Tom Neave adds to his championship tally with a 15th-place finish in the opening Bennetts BikeSocial Sprint Race at Knockhill Racing Circuit.
Tom had made a strong start to the weekend, taking all of the momentum gained from a recent test at the undulating Knockhill Circuit, to sit within the top ten positions in FP1 in ninth. However, as the pace of his competitors increased Tom struggled to find a comfortable setting and reduce his lap time further. He would end the opening day fourteenth on combined times heading into Saturday’s Qualifying sessions.
In cooler conditions on Saturday afternoon Qualifying 1 began. Tom rolled out of the pitlane knowing that he would need to break the 48-second barrier to progress into the second qualifying session of the day and give himself a solid grid position for the afternoon Sprint Race. Tom dug deep and managed to set his quickest-ever lap of the 1.27-mile circuit with a 48.083 lap. Sadly, he missed the advancing qualifying positions by just 0.025 seconds and would therefore qualify in 19th position.
The BikeSocial Sprint Race roared into life in the afternoon and Tom made a strong start from his grid slot to hold position into turn one, before moving up into 18th position by the end of the short lap. As his pace improved throughout the race, Tom slowly picked off those in front of him as he broke into the point-scoring positions by lap 15, setting his quickest lap of the race in the process. He would hold this position through to the flag on lap twenty.
Elsewhere in the paddock the Honda Fireblade yet again encountered further success in the Pirelli National Superstock Championship. Irishman Richard Kerr of AMD Motorsport lapped underneath the race lap record during Qualifying on his way to a sensational 48.252 lap, as Fireblade-mounted riders occupied the top five positions of the grid.
The race itself brought even quicker lap times as Fireblades filled the podium positions again, as it has in four of the five races so far this year. Dan Linfoot, Optimum Bikes Racing, won the fight and set a 48.092 lap time on the way, a new lap record. Richard Kerr and Alex Olsen finished second and third respectively.
The Honda Racing team now turns its attention to the longer feature races that will be taking place tomorrow at 13.35 & 16.30. Tom’s quickest lap of the opening race today, 48.140, places him 18th on the grid for the initial 30-lap race.