lap was a learning experience as they searched for traction in the slippery conditions. 

As the frontrunners completed their seventh lap, the race was red flagged due a significant oil spill on the circuit. And with persistent rain falling the race result was declared at the time of the flag. Franco secured himself a twenty first place finish and the same position grid slot for tomorrow's first feature race. Tom Neave, struggling in the wet for confidence, would finish in twenty fourth.

Meanwhile at the front of the Superbike race, fellow Fireblade rider Danny Kent put Honda back onto the podium for the first time since the final round of 2022 with a sensational second place.

In the Pirelli National Superstock Series, championship leader Dan Linfoot had rocketed his Optimum Bikes Racing Fireblade onto pole position with a lap time that would have placed him eighteenth on Free Practice combined times in British Superbike. Joe Talbot, JR Performance Racing, was the highest finisher in the race with a second-place finish, his first podium of the year.

The Honda Racing team will be back in action tomorrow for the two twenty-lap feature races, which roar into life at 13.35 and 16.35. 

Franco Bourne
Franco Bourne 54
Honda Racing UK
It’s been a similar story all weekend to be honest, coming in from the track and looking at the lap time and being really happy because I’m going quicker but then seeing the position. Each time I made a step, everyone else did too, the result doesn't really show the progress that we are making. But overall I am really happy with how things are going. 

Normally I am good in the wet so I did have some confidence heading into the race, but on my Stock bike I did have a bit of traction control so that does help! I did three sighting laps before the warm up laps and managed to get into a bit of a rhythm.

I got a really bad start and was last into turn one, but I thought to myself ‘Stay calm and we can pick them off.’ I got stuck in and passed a few people but the spray was pretty bad. After a few laps I started noticing that things weren’t quite right as I was spinning up everywhere, then I looked down and saw a rainbow on the floor and thought ‘That’s never good!’ Luckily the flag came out soon after. I’m over the moon to get a finish in the wet under my belt. 

Tom Neave
Tom Neave 68
Honda Racing UK
It has been a challenging weekend that’s for sure and my confidence is pretty low at the moment. But I have to take the positives out of the day. I made a step forward in Qualifying as the rain was starting to fall which gives me some foundation to build on for tomorrow. I draw a line under today's race and I look forward to tomorrow's races in the dry. My target is still to fight for those top ten positions and finish in the places that I know I am capable of. 

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