It has been a challenging weekend for the Honda team at Brands Hatch for the fourth round of the 2019 Bennetts British Superbike Championship, but the team with riders Xavi Forés (BSB), Andrew Irwin (BSB) and Tom Neave (STK) are taking away the positives, which saw all riders claim further valuable points in their respective championships aboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2.
The first Superbike race of the day was a gamble for all teams as the 2.4-mile circuit was drenched from earlier rainfall, but as the bikes went to the grid the sun was shining for the 20-lap race. The Honda-duo got a fantastic start off the line and made up places from their starting positions (Irwin 13th / Forés 19th).
By the end of the first lap Irwin was in the top-10 and had set about chasing down the group ahead for sixth place. Over the remainder of the race Irwin enjoyed good battles on-track with his BSB rivals and at one point had made his way into sixth, however a mistake by the Irishman saw him drop back behind the group to eventually cross the line ninth. Over the race distance the track was drying and teammate Forés made progress aboard the Fireblade, picking off the riders ahead throughout the changing conditions to finish 14th.
The second race of the day was held in stark contrast to Race 1 with sunshine and a dry track on the cards. Forés had a flying start off the line and made his way from 16th to 11th by the first corner catching teammate Irwin. The Honda pairing were then in the same group on-track throughout the race as they fought to break into the top-10. Bringing the Fireblades home Irwin was 12th with Forés hot on his heels in 13th place. The results from the weekend see Forés maintain sixth place in the overall standings, with Irwin dropping down to ninth place.
Meanwhile Tom Neave also had a mixed outing in the National Superstock 1000 Championship, which had three races across the weekend. Yesterday’s two-part 100 miler saw the Lincolnshire lad finish race one in 13th place, but crashed out of the second instalment after making his way through to the pack into eighth, after another rider fell in front of him leaving him with nowhere to go. Frustrated but thankfully unhurt from the fall, Neave went into today’s 16-lap race with the bit between his teeth. Getting a good launch off the line he quickly started to carve his way through the pack and brought the Fireblade home in sixth place. Neave is currently sixth overall in the Superstock standings with 51.5 points.
Round 5 of the Bennetts British Superbike Championship takes place in two weeks time as the series travels North of the Border to Knockhill, in Scotland on 28/29/30 June.
Xavi Forés: It’s been a tough weekend; at this kind of track I try and be as smooth and fluid on the Fireblade on my laps and we did improve a lot for the second race the set-up of the bike. I felt strong at the start of the race but I felt a big drop on the tyres mid-race and I was not able to manage until the end to defend my position. I tried to finish the race in the best possible way, get some points for the championship and try to get some information for the next races. Sometimes racing is very frustrating, you come from three podiums in a row and then you struggle a lot like this weekend! But anyway, this is racing and the positive thing is that we have good information and made some improvements to the bike, so lets start from this position for the next round and see what happens.
Andrew Irwin: Brands Hatch is a round I was really looking forward to, I have been fast here in the past but it’s frustrating when we can’t get to that potential again. I believe that we have to continue to work hard and we are coming up with new ideas and we have to find the perfect way in order to make everything work. Today’s results aren’t ideal, but it seems to be where we are at the moment and I feel like I need to make a step. The first race I should have been sixth, I did all the hard work to catch Iddon and O’Halloran, but I made a mistake and I ended up at the back of the group to take ninth. We now look ahead to Knockhill and I believe we can have solid results there and learn from this weekend’s changes to the Fireblade; we had a good test there and I will work hard to continue to improve myself.
Tom Neave: It’s been a bizarre weekend really, but also a good one! We had the 100-mile race yesterday which I always look forward to and I was running really well having made my way into eighth place and then crashed out through no fault of my own. It’s frustrating on so many levels as we’d just started to understand where we’d been going wrong in Free Practice and also when you crash out and it isn’t your fault it’s made so much worse! Today as we were about to go out for the final race of the weekend the heavens opened and we had our third wet Sunday race in a row, which is annoying as we are just getting our dry setting working really well. I think the weather did play into my hands today a bit and our wet setting is a big improvement to what we had at Donington, so it’s been a bit of a learning weekend. We’re leaving here with another top-six finish under our belts and I have moved from seventh to sixth in the championship standings, so I am really happy with that!
Havier Beltran: It has been a tough weekend, we know the guys have the potential and we know we can be at the sharp end but for whatever reason it just didn’t happen for us this weekend. But it is always a difficult one, we’re always moving into different areas with the machine set-up that I guess is going to take a bit more time than what we’ve had with the mixed conditions, and I know it’s the same for everybody but we have definitely missed out and we do need to be stronger, which I am confident we can and we will be. Moving to Knockhill we’ve already had a test and got some data and understanding of the circuit. Tom has done a good job this weekend and it’s a such a shame he got mixed up in the crash yesterday, at the start of the year I said to him it’s all about finishing races and that’s what’s going to make a big difference and then start to work away as the season goes on, but overall I’m happy and we’re now in the top-six in the Superstock championship, I am looking forward to seeing how Tom goes at Knockhill, he likes it there and I think we can show off the Fireblade’s potential.